Johannes Leppänen is an indie-rocker. I mean that in the best possible sense. At a time when ‘indie’ and ‘rock’ seem like two words that at present, to quote Bogie, don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, Leppänen wears his indie rock status with pride. And why not? When you have Leppänen’s talents and everything you touch turns into the most buzzing and hummable sounds around, you should feel good about it. Leppänen not only raises the songwriting stakes, he plays in nearly every band going. At the last count: French Films, Teksti-TV 666, Kids Music, Kynnet, Twelve Steps. He expands via e-mail “… and some not-so-active-but-not-dead-either: Spectral Rays, Holy Seeds and all the solo stuff”. Ladies and gentlemen, this really could be the busiest man in indie rock.
1. You’re very tall – were you a tall child? And in what way have you felt that your height has been an advantage in your life?
Yeah I was a tall kid. I’m not sure it has been that big advantage to me. It was useful when it came to sports maybe – but other than that… I’ve always had a terrible posture. And usually that one cool shirt that’s still left in the store is always too small. Though it’s probably the waist area that’s causing that issue these days. I gotta do something about that.
2. Before you became officially the busiest man in indie rock, was there a profession you had your heart set on and if there was why? If music has always been your goal, what would you like to be other than a musician?
When I was really young I always wanted to be an athlete of some sort. Maybe football or basketball or badminton or something, you know. Then I got into skateboarding when I was around nine or ten and thought it was the best thing ever. It was all I did every day for the next six or seven years before playing in a band took over. I wasn’t planning on getting “a real job” anytime soon, but if I had to do something else outside music, I’d probably wanna go back to school and study sociology or history or astronomy or something interesting.
All in all: write good music and don’t take yourself too seriously.
3. On your many travels as a gigging musician, what’s been the most heartwarming experience.
Hard to pick one. Heartwarming? I don’t know, but I just remembered this one time in 2011, on our first European tour, we were driving from Berlin with French Films after playing a fun show in this big hall at Postbahnhof the previous night. Everyone was pretty hungover and it was like plus 35 degrees outside, so we drove to this random gas station to get some ice cream or whatever. When we got out of the store I saw a black van drive exactly next to our van and I when I got closer I realized it was the singer of Twin Shadow in the driver’s seat. What are the odds? We never said anything to them, but it must’ve been their first European tour as well around that time. Later we checked and it turned out they had also played Berlin the previous night.
4.What’s your dearest possession?
I gotta be honest here. It has to be my laptop. I do everything with my Mac. Record, mix, master, edit videos, watch TED talks and Doug Stanhope, play stupid online games… I need all that to function.
Then I got into skateboarding when I was around nine or ten and thought it was the best thing ever. It was all I did every day for the next six or seven years before playing in a band took over.
5. Many people tell me that bands coming from Finland find it really hard to gain international success. Can you advise any young bands trying to make it abroad from Finland?
I guess people usually say shit like ”work hard & believe in yourself”. But maybe just give up on your hopes and dreams right away. As fast as you can. Forget about those unrealistic expectations you have for yourself. Be the loser you really are and have fun. You’ll probably end up making more honest music which will maybe get you to places. Who knows? Even though we’ve done everything mostly by ourselves, we never really worked that hard with French Films or Teksti-TV, and yet it was enough to get us, at least, somewhere. Just saying. All in all: write good music and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Teksti-TV 666 release their triple ep collection in October on Svart Records.