“The Only Limit Is Your Imagination” – Meet Kimmo Korhonen

Kimmo Korhonen is the main creative force of the Finnish black/death metal band Solacide. He founded the band with his friend Matti Jauhola (drums) when they both were teenagers in 1996. No matter with which other band – and there are quite some – Kimmo has played over the years, Solacide remained  h i s band. Naturally the lineup changed various times while Kimmo and Matti have grown up.

Two of Kimmo’s band released highly interesting albums in autumn 2021: Solacide and Waltari – makes it a good moment for an interview, isn’t it? But how do you begin an interview with a person you are used to speak privately with? I met Kimmo along the road of touring five years ago, and he became a friendly, open and open-minded partner for inspirational conversations. So let’s just jump right into our conversation:


Rather Just  a Conversation

Kimmo texts: “I´m also interested what you have in mind with your questions. I have to check out the lyrics through and make notes, I sometimes forget what some parts were about. And some parts feels like someone else wrote them. Some texts comes out like automatic writing.”

I am always very keen to learn about how your songwriting works. You play in bands with very different styles or genres. And I love speaking of diversity and band dynamics. I am afraid it will be pretty much about you.”

“In Solacide, I´m the main songwriter, in Waltari I usually just participate on the arrangements. Though Kärtsy [Hatakka] did ask me to write songs with him for the next album. Finally, he asked.” – I am sorry that I can’t see Kimmo right as he is writing this but his smile pops up in my mind either way.  

In which way will writing a song for Waltari be different from writing a song for Solacide? Or from another angle: What will you do to make it a Waltari song? I am asking especially because I am well aware how wide stylistically the spectrum of Waltari songs is.

“I´ve only put some ideas together for possible Waltari songs, I haven´t written a full song yet for the future album. But with Waltari you have much more options, what kind of songs you can write. It can be from an acoustic song to death metal.”

“With Solacide it´s more narrow spectrum what we want express musically. The band’s name is a combination of two words, solace & -cide (you know, homicide, suicide, genocide, ‘cide’ means killer or act of killing), basically death/killing of solace. With Solacide, the atmosphere in the songs are aggressive/melancholic.”

Solacide (promo pic, from the left: Sami, Henri, Iiro, Matti, Kimmo) – there isn’t much of a chance to get a photo from Matti …

Matti, and he just said ‘no’

“I´ve been the main songwriter in Solacide, but many times it´s the drummer Matti who has had a lot to say about which song ideas fit to Solacide. We´ve been playing together with Matti for 25 years, so I guess he knows what suits to Solacide best. I remember couple times in the past when I was really excited about some ideas I had, and I showed them to Matti, and he just said ‘no’. I was like ‘you didn´t even listen it until the end’. And he said ‘no, it´s not Solacide’. And a bit later I understood what he meant.”


Arrangements Come Naturally

Let’s stick with Waltari for a moment. It is a band that has been around like forever. The list of current as well as former members and live performers is rather impressive in number as well as in terms of their reputation and stylistic diversity. How do you think this has affected the band musically and in terms of the band dynamics? Which roles or tasks has everybody nowadays beyond being instrumentalist?

“Every member has brought their own style and tone to the band. If you compare Roope´s (Latvala) style to Sami´s (Yli-Sirniö), they are both just amazing guitarists, but it’s completely different what they bring to the music.”

“Kärtsy writes most of the songs. In the last two albums (“YAW”, “Global Rock”) it’s been the other guitarist (Nino [Silvennoinen]/Antti [Kolehmainen]) who’s been making riffs with Kärtsy in some songs too.”

“Many times Kärtsy´s demos are really raw, they may only have just a bass line, really simple drum beat and vocals. So we meet up at rehearsal room, start playing the songs through and create more details and hooks, we try out different drum beats and rhythm guitar arrangements. Usually they come naturally while playing the songs through few times.”


The Waltari Machine

Kärtsy, Kimmo, Nino and Jani [Hölli] from Waltari posing with HM Rock after their show in Berlin 2019 [click to enlarge]

We get a bit too deep into discussing details. Basically, Kimmo’s role in Waltari’s creative processes has grown from participating in arrangements generally to chipping in riffs, lines, solos etc. “In “You Are Waltari” (album, 2015),  I took quite a part to the guitar arrangements, and wrote some riffs to ”Not Much To Touch You”, co-wrote the chorus in ”Solutions” with Kärtsy.” He sums up: “On the last two albums and the new album, I recorded most of my guitars, and some of Sami´s parts. We had a great time recording and partying at my place.” 

From what Kimmo tells me, Waltari seems to be like a funny machine turning Kärtsy’s ideas into amazing songs. He laughs and quotes their producer: ”Kärtsy´s demos are just aweful sometimes, but when you guys go to rehearsal room together, you make the songs work really well. I don’t know what you do to the songs, but it works”.

Additionally the band members share running the band’s business tasks as well: “Some of the band members have taken certain areas of the business to be taken care of. Drummer Ville [Veikko Vehviläinen] is really good with the logistics and financial side. I’ve been taking care of some parts of the merchandise, and sometimes financial stuff too.”


So we know each other pretty well

On the side of the group dynamics what are the ‘tasks’ there? In a way it is any drummer’s classical job to keep the orchestra playing together. Does it make him the director of the band beyond the music, too? Is there a mediator or diplomat, someone to keep the flock together or to speak of the more delicate things in order to get them sorted out or whatever?

“We have meetings every now and then, and everyone has their say. We try to compromise as much as possible. Many times it’s drummer who is the voice of reason when someone throws ideas, Ville many times says ‘this is how much it will cost approx’ etc.”

“Ville has been in the band since 2004, I joined in 2008, Jani has been in the band from 2013, Kärtsy has been there forever, so we know each other pretty well. Plus Sami and Jari are still with us once in a while, Jari just played a few shows with us this autumn.”


Producer’s Role: Consulting vs Independence

Kimmo on stage with Maiden Hell, September 2017 in Lahti [click to enlarge]

Producing an album is complex business as the band’s ideas, work and dynamics meet with those of the producer – given the band would not produce independently. Each producer is different in style, methods but also in how much he or she is pushing these ideas into the band’s music. It can range from simply assisting in the recording to smoothing edges, up to coaching or (fine) tuning the arrangements partially or even entirely. Waltari’s producer for example plays an important role in the vocal arrangements like which vocal technique could be used for which part of a song, Kimmo explains. As most musicians nowadays have a home studio the actual recording that used to be originally the producer’s job has become less important often. For Waltari jamming together the arrangements is critical part of the band dynamics. So Kimmo says:I think we could do the same job without the producer, because the arrangements of the songs were done by the band.”

Got your point. Actually, I had another idea. More like if you could have anybody to produce your next album how would you choose? I don’t care for names but qualities. Would you really want someone to give his/her very own style to be mixed with your music and arrangements? So It is also about independence or external consulting?

In the past, I think producers were hired by the label, to try and make songs as “hit” as possible. Sometimes it can be good to have someone outside the band to give his opinions, but I feel external opinions should be taken as suggestions, not as rules. ‘Cause all the albums I´ve been involved in every band, the guitar arrangements were always done by the band, not the producer.”


Diversity as Opportunity of Learning

That’s what I would expect, too – in my tiny, idealistic book of life. – Time to move on thematically. “You have played in numerous bands covering a wide spectrum. Thus diversity matters, right? But why?”

I enjoy playing different kinds of metal music. In Solacide you can just concentrate on black and death metal. With Waltari you have all the possible genres you can imagine to be used, you can do so many things in Waltari that you can’t do with other bands. When I played in Amberian Dawn, the music was not so much of my cup of tea, but I learned a lot about playing. It made me a better musician. The band had Kasperi Heikkinen on guitar (Beast In Black, x-UDO), drummer Heikki Saari (Finntroll, Norther) and Jukka Koskinen on bass (Nightwish, Wintersun, Norther), so I had to work a lot to keep up with those guys, they’re just amazing musicians. And wonderful people.”


Personally, I understand Amerian Dawn a well of talents. It seems a pool of breath-taking talent supplying the metal world – including you! But about diversity: is it a tool to progress or a reason to improve – for you?

You always learn something new when playing with different people. You basically have to find a new way to communicate musically when playing with other people.”


I was told to play like a machine, the rhythm parts should sound flawless with very little human touch


You mean technically?

It´s more to do with musical expression. In Amberian Dawn, I was told to play like a machine, the rhythm parts should sound flawless with very little human touch. With Waltari, or when I did sessions for Barren Earth, you had to have more feeling in your playing. That´s what I prefer, it should sound like humans are playing the music.”


We want to go more atmospheric direction in the future

This offers a bridge to Solacide. To me their new album “Fall From Eternity” displays the band’s stylistic development. It has plenty of elements I knew from the previous releases but also lots of new elements. As the lineup has changed and naturally we all change as time goes by (some more, others less), I wonder: Is this, let me name it, ‘new mixture’ the result/expression of the new lineup or planned stylistc progress or something entirely different?

The only plan we had was to have more aggressive and darker direction with the music. And when Henri (Sinokki) joined the band, he had a lot of ideas which worked out really well. He wrote ”Far Beyond Reality” and ”Away From Light”. I think the latter is maybe the best song of the album.” – I do agree. “And we want to go more atmospheric direction in the future, rather than showing our technical skills in the riffs. We have a couple new songs ready, and looks like the songs are following this ‘darker’ path.”

Hitchcock Metal In Waltz Rhythm?

Henri Sinokki playing with Maiden Hell in 2017 [click to enlarge]

One thing I found new is the softer and acoustic part clearly underlining that ‘evil’ (sound and atmosphere) do not necessarily require extreme or heavy; at times quite the opposite. It’s a bit like Hitchcock in metal so to speak.

Hitchcock metal.” Once more I can ‘read’ Kimmo’s confidence from his letters. He continues: “Acoustic guitars can give really ominous feeling into the song. We decided not to record any clean electric guitars, all the ‘clean’ parts were done with 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars. I fell in love with that 12-string tone.” I can imagine why …  

I have different things in mind I’d all love to ask here. I’ll begin with this: I found another, to my controversial element. Waltz. But then it is widely used in metal.

“Waltz is quite far from what Solacide is about, but one thing that is common, is that for some reason most of the songs I write goes in 3/4 time.”


A Perfect Match

Which is typical waltz too, right? Just to make it clear, I don’t see you guys playing with Andre Rieu or such. I’d rather like to learn about the role 3/4 and other timings often used in rather folkloric music have in metal in general and your music in particular.

Usually music, whether it´s pop, rock or metal, the time is 4/4. For some reason most riffs I write are in 3/4. And when Henri joined the band, he said ‘I many times write riffs in 3/4 for some reason’. At the moment I felt I just found another soulmate.”


Brothers Of The Black Sun

I thought it might have to do with harmony and melodic.

It´s just what comes out naturally when you pick up guitar.” The creation of “Fall From Eternity” reveals the strong bond between Kimmo and his friends:  “We had some weird coincidences on this album. With “Far Beyond Reality”, I felt the lyrics should be about some experience few lifetimes ago. So I found a book from the library that was a study about Finnish shamanism from 1992. And there was a story about a man, how he became a shaman. He accidentally found himself from the land of the dead, and these beings taught him to be shaman, they cut him in pieces and built him again etc… In the lyrics there’s a part ‘black sun veiling the sky…’, because in the land of the dead, the sun is black.

I showed the lyrics to Henri, who wrote the music. He said ‘in that particular part I always thought in my mind, it should have the words ´black sun´. Every time I listened the song, I heard those words.’

And when I finished the lyrics, we had my birthday party with the Solacide guys. And the drummer Matti gives me a present; it was the ”Finnish shamanism” book from 1992, where I got the story for the lyrics. I never told him what I had been reading, or what the lyrics were about.”


The Lost Dimension Grows into Solacide

Wow. Undeniably, there is a very deep connection. Then again, not really a surprise. You and Matti started your band when you were teenagers, right? How did it all begin?

“We met in 1996, we were 13 years old. I was looking for a drummer, and a common friend told ‘I know this guy, he’s been playing maybe 1 – 2 years and he’s really good’. So we’ve been friends with Matti for 25 years by now.”

“We first named the band Lost Dimension. We made one demo in 1997, but luckily we didn’t publish it, it was pretty bad. But we wrote our own songs, they were heavy/death metal -style songs, and it was a good experience. Pretty quickly we started making more death/black metal -influenced songs, so we changed the name to Dim Moonlight, and released two demos in 2000 and 2003. After that we wanted to change the name again, ´cause we never liked that name, but we couldn’t think a better one. You know, when you’re 15 years old… So in 2004 we named the band as Solacide.”

Yeah, certainly. When you are 15, the world is totally different place then like when you’re 30 or soon 40, well, my world at least.

As I don’t play any instrument, writing music is a mystery to me. Sure, I can imagine to arrange notes or better the sounds they represent. But that appears sort of mechanistic and not helpful to get a song or even a symphony composed; not to mention that this set of bones need muscles and skin and what not to make it a working body. All the parts for the other instrument need to be written, arranged, etc.


Writing music can sometimes be almost a paranormal experience

I have an idea how I feel the need to create something, visually or by words. There is a flow that will find its way out for good or bad. But I could not force it, hardly even steer it. How about you?

I know some composers are very calculative, they decide what kind of song they want to write, they start listening i.e. Morbid Angel and try to make that kind of song. I write in a totally different way. Usually some melody or chord progression comes to my mind when having a walk outside, then I have to get back home to try it out with guitar. And when one riff comes out, second usually follows. You get inspired from your own creation.”

“Writing music can sometimes be almost a paranormal experience. Just before I started writing the songs for ”Fall From Eternity”, I went to see a clairvoyant. And this old lady told me ‘I see some musicians from the spirit world around you, and they say they can work with you if you wish. All you need, is to ask help from them’. In a year, we had written all the songs together.” As hard as it is, I resist to explore in how external triggers (as summary of muse, inspirational sparks, spirituality etc.) work in Kimmo because it would take hours for you to read.

“I´m a really slow writer, I get a lot of riffs, but turning them into a song is a challenge. With Solacide, we don’t have that basic formula for writing songs, verse-bridge-chorus etc… so that makes it a bit more challenging. Luckily there’s a couple songwriters in the band now, so that helps putting songs and ideas together.”


The Expression Of Everything

Kimmo touring with Barren Earth in January 2017, final show in Zurich (Kimmo/gui, Antti Myllynen/key, Timo Ahlström/gui, Olli-Pekka Laine/bass, Eero Wuokko/dr) [click to enlarge]

In order to get our official conversation to an end, I would like to know which role plays music in your life?

”Music surrounds my everyday life, whether I’m working or having a day off. Music is therapy, music feeds your soul. Music expresses all human emotions. If you are feeling happy, music makes you feel happier. If you are feeling sad, music is there to comfort you. If you are alone, music is your company. Music is one of the few things in life where the only limit is your imagination.”

Beyond the limits of our imagination – I dare say quite some things that happened since I met Kimmo touring with Barren Earth – have exceeded those spheres. For good and bad. Kimmo soon asked me to give his band a try and although Solacide’s speed outruns my comfort zone by far, it became important to channel extreme emotions. And I needed it.

More of those unimaginable circumstances limited Kimmo and me to chat instead of a personal meeting. And yet we have made it also as music is therapy as Kimmo says. Not only for him.

Thank you Kimmo!



Solacide are:

Sami Heinonen (bass) , Henri Sinokki (guitar),  Iiro Juntunen (vocals ),  Matti Jauhola (drums), Kimmo Korhonen (guitar, backing vocals, synth)

Find them online: homepage, and their music & merch (digital +  physical)


Find Waltari online homepage  and their music & merch .


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