I Wear* Experiment – Exclusive Interview!

I Wear* Experiment is an electronic trio based in Tallinn, Estonia, which is known for its nordic, punchy, aggressive sound. They performed in 2016 in the finals of Eesti Laul, which is the Estonian preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest. I Wear* Experiment are Johanna, Mikk and Hando. They travelled in the past three years through Europe, Asia and the United States, won in 2017 the Estonian music prize EMA in the category “debut album” with their record “Patience”. Now, the trio comes back with their new album Jupiterz. I had the chance to meet the “fox and the two bears” in the Crickets Empire Studio in Tallinn.

I Wear* Experiment, © press materials

Indiestonia: So how do you feel right now as it is the week of the album release?
Johanna: Everything is really calm, ’cause we have done all the work with the album and right now we’re like in the cocoon.
Mikk: In the promotion cocoon.
Hando: This week will be quite easy, next week will be insane and the week before this one we were shooting the video and so on. Everytime we release something there is like a big masterplan and usually, timewise, we fail in very many aspects in this masterplan, but this time our manager was even like “Oh shit, things might be ready on time.”. Which is like a good sign that we are in many ways learning from our mistakes though there are still some errors, but if there would not be any errors then it would be too good to be true. So, yeah we have prepared the album release quite well.

Indiestonia: That’s really nice to hear. So what is the album really about, what is the masterplan?
Hando: HEH, what it is about. (Johanna laughs) Last week I was listening to the album from the beginning to the end for the first time after some period of two weeks where Ididn’t listen to anything and I was trying to compare it with “Patience” The whole vibe is much darker and at least for me whenlistening to the themes of the songs and the stories I had this feeling thatpatience was written much more inwards and Jupiterz is written much moreoutwards meaning that like we have quite perfect lives…not perfect, but we’re doing very okay. (Johanna and Mikk smiling) There are not many tragedies in our lives. So if a listener might listen to thealbum and think about us, he or she might think that “Oh shit, those guys are going through some really rough times”. But when I started like analysing why is it like that the themes in the songs are so dark although we have a quite nice life then I ended up with the conclusion that as we have liketravelled and seen quite much during the last two or three years and there is this weird thing called empathy and we can see what is going on in the world and that’s like quite dark, you know everything that is going on and even with some of our friends or stuff like that, so maybe subconsciously we took those emotions and wrote about them, so through them we tried to heal the world or something like that. Yes, that’s the conclusion I had.
Mikk: Every life is a struggle. I mean, not in a good way or in a bad way. Life is a struggle and it also has to be a struggle anyway.

Indiestonia: Which music influenced you while doing Jupiterz?
Hando: I think it has been always when some very groundbreaking album comes out then we shared it with each other and said “Oh, this will inspire the next few months of our creations” and I remember when the new Fever Ray album came out and Johanna asked in the groupchat “Oh have you heard the new Fever Ray album?!” and we said “Yes,yes” and Johanna said “This will have impact on everything.” And it actually did, did it?
Johanna: Yeah, well definitely in my singing and Arcade Fire, for me also. Like the late singer was talking, more talking vocals. I kindabborrowed something from there.
Mikk: I would definitely always try to get some Mutemath. Like in the song “Dogs” that was kind of what was present in there.

I Wear* Experiment at the Asian Tour ©: press materials

Indiestonia: You have also been touring through Asia for the last two years. How was it like to be in Asia? It seemed to me like this was the most exciting thing for you.
Johanna: It was.
Mikk: We love it there. It’s weird in a good way that we love it. Especially Korea has become, I guess we can all say, our second home of sort. We have been there four or five times. We love the food, we love everything.
Hando: To my surprise, it’s so crazy to see like how China is developing. We have been there twice now. It was a country that is developing hundred times quicker than the rest of Europe. Because you already could see how fast they’re building things. I think that when we would go there next year we would see actually so many new things even if we were in the same area. That fascinated me the most that they develop so much faster and also the fact that there were like over 1 billion people, so it’s like a world of its own. It was also cool to see how – not only in China, but also in Malaysia – music that we write here or even some songs that I have written 6 years ago in my bedroom; how they translate so well without people even understanding the lyrics. I will always remember when we played in Malaysia and we played like the “The Spring Is Cold This Year” and there were girls in burqas jumping around and going crazy. And then I was like “Holy shit, that’s amazing!” Because while sittting in Pirita in my bedroom playing that song like the first demo I never would have dreamed of girls in burqas freaking out or we playing at the other side of the world and people liking that music.

Indiestonia: Was that also your craziest experience in Asia like this concert?
Johanna: No, Vietnam.
Hando: Vietnam.!! I was just checking some photage we had from the Vietnamese concert. We played there at this big summer festival and it was the biggest stage we have ever played and we were headlining that day. When I checked the photage even still I get like goosebumps. Of course when playing there, there were no goosebumps. I just remember that after the first song I was so physically tired and out of breath because it’s superhot there then I thought like “How we will survive this 1 hour set?”. Yeah, for me that was a real highlight of all of the highlights of the Asian experience.
Mikk: There were so many highlights. The Vietnam thing was really cool. (laughs) It’s a really good and a really hard question. I don’t know. I also like the adventure in the underground clubs . That was weird in Japan. It was just weird (chuckles)…But yeah I think the Vietnam thing was the craziest thing. Because we weren’t expecting them…But I guess also our first trip to Korea like the evening show and the party, especially the people we met and the experiences we had on the go. I’m very thankful for the travelling because it made me a bigger person to understand the world. I would recommend if anybody has the chance to travel even if it’s to a neighbouring country, take every opportunity and go see the world. Otherwise you’re shortsided and closed in your own environment and not understanding the world.IW*E at the Asian tour © press materials

Indiestonia: So you didn’t even get a culture shock or something when you were in Asia?
Mikk: There were some things that were weird. Like in Japan we warmed up for this girl group. By girl group I mean six or seven or five girls who were portraying this underaged, lolita-ish image. They were actually 26 or 28 years old.
Hando: Only one girl was as old as the other girls were as young as they portrayed.
Mikk: And then you have an audience of 16-year old to 50 year-old men and later you can take pictures with the girls and one picture costs like 15 euros each, like that’s normal. Everything costs money.
Johanna: If you want to get a hug, then you have to pay more.
Mikk: Yeah, like everything is extra.
Johanna: They have like really cute bags where they had the pictures of themselves and they took the picture out and wrote the autograph.
Mikk: There were little things and you understand that’s what they do for the historical reasons they have. Such weird concepts of sexuality and so on. I think if you are there already for a week or something in the environment you get used to those things.

Indiestonia: Which activities help you to stay productive and inspire you to still make music? Because it seems like to me that you are always like inspired and make like this great music and it never stops. Do you have writer’s block sometimes?
Johanna: Of course, but you should start doing music, then you will know because you cannot stop doing it. There is nothing else that compares to it. So it’s just that making music sucks you in and you can never stop. There is nothing else that compares to it. There isn’t anything else.
Mikk: Hando writes most of the music and Johanna. I was really inspired by Stig Rästa, who was my neighbor for a long time. We are good friends and he said that at one point he just systematically didn’t leave the house before he had written three songs a day. And at one point he didn’t have so much time so he had to write one. Then you have like 365 songs per year, right? So if you do that for twenty years even for two years, you gonna write a lot of songs. Most of them suck, but it’s a habit. It’s not like the thing “Oh when I get inspired?” because you then end up nowhere unless you’re a genius. It’s just a practice and for me personally as a drummer we all have low points and stuff and so at one point you chose this life and I wish I had a mentor who introduced me to this life who’s saying how is it gonna be. Me and Hando are both freelancers and what does that mean? It means that sometimes you have overwhelming work and sometimes you work the hardest and you get no result. I record sometimes and spend a week and then it’s just shit. And then you’re like “I tried everything, it’s okay, I’m just gonna do it again.” because you have the habit and you want to, you know? If you don’t want to then stop. Whatever level you are, I think you just have to – regarding inspiration-  inspire yourself and kind of aspire towards something as for me it was the last Twenty One Pilots album.
Hando: The thing that Mikk said about writing songs that’s how I’ve done it.
Mikk: Hando is really good at writing lyrics. When I read some of the lyrics I’m like “Holy crap, how did you come up with this?”
Hando: It’s just practice. And there are of course moments, some weeks, when I come here [to the studio] do something until like midnight, go home and tell my girlfirend “I’m a piece of shit. I can’t do anything. I should like stop existing.” And then another days I go home and I’m like (snaps) ” Yes! I got this!” Yeah so, and those moments of this epic success when you record something and you sit here after recording it and you listen to it and you’re like “Ten thousand people can do this while listening to the song (Hando’s waving hands)”.Johanna, ©press materials

Indiestonia: Has the songwriting changed during the making of the new album?

Hando: That’s a difficult question… Some things come easier. Before I had a very big problem with second verses. Like lyric-wise. I actually had like a problem and I never could do a second verse. Now it’s better. And there are like some songs where the second verse is even better than the first one. Like I’m loving It. (Mikk smiles) Why are you laughing?
Mikk: I’m not laughing, I’m smiling.
Hando: It’s weird, don’t do it. And songwriting in other way, of course the technical side of it. You learn all the time how some sounds work and how to produce things better. But still, the overall songwriting process hasn’t changed. And there are of course sometimes some happy accidents meaning that sometimes I have like an idea at home, I play it with my acoustic guitar and come here and then try to digitalise it with other instruments and then it works, but that happens very rarely. Usually, it’s like that that I come to the studio and create or take some drum loop and the process it’s kind of the same. There is no revelation in that. It’s same shit, different song. Some things are just easier, you know.
Mikk: Lyric-wise it has gotten a lot better.

Indiestonia: Did you also work with IIRIS during the album?
Johanna: No, not during the album. We did one track with her,but it didn’t make it to the album.
Hando: We recorded one song together. But it’s not in the album. It’s waiting for the future release. There is some really good stuff inthere. So yeah, we did one song with Iiris, but we didn’t have basically the time to analyze it so it’s still in thecomputer for its time.
Mikk: She is a really good friend of us. We see her maybetwo three times a year.

Hando: We also had some other collaborations like with Bertonbeats or with Karl Tulik.

Indiestonia: That would be also my question, if you guys have co-operated with other Estonian artists?
Mikk: We really want to. It’s just that –
Johanna: We haven’t done it before.
Mikk: – we always have something to do. And it’s different with different artists meaning that we did one session here with Bert it was like fun, but it wasn’t very productive. Later when we talked to him he said thathe hates that kind of writing days, he would much rather like to try anotherapproach and that’s something that we’re still learning. How to co-write withbsomebody so both of us would be in there. Some kind of a conference song. It’s always such a big learning curve to write something who is not from our gang, like we did with Ivo from Ewert and the Two Dragons. The song didn’t make it to the album, but the day we spent with the co-producer, it’s a very eye-opening experience.

Indiestonia: Thank you for the interview!
I Wear* Experiment: We thank you so much for coming!

IW*E in Asia ©press materials

You can listen to I Wear* Experiment’s new record Jupiterz on Spotify.

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