Interview – Muscular

I’ve featured Muscular’s music a few times on these pages now, most recently featuring the song Demons. As you can probably tell, I enjoy his sound a lot, so I decided to have a chat with the man behind the music, Ilmari Aitoaho.

By Jane Howkins

You recently released a track titled Demons, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the track and where can it be purchased? What does the title refer to?

The song is about inner demons that can prevent us from being ourselves and living our lives to their full potential. And finally, about beating them. The subject is always topical, as each of us has our own demons. It’s published on all streaming platforms and it can be purchased on the iTunes Store, for example.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

In my case, the pandemic was the main reason to get my music published in the first place. I work as a freelance musician and when the virus cancelled all my gigs, I found myself in a situation where I had the time to create my own music. So that’s something positive about the horrible time we’ve had over the past two years.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

I have done loops and demos for a long time, but only now have I had time to finish those ideas and put them together. Usually, I make a skeleton of a tune by myself and then ask a singer to work the topline and lyrics with me. All the muscles are shaped with my dear friends who I invite to work with me when I need an electric bass, guitars or horns for the songs. New ideas for a song can start with a groove, bassline, harmony, or even just a sound.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

I have already released a new single called Keep The Lights On. It is a funk song featuring Sam Huber on additional vocals.

Do you have plans to release an EP or album anytime soon?

My first album is now mixed and mastered and it’ll be released this spring! I’m so excited about that. It has nine tracks, so five all new songs, with the four already released singles.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

Talent and hard work. When someone has a vision about the music (or art) and decides to go for that. It is so important to create something that comes from you and not to think about what others do or think. I am also trying to get there. The biggest influences for Muscular’s music are Prince, Parliament-Funkadelic, Daft Punk and Herbie Hancock. Recently I have enjoyed Cory Henry, Franc Moody, Vulfpeck, Scary Pockets, Benny Sings, Anomalie and L’Imperatrice, just to mention a few.

Whereabouts are you based and what is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

I live in Turku, Finland. It’s my hometown where I was born and raised. For eight years I lived in the capital, Helsinki, for my studies, but I decided to move back to Turku after my degree. The music scene is horrible. Television and radio in Finland are ruled by big media companies representing the major label bullshit. All the festivals are lined up with the same artists. There are only a few exceptions in this matter. Finland is a tiny country full of ignorant people, so to do art here is almost suicide.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

No tour dates yet, but after the album release I hope that’ll change. I am aiming to get some showcase gigs abroad.

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

When I saw a Prince show in Helsinki, he started the gig with a jam and announced that “This is real music, by real musicians”. It’s something that has stuck in my mind. I’ll try to deliver that same feeling in my own sets. I’m also very interested in combining video and light tracking into a live performance, in order to create a multisensory experience.

Any last words for the fans?

Words for the fans of any music: Keep it real, support your favorite artists and spread the love. Peace!