Cleaning Women: Madness on stage

I don´t really want to claim that an over-proportional number of Finns have bats in the attic. But certainly an over-proportional number of Finns earn bucks with that. Just think of the European Song Contest this year, humppa-versions of Rock-Classics, people with strange hair cuts or choirs featuring screaming men. Or cellists who play Heavy Metal. Or Metal guys who cover Britney Spears …

But it´s definitely the Finns Risto, Timo and Tero alias CW01, CW03 und CW04 from the band „Cleaning Women“ . Their instruments: Average laundry racks, chopsticks, plastic buckets, tin cans and the wheel of a washing machine. With their second CD „Aelita“ they might have had their long deserved breakthrough: tours in Russia and across Europe, beginning of May also in Germany! (Check among the tourdates)

First question is logical: How did you get the idea to build these instruments?
Risto: Oh shit, this question again … one day I was doing my laundry, and a coat-hanger fell on my laundry rack, and I noticed it gives a cool sound, so I put a microphone there. The instrument was developed in one year, building up slowly, but I wasn´t working on it all the time.

During the show I noticed that there´s a lot of tape and wire to keep your instruments fixed … Do you have to repair them very often?
Risto: Yeah, we have to do that because after every gig they are in a very bad condition, and we have to rebuild them.

You have a patent claim on those racks?
Risto: No, we don´t have any licence or copyright, we haven´t even thought of that, it´s not something to be built in a factory. So everyone can build such an instrument, we cannot have any rights for them. Actually we don´t see them as being really special. We have been playing them for so many years, they are just instruments for us.
Tero: Yet I think there are no other instruments like those we have, I think they are unique in the whole world!

How was the band formed?
Risto: We met at the same technical high school, about six or seven years ago.
Tero: I wasn´t in the band the first year, but I know that in the beginning it was a little bit different, it wasn´t so serious as a band, and the music wasn´t so serious.
Risto: Maybe it was much more some kind of performance with sounds, or percussion. Not like music, it was NOISE!
Tero: More rhythm than melody, like dance music.

So how would you define your sound now?
Tero: Very percussive, danceable, with a lot of influences from Folk Music to Heavy Metal. Usually people are a little bit confused at first when they see us playing, also because we are dressed up as women … but then they realize it´s not a joke, they relax and maybe even start to dance. But the reaction is often quite the same, people stare at us, wondering „what are those guys playing, what are these instruments made of?“
Risto: What most people think is that there are some kind of samplers or rhythm machines hidden on stage, but this is not the case. Maybe it´s hard to understand how the sound is coming so Hi-Fi from laundry racks.

The title of your current CD „Aelita“ refers to a Russian Silent Movie, and actually there is a film about you, the documentary „Cleaning Up“, about your first tour through Estonia, Russia and Poland five years ago, it was even shown on Finnish TV. It reminded me strongly of „Spinal Tap“ … was everything real?
Timo: Yes, everything, I don´t even know what you mean with Spinal Tap, it was real life!
Risto: A nice and funny movie, it doesn´t make me feel ashamed, although my mother has also seen it …
Tero: You couldn´t forget the the camera, I was even dreaming about being filmed! Actually if you edit a film you can make it look a little bit less like real life, but everything was real, we didn´t act or something.
Timo: We got some comments about that documentary. A woman about 50 came to me asking „is your life truly just this shit?“ and I was like „yeah … it is this shit … I know it´s only shit but I like it!“

PS: Timo and Tero have another band project, with real instruments, called KOMETA who also play in Germany in May (check the tourdates) … And if you still don´t believe laundry tracks can be cool music instruments – check out the sound samples on!
Author: Klaudia Weber, Photos: hfr.

Klaudia Weber

reckless and merciless dictator, so KNEEL! In other words, editor-in-chief, translator, website and ad admin, "Jane of all trades" - - - addicted to books (everything between Lord Of The Rings & quantum physics) and music, mainly Metal made in Finland. Furthermore, there's painting, drawing, movies, theater... so you can expect some variety on this website too. MA Master of Arts, English and American studies & Media communication = completed two full studies parallel within 5 years; very proud of my achievement - a bit later in life thanks to a scholarship - as a working class girl in a highlyconservative-romancatholic nation...