Artwork by @mystupidsketchbook
WHO are they?
STRAKTOBEAM are a five-piece cosmic synth-pop band who loves intergalactic space journeys and vintage video games. They formed in 2011 and released their robot-shaped USB-EP NANOBOT EP a year later. The band consists of Otto Rönkä (synthesizers), Veijo Salo (synthesizers, vocoders), Saara Shikeben (synthesizers, vox), Timo Tikka (drums), Ville Tikka (synthesizers).
WHAT is the inspiration behind their song “Melange”?
“The song Melange tells a story of a crew of interstellar space travellers who have abandoned their home planet and are searching for a new home” they tell us. “Their journey is one of many dangers, and our little crew manoeuvres from one peril to another. How will their journey end? And what is the story behind the enigmatic Moai statues? The name of the song, Melange, is of course a reference to the geriatric spice from the Dune books by Frank Herbert.” If you don’t know what that is, here’s some Wikipedia help for you.
WHERE are they from?
“We’re all from Finland, a sparsely populated but vast country in northern Europe. Most of us grew up in Helsinki, the capital city, but Veijo spent his childhood up north in Oulu.”
So, has their land influenced the music they create? “Now Finland is a country with great natural beauty, known for vast freshwater lakes, endless spruce tree forests, the spectacular Mid-Summer sun and shimmering Northern Lights. While it would be tempting to say this surrounding has shaped our sound, I guess we’ve more been influenced by the indoor offerings of the 90s and 00s, most notably the early video and computer game environment of the time.”
“As kids, people would (like in many other places too) gather around the console at a friend’s house and play some old Sega or Nintendo games for hours on end and then later dream about the adventures and imagine oneself travelling in space, Sonicland, wherever. I guess to some extent that kind of childhood daydreaming is something that really plays a big part in our songs.”
Another influence related to growing up is probably the really nice starry sky. Since there is not so much light pollution in Finland, and all (well, almost all) Finnish families tend to have summer cottages and cabins in the woods, as a child you really get to appreciate many nights of star-gazing, so space and star travel are really natural themes to us.
And what about the music scene in Finland? “It’s quite good and diverse! Rap music is big, and also heavy metal, although we’re not really that much involved in those scenes. Our music caters to a somewhat smaller audience, I guess, but there seem to be quite a lot of like-minded cool synth- and synthmusic lovers in Finland.”
“The name was thought of by Otto, who used to think “tractor beam” from Dino-Riders [a late 80s cartoon television series centred on the battle between the good Valorians and evil Rulons on prehistoric Earth. Thanks again Wikipedia] was actually a cool separate word “Straktobeam”. In Dino-Riders the evil Rulons used it as a weapon against escaping Valorians to pull them back to orbit. Not knowing any English at the time (he was like 5 or 6) the idea that it was indeed a beam that attracts/pulls things just said in English, did not occur to him. We all thought that was a nice story and a cool word, with a kinda scifisque feel. Then we added the CAPS for more cosmic awesomeness.”
WHEN can I see them live?
“We love to play live! We’ve played in all sorts of venues from outdoor festivals to dusty underground basement things. Currently our crew is spread around Finland living in three different cities due to school, so we’ve had to cut down on gigging, with more focus on making new songs and videos. But if you come to Finland in the summer, it’s pretty likely we’ll be jamming our cosmic synth pop in some obscure – but nice! – venue.”
Watch the Melange video