Drum & Bass from Finland has been blessed with acts like Fanu, Resound, Muffler, Trisector, Samuel & Nasley, Champagne and Breakwater Crew who have championed and held the Finnish flag high in the Drum & Bass spectrum; and following their legacy are Helsinki-based duo Askel & Elere.
Being friends throughout their teenage years and coming together in 2018 to write the genre they love, Askel & Elere first released their music on Soulvent Records in the same year with a two-tracker that was a profound ode to their homeland. Askel & Elere’s distinct and cross-continental Drum and Bass music brings a variety of influences, ranging from neo-soul to punk and African folk music.
As well as being firmly rooted in the Soulvent Records family, they have carried their rhythm-soaked brand of Drum & Bass and also released their music on labels like Fokuz, Delta9 and Hospital Records. In addition to their expeditions as a duo, Askel has had appearances on Terra Firma, none60, and Mystery City while Elere has released his music on Celsius and Fokuz Recordings.
Through tracks like ‘Pulsar’, ‘Losing Game’ and ‘Envelop’, Askel & Elere released some of their finest music in 2020 and began this year with ‘Nothing More’ and ‘Get Up’ of which the former has made it to their debut album ‘Simulations’.
The work behind the ‘Simulations’ LP is cinematic, meticulous and emotional; and if you have followed Askel & Elere’s music in the last two years, you won’t be surprised experiencing the depth and emotive power of the album. It is also a testament to the duo’s strong musical background.
The ‘Simulations’ LP has diverse styles on offer and it is made sweeter by collaborations with Riya, Degs, and In:Most on tracks like ‘Perfect Symmetry’, ‘42’ and ‘Cherry Yogurt’. It is in our opinion a serious contender for the best Drum & Bass album of the year.
We caught up with the Finnish pair to know more about the album, their influences, and their future plans.
- When you guys released ‘Nothing More’, little did we know that the tune was going to lead us to an album. When did the idea of a full-scale release come about?
Askel & Elere: We hadn’t really thought of writing an album yet back when we made Nothing More and Get Up, but Soulvent vocalised their interest in signing us exclusively around the same time! After the deal went through, we started consciously driving our sound into a more cohesive place, using visual inspiration from indie video games – for example – to find that scifi-liquid style. The rest of the album tunes were written in a relatively short amount of time, between the summers of 2020 and 2021.
- There are some huge collaborations in the album. How was the experience while writing music with the likes of Riya, Degs, Winslow, In:Most and Nosfer?
Askel & Elere: Every single collaboration on the album was a pleasure to make. Riya and Degs are some of our absolute favourite vocalists in drum & bass, and we still can’t completely believe they wanted to work with us! The Winslow and In:Most collabs were both written by sharing stems back and forth over the Internet, and everything went relatively smoothly there as well. Apparently the collab we made with Winslow is the first collaboration he has successfully finished (fun fact – the title of the tune, Taking Forever, is taken from our chat where he apologised for “taking forever” with his part, haha).
After writing music with them, finally meeting all the aforementioned people at Hospitality Weekend In The Woods in London was a surreal experience in the best possible way! Nosfer, on the other hand, is an old friend of ours from Finland and an absolute wizard when it comes to sound design – all the earth-shaking basses on Searchlight are his handiwork.
- We want to emphasize on two stunning tracks – ‘Nothing More’ and ‘After The Rain’. There is something very special about YENIAS’ emotive vocal power, isn’t it?
Askel & Elere: Hahha, thank you! YENIAS is Elere’s name SAINEY backwards, in case one might not know and hasn’t noticed yet, so those words are taken directly to heart. Some more YENIAS music is definitely going to get a release; there are tracks that are hugely influenced by drum and bass but represent anything and everything else genre-wise. Some other projects are in the works as well as collabs in the scene at the moment. We shall see what gets to see the light of day!
- What we love about the ‘Simulations’ LP is that it has a wide array of styles that have been encapsulated in it. Was it always the plan to keep the album expansive?
Askel & Elere: Yes, 100%. We think that varying the tempos really does wonders for an album as a whole. To put it bluntly, listening to an hour of only drum & bass tunes in an album context can get a little bit boring in our opinion. That’s why one of the slower tunes on the album is named “Palate Cleanser”, it’s meant to be exactly that! Even within drum & bass we love to write a variety of styles, usually exploring the grey areas between really dark, techy tunes and melodic liquid… hence scifi-liquid.
- Your friendship goes a long, long way, but what was the defining moment in the formation of Askel & Elere?
Askel & Elere: Indeed, we have been friends for about 15 years now! The defining moment for Askel & Elere has to be the deal we made with each other back in music production school in 2017: once a week we would sit down together and try to make some music happen. We succeeded a few times, eventually upped the number of days in a week when we felt like it and worked like that until we had finished our album, basically! We did take a bit of a break afterwards though to clear our heads and to get some more fun ideas for the future.
- We briefly remember you guys mentioning that the Finnish weather has an influence to your music. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Askel & Elere: Finland is very dark, cold and rainy for most of the year – winters are long and the days are short. There’s a specific kind of melancholy that seems to be a common factor in almost all Finnish music, and even the lyrical themes present in pop music can be fairly bleak. For us specifically that seems to mean that we rarely write anything in a major key, haha! We also don’t spend much time in the studio in the summers, it’s much better to enjoy the few days of sunshine outside.
Another aspect of the album is how seamlessly it oscillates between light and dark elements; and having been ardent followers of your music, we feel that you’re bossing the knack of finding the perfect balance in your productions. What are your thoughts?
Askel & Elere: Oh man, those are some merits to carry with pride! Thank you. We wanted to make an album that encapsulates our preferences in both ends of the spectrum and quite honestly, we tried to make a drum and bass album that would be something easily revisitable and has a longer lifespan than some of our earlier stuff. We tried to really go for memorable melodies and themes around – and outside – the genre we wholeheartedly love.
- Some of the best music you guys had written before the album was during the lockdown period in 2020. Do you guys reckon that the headspace you had for yourself in isolation inspired your creative flows?
Askel & Elere: I’m not sure if we were in a particularly creative mindset, but the fact is that there wasn’t much else to do during lockdown than write tunes! We also lived together as flatmates for all of 2020 and most of 2021, so getting to the other person’s studio was never more than a few steps away! We both still live in Helsinki city center now, but the distance is a good couple thousand steps more now, haha.
- One artist that you would like to collaborate within Drum & Bass?
Askel & Elere: There are too many names to actually drop here. On top of collabs we’ve done on the album and before it, we’d love to add Unglued. We’ve played a whole lot of Counter-Strike with him lately and have had a bunch of fun times with it, and it feels like working together would definitely bring up the best of both worlds, so to say!
- What’s next for Askel & Elere?
Askel & Elere: Well, our album drops on the 29th of October and obviously we’re incredible excited to see how it gets received! We’re putting together an album launch party in Helsinki on the 12th of November, so if anyone from Finland is reading this, hope to see you there! After that it’s back on the grind – we’re really happy to be in Soulvent’s exclusive roster, working with them has always been very easy and they really let us fulfill our own vision. So, feel free to expect more music in a variety of styles from us come 2022.
Askel & Elere’s ‘Simulations’ is out on Soulvent Records. Trust us when we’re saying that you would not want to miss out on this one. Grab your copy now!