Laurenne/Louhimo, the new collaboration project between Finnish vocalists Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast) and Netta Laurenne (Smackbound), released their debut album, The Reckoning, on July 9th via Frontiers Music s.r.l (order here). We caught up with Louhimo and Laurenne to discuss how the project formed, the DIY video creation(s) and more.
Introducing the new Laurenne/Louhimo project with the “Bitch Fire” single was probably the perfect choice. It set the tone for what’s to come and it was definitely a surprise to see. Can you talk more about how this collaboration started?
Netta: I kind of had this idea and want and a dream to collaborate with Noora in the future. Future being some other day than today, always. And we actually did a collaboration in one band’s single together and then it was so much fun to hear us singing in the same C part because we had difficulty ourselves to figure out who’s singing. So it was insane how close our voices sounded to each other at times, in certain sets of notes. So it was a dream of mine and then I called when this pandemic started and cleared the calendars from all the gigs and all the plans we had. I called Noora if she would like to join this collaboration with me.
Noora: Yeah, exactly. And the funny thing was that I had the same dream that I wanted to… I had been following Netta as a career and I wanted to do some collaboration with her. So when she called me, I was of course totally in from the beginning and yeah, and we didn’t really actually know each other so well before this project together, but we had been meeting up, seeing each other in some bars and hanging out a bit, but not on a personal level. So when we started this collaboration, I think it started our friendship also, because we started talking about, of course, what are our values in life and all this stuff, because this was necessary to make that whole album happen because we needed to see that we are on the same page, so to say. So I think, yeah, but it was funny because neither of us knew each other personally, before this. And we both still dreamed of each other, collaborating together. And that’s why I think this was just meant to be thing. This was match made.
Netta: It was faith.
Netta: Yeah. This was when we really got to know of each other’s hopes and dreams and the pain and hurt we have, the traumas we’ve had in our life. So it was very important for the whole project that we got to this level of knowing each other, because then it was so much easier for me too. When I was writing the lyrics to speak for the both of us. So then I knew totally what Noora is feeling, so I could write for the both of us.
Can you explain some of the themes on the album?
Yeah. It’s about self-empowerment, self knowledge. Well, the whole name, The Reckoning is meant to be reckoning with yourself. So I think it’s something very, to date, what we’ve been experiencing during the past year. To think about the pandemic, how it has affected us. We have been in solitude a lot more than we normally are, so we’ve had to face ourselves on a deeper level and a lot has come out of it. A lot of involvement and also a lot of… It has forced us to look in the mirror and see who we truly are in the good and the bad and accept ourselves and then choose to evolve and develop to be a better person for ourselves and that way for others, so that we could find peace and happiness in life. Because you need to first find yourself to be able to find true happiness in life, because it’s not something material, it’s something that is only in the heart and soul. So it’s that happiness comes from material things.
Netta: It comes from love, self-love and learning to… If you first learn to love yourself, that is the only way you can truly learn to love other people the way they should be loved.
That is very true. And a lot of people don’t have the patience or full understanding of that because it just sounds so cliche or whatever, but it’s the truth. I 100% agree with you.
Netta: That’s true what you said, that people think that it’s a cliche and they don’t give enough thought to it. It sounds too easy to happen, like a cliche, but it takes a lot to go through that process. So it is like real strength in a person to be able to do that with yourself. And that’s the only job we were given when we were born.
Noora: Yeah. And I think that’s why people call it cliche, because I think cliches are the things that really are true, that really happens in life and we should definitely embrace those issues and also talk about them openly as we do on this album. And this album is really about empowering people. And we want to be an example to people, this self development and self searching in a way. But in a good, loving but kick ass way.
Netta: Yeah. And also a strong theme on the album, inside this theme that we’re talking about empowerment and finding freedom and happiness, it’s the theme of victimizing yourself. So we’re trying to steer away from people sitting on the sofa and staying the victim in everything. Because then we don’t understand the world and other people in the level we should, because all of us hurt. All of us have had terrible things happen in our lives and we all deal with them in a very individual way, all of us in a different way. And I think it’s this concept in the world that this is a contest or something that people victimize themselves, thinking that they’ve had it harder than the other one. And this is something that is also important to find your way out of, because that is not a good place to stay if you really want to find your happiness, because it’s not in the victim zone. And I don’t mean that you can’t feel the sadness or sorrow or anger or hurt that you’ve felt in this world, of course you can, but you can’t stay there forever. You have to stand up for yourself.
It’s a tough process too, but once you realize that and go through the steps, it will be quite liberating.
Netta: Yes. That’s where true freedom lies, and with freedom comes happiness. And they’re all interconnected, love, happiness and freedom and peace. They’re all there.
Speaking of empowerment and going through all of this, you’ve set an example of this through the videos for “Bitch Fire” and “The Reckoning.” What was the experience like getting those videos out?
Noora: So great. Of course this was introducing us together. So I think the video was exactly… Well, almost exactly as we wanted. The budget that we had and I really liked that it’s black and white and it’s all about the song and not about some visual stuff. But still, I think “Bitch Fire” was really cool in a classic way, a really cool video.
Netta: It’s all about the presence.
Noora: Yeah, the presence and about the lyrics, what’s the song about. And the passion that’s coming out of us. And then on the other hand, in “The Reckoning,” we went into some kind of nightmare.
Netta: The reckoning of your soul.
Noora: Yeah, like it’s the reckoning of yourself, it’s the reckoning of your soul. And I felt like in the video, you can actually get the idea of the song and also in a visual way, it’s like a horror movie and it’s like a horror, a dream that you dream. And it’s kind of like there’s some things that doesn’t have any logic to it or does, it’s like having some kind of a nightmare. And I really love this thing also that me and Netta, we both love doing music videos that have a story. And we want to bring that to people visually and bring that art side also, that it’s not only us singing in a music video, pretty and stuff like that, but we actually want to push ourselves, in any kind of way. As you can see in the music video, there are real cockroaches and stuff like that. So it was actual horror sometimes.
Oh, so that wasn’t CGI or anything, that was actual cockroaches?
Noora: Yeah, they were real cockroaches.
Netta: Yeah, they were actual cockroaches. I bought them from a pet store.
Noora: We named them also.
Netta: We also had, the maggots were real. They were also bought from the pet shop and yeah, we named the cockroaches, for it to be a less…
Noora: Yeah, less disgusting. There was Amanda, Vanessa and Escot. Two girls and one boy.
Noora: But they never made it cute, I have to say that.
Netta: Yeah, they didn’t turn cute, but they were okay. They were also living creatures so we respected their lives a lot. So no animals were harmed during the filming. Everyone was happy. Yeah, but it was a lot of… We had a really tight schedule when it came to these music videos. Because the album just got ready around mid April. Straight away, we started doing these videos, and me being the producer in both of them.
And a lot of work. The first one I also edited myself. So it’s been a lot of chaos and tears and panic when I think about the videos, because I always want things to go right. I want them to really capture what I’m trying to say in the song, or what the feeling and the theme is in the song. So I wanted to compliment the song in the right way, not in a corny way. So I tried to steer away from corny, but having this… They can be funny things, but not in a tacky way. So that’s always a struggle when the schedule on the budget is tight, that’s always a struggle. And doing a lot of things, like in the shooting we were doing everything ourselves, because there’s not a huge group of people doing these songs, thanks to these financials. So I was doing that, what is… Generator, that gives us power when we are filming. I was doing that. I was also using the smoke machine. So then I just ran to the other side of the camera to be shot when everything was ready and like, “Yeah, now there’s enough smoke.”
Noora: It was really like a DIY thing.
Netta: It was.
It doesn’t look like a DIY video. Both of them came out very well. “The Reckoning” reminded me of an independent short film. And now that you say that those were real bugs in the video, take a whole new perspective.
Noora: We are method actresses. We need the real. We had also, Netta had prepared the food on the table. It was actually full of mold and stuff, for real.
Netta:I was trying to rotten them for over a week at our house and my husband was like, “What the hell are you doing now?” I said, “Don’t even ask.”
Noora: I’m doing a music video goddammit!
Now with this new project, do you have any plans for either a concert or Livestream or some sort of event together?
Noora: Of course, that’s our dream, someday that we have… Of course we have to wait until this whole pandemic stuff is over and then we have to get the schedules of both of us, so that we can fit a time for our Laurenne and Louhimo shows. But definitely, that’s something that we definitely have to do someday, but we can’t tell you yet when that is going to happen.
Netta: Yeah. Because it’s always… We have to first see what’s going to happen. What are the tour dates for Battle Beast and Smackbound and then we can put this there for the free spots that might be available. But yes, we definitely would love to perform together live and just have this experience of singing together to a live audience.
It’s a great album. And for Noora, you really surprised me this year, because I think before this, you had your solo album.
Noora: Yeah. First released in March. Yeah.
It’s definitely been a surprise year for Noora and just waiting for the next Battle Beast. And then I know, Smackbound for Netta, you’re working on a new album later this summer.
So what was it like for both of you combining both projects with your solo work, Noora, and then this new project together?
Noora: Well, it’s time managing. The thing was that when I started all these different band projects and I got involved, I had it all in mind that how everything goes. They’re not going to be all at the top of each other. But then of course this whole pandemic has also moved schedules. Actually, my solo album was supposed to be out earlier, but because of this pandemic, there was some stuff that happened. And then we had to, we were forced to postpone for one month. So that’s why things are a little bit tight together. But I think, because it’s a totally different music genre that Laurenne and Louhimo or Battle Beast is, I think it’s… As long as I can do great music for people, that’s all I want to do. And I just have to live with my calendar.
Netta: Yeah. And for me it was funny because we composed this album with my husband and then the Smackbound album at the same time, last autumn. And it is just crazy how different the songs are on the records.
Netta: It’s insane how they ended up, because it was crazy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we’re doing Smackbound, and then writing Thursday, Friday, this album. But they didn’t mix up at any point, they are totally different. And I don’t even understand how different feeling there is to these albums, because they’re done at the exact same timeline, but the emotions are quite different from each other in a way. And it’s interesting how this album ended up these feelings that we have here and the Smackbound album something totally different ended up landing. So it’s funny, it’s layers of yourself, but you actually have all the time with you.
Noora: I think it’s great that the whole thing is that we both can show to people that we all have different sides in ourselves. It’s not just the one thing that you do and that’s the way that you want to be expressing yourself. And of course we tell different stories in different albums. And for example, in my solo album, I tell my personal story. I’ve been dreaming about that for over a decade, about doing a solo album. And then I put all the stuff that I’ve always wanted and dreamed of in that same album. But only from that perspective that I didn’t want to put any heavy metal in that album, because I’m already doing Battle Beast and now Laurenne and Louhimo. So I thought that I really wanted to show people another side of myself and go back to the musical roots I have and show that to people also. And also in that way, I wanted to show people what kind of person I am. And I think with Netta it’s the same with Smackbound and Laurenne and Louhimo, that you show your different sides.
Netta: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I agree. And that makes it interesting.
It’s more exciting too. I mean, as I said in the beginning, “Bitch Fire,” that introduction single. I’m like, “This is going to be a great album, instantly,” and it was a wonderful, wonderful surprise.
Noora: Great to hear that.
Netta: Yes. That’s great to hear, thank you.
Netta: Glad you like it.
Of course, I love it. It’s fantastic and I hope your fans will agree. And my last question for you is, is there anything that you want to say or add about this album, or what’s next for fans to know?
Noora: Well, the album released on the 9th of July, and you can order now from Laurenneandlouhimo.com.
Netta: Yeah, there’s all the links to all the shops. And also follow us on social media if you’re not doing that already, because we put all kinds of stuff there also, the behind the scenes stuff. We hope that everyone will enjoy this album. We put our hearts and souls and tears and sweat into it. And we really hope that it finds the people who are meant to listen to this. So it finds the right audience. It’s not meant for everyone, it’s meant for the people who need it the most now and want it the most. So I hope it finds its own way, once it leaves the world. And just everybody take care of yourself and your loved ones and work on yourself to gain a good life and happy life.
Noora: Exactly. And with this album, we want to empower people and give people strength to do that. To be happier and to live happier in their lives. And of course, it’s all about the music, it’s all about the love for music and for people. So that’s all, people go and do your order, and go see our music videos and follow us on social media.
Netta: Yes. Yes. That’s going to help us to have a future and hopefully live gigs.