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From Light Rose the Angels Interview
Written by Robin Stryker   
Friday, 19 September 2014

From Light Rose the Angels Interview
September 2014

 

From Light Rose the Angels


It is a fine thing that Los Angeles vocalist, VK Lynn, turned to a life of music, instead of a life of crime. With her vivid pink hair and bright blue eyes, she wouldn’t exactly be hard to pick out in a line-up. Likewise, her blues-inflected voice makes her stand out from the more typical vocal style found in metal and rock. This busy lady has teamed up with a couple of Finns -- Janne Tamminen (guitars and keys) and Arno Nurmisto (bass) -- and fellow Yank, Justin Lee Dixon (drums), to form a brand new band that goes by the rather lengthy name of From Light Rose the Angels.


Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker sat down for a late-Summer chat with VK Lynne. Since no Skype session with VK is complete without a glass of wine, we took a short wine-pouring intermission before getting down to business. Dive in for everything you’ve been dying to know about From Light Rose the Angels, the strange coincidences that brought the band together, haberdashery mishaps, and much more!

Sonic Cathedral:  Sonic Cathedral is delighted to welcome our friend VK from the Los Angeles-based band, From Light Rose the Angels! How are you doing tonight, VK?

VK:  Hi, Robin! I am doing very good, now that I’m talking to you.

Sonic Cathedral:  Flattery will get you everywhere! Starting with the basics, I love the name From Light Rose the Angels -- it has a nice feel, and there are no worries about confusing you with some other From Light Rose the Angels band. <VK laughs> What is the origin or significance of the name?

VK:  It’s actually very interesting. When Janne and I started out … Janne Tamminen is my partner in crime, and we write all the songs together … originally, it was just me and Janne. We started writing songs, and then we said: “You know, we need a name for this thing.” We were tossing things back and forth, and then one night, he said: “Hey, why don’t we call it From Light Rose the Angels?” And I said: “God, that is so long; I love it!” It just made sense.

I was in the midst of two other bands at the time. (As you know, I’m a multi-tasker.) I had kind of consigned myself to the fact that I really didn’t have time for this band, but I really wanted to do it. So, we were just going to have FUN. We were going to have fun with this, and we were going to do all the things we want to do, and not worry about whether it was the “right thing” to do or not. The bass player that we were playing with at the time -- not our current one, but we had another one early on -- the first thing he said was: “Oh my god, that’s too long; that is terrible; blah blah blah.” And Janne said so calmly: “I don’t want to change it. That’s what it is.” And I said “yeah!” So that’s how we got From Light Rose the Angels, which just got shortened to FLRTA, and that was even funnier.

Sonic Cathedral:  Is there some secret portal from Finland to your neighborhood? How is it that you have two Finnish guys in a California band?

VK:  For me (and just for me), this is where my faith comes in. Looking back on the last few years of my life, I really can see the connections where the good Lord just made things happen. My very first introduction to symphonic metal was Nightwish, and I had never heard anything like it before. I was just thrown off my game. It was like: “Where has this music been all my life?!” I remember thinking, “this changes everything”, and thinking, “I don’t even know where to start.” The music was so foreign to me, and I didn’t even know where to start. Here I am now (years later) with two Finns in my band, both of whom are familiar with the guys from Nightwish, and I wonder how we got here. It is just so crazy how it works out!

After I decided that this was the music I wanted to pursue, I just started throwing out lines. I can go back, and there are a hundred connections where this guy led me to this guy, and this guy recommended that guy, and then I sang a song for that guy. And here you go, all the way down, until one night, I was very frustrated and was on Craigslist. If you’re looking for a band on Craigslist, you’ve hit the bottom, and that’s where I was. I hit up this guy who was doing an industrial project. We were talking, and we actually started working together. But I just couldn’t go on because his music was very satanic. I said to him: “I appreciate what you’re doing, and I think you’re wildly talented. But just for me, I can’t sing this stuff.” Hey said: “You know what, I understand. Mad props. I still love you; I think you’re awesome; we’ll just go our separate ways.” So we did.

But what’s interesting is that he had a guitar player attached to that project, whom I had never met but who was- Janne Tamminen. He had heard me sing, and wasn’t terribly impressed (as far as I knew) because I was trying to do Tarja-style soprano stuff, which nobody really wants to hear me do. <all laugh>

A few months later, he emails me and he goes: “Hey, I have an idea for a project. I need a singer, and I know you’re too busy (because everyone knows you’re too busy). But if you could pass this on to one of your Eve’s Apple girls whom you think this would be good for, let me know.” So I listened to it, and I said: “You know what, I’ll take it.” He said “really?”, and I said “yeah!” My husband is looking at me like: “Are you CRAZY? Really. You just said ‘yes’ to one more thing.” I did, but I had a feeling that all these connections were for a reason.

Once Janne and I got together, the music came so quickly that it was kind of ridiculous. It was really easy to write with him. So, he brought in another Finn, and I was a little shocked that he found another Finn. What I have come to find is that there is a large Finnish community in Los Angeles -- just like, in Los Angeles, there is a large EVERYTHING community. People come here from all different countries, from all different walks of life, and they find each other, and they band together.

There is a Finnish cultural center like right across the street from my house, and I didn’t know it was even there. Janne was like: “Oh yeah, that’s the Finnish cultural center over there.” I was like: “Really? That’s what that is?” So, he brought Arno … Arno Nurmisto is our Finnish bass player … because they were good friends. Janne’s roommate is Tero Potila, who produced the EP for us, and he’s Finnish.

So, every time I turn around, he’s got another Finn for me, and I’m just not shocked anymore. There are Finns everywhere! I am learning all the dirty words and the basic ones too. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get Finnish because it’s a monstrously difficult language, but it’s very interesting. <laughs> We think From Light Rose the Angels is the only Finn-American band that is half Finn and half American, but here we are!

 

From Light Rose the Angels 

 

Sonic Cathedral:  When the Finns want to keep secrets from you, do they start talking in their native tongue, or have you picked up enough to sometimes catch the gist?

VK:  I’ve got maybe four words in Finnish. So, what’ll happen is <starts speaking gibberish>, and I’ll be like “hey hey hey hey!” And Arno will be like: “Yes, we are talking about you. No no no. I’m joking. We weren’t.” The thing is, the two Finns in our band are really, really, really stand-up guys. So even if they were talking about me, I probably deserved it. So I’m never worried about what the two of them are saying. I know enough to say “kiitos” when they do something nice for me; enough to say “Perkele!” when we are getting ready to do something fun. That is all the Finnish I’ve got, pretty much.

Sonic Cathedral:  Would you give us an introduction to From Light Rose the Angel’s self-titled EP? It has been out for less than two weeks, so it’s still brand spanking new!

VK:  Yup, shiny shiny! I will say that, because it was my “fun” project, I really kind of (as Brando once said) had some room to swing a cat. I never knew what he meant by that, until I started working on this record. I just went for what I was feeling. Of course, that’s usually what I do when I’m writing lyrics and whatnot. But I was going through a lot of turmoil at the time and a lot of stuff, so I kind of poured it into the EP.

“Proud 2b” is our defiant anthem because I know, to a large degree, there are going to be people who are naysayers and don’t know what to do with us. Are we metal? Are we rock? Are we symphonic? Are we pop? Are we electronic? I said: “We are what we are.” This is not a new thing for me. I’ve always been yelled at for my genre-bending antics. I have had many, many, many a person tell me “just pick a damn genre!” But I’m just not good at that. I like too many things; I like the elements of too many different types of music. I’ve never really seen why you HAVE to pick a genre, so we just didn’t. We decided to let our producer find ways to make it cohesive and to make it all sound like it was one band.

But with “Proud 2b”, I got sassy on it, and I felt like I would do whatever I want. With “Holding Stones”, I would say that it’s more traditional-sounding symphonic metal. “Blood Roses” has my Linda Ronstadt kind of ballad thing going on. So, we really just went for it! At this stage of the game, why not? Why not try something new? Playing it safe doesn’t get you anywhere, so we decided not to do that. <laughs>

Sonic Cathedral:  What did you get to do with From Light Rose the Angels that perhaps you had not been able to do in previous projects or bands?

VK:  One of the things that I love, love, LOVE about Janne is that he never interferes with the way I sing. I have a very distinctive way of singing, apparently. <laughs> I’ve been scolded for it more than once. It’s basically a function of the fact that I grew up on Patsy Cline and Chris Robinson and blues and whatnot, but then I flipped over to Queensrÿche and metal. So, I have a little scoop in my voice when I sing, and I don’t usually hit a note dead-on. You know, Patsy sang like <begins singing “Crazy”>. Well yeah, I’m not just gonna hit the note dead-on. In previous projects, oh my god, one particular person told me <exaggerated Italian accent>: “You cannot-a do that in metal!” He said they would crucify us for that because you cannot do that in metal. So I tried very hard to not do that for him. But at the end of the day, my voice is my voice.

Janne feels like that is our sound -- the sound of VK Lynne is our sound. He told me: “You sing how you want to sing, and that is what our sound is.” And so, it was REALLY nice to have the freedom to just sing the way I sing, and not feel the stress or the tension of: “Oh, am I doing that scoop? Is that driving people crazy?” <laughs> And not worrying about whether it fit with the genre, or if it wasn’t metal enough. So that was great! Lyrically, again, the boys don’t care what I sing, as long as it sounds good. Everyone is very respectful of everyone else’s space, and nobody really steps on the other. It is like: “Yeah man, you’ve got it.” I mean, if someone is doing something egregiously bad, then we’re like: “Hey, maybe you want to think about NOT doing that.” But, for the most part, it’s been (dare I say) magical, in the way everyone has fit together. It is creepy almost; it’s really creepy. From the start, it’s been like we’ve been together 10 years, which is nuts!

 

From Light Rose the Angels 

 

Sonic Cathedral:  Is there a part of you that is almost waiting for the other shoe to drop?

VK:  Oh Robin, you know me too well! <laughs> Always! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a high-strung individual. I have been through a lot of bands at this point, and I’ve been through a lot of disappointments. It is probably my own fault, I guess, because I do things my own way, and because I won’t necessarily conform to the way things are “supposed” to be. My husband always says: “Look, you’ve got to be able to look at yourself at the end of the day. If you can’t do that, nothing else is going to matter -- not money, not success, nothing.” And so, I’ve really tried to stick to that.

I have seen things dissolve and fall apart that I never thought would, or that I never expected things to go the way they went. This time … I hate to say it, and maybe jinx it … but this time, I don’t see why that should happen. There is not a guy in this band that I’m not looking forward to being in a van with. There is not a single guy in this band that I don’t trust. They are awesome, and they are all willing to drop everything to make this band happen. And they HAVE. One of the guys literally just signed his house over to his parents, so that he could go on tour with us. They are 100% committed to this band, and we LIKE each other. We really do!

We hang out all the time; they are in my backyard more than they’re not. My husband is like: “Every time I come home, they’re all over my house. I come home, and it’s FLRTA in the living room.” <all laugh> I’m like: “Yup, I know. I know.” But it’s awesome! It’s like I have a litter of squirrels because, sometimes trying to organize them, is like that. They come in; they go to the refrigerator; they get themselves something to drink; and they flop all over my living room. It’s great! It’s what I’ve always wanted -- a community like this -- and I finally got it. So, if the other shoe is going to drop, there is nothing I can do to change that, but I don’t think it’s even in the air.

Sonic Cathedral:  You have been a guest vocalist or a member of several bands where you’ve collaborated across oceans. Does it FEEL different to work with musicians who are in the same geographic area, and is the collaborative process different?

VK:  Oh, it makes a WORLD of difference. I mean, even down to where Janne and I have our “battery killer” days, which is what we call them. He comes over with his laptop, and he sits on the chair, and I sit on the sofa. We shoot ideas and links back and forth, and work on mailing lists and websites and this and that, until both of our batteries run down completely on our laptops. We actually just did that today -- we had a battery killer day. Because of that, it’s very weird and freaks out the other guys that Janne and I can have entire conversations without saying a word.

We were at a Chinese restaurant the other night, after we shot something, and I looked at Janne, and he looked back at me. The guys were like: “What?” And I was like: “We just had a whole conversation. I said this, and Janne said that. Then Janne said this, and I said that.” They were like: “Really?!” And Janne was like: “Uh-huh.” We just know already what the other is thinking. He has said to me: “You should give me $10 every time you climb inside my brain.” I am like: “I don’t even know how it happens.” But we just are THERE. And because we’re there like that, we know what needs done before it needs doing, so we can make sure we’re putting out fires beforehand. There is just that comfort level.

We just had a show the other night, and being on stage with guys that you’re that comfortable with, frees me up quite a lot. It was great! I can bounce around the stage; I can go over, and put my arms around Andy while he’s playing the guitar; and I feel like they aren’t just my band anymore … they are my family. They are my people. So, I feel like it frees you up to perform, and it frees you up to create with these people because you know them so well. You know what they can do; you know what they are capable of; and you know what they want to do. It is just a world of difference.

Vita Nova was an amazing project. Federico and I often talked on Skype that, if we were ever in the same room together, we’d probably blow the world up. <laughs> We could be so creative via Skype, so if we had ever been in the same room together, we thought we’d have had a double-CD done by the end of the weekend. But that never happened, so we never could really sit down and do as much as we wanted to do. With Vita Nova, it had a shelf life because proximity did become a problem.

With stOrk … God bless him, Shane passed before we could even develop that much. We developed a bond. But as a band, we could have developed a much stronger one, had he lived. Kelly joined Buckcherry, which, God bless HIM, I thought: “Of course, join Buckcherry!” But it was one of those bands where everyone was busy, and everyone was doing other things. It just never really got the chance (I felt like) to develop that strong bond that is really integral, if you’re going to go in this for the long haul. That is why I’m glad that FLRTA is going on this tour, because we’re either going to come back loving each other or hating each other. I’ll talk to you in November, and let you know! <all laugh>

 

From Light Rose the Angels 

 

Sonic Cathedral:  Getting back to the album, From Light Rose the Angels recently had their EP release show. Hearing the album cold, which songs did the audience have the biggest response to?

VK:  Proud 2b” definitely. “Proud 2b” is just so rowdy, and I love to sing it! You could tell that people are with you. “The Grey Returns” <B> is one of those songs that is kind of this band’s Vita Nova song, in that I didn’t expect it to hit people the way it has hit them. I get emails every day from people, telling me how “The Grey Returns” has hit them, so it seems to really have struck a chord somewhere deep down with folks. So, I’m glad we did two versions of it! <laughs>

Sonic Cathedral:  I am curious about the story behind “The Grey Returns”, because the lyrics are quite ambiguous.

VK:  I have been accused of that. It is funny because I always say to my husband: “Is this too obvious?” And he’s like: “You’re the only one who thinks that is obvious.” For me, “The Grey Returns” … and it can be a lot of things to different people … but everyone has a bad habit that they know is bad for them, that they know they shouldn’t do this thing, and that it is only going to lead to a bad place. But when the temptation hits, all the black and white that you knew -- this is wrong, and this is right -- it just blurs. Everything becomes grey, and you’re right back into the thing, whatever it is.

Whether it’s alcohol or drugs or ANYTHING, you go right back into the grey. The grey returns, and it’s that hopeless feeling of: “When is this going to stop? When am I ever going to be able to just keep black and white, and realize that I know the grey always comes back.” I know that it’s not a good place to be, and so I guess it’s little on the hopeless end. I usually try to be pretty hopeful. But that essentially is what it’s all about.

Sonic Cathedral:  I saw from your Facebook page that From Light Rose the Angels recently shot a music video. Can you give us a sneak peek at what is in store?

VK:  I will tell you that we had a fabulous actor in it, Sean (my husband).

Sonic Cathedral:  A most fantastic fella!

VK:  Yes, he is a fantastic fella, and he’s a great actor. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to do it lately because he’s been so busy doing other things. But we asked him if he would act in it, and he said “yes”. I remember after we got done and wrapped everything for the day, the guys all sat here, and they were like: “Oh my God, he’s really good!” I said: “I know. He made me look ridiculous.” They were like: “We’re so excited. We had a real actor here.”

Acting is one of those funny things … and full disclosure, I was in a terrible mood the day we shot it … so, I kept trying to rally, but I have no poker face. We shot and we shot and we shot. We can do that because we have the enviable situation that both Janne and Justin (our drummer) are professional film-makers. They are editors and DPs and whatnot. In fact, if you remember the video for “Chainsaw Serenade”, Justin made that video.

Sonic Cathedral:  Small world!

VK:  Yes! They are very, very talented guys with a camera, so our visuals should always be freaking awesome because we have those two running around. They shot the teaser trailer that we did; they shot the Indiegogo trailer; and they’re going to shoot the whole tour. I am going to have a camera in my face, probably more than I want it to be. We are going to have a tour DVD at the end of it for everyone, so it’s going to be awesome!

 

From Light Rose the Angels 

 

Sonic Cathedral:  Who is responsible for the look of the band? I am much more accustomed to seeing promo pictures of dudes in bands rocking the standard black concert tee-shirt and jeans, while looking surly.

VK:  You know, we didn’t want to do that thing where the guys are all in black, and the chick is dressed up and pushed out front. We didn’t want to do that. I feel like a lot of bands do that, and fair play, whatever works for them. But we’re trying things with everything else, so why don’t we try things with this. We were saying: “What if we didn’t do that? What if we tried something else?” Because the bio that I wrote about us kind of being these troubadours who are coming together to tell these stories, I said: “What if we were a band of traveling troubadour/carnival/steampunk performers.” And they were like “uh, okay …”

Janne was totally into it, and he is very integral to the look. He was like: “Yes, let’s do it.” And he likes white because he thinks that so many bands are in black, so it would be interesting if we were in white. I don’t want them to look like a bunch of orderlies out there, so we’re trying to make some sort of concession, to where there is black and white and maybe a little pink. Because, you know, it’s good. Today, we were actually looking at glow-in-the-dark paint, so anything could happen on this tour. We are definitely into looking different.

Sonic Cathedral:  You have alluded to the upcoming tour a number of times. The end destination is a reunion with your glitter twin, Mary Zimmer from White Empress. Is Wisconsin going to be able to handle the two of you?

VK:  Wisconsin will NEVER be the same after this! <laughs> You know, Mary and I have been talking about this since two bands ago; how we just wished we could tour together. We didn’t know how it was going to happen or when it was going to happen. We didn’t know what the bands were going to be. But Mary and I are like peas in a pod. It’s ridiculous! So, when things finally settled down, and she was with White Empress and I was with FLRTA, we finally got on the phone together, and were like “hey, what if this could happen?” It was kind of that pipe-dream that you go back and forth about. And then, one day, we said: “Let’s just do this!”

I talked with the guys, and they said: “Let’s do it!” With little more than that as a plan, we decided that we’d do it. Right now, we are trying to book from Los Angeles, weaving our way over to Wisconsin, and hitting some places along the way so that we aren’t just killing gas, money, and whatnot until we get there. Then, we are doing the four warm-up shows with White Empress. Then we are coming back, and hitting other venues on the way back. It should be a three to four week trek of fun and pizza and sleeping in vans. <laughs> But, if not now, when?! It is time to do these things, so we’re going to do it, and see what happens. We are very excited!

Melissa Ferlaak’s band (Plague of Stars) is playing for <pause> … which date? … oh, the Minneapolis date, obviously. So, Plague is going to be playing and Empress and From Light Rose the Angels, so it’s going to be all Apples, all the time.

Sonic Cathedral:  <laughs> I cannot even tell you what a terrible idea it is for you and Melissa and Mary to be together at one time. That is certainly a recipe for mayhem!

VK:  It is gonna be fabulous! That night is going to be RIDICULOUS and legendary. There are no words.

Sonic Cathedral:  Oh my, legendary indeed! From Light Rose the Angels are currently doing crowd-funding for the tour. Among the perks is the dress you created for the 2013 Eve’s Apple show at Metal Female Voices Fest. When you offer something that personal, does a little part of you half hope that no one bids on it?

VK:  Oh God, yes! It is one of those things that we all had to figure out what we were willing to give up. This is important; we need to do this; we want to do this. Janne is giving up his Angel guitar, which I know he doesn’t necessarily want to part with, but he is willing to give it up. There are a hundred-zillion pictures of me in that dress, and so many people have commented on it, and I’ve gotten so many emails about it. I thought: “You know what? Somebody just might want it.”

I can always make a new dress, but I can’t make different memories of what is going to happen on the road. So, let’s put it out there, and see what happens. I have talked to other bands that have done crowd-funding, where they put something up that they were absolutely sweating bullets, hoping nobody took it. But I am not in that position. If somebody wants that dress, they get it with all the love in my heart and the story of how Robin Stryker saved MFVF.

 

From Light Rose the Angels 

 

Sonic Cathedral:  Awww, you’re making me blush. VK, do you bust out the sewing machine and glue gun to make your creations?

VK:  Oh girl, I have burned myself with the glue gun; I have sewn myself to things; in fact, my sewing machine is actually sitting right next to me. I am not as good with it yet as I’d like to be. I know there are girls who are far better. But yeah, I’ve got my sewing machine, hot glue gun, glitter, rhinestones, and safety pins. Yeah, shit GOES DOWN over here! <laughs> I am going to try very hard to make the boys something for this tour, even if it’s just taking something basic, and then accentuating it or accessorizing it. But there is going to be some stitching going on!

Sonic Cathedral:  Do you take something basic, and then put your VK spin to it? Or do you create from the ground up?

VK:  That is exactly it, what you were saying. I am a big thrift store shopper. So, I will often go to the thrift store, and bring things home, and just DESTROY them. That is what Sean usually says: “Oh, she’s got her scissors out!” Yeah, I will just wreck things! But once I wreck them, they usually come out looking much cooler than when they started. The dress that I wore for the first MFVF that I was at, that was one of my tattered distressed creations. I remember putting it on, when I brought it home from the thrift store, and Sean was like: “That dress is boring!” I said: “It is, but I’m gonna make it exciting.” He said: “Alright”. And I did.

I wish I had better stitching skills, so that I could start with a pattern and just get crazy. But pfffttttt, I haven’t got it like that yet. So, I take things that have potential, and I try to find the potential within them. I guess that is the teacher in me coming out. <laughs> I take things that I know have good raw materials, and I chip away until I find the diamond.

Sonic Cathedral:  What is your dream for From Light Rose the Angels?

VK:  You know, it changes. The dream you had when you were 18 is not the dream you have when you’re rolling up on <intentionally inaudible> years old. I really would like to continue to make music and to afford to do it, to go out and tour, and to keep recording. I mean, I have my new solo record entirely written, but I am just not in a position to go record it right yet. So, I would love to be able to have the freedom that I can just plunk down a handful of cash, and say: “Yeah, I’m making this record! We’re going to do this for the next month.” To make a record, and not worry if it sells … I know that it sounds terrible that you have to worry about it, but I’d LOVE to not worry about it. I would love to just make art, and not worry if it sells … just worry if it touched people, if people liked it, if it made people feel good, if they were happy.

The business end of music is never really my favorite part of it. Janne keeps saying: “We will make the business fuuuuuun! We will make it fun.” I have not found the fun in it yet, to be honest. I would just rather make pretty things all day, or as Janne says: “Sprinkle the glitter, and make the pretty.” That is what I want to do. I want to make art; I want to write stories and write songs and sing songs and make pretty glittery-covered things. I don’t want to file d.b.a.’s and stand in line at county clerk offices and get things notarized, but yet I have to do it.

Yeah, I know, “Poor me, I’ve got to go do shit”. It could be sooooo much worse. But down the line? Yeah, I’d like to have it so that I don’t have to do those things. So that I have enough income that I can say: “Here, person who knows how to do those things better and faster, go do those things. I’m gonna sit here, and write a song that makes us a lot more money.” So, that is what I’d like to do.

 

From Light Rose the Angels 

 

Sonic Cathedral:  Wrapping up, what final words of wisdom do you have for readers out in Sonic Cathedral land?

VK:  Oh, final words of wisdom … Do YOU. Do you because you’re the only you there is. Doing someone else is only going to give us more of what we’ve already had. The world hinges on the people who can give us something new, something fresh, something that gives us hope and makes us want to get out of the bed in the morning. So, you’re the only you. Do it!

Sonic Cathedral:  Thank you for talking with Sonic Cathedral tonight, VK!

VK:  Absolutely! And thank you, Robin.

Read Sonic Cathedral’s review HERE.
From Light Rose the Angels

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