Ensiferum – Netta Skog: “Now I´m a musician and a baker!”

Netta Skog is probably mostly known due to her playing the accordion with Finnish „Battle Metal“ band TURISAS. She had left the band years ago and now is focusing on her own music and education, but is replacing ENSIFERUM´s Emmi Silvennoinen on the “One Man Army“ European tour this spring (which will continue in the US and Canada in May, check the band website for tour dates).
I used the chance of having her in town to sit down with her in the tour bus, asking her about her life after Turisas and the tour with Ensiferum.

How are you doing today, Netta?
I´m very marvellous at the moment! (smiles)

Do you actually know in which city you are right now?
Yeah I know! (grins) … Wait a second! (laughs) We´re in Germany, we´re Hamburg, yes….

Do you always know that when you wake up in the tour bus or …?
(laughs) No, absolutely no… but at least now I do!

So how come that you´re now on tour with Ensiferum?
Last summer, Emmi, the band´s keyboard player, called me, saying “hey, we´re making a new album, do you wanna come and play some accordion?” – of course! One week after that she calls me again “oh yeah would you mind doing some singing as well?” – oh alright, fine, I will do it. And one week after that she called me again “oh, yeah, by the way: I can´t go on tour, can you?” – okay, whatever… (smiles) That was basically it, I went to the studio with the guys and we had so much fun and I knew this is the right decision to go with them. (looks happy)

How does it feel to be also singing and not “just” playing accordion?
It´s awesome, it really is! It´s like –all these heavy metal people know me playing accordion, so now I will surprise them with singing. It´s good.

So how were the reactions like so far?
Really good, it´s been really good so far. It´s easy if you already have a fan base, you know. I´m like …not a nobody in the scene. It´s been good. I´m having so much fun on stage with them, oh my god it´s so cool! (smiles)

When returning home from this tour, what´s the plan for the rest of the year?
Going home after one more week, then we will be at home for one month and then we are going to the US for around one month. And then there is summer festivals, I don´t know which ones I´m gonna do but…maybe.

You posted on Facebook a while ago that you are working on some own material…what about this? What can we expect and when is something coming?
Yeah, I´m trying to work on it…It will be something between pop music and metal, it´s a really weird combination (laughs) with accordion and singing. But I don´t know when, I should get some time for it. I think the summer will be the time for going to the studio and recording some stuff. Maybe…or maybe not…

Let´s look back at Turisas times – you stated that you also left the band because of school. What are you going for in that matter?
Actually, I graduated already! I wanted to have a secondary education – all I wanna do is music, of course, but you never know, so … I went to school to be a confectioner/baker. I´m doing cakes…At first it was a hobby but then I graduated and now I´m a musician and a baker!

That´s an interesting combination…
Yeah, I know (laughs) I have no idea how I chose that…At some point I started baking at home and thought “ah yeah, this is quite nice!”, then went to school and graduated.

So did you ever regret that you left Turisas?
(silence) Of course. But…you know, you just have to make decision to move on in your life, and if I didn´t leave, I wouldn´t be here right now…So…of course I miss those guys, but we´re still friends. We´re trying to keep in touch and it would be nice to see them soon again, somewhere. But I am here, and I am happy, and I love these guys and I loved those guys and…

…you love guys in general…
Yeah exactly. Because I am a female, yeah. (laughs) But yeah, it was a hard decision, but I had to make it. Still love them, still love them from the bottom of my heart.

Talking about music – You took part in the Tango competition in 2013 and you made it to the finals…What kind of an experience was this for you?
Oh yeah…weird…It was a once in a lifetime experience, and never again. (laughs) I mean, it was really good, but it was not my thing at all. I just wanted to try it and it went well. I succeeded but but…but I think Heavy Metal is my thing.

So Tango is not really your style of music…
(laughs) No. I don´t know why I went there, but…(shrugs)

That would have been my next question…
Don´t ask, don´t ask that, because I don´t know. But it was fun, I got new friends and experience and publicity. Basic stuff. It was a good experience, but never again. Never again. Not in a bad way, but that was then and now is now, you know.

Competitions in general or just the Tango direction?
Tango. Not there anymore. But actually in autumn I will have a digital accordion competition, so I will be going there, but a Tango singing competition, never again. (looks determined)

You are also doing your own little gigs in Finland now…
I´ve been doing those since 2003, but it is getting more and more intense. It is going really good. Actually I had the first digital accordion show in Finland ever, I had that in February and it was sold out. It was really really good, I had so much fun! (big smile on her face)

On these shows, do you happen to see known faces from e.g. your time with Turisas, or is it a totally different audience?
No, actually there were a lot of fans from Turisas times. So not just only accordion people.

So how was those fans´ reactions like?
Oh, they were excited and “oh my god, this is so coo!” – yeah, it is. (grins) It was a good reaction.

Over old times, and your music, let´s get back to this current tour. Are there any fun stories on what happened so far?
Yeah…there are…I think I am not allowed to tell them…hm. (thinking) Well, I´ve been laughing so much, but I don´t know why. (laughs) Is there anything really funny…No…nothing special. Just like – basic touring madness. Yeah. It´s been a really good tour, best ever.

Which city did you like best so far?
(grabs her pass to check cities) I think Z7, Pratteln, it was really good, oh my god. And then…I can´t remember…(desperate staring at the pass) Well, Pratteln was good. Actually there were many shows that were really good, but there has been no bad show. Every show has been “yaaaaaaaaay” – I´m having so much fun! Every night!

Are there big difference between the crowd, e.g. Germany compared to Finland?
Of course there are some differences, but basically it is all the same. Everyone´s really enthusiastic, good, singing along and having mosh pits and walls of death. Basically it is the same everywhere. But sure, Finland is our home country, so it is always the best crowd.

Are you into the same kind of music also in your free time or is it just for making music?
Heavy Metal? I like Heavy Metal, I like many kinds of music. Well, suddenly I will listen to classical music, like Sibelius, and on the next day I will listen to Children of Bodom and Machine Head and everything like that. I like everything. (desperately searching for a word) I get inspiration from any kind of music, so…

So what is on your playlist right at the moment? Or the most played one on this tour…
My playlist? (laughs) Basically there has been a lot of 90s disco and ero-disco songs going on, like “yupidubidubidub dubidubibi yeahyeaaah” (starts singing) …that one and then some (thinks), what else…Ero-Disco is really good but from the serious stuff (laughs) there is Van Halen and Journey and and and…Annihilator and lots of Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum as well. Surprise! (laughs)

I suppose you didn´t have much of a chance to actually see anything of the cities you played in?
Not today. We´ve been having walks in the city, every second day. Today is not the day. Actually it should be because I need to go shopping… [extensive discussion on shopping possibilities followed] I´m running out of everything: hair color, shampoo, conditioner…Actually last night was the last night where I still had some left… (looks desperate)

So what are the three things that you always have to take with you on tour?
Accordion… my phone…ok, also except for that as well…hm. (thinks and laughs) I don´t know! What did I pack? Clothes. Just clothes. Shoes. Only two pairs. My jogging shoes and these that I wear now and then I bought new shoes…Nothing special, really. Just clothes, hairspray and make-up…just the basic stuff.

Did you forget to pack anything?
Nope…I´m pretty good at packing, except for not having jackets. Yeah. That´s a big minus, I should go and buy a new one. I don´t have a jacket, so I have to go and get one! (smirks)

Have you always been that talented, also when starting to tour with Turisas or was it all about learning?
Actually…yeah. I was always good at packing from the first day on. Nothing too much, but I will survive if there is no laundry machine, I will survive. Yeah… (proud)

Have the feelings about touring actually changed over all the years?
How should I say it. Of course my first tour was all like “Oh my god, this is so cool! A tour bus!” (excited) and everything, but now it is…really like home. It is my home. And…nah, it feels like home, that´s enough. I sleep like a baby in those bunk beds in the tour bus, I love our bunks. It is like the quiet humming and shaking…

Must feel weird to be back home and the bed is not shaking anymore…
Hmhmm, yeah. I don´t know how I will survive. Ah well, only one month to be home and then back to the bus!

So what will be the first thing to do when you return home after this tour?
Kiss my dogs. Hug them. I miss them. My Paavo and Pamela. Two Chow-chows. My fluffy puppies. (imitates sobbing and then laughs)

Are you actually doing many interviews?
Actually…on this tour none, this one is my first one. And then our tour manager told me “You´re gonna have an interview!” (excited) – “Whaaaat? Meee? ” – “Yeah yeah yeah! She didn´t want anybody else – just you!” – “Alriiight…”. (laughs) It felt really good, my very first Ensiferum interview! So thank you for this opportunity!

Alright, I think it´s time to end this nice conversation – anything left to say to our readers?
(thinks) Please come to our shows and have fun with us and and and …dance with us…it is gonna be a great show every day! (laughs)     photos: C. Ullmann

Carina Ullmann - reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - - - From classical music to metal - it all depends on the band and my mood ;) - - - Favorite bands? - - - would be a too long list to write them all down... - - - Other interests? - - - Photography, travelling, culture, reading, writing

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