Fireworks Magazine Online 70 - Interview with Lotta Lene

An interview with Lotta Lene

Hailing from Finland Lotta Lene is a young Lady with a Big voice. She and her fellow co-conspirator Jake Makela have just released their debut album 'Smoke And Mirrors' to critical acclaim. So Ian Johnson called her at home in Helsinki to talk with her about the new CD and her love of 80's Rock.

Lotta-Lene Fireworks-Interview

You're going to be a new name to a lot of our readers Lotta. Please tell us about yourself.

Hi Ian and everyone, well this is our first album, I say our because I work with a great guy called Jake Makela who I wrote and produced the album with, he also played all the instruments on the CD. We've been working together as professional musicians for a while now playing gigs all across Finland. Mostly it's been cover songs but always Rock mostly by British acts like Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake you know. Then around about 2006 we started to write together and when we were doing those gigs we'd slip in a song or two of our own. Which led us to decide that maybe the time was right to record a full album of our own songs.
So round about the beginning of 2014 we sat down and started to write and record for our album 'Smoke And Mirrors'. We put the cover band to one side and just concentrated on the new songs and we worked really hard in our small home studio, to record an album we could be happy and proud of, which leads us to 'SAM'.

So is British Rock or Rock in general where you and Jake get your influences from?

Yes definitely, Since I was small I always loved Rock, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper all those 80's Hard Rock bands were my favourites but I also found that over the years as my musical tastes grew that I enjoyed listening to other genres as well, I love Faith Hill a country singer and Celine Dion who is just amazing. I don't like to restrict who I listen to as a singer I think that's a bad thing to do. As long as the music is melodic and has rhythm and the singer in the band has a strong voice then I'm happy. Luckily Jake and I love the same kind of music so when we started writing it just seemed natural to write music in the Melodic Rock vein.

You and Jake seem to be a great song writing partnership - was it easy to work with him?

Yes it was Ian, actually though you'll be very surprised to hear that before I met Jake I hadn't ever written a song. When we got together, he had lots of song ideas written down, lots of melodies on tape but no lyrics. So he suggested that I should try to write some words for these ideas and at first I was a little worried because I'd not done anything like that before but I had faith in myself, that yeah maybe I could do it and Jake's music really inspired me, so I thought come on why not give it a go. Jake was wonderful, he was always encouraging me and the lyrics just poured out and we realized that together we had something. And now we write together all the time and it's an on going process and hopefully we're getting better at it.

You've released this album independently but I think it's strong enough to have been picked up by Frontiers, Escape, AOR Heaven etc. Was it your choice to go down the independent route then look for a big label for the second album or just how things worked out?

Actually a couple of years ago we did send out a demo tape to those labels you mentioned and many more. Frontiers and a couple of others were interested in what we were doing and said when you have an album ready to go get back to us. So after we'd recorded 'SAM', we sent it out but we didn't get any replies. We know how hard it is to make it in the music world these days but we also knew we had a great album so we weren't too worried about that and decided to release it ourselves instead.

You must really be pleased then that 'SAM' has been getting lots of very favourable reviews and coverage in the Rock press.

Oh definitely Ian, (Laughs) we've loved what they have been saying. We didn't expect it because it is our first album so you don't know what anyone's going to say about your music. So yes, we are very pleased with how the album's been received and that gives us a big push and incentive to keep going with our music, to keep writing songs and working hard.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

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On the album it's just you and Jake with Jake playing all the instruments. Will you put a band together for when you want to go on tour and keep the studio albums as just the two of you, or will the next Lotta Lene album be a full blown band album?

Funnily enough Ian we're just putting the finishing touches to our band. We're going to announce whose in it in the next couple of weeks and from then on it's a full Rock band. We're rehearsing with them right now and getting ready for some live shows which are coming up in the Summer and early Autumn and then if we're lucky enough to make another record it will be with the full band not just Jake and I.

Will it be a mixed live set, some new songs and covers until you have only your own material to work with?

Yes that's the idea, but we also have some songs that didn't make the album that will be in our live set so hopefully there won't be so many covers, some yes but we hope to mainly play our own songs. As to touring we want to play as far away as we can go, we're looking at the moment for tours we can get on and we'd love to play all over Europe and coming to play in the UK would be a dream. We've got a booking agent looking for shows for us and we're going to start here in Helsinki then spread out around Finland then who knows Germany, Sweden wherever we can go.

As the band is you and Jake, why the name Lotta Lene on the cover? Will you at some point adopt a band name or will it just be your name?

(Laughs) Over the years we have had band names but as it's always been just Jake and me at the heart of everything, we decided after a discussion some years ago that as I was the singer/face whatever you want to call it of the band, that it was easier just to use my name to promote us. Jake and I are a team though, the Lotta Lene name is and always will be the two of us, that won't change. That said who knows nothing is written in stone is it and the name could change tomorrow (laughs).

Is it hard being a female fronted Hard Rock act in Finland, which is usually a bastion of Melodic Power Metal bands with male singers?

Not really because there is a large music scene here and it covers every kind of music and there are a lot of female fronted Hard Rock bands who are well know here in Finland but probably not any where else. Also there are a lot of high profile Finnish women who sing in big Rock bands who I bet your readers could name better than I. So no I don't feel any pressure I've always had a great time working here in Finland.

Finally Lotta, after you've toured and promoted 'SAM', is the plan to record a follow up a soon a possible?

Yes it is Ian that's the plan. We're very lucky as we have our own small studio here in Helsinki, so we can work whenever we want to, rehearse when we want to, concentrate on our music whenever we like. We're hoping to release two new songs in the very near future (check out, then a hopefully few more down the line but we won't wait as long as we did to make our second album. 'Smoke And Mirrors' took about eight or nine years from start to finish, the next one will definitely be much quicker (laughs).

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