Laurenne/Louhimo – Musical EmpowermentTuesday, 13th July 2021
With just their own main bands (and outside projects), Netta Laurenne and Noora Louhimo are powerhouse vocalists. In teaming up for a collaborative metal album, they have managed to raise the stakes even higher. The final product, The Reckoning, is one that sees the two singers in a potent mix of voices and hard riffing. A fun album that shows what true collaboration is all about, which is something that you can pick up in our chat with both vocalists with ease. In discussing the nature of the partnership, the music itself, and beyond, the enthusiasm and friendship is palpable from the page/screen.
Dead Rhetoric: What drew the two of you together for this collaboration?
Noora Louhimo: We actually drew each other in [laughs]! We both had been following each other’s careers for years and admiring each other, secretly [laughs]. We both had this dream to collaborate together, and then with the COVID pandemic, Netta called me and asked if I would like to join forces with her, and I said yes! So here we are.
Netta Laurenne: That’s where it started, it was fate. We never knew that the other had the same dream of collaborating. But when we met together and talked, and got to know each other on a different level, then it was really easy to start composing and writing the lyrics to the album.
Dead Rhetoric: How did songwriting go – how was it decided who would sing where?
Laurenne: It was kind of mathematical. We could have sang in which ever order – we didn’t think about it at all when we were writing the songs. We split the lines after the songs were ready. I had a listening session with Nino Laurenne, who was our other producer, and we thought about the splits. I also sat down with Noora and discussed it with her too. But it was really just like, “I’ll take this, or I’ll take that.” It was very organic and natural, the mathematical part was that we wanted the share to be really equal. I calculated that it is 50/50 on the album. We both are singing the same amount on the album, and as much as possible on each song. The equal split was a big thing.
Dead Rhetoric: So it was important for you both that it was a true collaboration, and not one person with help from the other – both having equal footing.
Louhimo: This album is all about friendship and raising each other, as singers and people, and not competing in any way.
Laurenne: The best way that collaboration works is by lifting the people around you – everybody gets lifted. While you concentrate on lifting the one, the other person lifts you up. That’s how the magic happens when you think about even things like theater plays. You have to concentrate when you are acting on stage on the others, not yourself, and that makes the magic. So this was about supporting each other and show our friendship, love, and equality on this album.
Dead Rhetoric: Going along with the theme of empowerment on the album then…
Laurenne: Definitely. We wanted to empower people and have positive effects and emotions on the album. Finding yourself and learning about yourself – both the good and the bad. It has a lot to do with what has happened with the past year to people during the lockdown. We have been forced to look in the mirror more than usual. This is a great album, in the time that it was born, to support that development that people are still working on. It’s about finding balance in yourself, self-love, and developing yourself and empowering yourself and others. That will lead you to a good life.
Dead Rhetoric: What did you find easy about working with each other?
Louhimo: Netta and her husband, Nino, have been writing songs together and my collaboration on the album was on the vocal performance, which was fine for me. In the beginning, we agreed since I was working on my own solo album at the same time, as well as a new Battle Beast album – I was so busy. It was totally fine for me that Netta was going to do the lyrics. We went through all of the songs together and made sure that both of us are behind the songs. I can definitely say that all of the lyrics on the album represent my own [views]. Even though Netta is the poet, the thing is that we can bring out the stories and words in the lyrics and empower people to look themselves in the mirror and find something new in themselves – learn how to deal with the struggles in life, and we want to give them the strength to do that.
Laurenne: I think the best thing about this collaboration was just getting people to be together. This pandemic/lockdown made it feel so much stronger. We had so little human, real human connections. We hadn’t seen anyone, but we did see each other. So we really treasured each minute we got to spend together. We had so much fun doing this album. We laughed so much. I think there are more takes that were ruined by us laughing than there are that we actually sang [laughs]. It was such as pleasure to just enjoy each other’s company.
Dead Rhetoric: You should put together a blooper reel together or something.
Laurenne: There are several of those! There are audio tracks full of bloopers that we could compose into songs later on [laughs].
Louhimo: There’s a lot of cursing when we fuck up [laughter]! But that was the best thing. We were recording together, it was so much fun. It’s not only that we were in the same booth at the same time, but the thing is that when you sing together with someone, you have to be in this symbiotic relationship. You have to be like one person. You have to sense their energy, emotion, and feeling – so many different things at the same time. Not just what the rhythmics or tempo in the singing. It’s a very sensitive place to be. It’s was so nice to realize that with Netta, when we get together in the same booth, we can be like one person together. When we get on stage together someday to do the Laurenne/Louhimo show, it’s going to be epic shit [laughs]! We can do this. We are not trying to compete or be better than the other. We are sisters.
Laurenne: It was great to do this together. It’s a whole different thing to stand there with someone else and try to put out the emotion and energy of the song.
Louhimo: It’s a rare thing. I have sang with different singers, and I know Netta has too. It’s really rare to find a person that you can actually count on so much.
Dead Rhetoric: Was it refreshing to work on something outside of your main bands?
Louhimo: Definitely! Every project, that is not in your primary band, you can always learn different things. You get fresh ideas. The way that you sing. You always get influenced by other people and that’s a good thing to do. If you only do one thing, you never develop. It’s not good for anyone. It’s the same thing if you ate the same meal every day. I think it’s all helpful. Everything we do is helping our other bands to be better. We get better at what we are doing and learn what we can do more.
Laurenne: I agree. It was refreshing, even though we did compose Smackbound’s second album at the same time, it was still refreshing to step out for a little bit out of Smackbound. We got to do something different and have fresh ideas.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you hope people take away from The Reckoning?
Laurenne: Positive energy. The feeling that they have the strength to pull anything off. They have the courage to do whatever they want, and to trust in themselves more as they have hopefully learned something from themselves in listening to the album. We just want people to feel better about themselves and their lives. To be brave and follow whatever passion they have in life, and to be able to listen to their intuition without fear or disorientation in their decisions.
Louhimo: Exactly! We want to empower people to be more brave and encourage them to not let anyone put them down. Being fiercely on their own side. Many people think too much about what other people think about them. They should be thinking more about ‘what do I think about myself?’ The thing is, that we can’t live our lives fully happily if we just think ‘can I do this or can I do that?’ You are asking permission from people who don’t know shit about you how to live your life. That’s not okay, and that’s something we want to bring out here in a loving way. We aren’t two angry bitches [laughs]! We love people and we love life, and we are also in our own way, finding ourselves more and more. We want to help people find their inner power and put it in their own lives.
Laurenne: We try to live the same way that we are talking about too, because that is the key to happiness. Strip down everything, your ego included, and understanding that life is too short for you to wait for other people to love you or give you credit for anything. You have to learn to love yourself despite what others tell you, and be strong enough to do your own thing despite the people who are telling you that you shouldn’t be doing those things because they have their own issues that make them tell you that stuff in the first place.
Louhimo: What I have realized, when people try to question you – people are afraid of messing up. The thought always comes in your mind, “What if I fuck up? What if I’m a loser?” I think we should just stop saying that ‘what if’ [laughs] or if we say ‘what if,’ we should ask “What if it is possible that we are going to do something great? I will get to my goal. I won’t get shit from anyone.” We can change it in a positive way.
Laurenne: I don’t even believe in the thought that you have to do something great. Who is to say what is great. You just have to do something. You don’t have to put yourself into that position. It can totally be something that’s total shit, but it’s great that you did it! Just do it.
Louhimo: You are your own judge of what is great and what is not. No one can tell you, for example with our music, that it is total shit and not worth listening. Well, don’t listen! Go away! Someone else can listen to it. Why should I listen to someone who doesn’t like it? I don’t understand [laughs].
Laurenne: That’s the thing. People have the right to choose, and not every song in the world is for everyone. I trust so much in the universe, or whatever, that this music will find its audience. it will find the people that will appreciate it, want it, need it, and enjoy it the most. That’s all one can wish for.
Louhimo: Yeah, and I hope that people get a little of that attitude from our album. They don’t care so much about the criticism people give. Most of my life, I was listening too much to what other people were saying about me. Then one day I realized that it doesn’t get me anywhere. If I tried to be everything that everybody wants, I’m like air – I’m nothing. But if I follow my inner voice and be proud of what I am doing – whatever it is. Getting up in the morning, it’s so hard to get up from bed. When you get up, you can be totally proud of that. It’s a great accomplishment! It’s the little things – it’s not about some career goal but the little things. If you can get up from the bed and start living, it’s the greatest thing you can do.
Dead Rhetoric: Netta, you were involved in the video for “The Reckoning,” just as you were for the Smackbound videos. Did it come out the way that you wanted? Was there any fun, behind the scenes stuff going on?
Laurenne: Yeah, it came out like I wanted. “Bitch Fire” and “The Reckoning” both portrayed the songs in the way that I wanted them to. There was fun stuff. We have been pressed with time, and it’s been fast and furious, and there have been some struggles, but I’m really happy with the result. It was so much fun, or creepy, and stressful for the shooting day of “The Reckoning.” We had these cockroaches and maggots there and we agreed that I could put the cockroaches on my face, but if they moved fast and started to go in my hair, if someone could please get them out quickly so I don’t go into this apeshit panic. They are really fast-crawling and sticky. They have these hooks in there. It’s not one leg, but many legs and they have several hooks in one leg. So they are all catching your face, and it feels kind of awful. So it was about trying to stay calm and hoping that they didn’t go into your hair, or your mouth [laughs]! I remember Noora had this one cockroach on her hand and he escaped. She didn’t think about it, but she got into a panic and almost stomped on it [laughter]. I was running towards her shouting “No! Don’t kill it!”
Louhimo: We needed to get them back to the pet shop!
Laurenne: We had gotten them loaned to us from a pet shop and we agreed that I would return them safe and sound. So I was going along on the floor after the cockroach, because they are fast! It was an interesting day! There were so many things that we can’t even talk about that day. But the result is nice. “The Reckoning” is portraying the ruins of your life, the disturbia of your mind in a way that I wanted it to. So it reflects the energy of the song very nicely.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there a cover song that you feel that the two of you could really nail?
Laurenne: Oh, we haven’t discussed this before!
Louhimo: I have one thing in mind already!
Laurenne: So you’ve been thinking about this?
Louhimo: Of course [laughs]! But Judas Priest “Painkiller.” That would be the first song that comes to mind. Then we could do a song from Lita Ford maybe. There’s lots of songs I think we could do together. One thing I’d really like to do, and I haven’t even said that you Netta, is a Whitney Houston song with you.
Laurenne: Both of our number one idols growing up was Whitney Houston. We both learned to sing from here. It’s weird that we both ended up in metal [laughter]. But that just proves that it doesn’t matter what genre it is. It’s about technique and she was such an amazing singer. That would be cool!
Dead Rhetoric: You alluded to this already, but is this something that you want to bring out on the road, when it’s finally possible?
Louhimo: Definitely! We want to do it, but not yet – we have to wait for the right time to combine our forces on stage but it’s on our minds all the time. We want to bring this out to people.
Laurenne: We just need to wait for the pandemic to clear out so that the kinks are worked out. It takes a lot of effort for us to put up the band, practice, and do all the logistics. We don’t want to go back and forth, because we both have other bands still too. It has to be planned well for when it happens.
Dead Rhetoric: You both mentioned about having more time with the pandemic to think and reflect on. What’s your personal take-away from this period of time?
Louhimo: It gave us time to concentrate on our creative sides and work on our self-searching. The negative side of the pandemic is that there has been so little human contact, compared to what we are used to. That’s what I miss the most, the audience – our fans. We want to just get onto the road and have a party onstage every night.
Laurenne: I agree with what Noora said, but for me personally, the pandemic was more of a chaos of everything. I didn’t really have time to stop and reflect a lot. My lockdown was really busy. This process of self-development and reflection has been ongoing for years. It comes in waves. There are days where I feel I have zero energy at the bottom of a wave, and then I come back from there to being more productive. I’m always struggling between tiredness and productiveness. But really, for me, this lockdown time didn’t give an opportunity to really stop. I was doing so much, as was Noora, so it wasn’t much of a real time of silence and reflection.
Louhimo: Yeah, I definitely kept myself very busy as well. That’s how I cope with things in life. Whenever something negative happens, I just fill my days with music and different projects. I think it has been easier to cope with the pandemic by keeping busy and putting energy into what I love, which is making music.
Laurenne: I feel the same, but I wish I could have had the chance to stop more. I need some alone time, so for me, it was a bit too busy. I was constantly doing something, and I would have wished to have more time for myself. I kind of steal it away. I don’t sleep at night, so I steal those moments to reflect upon what is going on with myself. But it was too busy a year to really dive like a lot of people had time for.
Louhimo: In this case, if you are that kind of person – it’s really hard for me to say no [laughs] to cool stuff! If someone wants to do a project, I am always in! I really love to do things. I have had some similar feelings lately that I overbooked myself, and then I’m suffering some. But through all of this, we made a great album [laughs]!
Laurenne: We are driven by passion towards what we do. So the problem, in a way, is positive in that we want to be busy.
Dead Rhetoric: Are there any upcoming plans for the two of you, as well as Battle Beast and Smackbound?
Louhimo: First of all, we are releasing the album in July, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to. I want to hear what people think about it, and see what kind of fanbase we get. It’s a new fresh thing we are doing together. I just released my own solo album back in March too. It’s not heavy metal, but blues/rock/country. Of course, Battle Beast’s sixth album will be released at the end of the year. I’ve kept busy [laughs]!
Laurenne: We composed the second Smackbound album during lockdown, so we are now going into the studio. We have our drum recordings in early July. So we are starting to get the album ready for the world again. Then I have Whitney Houston tribute concert in theaters, which is full of her songs, in the fall. So I have to practice for that as well. That’s two big things happening for me in the near future.