Cleaning Women: Inside the Hyper Cleaner
For all those who don’t know yet that there’s also a band called Cleaning Women with the band members CW01, CW03 and CW04, you have a chance to check out their brand new album “Intersubjectivity” and also their show live on stage on their still ongoing record release tour (see bottom of text). Our review of a recent concert at famous Tavastia club in Helsinki might give you an impression, or watch the video clip below … And now CW04 tells us a bit more about Cleaning Women:
How was the Finland tour so far?
Excellent. The tour opening concert in Tavastia, which was also the pre-release concert of the album, was total success. But also the other concerts in Finland have been beautiful, with lot of people and good shows. Well, we had an amazing combination of technical problems in Pori, but more or less we managed to overcome them and I think it made the concert even maybe a bit more interesting than usual, since it was quite intimate anyways and people got to see us fixing our gear. But that is something that will happen anyways sometimes, so it’s okay.
Your shows were pretty rare events in recent years (e.g . Juttutupa, Mascot). Why the comeback with a new album now, and do you plan to play more shows outside Finland?
It is not a comeback in the traditional meaning. We have been existing the whole time. We have made music for silent films and also original music for films, e.g. a short film by Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, who’s new feature film Happy as Lazzaro is very good by the way. We managed to see it in Tromsø Film Festival in north Norway last week. We just thought that now time is good to make the album. We produced it by ourselves, so we had to collect some money to make it possible. We have been saving little by little and then one day we hit the piggy bank with a hammer, looked at each other and realized – it’s time, let’s do it!
The new CD – how did you get in contact with Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten)?
I (CW04) collaborated with Alexander and his wife Danielle DePicciotto in a project called The Ship of Fools in 2009. They were performing it around the world asking local musicians to collaborate. When they were coming to Helsinki they asked Cleaning Women to participate, but all three of us couldn’t fit on the stage so we tossed coins and I ended up playing laundry rack with them.
Can you tell us something about the recording process? Was it difficult to choose a studio for your special instruments?
Choosing the studio wasn’t hard, because we had managed to capture the essence of our sound for the forementioned short film for Alice Rohrwacher some years ago in E-Studio in Helsinki. So we knew that we want to go there to record the new album. But it took us so long that the studio was actually removed and built in a new place, an old horse stable in Sipoo. However, we felt that it is still something we want to do, and we did – and it worked. And actually the studio is a wonderful place in a countryside with accommodation facilities, so we went there for five days and didn’t leave the building at all, we just stayed there and played.
At the Tavastia show I noticed that several of your classic instruments got serious upgrades, and there seem to be some new ones. How did you come up with that? What inspires you to create another instrument?
Time creates evolution. You fix something every now and then, you build something every now and then and after 20 years, boom, there is this set of instruments that appeared from nowhere. It is amazing. CW01 is the mastermind of most of the instruments and CW03 builds most of his percussive stuff. I just play.
Which of the instruments is the most vulnerable, needing repairs?
They are all pretty solid, believe it or not. They don’t need that much repairing. The instruments that have many strings like Melodic Kling Klang or Electric Hammered Dulcimer Bass Rack are pretty annoying to tune before or during concerts.
Which of the instruments is the most difficult to play, or the most dangerous (e.g. electric shock)?
No electric shocks so far. Some of the instruments have quite sharp edges or rods so you have to be a bit careful not to cut yourself. Technically I guess my Electric Hammered Dulcimer Bass Rack with Melodic Metal Rods is the most complicated one with all the strings and wiring and stuff, so I have to say that. The other cleaners might disagree with me.
Has one of your instruments remained unchanged throughout the years, since you began – and if yes, which one?
Well, actually my 3-string bass is exactly the same that we built just before I played my first concert in the band. This was the legendary – at least legendary to us – concert called Hyper Cleaner, where we played inside a huge washing machine. This happened April 16th in 1999. Also my laundry rack is the same, and you can see it if you look closely at it, it’s rusty and bent from all the hitting, but the miking of the laundry rack has been changed throughout the years. So the 3-string Bass and Laundry Rack are the only one true survivors. We have also to remember that Cleaning Women was founded in December 1996, and I joined later, but I believe there is nothing existing from that period anymore.
Looking back to recent 10 years, what has changed the most, besides the instruments?
In ten years we have become a little bit more melodic due to some instruments from the past ten years. But all the same pieces are still there. Same cleaners with same instruments and same passion to do something. To be honest, I haven’t even noticed that ten years have passed, where did it go?
I attended the Vallisaari exhibition and there’s also one at Tiketti; are you planning to have more art exhibitions in the future?
Yes, there has been some talk about it, it is totally possible.
I noticed that there were several cameras recording the show at Tavastia – does it mean that there will be a DVD out soon?
You are right, it was filmed and recorded. It was a project by a friend of us. We shall see what will come of it. I guess DVD’s are not very “hip” at the moment, so I doubt that.
As intergalactic act, isn’t it a bit frustrating that the Cantina Band is widely known here, despite the fact that we Earthlings basically know only 1,5 of their songs?
I don’t know about Cantina Band, sorry. It is probably not from our region of Intergalactica.
And by the way, where is CW02?
I believe she is enjoying sunshine at the moment working as undercover cleaner.
start photo by Klaus Welp, live photos K. Weber
Intersubjectivity Record Release Tour
1.2 DocPoint Festival Club, Dubrovnik, Helsinki, Finland
15.2 TVO, Turku, Finland
23.2 Metamorfoosi-klubi — Ihminen, kone, tekoäly, Kansallismuseo restaurant, Helsinki, Finland
2.3 Nuijamies, Lappeenranta, Finland
7.3 Lutakko, Jyväskylä, Finland
8.3 Tuba, Oulu, Finland
9.3 Bar 15, Seinäjoki, Finland
17.4 Sellosali, Espoo, Finland