After more than 10 track features and a few premieres, I am stoked to finally be able to share with you my interview with Kupla - one of the most heart-touching producers in the chillhop / instrumental scene. I always recognize his sound, especially because it seems to evoke a particular set of emotions in me.
Besides talented producer, Lauri has a really cool life journey and understing more about him as a person and human being has been super inspiring. Also, as tradition goes - we've got a super nice mix (which you can also stream on YouTube).
0:00 Kupla - One of those Nights (unreleased) ***
2:34 Monma - Fira
4:51 Kupla - Rose Garden
6:56 less.people - what will you do?
10:02 Kupla - World of Clay
12:15 j’san - delusion
14:37 Kupla - Broken Wings
17:12 Kupla x j’san - (unreleased from our next collaboration EP) ***
Thanks for taking the time Lauri! Where do we find you today? Helsinki or London?
No problem! I’m currently in London, although, I’m going to Finland next week to chill at my friend’s cabin in the woods for some inspirational times.
I know you’ve moved around a lot, what’s your life story?
Lifestory! No smaller task to write to start with… Well, I was born in 1988, and grew up in Western Helsinki, Finland. Beautiful city. Very suburbian, middle-class houses and blocks of flats. Many parks around. Nice thing about Helsinki is that there’s nature all around you, and no matter where you live you always have a few minutes’ walk to the nearest forest, or the sea.
My musical journey started when I was 7 when I started to play the piano. When I was 9 years old, my older cousin (15 at the time) was making techno at home, and gave me a copy of a simple music making program called “Soundclub” on floppy disks. I fiddled around with it and made a handful of tunes. Some years later I got my hands on Fruity Loops, which many people know and use, but ultimately, in 2005, I got a copy of a software called Reason - which I still use to this day.
I played in a few bands, live gigs at small festivals, bars and clubs, band competitions - that sort of stuff. But around 2011-2012, I started to feel like I need to focus more on what I love the most, which was instrumental beat driven music. I was studying chemistry, Maths and physics at Uni at the time, but I decided to drop out without a degree to pursue this passion. I didn’t know how though - so I went to study TV- and radio journalism for a little bit. To make ends meet, I was working at a big department store’s cheese counter for a few years while I was studying all these different things. This is where I met my girlfriend. She told me just two months after we started dating that she is moving to London to study. She went. I stayed in Helsinki - but I quit my job and used my savings to pay up 3 months’ rent in advance, in order to have time to build up a portfolio for a Masters Degree course in Sound Arts at a University in London. “Kupla” was that portfolio. I was accepted in, and moved to London.
A lot of things have happened during these 6+ years I have been here. We moved together with my girlfriend, I graduated from Uni, I worked in a warehouse for 1.5 years, then in a recording studio for another 1.5 years - all the while making a lot of music. Then two years ago I met with Simon (Philanthrope) from Chillhop Music in Berlin and agreed on a Kupla release for later that year. Fastforward to this day - hundreds and hundreds of tracks, multiple collaborations, trips to see other producers around Europe, making music, making friends - and all this eventually lead to the point I was able to quit my job at that recording studio, and focus working on Kupla full time.
What’s the most random fact most people don’t know about you?
I’m a big nerd. I love strategy games, board games and card games. Starcraft, Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone. I used to travel to tournaments in Europe to play MTG. And I’ve also travelled to be in the audience of big Starcraft tournaments.
How would you describe the mix you created for us in a sentence?
It’s a relaxing trip with some happy memories, some sad memories, uncertain thoughts about the future, but with a comforting undertone that everything will be alright no matter what happens.
You’re one of the most active producers in the chill hop / lofi scene. How do you find inspiration so much creativity?
I travel a lot, I enjoy going to museums and concerts, and walks in the nature, and bus rides. I like observing people and the world. I’m also interested in a lot of things from science to fine-arts to politics to economics to architecture to cooking. These are all essential fuel to create music for me. But also a very important part is the process I’ve created for myself. I aim to create something every single day. Even if I don’t feel like it. I’ve followed this process for years. You force yourself to sit down and play some chords and practice - and when nothing good comes out, its fine. Those days are inevitable, you just get through them and better days will follow. Make a routine to create and you will find inspiration. Also learning new instruments keeps things fresh and challenging.
Feb 25th you dropped your new full length album Imaginary. What’s the story behind it?
Every time I release a project I feel a bit empty inside, and go for 2-3 weeks of not being in the mood for music. So, this project is something I started after the previous album Owls and Pinecones - after I got over that empty feeling inside. I started to feel motivated again, and made a lot of new music.
I was thinking about my creative process a lot. So this album is a very self-reflecting piece. A reminder to myself how imaginary things can become a reality when you put enough effort and focus into them - and don’t just let those ideas slip away. It’s so easy to let them slip away. And the next thing you know weeks, months, years have passed - and you’re left wondering, why did I not try that idea, why am I not doing anything? So, it’s about being motivated enough to take action, and not be afraid what others might think or what might happen. That’s what “Imaginary” is for me.
You often collaborate with other producers - favourite people in the scene and also how do those collabs come to life. Do you meet these guys in person?
Most people I’ve collaborated with I’ve met in real life. It usually starts off with a conversation on social media - if the chemistry is right we speak more and get to know each other better. We would send stems of unfinished tracks or song ideas to each other and eventually find something to work with.
Chillhop Music have facilitated us on more than one occasion as well. They have a lovely office in the heart of Rotterdam with a studio in the basement, where you can collaborate and meet other producers. And I really prefer meeting up in person. It makes it much more meaningful. And all the guys I’ve met in the scene are all super friendly and passionate people who share the same mindset and goals. (Special shoutout to j’san, Pandrezz, L’indécis, Philanthrope, Psalm Trees, Nymano, Idealism, Poldoore and the whole Chillhop Gang in Rotterdam, see you all soon!).
I’m also planning on going to the States this year too to meet up with some of the guys I’ve made friends with on that side of the pond. (less.people, I’m coming! I promise.)
Where does the name Kupla originates from?
Kupla means bubble in Finnish. The name represented a new era for my productions, where I would concentrate on just making music for myself. My own little world. It was also the purpose to showcase my music when I applied to Uni in London. I created a Soundcloud profile with that name in late 2012, that’s where it began.
What’s your setup by the way… mind snapping a photo and walking us through it?
I’ve collected a lot of gear over the years. Some of it is not visible in the photo - but this is where I work, and type my answers at this very moment.
Rhodes MK II
Moog Phatty Stage II
Audio Technica AT-LP-120 Turntable
Hohner Alto Melodica
Hohner Soprano Melodica
Roland SP404sx Sampler
Roland A-88 MIDI keyboard
RME Fireface UCX audio interface
Teenage Engineering OP1
Adam A7X monitors
Michelsonne 37-key Toy Piano
KORG Monotron Delay
Zoom H5 Portable microphone
AKG Perception 100 Condenser microphone
Bag of random items to make noises with
Sennheiser HD 25 II headphones
AKG K702 Headphones
Sony WM-22 Cassette Walkman
2012 MacBook Pro - with SSD and RAM upgrades
Propellerheads Reason 10.0
I think that’s all of it?
You are a climber too - how did the love for this sport sparkle and do you see connection with producing?
I used to do bouldering with a few childhood friends back in the day when I was also skateboarding. Then I didn’t do it for many years when I moved to London. But a bit over a year ago when I visited Rotterdam, it was Bas from Chillhop who asked me to come bouldering with the guys one evening - and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it!
After that I just went all-in and started going 2-4 times a week. Bouldering is really fun, it tests your skills, strength, flexibility, coordination, and mind - all at once. Similar to skateboarding - but skateboarding I used to get injured a lot more often. I think it’s essential to keep active, to stay healthy mentally and physically, in order to stay productive. You just feel a lot better when you’re taking care of yourself.
Favourite non-beat artist and why?
Can I name two? I’ll name two. Joe Hisaishi (the composer of Totoro and Princess Mononoke), and Yann Tiersen (composer of Amelie). Just all in all very emotional and beautiful composers. Moving, touching, happy and sad, all at the same time. If you don’t know them, check them out. They won’t disappoint.
If you could ask yourself one question which one would it be and what’s the answer?
What does the future hold for Kupla? ...I’ve got a couple of collaboration EPs in the works (one of the unreleased tracks is in the guest-mix ;)), as well as a solo EP and a solo album for 2019 and 2020.
I’m also almost done working on a non-beat classical album of calm piano, clarinet and melodica compositions. After these I want to focus on developing a live set with real instruments and animations. Keeping it busy! :)