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Grandiose, sonorous, rocking and macabre, Finland’s The 69 Eyes owe no small part of their success to the glorious baritone vocals of front-man Jyrki 69. Having recorded eleven studio albums with the band over the course of eighteen years, Jyrki is also participating in a few side-projects, including ‘The 69 Cats’ and some guest vocal work with Liv Sin. June sees the release of a solo album Helsinki Vampire and we were very keen to speak to Jyrki in order to discover a little more about his recent activities and passions…
Hi Jyrki, how’s it going?
Thank you for asking, it’s going great – I feel very creative and powerful.
What have you been up to today? Give our readers a glimpse into your daily life as a goth legend!
I just arrived last night from LA. Flew back home from the other side of the world. I went there to hang out with my friends at The Blackest Of The Black festival, you know, Glenn Danzig’s own outdoor festival. It was fantastic of course, great bands, cool people. I got very inspired. But it’s good to leave Hollywood as well. I’ve been just heavily jet lagging all this day, nodding around my home, seeing weird movie-kind of dreams. Now I’m getting back to the reality and release that I promised to answer this yesterday – I couldn’t because I was in the plane basically the whole day. Now as I’m typing this I have this new Nick Cave movie rolling on my TV, I bought it as a DVD before I went to LA.
Are you all packed and ready for WGT?
Just washed my laundry from the Blackest festival actually as well today. I will pack tomorrow eve. I will not only perform but also DJ there as well. I’m a kind of a guy who has always a couple of suitcases open in my living room, like packing and unpacking all the time.
Will you have much of an opportunity to see any many of the other acts while you are there, and are there any in particular that you’re looking forward to hearing?
On our stage there’s Gene Loves Jezebel before us, so hopefully a bit of them and after us The Mission and Skinny Puppy, so both if possible which means our van waits for me or somebody will drive me to my hotel afterward. I noticed Amanda Palmer is there as well. I wonder if Neil Gaiman’s with her…
It’s always a great line-up. How many WGTs is this for you now?
Could be the 5th.
You rack up a lot of air miles, it seems?
I’m Helsinki-based but I’m traveling A LOT because I feel like need to. I feel so alive and curious, so it drives me around this planet… My friends are around the world; that’s one of the reasons I’m always everywhere else than Finland.
You have been back in the studio recently, working on a solo project, with the album – entitled Helsinki Vampire – released on June 23rd. Can you tell our readers a little more about it?
YES! I recorded a whole album with the long time 69 Eyes producer Johnny Lee Michaels last fall. We’ve been recording something together annually for a while. He recorded my vocals for The 69 Cats album, then The 69 Eyes and now this. It’s all about his music and nearly mini movie scores that he has done over decades. He wrote and played every instrument; I was just a singer. We had good times making [it], though the music is SO DARK at some times that we had to take some deep breaths and break for some days. It was so strong emotionally.
Can fans expect any particularly wide departures from your trademark sound? Any surprise tracks?
It is very melodic and keyboard-driven. Also the darkest music I’ve ever done. It is more like mindful music actually. Put your headphones on, have some tea, and listen.
Are there any other projects lined up at present, aside from your live dates, of course?
I just released my first book earlier this year, called “Vagabond’s Waltz”, it’s about my rock’n’roll adventures in the late 80’s NYC and around the world. I’m planning a new one to the next year. I have some new music coming up as well. Also The 69 Eyes will release a new single in the fall; I need to record my vocals for it. I’m also planning to play some dates for my solo album in the US at some point. And The 69 Cats, my dark rockabilly band, have been asked to reactivate as well…
I note that several tracks have been snapped up for use in film. Is this coincidence or intention? Are you looking to do more work with the film industry?
That’s a dream come true. I always wanted to make music for the movies. Now it’s finally happening!
If you could have written the soundtrack for a film, which one would you choose?
They must call me if they are ever doing the new version of The Crow…
I think you’ll be a shoe-in for that one. The original soundtrack is certainly a classic. What’s the most embarrassing movie that you own? Any guilty pleasures? We won’t judge!
I don’t own anything embarrassing! Whatever I dig, it’s the boss! But I have seen narrow minded people writing negatively about “Showgirls” and “Harley Davidson and Marlborough Man”! Those are amazing classics, I’m sad for the people who don’t get them.
Our readers may not be aware, but for over a decade now, you have been working as a UNICEF good will ambassador. Is your UNICEF work ongoing?
Yes it is. The world needs us. Through UNICEF we can really help: Visit www.unicef.org – to face the world of children.
And what have you been up to in your personal life at present? What have you been enjoying?
I kissed a girl at the Blackest festival under the Californian night in the desert. That was pure magic! And Danzig playing a show as the background music.
Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
Please have some spare time to spend with me though my solo album. Take it as a date with me. Let me light a candle in your heart.
Thank-you for your time.
Jyrki’s solo album Helsinki Vampire will be released by Cleopatra Records on June 23.
Jyrki 69 – Helsinki Vampire