Interview with Sami Antero Ahvenainen of OneTwoTree Designs

Just recently The RingMaster Review came across an artist and artwork that quite simply left us opened mouthed. From just one piece of work we were fully inspired to find more and as we found more of this great work nothing less than awe broke out. As deep and rich in emotive provocation and imagination as they were in skill and texture the pieces were the first new art in a long time to bring an open reaction. Though a young new talent the person behind OneTwoTree Designs has worked on and graced EPs with great impact and is sure to become a name the world of music especially will have roiling off their eager tongues. Wanting to find out more we grabbed some time from the artist to find out more about him and his astonishing work.

Hi and thank you for talking with us at The Ringmaster Review

First question is simply please introduce yourself.

My name is Sami Antero Ahvenainen and I am a newbie graphic designer from Finland.

Please give us some background to yourself.

Well, I am 23 years old, second year student and I have been interested in graphic designing for over 3 years now.

When did art become a passion and important part of your life?

Art has always been in my life, I used to draw comics and stuff when I was a little kid

What are your influences and artists which inspired you most?

The artworks/ illustrations of Travis Smith, he’s a legend and a big inspiration to me.

How would you describe your art to newcomers?

Dark, mysterious and maybe even… thought provoking?

Do you stay with one style or medium or work across many forms?

I try to work across many forms and improve my technique with every art piece I create.

You also have a love of music, especially extreme metal and other forms of metal and rock, another passion as strong as your art?

Absolutely, music has always been there for me, giving me inspiration when I really need it! Nowadays I mostly listen to brutal death metal.

Do you play an instrument or make music yourself?

Well, I like to write lyrics on my free time just to keep my mind occupied, that is about it. Haha

Your work is dark and brooding and very provocative, is it a good representation of you as a person?

Absolutely yes but I try to avoid going too dark cause that can be depressing at times and that is not a direction I want to take.

What inspires your art predominantly?

Music and the challenges of life.

When designing and creating album covers or working on another ideas for bands do you work closely with them and listen to their music to get a feel of their creations first?

Most of the time I work very closely with the bands and they send me clips of their new tunes so that I can get the right idea for the art, it is all pretty cool and I appreciate it.

Is there a similarity do you think to how artists and musicians are inspired in their craft and how those seeds for compositions are developed?

I think so yes, when I hear an amazing song it inspires me to create something epic and I’ve actually heard that my artworks have inspired bands to improve their music and step up their game…so yeah.

Like a song with depth and texture your art unveils new layers and shadows each time you look at it, there is not just an instant appeal but a story or darker avenue to explore. It is important to you that your pieces have a breath and entity of their own?

Absolutely yes, I want my artwork to stand out from the rest I don’t want to create two pieces that look the same; I’m always looking for something new and refreshing!

American band Black Sky Ashes is a big fan of your work I believe?

Yeah, we worked very closely back in late 2011 and early 2012 when they released their first EP “your rain” I hope to work with them again someday; Travis Neal is a cool guy.

Give us some of the other bands you have graced releases of with your work?

At the moment my biggest would be the artwork I designed for Dishearthed and their EP “Praise the fool” it is a stunning artwork and I’d say it could be my finest art piece to date!

If there was one band or project you could choose to create for, what would it be?

Insomnium! I’ve been a big fan of this band for a long time and it would be a dream come true for me if I could create some art for them.

Now, and this still surprises me given the amazing quality and skill of your art, you design and create stuff for bands etc for free?

Yes, my artworks are 100% free. No joke!

Was this your intent from the start or just a reflection on the fact there just is not the money around within music and upcoming bands?

Yeah, in the beginning my art was not free but as time went on I figured that it is more inspiring/ easier for me to create and help bands if my art was free. A big “thank you” from the band is a good enough reward for me, I love music, I want to help out and this is a great way for me to do so!

One imagines you are over loaded with requests for your work but where can people get in touch regarding the possibility of having you create something for them?

I always have room for another project if it is interesting enough and stands apart from the others, I can be contacted via email onetwotree@hotmail.fi or via my Facebook page, friend requests are welcome!

Is there any criteria they have to meet, like no pop or rap? Haha

Absolutely not, I love all kinds of music!

It is near impossible to pick a favourite of your pieces I have seen but Bride of Darkness and Cursed Moon, as well as a couple untitled ones on your Facebook profile stimulate and evoke stronger thoughts than others. What is your favourite or proudest piece to date? Yes I know like choosing your favourite kid or pet haha.

I’d have to say “bride of darkness” also, it just turned out amazing and I even surprised myself!

Are you continually coming up with ideas and pieces that lay in wait for the right project whether there are projects in the works or not?

There are times when I just don’t come up with anything, but that can be cause of my lack of free time at the moment haha. I can only blame myself for that!

Have you ever been lost for ideas when faced with a job, that spark of inspiration too dim and needing extra stoking to bring forth?

I put 100% of my heart into every piece I create, if I don’t feel like 100% I won’t even try to come up with anything. I don’t want to create uninspired art that would be a waste of everyone’s time and it would make me feel kinda disappointed later on.

What are your ambitions as an artist and for your work?

At the moment this is just a hobby cause I’m still in school etc but…time will tell, I’d like to be a pro!

Have you had exhibitions? I guess your Facebook profile online is a kind of one?

Nope, never. But yeah the page is kinda like one, I guess haha

Once more many thanks for talking with us.

My pleasure!

One final question, we saw you have a couple of wrestling inspired pieces, another love and who is your favourite sports entertainer?

Edge, amazing in the ring, good mic skills and charisma! Shame that he had to retire.

Find out more about OneTwoTree Designs @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/OneTwoTree-Designs/291518004205786

Email onetwotree@hotmail.fi

The RingMaster Review 18/05/2012

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Peter Tinari: Embrace The Darkness

Regular readers will know we do not have much enthusiasm for guitar led instrumental music, the eager slips into indulgence that are nearly always rife eternally unwelcome. Earlier in the year though we came across guitarist Jay Parmar who whichever music he presents, instrumental or with full vocals has a craft and discipline that has no need for inane fiddling. Now we have come across another in Californian Peter Tinari. His latest album Embrace The Darkness is not brand new out but fresh to us and it is an inspiring and inventive piece of work that lights up all the right fires with style and discipline.

From Burbank Tinari has created a release of seven pieces of music which leave one inspired and deep in thought. Yes admittedly at times he veers towards the excesses that bring shivers of disdain to our senses but without fail he always reins it in to offer compositions that find an eager sanctuary within the ear. Tinari brings the entire guitar and bass sounds which light up the sonic skies though the opening song This Chosen Ground also features Matt Contino, and is aided throughout by the atmospheric and emotive keys of Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Planet X, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Idol, Black Country Communion) and the formidable drum work of Enzo DiPaolo (Black Dawn). Together they bring forth a mighty collection of tracks that will thrill and ignite the hearts of all rock fans.

Musically the album has it all from classic and hard rock through to metal and progressive rock and from the initial atmospheric beckoning of This Chosen Ground the album seizes firm attention. The track reveals its muscle and mesmeric charm within moments and surges through the ear whilst caressing with melodic grandeur. In combination with the equally expansive and imaginative key sounds the song elevates to rain down scorched interplay and classy sonics. With essences of symphonic metal sweeping through the progressive weave the song has one on the edge of their seat. It is an impressive beginning but before long left in the shade by what follows.

The wonderful Now I Lay Me Down is the first track to bring a full immersion its breath flooding the mind with imagery and emotions. Starting with a simple toy box sirenesque beckon wrapped in ambient keys and heaven staring harmonies a sense of warm solitude pervades. Before long though the guitars stride in causing the ambient temperature to rise dramatically and the escapade is afoot. Like the dreams and imagination of the young where there are quests and adventures at every corner and in each shadow the track offers a soundscape of soaring skies, breathless ebbs and flows, and reflective provocation.

The drama and depths of Emphatic Universe provide a different journey upon a wave of continually evolving sounds and feelings, its drive firm and unpredictable, its heart enveloping and shadowed. The track leaves one full from its feast of invention and ingenuity but it is merely the appetiser for the brightest jewel on the album in Celestial Shadows. The title says it all; the piece has its home in the skies, the stars the source of its soul and irresistible warmth, but beneath and throughout there is a dark and tempering energy to leave an uncertainty and black energy in the air. There is a sense of chaos and conflict in the clouds but one that has always been and forever will be, its presence underlying the light and sun of the world the music is borne from.

Closing on the epic feel of Death By Proxy the album is a rewarding and thoroughly eventful piece of composition. The journey it takes is vast and surprising, never a dull moment or expected turn in sight. Peter Tinari is a masterful player and songwriter complemented by others with equal talent and vision to create in Embrace The Darkness a pleasure that ensures the deepest enjoyment. Whether you are a fan of Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paradise Lost, Dimmu Borgir….the list goes on, you will find immense satisfaction with Peter Tinari.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Tinari/165770380143530

RingMaster 18/05/2012

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Athel: Open Your Eyes To Society

Really striking pop punk bands seem to be on the wane these days, there are some great bands but with uniformity to their sound which is great at the time of listening but soon lost from the memory until the next visit. Chicago band Athel with their debut album Open Your Eyes To Society seems like a band that might buck that trend. The songs on the release are vibrant and contagious and offer a fresh breath which lingers far longer than the sounds from the majority of their contempories. It openly brings familiar spices and flavours well known to the genre but places them within an invention and contagion that most others struggle to define their creations with.

Consisting of trio vocalist and guitarist Justin King, bassist Comron Fouladi, and drummer Christian Navarro, Athel bring strong traits of classic rock and metal to their punk hearted music too which adds to the distinct variety and strength the album grips the ear firmly with. Comparisons of Foo Fighters, Rise Against, and of course Green Day have been placed upon their songs and these are not hard to miss though the band probably sits nearer to the rock fuelled likes of Sum 41 with melodic insertions of a Good Charlotte or All American Rejects veining the constantly engaging sounds.

Signed to Mortal Music after the band came to the attention of co-owner and SOiL bassist Tim King, the band seems destined to rile up more than passing attention with their first full length release. The follow up to their previous couple of EPs, Open Your Eyes To Society swaggers and saunters through the ear with a sure confidence and stylish ability to excite the ear. From the opening Radio the release has no intentions other than to offer a good and flavoursome party. Mildly aggressive, vaguely intrusive, and wholly infectious the album leaves one fulfilled and with a satisfied grin. The opener sums the album up immediately, the song an easy going and pleasing invitation for the limbs and any anthemic tendencies within. It cruises through the ear with robust and eager riffs, fine harmonious vocals, and inserted rock guitar spikes to further excite, all brought with a full energy and imaginative hand.

The following vibrant These Are The Times continues the release in similar fashion, easily appealing and undemanding but it is with the next trio of songs that the album shows its true depths and strengths. All That I Am starts it off and is a gem. With a hypnotic melodic hook the Buzzcocks or Undertones would be proud of, and a Jimmy Eat World like chorus infection it is irresistible and alone offers the promise mentioned at the start.

Kara’s Carousel and Paranormal Abstract Of Everyday Life complete the triple slice of consecutive magic. The first of the two a rock textured blend of stirring metallic riffs and strikingly melodic vocals. The song suggests it might venture into pop punk or hard rock throughout but remains firmly steered between the two and is deeply impressive for it despite the fade out suggesting a lack of an ending. The other song is a muscular contagion with great acidic classic rock guitars adding a slight progressive feel. More hard rock than punk music wise, the song exhilarates and leaves one with increased adrenaline and raised eagerness to hit replay before moving on. Along with These Are The Times the pair are the biggest highlights on the album and the undeniable evidence of a band on a sharp rise.

Though the album continues with peaks and slight lulls which are still more inventive and impressive than most other similar veined releases, the album never gives less than pleasure and reward. The likes of the energetic Their Shoes alongside the melodic excellence of Me, Myself, & I and the crystalline grace of Oceans leave smooth and invigorating caresses upon the senses whilst brewing up emotions with their insistent anthemic energy.

Ending on bonus track Keep Me Awake, a song so addictive it should come with medical assistance, Open Your Eyes To Society is an excellent release that achieves what it set out to do, to leave one thrilled, energised, and eager for more. Athel still feel like they have a way to go to make that step into totally unique territory within the genre but they are well on the way and bringing great pleasure as they go.

RingMaster 18/05/2012

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Subject Matter: Smash The Mould

Smash The Mould from Irish rock band Subject Matter is a feisty beast of a release which leaves one with emotions ranging from fired up through to slightly bewildered and uncertain but always it intrigues and brings an eagerness to hear more. The Dublin quartet create music that demands to be noticed and leaves an impression that is long lasting. Renowned for their lively and raucous gigs the album successfully follows suit.

Consisting of Paul “POK” O’Keeffe (vocals/guitar), Ste Brennan (guitar/vocals), Paul “Jim” Carey (bass/vocals), and Tommy Devine (drums), the band splatters the ear with insatiable riffs and energy from the off with the excellent opening track Funky Coloured Pitfalls. With a deep taunting bassline and flourishes of eager guitar the song erupts into a ball of pumped energy and enthused vocals, simply it is a fine blast of gut punching punk rock. It is a track that defies you not to join in and sets the release off to a great start.

The immediately following Give It To Me Straight brings more of the same punk fuelled rock sounds and within two songs one attention is firm not only on the songs but also the great bass of Carey, his belligerent riffs an excellent scowling and prowling presence within each song. The impressive What I Know easily confirms the fact straight after as well as reminding that you can not dismiss the guitars and rhythms neither, the band a unit whose strength is its sum parts. What I Know is one of the best songs on the album due to its eagerness to throw things slightly awry, its rhythms and vocals at times wonderfully at odds with the drive of the guitars. Again the song is an example of punk rock at its disruptive best and though it verges on chaotic and almost undisciplined at times it all adds to the strength of the track.

From this point the album is a bit hit and miss with the emotive ballad of Dressed To Depress one of a few songs that lose the focus gained previously, though one has to admire the adventure and unexpected turns the band bring to song and album. From that dip the band resurge back with the twin Rage Against The Machine flavoured Old Flames and Death By Monkeys, the first raw and caustic and the second a blues soaked crawl over the senses.

Though as mentioned mixed in consistency the likes of the garage rock/blues tinged Ground with again excellent bass work aligned to crusading riffs and strong vocals, See Thru Souls with its emotive depth and strong melodies, and another RATM lined Different Station, contribute much more than songs such as second ballad Keep Me With You and the formulaic rocker The Pass At Dark steal away.

Closing with the throwaway but fun O Nani Ama, the album is an enjoyable release full of promise for the band though one feels they need to find a more defined sound to truly emerge from the crowd. Subject Matter as they stand right now is a band who with songs like Funky Coloured Pitfalls and What I Know will easily make frequent visits to many ears.

http://www.subjectmatteronline.com/

RingMaster 18/05/2012

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