Interview mit Ahti Kortelainen, Originalversion, Mai 2018


1) Most young metalheads rather dream of playing in a band to get rich and famous and not of becoming a producer. Can you tell me a bit about your motivation to start your own studio back in the days and its history?

Oh, I played bass those days. Later our band bought a PA-system to use on gigs, in -82/3 or so. When part payments started dropping our band was gone.. To cover payments my friend Kari Kauppila (RIP) and I rented the system. After a couple years I was tired of driving the bus and carrying the cases since Kari was into more of rocknroll style of life instead of making money enough to live. So, as we both were interested in recording too and bought a Fostex 16 track, maybe -85 or so we finally split the gear, Kari took our PA speakers etc, I got our mixing console & some mics and misc stuff. Made some demos at home and as bands kept dropping in I finally rented a 90m2 space nearby in 1987. Tico Tico Studio was born!

2) Finland, just like Sweden, seems to be a paradise as far as metal, particularly the more extreme variants, is concerned. I mean, not only the sheer number of (excellent) bands, but also their success and public acceptance. How do you see the Finnish metal-scene and its development since the 90s from an insider's perspective?

Well my life with bands groving in 90’s was some interesting phase of life, both professionally and personally. Bands often seemed to have their own unique style and studio work was very fast, all my productions that time was done in one week or less, from first drum hit to final mix. I too was excited to see and hear it all to come together in that short period of time. I must admit I really do not recall too much of those times, unfortunately…just too much everything, except sleep. I never felt beeing a producer, more just a engineer trying to fulfill band’s wishes. New metal bands seems so professional from the 1st release but the music industry feels so…industrial today.. dunno. I dont listen music too much nowadays but I do like some finnish bands…was listening Dark Sarah’s Dance with the Dragon one day and it was amazingly good. But, old fart as I am, my music taste is more headed to old rock bands…King Crimson, Led Zeppelin etc.:) But, my knowlegde of new metal bands is rather limited so really cant give you an answer..

3) Is it correct that you handle all the studio-work alone, including webdesign, social media etc? What does a typical working-day in your life look like, and how do you like to relax/recreate?

Yes, that’s correct. Except bookkeeping, hate it. Typical day, if there’s a band in studio is -> family morning…drive wife to work, my boy to school, studio at 10, pick my wife from work, eat, back to studio and home around 19. If it’s mixing, I usually work alone so my days are easier to schedule and I like to spend more days doing less hours. Often doing live engineering on weekends too. Relaxing means mostly spending time with my family and now when the snow seems to be gone I take my Moto Guzzi for a ride as often as possible:)

4) Many modern productions have a kind of old-school / back-to-the-roots approach, such as purely analog equipment (like Anssi Kippo on Ensiferum's "Two Paths") or recording the whole band in one take and with one mic (="Smokehead", I mean Moses Schneider on Kreator's "Hordes of Chaos"). How would you describe your own philosophy as a producer, and what is your opinion on the work of your colleagues?

As mentioned earlier I dont listen that much music to have an opinion on others work but overall the level of skill is incredibly high. I started my work purely analog; console, multitrack and final mix to analog tape. In the 90’s came digital multitracks and dat-master recorders and then later software multitracks. I finally sold my Soundtracs console after 18 years and bought a digital console. So now my entire chain is now digital. Of course analog gear, mic pre’s and such are still been used but now when it’s recorded it stays all digital. I don’t miss analog times was often very stressful to notice that on Sunday evening there’s still two songs to mix and next band is coming tomorrow morning and you can’t leave the mix because all settings were then lost…arrgh. Now I can come back to projects and make fine tuning when it’s needed and it’s needed quite often.

5) What would your top5-list of albums look like that you are extremely proud of? And are there any funny or annyoing experiences from past productions (you can keep the band names secret, of course ^^)?

Feels so unfair to pick any favorit albums since they have all been fun to make..but:
Sentenced’s Amok - I was and still am proud of it. Just moved to new room and it was a nice project with plenty of time to spend, glorious 10 days to finish everything:) Great songs and somehow everything just kept flowing until it was ready. Btw. all gtrs recorded with Marshall 12 watt combo and Fender Vibrolux, no obvious pickings really..
Impaled Nazarene - band with an attitude…4-5 days to record&mix the album and that’s it…Crazy times…
Moonsorrow - very talented guys here, Sorvali brothers. Great songs with seemingly simple production solutions produce great results.
Rotten Sound - specially amazed with playing of mr. Kai Hahto…incredible.
Sonata Arctica - local band who made it.
Barathrums Janne Sova; moments in studio and outside studio:)

6) If a young band plans to enter your studio for their first recording session ever, what would your advice (do's and don't's) to them be?

Studio costs money, so:
don’t take too many songs to record. You will learn much more if there’s no hurry. Two, three songs, not more. 10 minutes or so.
try to make it your own. I will help you if needed but if you think something has to be done your way it must be done your way.
if unsure about anything, ask.
most important: have fun!

7) Last words?

I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of metal (and other music too! ) business for so many years. It is really my dream come thru.