Hanna Tsepesh: Moro Jussi Kulomaa! Thanks so much for accepting our invitation for this interview! First of all, can you talk about MASTERSTROKE history?

Jussi: Hi! My pleasure. The band was formed in 2002 by Niko and Janne who wanted to play some power metal. The line-up was a bit different in the beginning, but over the years with a few changes, we now have a really great band together. So we began from power metal and evolved into... something more darker. I think our website goes into more detail on our history. Mine started in 2004 with the band.

Hanna Tsepesh: In what do you inspire to create lyrics for MASTERSTROKE?

Jussi: Uff... It could be anything really. Sometimes I just get an idea or a sentence and it ... sort of starts there and of it goes. Some have their basis from real life but the end result might not be at all linked to that original idea. There's some element of humour in there, although it might be somewhat... black. A little twinkle in the eye. I don't write for a particular song, I just write some stuff and it's mostly Niko who decides what lyrics should fit what songs. Then if it needs it, we'll tweak it from there.

Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands at the moment? There’s any keyboard musician that you admire in a particular way (if so tell us why)?

Jussi: Nevermore, Evergrey, Opeth, In Flames, Soilwork are some of the bands that have been on heavy rotation recently. As an artist and a keyboard player my all-time favorite (an understatement! I practically worship him...) is Vangelis. Followed closely by Jean Michel Jarre. As a friend of mine put it, the Beatles and Rolling Stones of electronic music. Mike Oldfield, Jon Lord and Keith Emerson have also had a big influence on me.

Hanna Tsepesh: From what age did you start to play and why?

Jussi: Let's see... I think I was about.. 8-9 years old? Might have been younger when I got my first keyboard (a home-organ from Yamaha). I don't really know why I got it, except maybe my parents and grandmother (who bought it) saw some potential in me? Well... I've taken some lessons on and off and even managed to get a paper on piano and theory (conservatory level 3). I still consider myself mostly self-taught. Kids! Don't do it! Take the time to study!

Hanna Tsepesh: Now we can say that your family is right, you have talent! Also, thanks for the cool message for the kids! In your free times what you like to do?

Jussi: Listen to music, read, browse some net forums, sometimes (rarely) out drinking with friends... Music is such a huge part of my life (work included!) that it's hard to separate free time from... well any other time!

Hanna Tsepesh: What are your inspirations to create the melodies for MASTERSTROKE? It Is difficult to create?

Jussi: Niko comes up with most, if not all, of the vocal melodies. We come up with the songs first, riffs, rhythm, structure and such. Then if I have some lyrics ready, Niko can arrange them for the song and he usually has an idea already at that point how the vocal melodies should go. For my parts, I try to have an "improvisational" approach, in that what comes up first is the best idea. Or at least it's the basis for the idea from which I start to develop it. Of course the song as whole dictates most of the direction, so to speak. The song comes first. Hmm... still after explaining, all I can really say is... it depends!

Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks for your explanation! About your new album “As Days Grow Darker”, is a cool name for an album! I like a lot your work, congratulations! This album is very powerful and the voice is great too! You guys make an amazing work! For the people who don’t listen yet can you tell us about “As Days Grow Darker”, and what the band want to accomplish with this new album?

Jussi: Thank you very much!Very early on we noticed that the riffs and general mood was going to be darker (hence we think that the title is appropriate) and more ... stronger, I suppose. Also, since most of the album was done "in-house", we tried to find something that would sound "us", you know? We'll see how everyone else thinks of it. We didn't talk about the direction that much, although everyone agreed that darker is better! With a little bit of trash metal thrown in.

Hanna Tsepesh: You are very welcome it’s the truth! About studio recording: it was a easy process for the band? Did you had all the lyrics done and riffs when you enter in studio to start recording “As Days Grow Darker”? The band feels proud with this album or do you feel that something could be improved?

Jussi: I think we had about 90% of the lyrics ready by the time Janne recorded his drums? I know that I finished some polishing up on the lyrics after that. The basic song structures, riffs and direction of the songs were ready by that time, but let's say the "details" were left open. On purpose I might add, so that we'd have some freshness to the whole process while recording. I think we succeeded in that. You see, when you go over and over these songs while rehearsing the songs and trying out different ideas, you tend to get... not quite bored (at least not me), but close enough! Anyways, the whole recording felt easier to us than on previous albums. Hmm... Well, I stressed out a bit, but that was because there was just so much to do!

Hanna Tsepesh: What is your favorite song in this album and why?

Jussi: I like the first song Wait for the fall and Inside Myself. Why? I really can't say, they just resonate somewhere deep inside me. All the songs are great on the album! There were a couple of songs I wasn't sure about, but they improved a lot during the recording after I found out their "thing", you know? Sometimes it can be a little thing, like the piano at the end of As Days Grow Darker. I really liked it but after I recorded the piano, it sort of made the whole song for me.

Hanna Tsepesh: What was your favorite MASTERSTROKE live show and why?

Jussi: Opening up for the Scorpions in Madrid on the tour with JOP and Manticora... that was something!

Hanna Tsepesh: Cool! about concerts: the band will be on tour? There is any plan for this in future?

Jussi: No that many confirmed shows as I'm writing this, but talks are under way... More of those IF and when they become more than just talk. I have to check our website for gigs, just like everyone else!

Hanna Tsepesh:I believe our readers will check it out, thanks! How are the things doing with your label “DYNAMIC ARTS RECORDS”? The band feels supported by them?

Jussi: Yeah, they're doing alright! Blimey, they got us touring Europe! In less than a year after signing with them!

Hanna Tsepesh: Do you want to send any message for your fans out there and our readers about MASTERSTROKE and your new album?

Jussi: Check out the album once it's out and come to the shows, you won't be disappointed!

Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks so much for your answers and time! THE GATES OF METAL wishes the entire band a big success with your new album and we hope to see MASTERSTROKE very soon in Portugal…

Jussi: Thank you very much! Hope to see you too!

By: Hanna Tsepesh

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