Interview Zebra & Snake: ‘London Is Still The Mythical Capital Of Pop’

Coral Williamson catches up with Zebra & Snake off the back of the release of their debut LP.

Helsinki synth pop duo Zebra and Snake release their debut album ‘Healing Music’ this week. Fresh from their gigs at The Great Escape, singer Tapio tells DIY about how they went, and how Zebra and Snake got together in the first place.

First of all, how did Zebra & Snake form?
We were just hanging out at Mattis place and he had his synth and bass there. We started to play some simple riffs and sing nonsense phrases, and all of this was just to amuse our friend, this girl who was there hanging out with us. And she was amused, she laughed, so we thought we should make some more music together.

And who’s who, animal-wise?
We haven’t decided yet. We’re still looking for the answers.

Your debut album is called ‘Healing Music’ - what is ‘healing music’ to you?
It has quite many meanings to us. First of all, when we started the band it was all about doing things without self-criticism or some strict limitations of what we should do. And that was really healing. Therapeutic! Actually, one of our first songs we made together is called ‘Healing Music’, and that song was sort of spiritual guideline during the album recordings. In addition we hope our music has purely the power to make everyone feel good and forget some troubles even for a moment.

Who would you say is your biggest influence, musically?
It’s hard to name just one. I’d say it’s some kind of mutation of Stevie Nicks, Prince and David Bowie. What a monster.

What made you choose to sing in English rather than Finnish?
It just happened. I’ve never really thought about it that much.

Why do all the Nordic countries seem to have such great music coming out lately? Got any tips for the UK to copy?
I guess living half of the year without the sun could do the trick. Or maybe the extremely polluted Baltic sea has done the magic. But really, I think we’ve had few great pioneers in indie and alternative pop music. Like The Knife has made a great effort opening the way for new Nordic electronic acts for example.

Do you feel part of any kind of ‘scene’ back in Helsinki or Finland? Are other local bands supportive of you?
So many bands in Finland are making metal music, so I guess we’re part of the scene making non-metal music. And yeah, there’s so many great new bands in Helsinki and in Finland and many of these people have become our friends. I think the atmosphere is really supportive and cooperative. It’s really small markets in Finland so we’re all kind of fighting with the same issues, for example finding the new audience abroad.

How different is it playing over here than back home?
There’s much more excitement playing here in London for sure. To me at least it still is the mythical capital of pop and rock. And we should really prove our skills and greatness in front of it. But the response has been really nice, so we’re not that nervous anymore. We enjoy playing a good show no matter where.

And of course, how was your time at The Great Escape?
We truly enjoyed it there. The day set was really nice, but you know it just always feels a bit weird dancing at lunchtime. The night gig was awesome. We really didn’t know what to expect. We just went there, fixed our gear ready outside the venue in some loading area, went in just fifteen minutes before the show and just started playing after we got it all ready on the stage and then, it turned out to be one of the best shows of them all! The venue, Green Door Store, it was crowded and it had this really edgy feeling in it. Go Brighton!

You’ve had a few of yours songs remixed, and done a few yourselves - what’s the best thing about remixes? And do you prefer remixing, or being remixed?
Remixes can be really interesting, it can really put your song into a new perspective. Making remixes is fun, destroying a song and building it up anew is an empowering experience.

Finally - who’ve you enjoyed listening to lately? Got any favourite new albums, or been to any great gigs?
I’ve been listening to classical minimalistics lately, like Lutoslawski, Cage and Reich. But in the area of pop music, Grimes has made a really great new record, takes me instantly into another world. I would love to see her show.

Zebra & Snake’s new album ‘Healing Music’ is out now via Republic Of Music.

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