Spotlight 2 on Lope & Kantola

Special Feature 12/6/2021
Lope & Kantola

Meet Lope & Kantola: Yes, we’re back to this groovy, (more than) Disco duo from Finland. I could repeat the Spotify intro, but you can read that for yourself in Spotlight on Lope & Kantola. However, what other ways are there to properly introduce them here? I think the most important one is how they call themselves: ‘Disco dads’. It was this description back then, that really got to me and I still feel it is one of the most accurate, all-encompassing slogans I’ve encountered since I started the blog. Don’t let these loving and proud dads fool you into thinking they have no clue about what’s going on in the music scene today, They Know. Oh and yes, you might recognize some of the pics from last time. It’s OK, they’re still pretty cool!

My Kind of Music, With Lope & Kantola (2)

Get a LITTLE CLOSER and Meet the Disco Dads.

This third Spotlight 2  – or in Lope & Kantola’s words: Colorful Expressions Vol.2 – makes me a happy girl indeed, because I’ve been looking forward to it for some time now. Quick recap: Ville Lope & Marko Kantola are a duo that won my heart last year, with their funky, groovy tracks lead by their distinct heavy synth work. Though in the same spheres as my preferred choice of music, theirs was a bit different than what I was used to listen to. When their songs got recommended on YouTube by my fav channel (The Jukebox Music Club) I knew I’d found some jewels. The next step was making contact and our history took flight.

It’s been a little over a year since their first Spotlight, when things were still pretty new to me and though some things never change – the quality of their music for one – other things definitely do change. This is why I always had these ‘follow-ups’ in mind when I started. In a way the first article was a long introduction and to be honest, you can consider this one to be ‘the sequel’. My first and foremost wish, is for Lope & Kantola to reach a larger audience and if this helps only a little bit, it’ll be worth my little effort. So after you’ve read part one – I really hope you did! – it’s time to make new memories.

It took me some time to actively start using Bandcamp, but as soon as I discovered this is where artists can get the actual support they deserve – yes talking cash baby –  especially on the Bandcamp Friday’s, I was set on following and supporting them there too. As I also did with Lope & Kantola, who confirmed to me the appreciation for how it works, I quote: ‘Loving how Bandcamp is instant’ and they confirmed it by giving me the next example, I quote: ‘To get that 18 euros would require 5660 plays in Spotify. And add the delay to the payment’. I might have briefly mentioned the workings of Spotify for artists before and as much as I don’t really like to give out these figures, a reality check will certainly help out any independent artist out there. We gotta have to show our love for real.

This doesn’t mean Spotify should be overlooked, as one of my fav artists explained, I quote: ‘Spotify is one of the best places to get heard and shared’. And though I was very reluctant at first, I now have to agree and hope to contribute to spreading Lope & Kantola’s music by adding their tracks to my weekly Spotify playlist, Some Groovy Medicine. The Spotlight articles are my personal little stories about how I’ve found these amazing artists and trying to support them the best way I can, in hopes of encouraging you to do the same. Lope & Kantola are included in the group I kept in contact with – a pretty large group by now – though music wise it got a little quieter after their track ‘Club’ released May 27, 2020. Fortunately it didn’t last all that long.

Lope & Kantola use ‘cottage getaway weekends’, to get together and focus on their music, since they live quite a distance from each other. It was during one of those weekends, they came up with the next song, released February 5, 2021. Coming back strong with a track that was inspired thus, I quote: ‘Imagine a dark autumn night, getting pitch black outside and you get the feeling to do something fresh and unheard in visual style of Stranger Things. Painting Nights is just that: 80’s synths and neon lights’. In all honesty, I’ve never watched Stranger Things, but I was all too happy to be hearing new music from one of my fav artists and so I told them exactly that. Lope & Kantola seemingly just picked up where they left off, though their answer made it clear that wasn’t entirely correct. I quote: ‘Making music is one battle. Releasing it is another struggle. It needs decisions.’ By that time, they were not the only ones who expressed this feeling with me.

It was during that same conversation in February – really, where did the time go? – I mentioned I was in the process of starting the Spotlight 2 series and asked them if they were interested. They told me to ‘just ask’ whenever I was ready, but it took me until recently to get to this point. Lope & Kantola have been making music close to 2 decades together and that’s perfectly clear when listening to them. Though every new track might be fresh and different, it will always have that Lope & Kantola flavor. I might be aiming to listen to all the artist’s music before writing, I do not always succeed. This leads to really discovering some treasures afterwards, almost like finding all those secret places in a new home only after moving in.

A little while later I discovered a couple of Lope & Kantola’s tracks, including some of my favs, were greyed out in Spotify. I wanted to ask them about it, but only got to that point when they released their EP ‘Audiophile’, May 6, 2021. To my big surprise, there they were! I’ll leave any further explanation to the guys themselves. I was not only happy to have those songs back in my playlist, there was a very sick addition as well: a remix by Kahikko – a name frequently popping up in Lope & Kantola’s tracks/remixes and definitely one to remember. The original ‘Under Cover’ with 387K+ plays, is their most streamed tune on Spotify and one where my real appreciation took off to ‘repeat mode’ afterwards as mentioned. It’s their No.1 song for a reason and the vocals by Lucas Marx are fantastic. This remix however, can hardly be compared to the original, but is equally awesome and ended up in my ‘On Repeat’ list, as well as my Top 100 songs of this year.

Though our kids like most of the music I share – pfieew – they have their own favorites. It doesn’t happen that often, but when our daughter added a couple of Lope & Kantola’s tracks to her playlist, that definitely made me smile. Since I am a BIG believer that any artist can only be encouraged by something like this, I shared it with the guys when they released their next song, July 9, 2021. The title seemed an immediate reference to the pandemic and the consequences the human race has been dealing with since it started. Their own comment on Bandcamp, I quote: ‘What would it be like to travel without moving? What would it be like to be Abroad at Home?’ Lope & Kantola’s (social media) posts are always dusted with a sprinkle of irony and it’s one of the things I can really appreciate. Their attitude seems to be: Don’t whine, just keep going. They’ll take you out of your rusted routine AND your ‘home’, with their music and sense of humor.

Their next released song only confirms this. ‘Dual Ipa’, released August 6, 2021, is all about feeling good. As if there could be any misunderstanding about it, Lope & Kantola confirmed the reference to a certain artist – or better, pun – was intentional. And was it a coincidence International Beer Day was happening at the same time? I distinctly remember them mentioning they would have loved to have written one of her songs (Don’t Start Now), as stated in Spotlight on YOU, I quote: ‘A current song I’d love to have written myself.’ Their new song was released on my birthday of all days, so what a great gift indeed. Summer was still ruling, even here in Ireland, we were melting away. Though Lope & Kantola’s comment was done with all the best intentions, I quote: ‘This frosty one is at it’s best on a terrace. Enjoyed cold and in good company’, temperatures only went up listening to it. ‘” Just Wanna See you Dance..” By the way, I love a good IPA.

Lope & Kantola’s latest release extends on their views regarding the pandemic. Not only that, it’s also a song that expresses concern about all the people who have been struggling with depression as a consequence. The song released September 10, 2021, which was also World Suicide Prevention day. Though the duo has a great sense of humor, they showed their serious side by creating this song inspired by the following, I quote: ‘Ever since the pandemic hit us all, it’s been hard to let people near you. Feeling alone, it’s been hard for anyone’s mental health. This song was inspired by that longing to be close to other people’. Lope & Kantola were not afraid to address the topic all over their social media. The song has a raw edge, corresponding to how many people are feeling. “I know it doesn’t make sense at all, but here I am outside your door. I get too scared to face the truth”.

Fast forward to (late) last September, Lope & Kantola had me laughing out loud when they responded to me sharing their song ‘Weekend’, a part of that week’s playlist. Since it’s updated every Monday, I added the caption: ‘Wishing for the next?’ They replied in their story with, I quote: ‘Oh right. We need to decide what to release next’. I might not have meant it that way, but I am always happy to hear new Lope & Kantola stuff. Their music is of the happy kind, meant to make you feel better and consistently manages to make me smile and groove. I have witnesses to prove this to be true. I repeated my wish to do a second Spotlight, my only concern being, to come up with some new, hopefully interesting, questions. You know it might seem easy, but it can be a struggle for me lol. Their reply was as dry as to be expected, I quote: ‘Come up with some. We’re down whenever you are’. Right. Green light almost fluorescent by then.

It was October by the time I got me some nice questions. Or so I believe. Where I might have been too eager when I started, hoping to publish articles every week – man what was I thinking  – I soon got that it would not work that way. Not for the artists, nor for me. So when Lope & Kantola asked me if there was a deadline, I was already used to tell every artist to ‘please take your time answering’. I mean, we all have our schedules to work with right? When I received an apology in November from the guys because it was taking so long, I told them not to worry at all, since I would be occupied with my kids who were coming over. Next to that, I already had a couple of other Spotlights lined up. But you know.. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait and after my break, we’ve finally arrived here!

Now the songs shared here is are mix of their most recent releases as well as some older ones and I really want to encourage you to not skip Lope & Kantola’s earlier work! If you’d take the time to listen to it all, you’ll see what I mean, when talking about their special L&K flavor. For instance, I was very happy to discover their EP ‘Love Burst’, released in 2015 on Spotify. So very recognizable still, compared with their newer stuff and boy, so very funky too. When I said they are more than a disco duo, it was mainly because I couldn’t really define their genre. y’all know I’m not a fan of labeling/genres and a lot of those are overlapping anyway if you ask me. It’s why I always ask the artist to describe their music. In my opinion, Lope & Kantola play a wide range of Disco, EDM, Synthwave all fused with a sprinkle of House? I suck at this, but all I really care about is how it makes me feel: It Makes me Dance, hence, I Love It.

Some older work (including re/mixes) you can also find on SoundCloud – as mentioned in their previous Spotlight and, again, on Bandcamp. Several singles released in 2016 (Like ‘All This Time’ and ‘In The Sun’) tell a story of driving beats, making me want to stomp my feet and bob my head till it hurts. The heavy synths remind me of some older work from the French musician Skalp, if anyone even heard of him at all and maybe more close to home, Doktor Plekter. Prog Disco? It’s funky and dramatic in an almost overpowering way, leaving me wanting more to chase every lurking hint of negativity, away. It’s impossible to ignore the energy flowing from it.

As much fun as this has been so far – well, for me at least lol – we’re reaching the point you’ve all been waiting for. If by now my love for Lope & Kantola is not clear yet, I’ll make sure you’ll end up on the naughty list this year! Their musical journey isn’t over yet, because they ‘whispered’ they’re mastering a new 6 track EP as we speak and I can’t wait. The only question is whether it will be released this year still or at the beginning of 2022. Again, Good Things Come etc etc. Before we’re going to let the Disco dads have their say, I want to just shout out a BIG Thank You, Lope & Kantola! Thank you for taking the time, again, to be here and also for making really incredible music! Very much looking forward to your new EP indeed and of course you will be added to the 2021 Spotlight page! Anyways, no more waiting, Let’s Gooo!


The Interview

1️⃣ How have you been? It’s been a little over a year since the first Spotlight. Has the pandemic affected the way you look at producing music and/or your creativity? Or did you find some unexpected benefits from it?

‘This whole Covid-19 era has been quite difficult for us. Where as many of our colleagues have benefitted from the “excess time” they suddenly had in their hands after the gigs were cancelled, we basically took a hit to our productivity or time to be used on production.

Ville tells in early 2020 there was a complete seven week lockdown: the kids were off daycare and me and my wife had to split 8AM to 8PM in half: That time was solely used to cope with the day job.

Marko’s situation wasn’t much better. His wife works in healthcare. That combined with shift work leads to the fact that we didn’t have the “extra time”. Far from it.

On top of all this, we found it was hard to get any extra influences when there was no events and many people were struggling to release any music’.

2️⃣ At one point I saw some songs greyed out in my Spotify playlist only to discover they were re-released last May on the album ‘Audiophile’. Can you tell us a bit about how this came to be?

‘These tracks were released on a label earlier. This label went successfully under the radar and there were no new releases or any footprint of their existence. Somehow we ended up in situation where we had a difference of opinion on whether they should pay us royalties or not.

They were kind enough to waive the rights to the tracks when pointing out this dissonance in honoring the contract.

When the tracks just magically disappeared from the streaming platforms, we uploaded them via our distributor as an EP (we rather call it an EP than an album). We’re super happy we got to keep the big play count on Undercover. It would have been a shame to lose some 400k plays in our Spotify play count’.

3️⃣ For me the biggest surprise on that album was definitely the Kahikko remix of ‘Undercover’. I was already in love with the original and it’s hard for me to say which version I like most, since they’re so totally different. How did you guys manage to in fact, re-create the track?

‘Kahikko is a good friend of us. Undercover has been his favorite track from our portfolio ever since he heard the song the first time.

Undercover is also one of our favorites and we had super big hopes it would take off even bigger that it did. Perhaps the success would have been bigger if it got bigger recognition from the Finnish radio or got some big plays from the well known DJs. Now we stayed pretty much undercover with the song (pun intended)

We had given Kahikko the remix pack earlier and we had an idea to have it “officially” released on the said label. When things changed it was natural to have it released as a part of this bigger compilation’.

4️⃣ But before that you released the single ‘Painting Nights’ and afterwards, three more singles: ‘Abroad at Home’, ‘Dual Ipa’ and ‘Little Closer’. So you have been pretty busy. Can you give us a bit of background info how these tracks were created/ the thoughts behind them?

Chronologically:

✳️ Abroad at Home was actually a song we wrote as a “support song” for this one Finnish YouTuber. He’s making videos of all light weighted electrical vehicles, mainly on e-mopeds. He’s been a huge fan of us for a long period of time and actually is using “Miami Girls” as his video outdo music.

Miami Girls & boy was my interpretation off… love those background stories for real!

He was about to go on this epic 500km road-trip, which took him all July. When we heard about this we offered him a chance to get a custom song for this trip. Abroad at Home is actually a title that he suggested. We’re happy that we came to agreement he got to use the song as he wanted and we still got to release the song as a single. Everyone won!

✳️ Dual Ipa was sort of a funky track just kinda created itself. Flowing perfectly forward it was just huge feel good track.

Added with a good pun or a dad joke of a title and the happy incident of releasing it on international beer day – damn we got good laugh out of it!

✳️ Little Closer is a bit darker, yet pop-ish song. The title came about when we noticed the international suicide prevention day was approaching. Although we’re happy that there hasn’t been any unfortunate endings in our circle of friends and family, we feel mental health issues is not something we should keep quiet on. This was our way of raising awareness. Luckily we got this through to Finnish national radio and pushing the important message of talking about how you feel to people’.

5️⃣ At the time you guys were also looking into finding a label to have your music released with. Are you still looking for that, or have you decided to keep everything in your own hands? And what would be the benefit for you, by using a label?

‘To be honest, we live in odd times. Having a label isn’t a must these days. But having a good one might be a business venture that benefits both parties.

See, these days anyone can release a song on streaming platforms, the distribution isn’t some black art it was even 10 years ago. But it doesn’t mean that going independent is a fool proof method of maximizing ones revenue of music income. 

Having a label can be a great thing when they are bringing something extra to the table. It could be a kick ass network, amazing promotional push, solid marketing machine, a vision how to build one up as an artist. As long as they are bringing something extra to the table and are super nice people to work with, we’re happy to start discussing.

No, we do not know in which direction we should start asking. Perhaps some label finds us interesting and want to play ball with us’.

6️⃣ How would you describe your music now? Which genre(s) would you place it under? Do you guys ever considered changing it up (again)?

‘This is a great question. To be completely and brutally honest, from time to time we’re completely lost with the genres. Perhaps that’s the reason why we haven’t found a label home yet.

Being genre-fluid (in lack of better term) is a pro and it is a con.

It’s a downside when we don’t always know what to do next. We’re sort of losing the true north on our compass.

It’s an upside because we can always “freshen it up” by switching from house to disco to retro to future pop and so forth without a need of asking a permission to do so. We still do think regardless what the genre of a new release is it will sound like us.

Wouldn’t you agree?’

I ABSOLUTELY AGREE

7️⃣ What can we expect from Lope & Kantola in the – near – future? Do you think when things will get back to a new/more normal, new doors will open for you and if yes, in what ways would that be? Live performances perhaps?

‘We’re sort of still coping from the covid times and it’s been almost two years we’ve been to the same studio session in person. We managed to meet during the summer though!

Somehow during the process of answering this interview, we’ve managed to finish a 6 track EP. “Stories Untold” is coming out in January 2022.

We’re always playing around with idea of doing an album – and then backing out of it and thinking of a series of EP’s. In our circle of close producer friends, we’ve been known for always having a double album (or two) worth of release ready(ish) tracks lying around on the hard drive.

See, it’s not to be taken as granted on the days of digital platforms that releasing an album is the way to go. Sure, if having a bigger story to tell, an album could be the best format available. Then again, the algorithms and how the interwebs and human mind in the age of social media is working, it’s preferring smaller pieces of content in more frequent pace.

However, now the decision is made. There will be more getaway writing camps in order to make a Lope & Kantola album. The concept for it is already outlined, the songs just need to be written. The album should be ready in late 2022′.

8️⃣ Is there anything else you would like to add/share with your fans/the readers? Anything I did not ask about maybe?

‘Always, always, always support the artists you love and find. Dropping a positive comment here and there doesn’t take too much time of your day, but can give boost to the artist that could mean more to them you could ever imagine’.


Again: Agreed on that final comment! And also again, Big Thanks to Lope & Kantola! Listening to their music is such a joy, which I hope you, my readers will also discover for yourself. Please check them out, you can do that right here:

Follow Lope & Kantola on: Spotify Bandcamp SoundCloud Facebook Instagram Twitter

Wishing y’all a very Happy Weekend, come a Little Closer, crack open an IPA and Fly With Me

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