“We’ve been lovers for almost 20 years, let’s start from there,” say Biitsi, opening a chat about the Helsinki-based music duo’s beginnings as a band. Named after the Finnish word for ‘beach,’ producers Kimmo Modig and Heidi M Wee premiere their latest music video ‘We Feel This’ on AQNB, directed by Olli Leppänen. The track explores “short-lived, highly intensive emotions, which come and go like a fog,” followed by a chat with the pair about the future and background of the project.
Lush liquid electronics mirror the narrative of the video, where a headless Kimmo holds an iPod that feeds sound into Heidi’s floating head. Moving though a trance-like dream state, bodies are lit by bright pinks, greens and purples that fill the screen. Feeding one another through sound, blended fruit and gift exchange, abstract sequences of soft interactions between the two create a sensation of touch and togetherness through the mind.
A project they describe as working through their “obsessions, traumas and disappointments,” and inviting others to share in the kaleidoscope of emotion, Biitsi becomes a place; a “place where we can be as fucked up, horrible, angry, low, joyous, or precise as we want to.”
Formed loosely in the 2010s, Biitsi had their first show in 2016 and most recently at Thermoscene Event #1 with Nora Khan at Helsinki’s Sinne on August 25. They will also be performing at the upcoming Turku XS Festival on November 25. Aside from their live events and online content, they often collaborate with others to not only learn more about themselves but also for “a sneak peek into somebody [else’s] inner world.” Projects include music video direction for Dxxxa, Minkki and Hzzzt, sound for a video piece by Azar Sayiar, as well as co-production on a track for Finnish pop producer Pykäri’s debut album. They are also currently planning a project with the Daglara fashion label.
Often using a more abstract starting point of what a certain sound can evoke, the pair talk to us about their process, the importance of intuition and flow, and the desire for the project as a whole to “get rid of the anxieties, shame, and other constraints that we carry in our bodies.”
** Can you tell us how Biitsi came about and what it’s becoming?
Biitsi: We’ve been lovers for almost 20 years, let’s start from there. This collaboration is long overdue. Heidi played in a rock band and Kimmo’s been working with sound. This is our main thing in life, and it’s becoming more and more fundamental to our well-being. Biitsi gives us a space of our own, something we haven’t found from other sources, such as normal or non-normal, work life. Biitsi is a place where we can be as fucked up, horrible, angry, low, joyous, or precise as we want to. And sometimes we play live and invite people to share this feeling.
**I can see things like colour, costume, staging, designing the environment are a constant, can you tell us about your approach to these things and expand on your process?
B: We work through our obsessions, traumas and disappointments. Sometimes in a healing way and other times indulging in self destruction. Our way of making music bears resemblance to designers. We talk a lot about concepts. We never jam but execute. Heidi’s late mother’s sense of style has influenced her visual thinking greatly, and Kimmo was a teenager playing in nu-metal band, focusing on show elements more than the music. Production-wise we both do everything. Sometimes the songs start from an abstract, non-musical idea, and often we start from what a certain sound invokes in us.
B: The video for ‘Sumu’ is all Ida Lehtonen, as is the case with ‘Everydai’ and Laura Jantunen. We were so happy to have them do their thing. ‘Sumu’ means fog in Finnish. The song is about short-lived, highly intensive emotions, which come and go like a fog. Amidst the uncertainty and chaos of life, making music is a source of happiness to us. And this song tries to capture that sensation. We both have a desire to make our music somehow tactile, and we’re always struggling to figure out how to turn these digital creations into something you feel in the flesh, or actually the other way around. And although we work in a concept-driven way, the flow is intuitive, never forced.
** ‘We Feel This’ reminds me of Benedict Drew’s show Heads my roll (2014) at Matt’s Gallery, when I really felt a metaphysical dislocation from ‘self’ but ultimate cohesiveness or relocation with all media in the environment. Following on from the last question, how does ‘WFT’ build on the concept of (remote) sensation and togetherness?
B: The video for ‘We Feel This’ started out from Olli having a dream where Kimmo was a body without a head and Heidi a head without a body, somehow acting together, so that dislocation was there from the get go. Olli is a fantastic director, we felt safe and cared for. Playing live (and shooting videos) are these special moments where we try to get rid of our anxieties, shame, and other constraints what we carry in our bodies. Perhaps, this is something that communicates to whoever is present at our performances, hopefully.
**What’s next for Biitsi?
B: We’re working on our debut album, which will feature guests vocalists, poets, and such voices. After playing with Nora Khan at Sinne gallery inside Tuomas A. Laitinen’s exhibition, which was a dream situation for us. We realised that creating a soundscape, a particular environment for each live event is what we want to do, instead of just sequencing our songs. Although that can be fun too: our songs are not set in stone at all, so we mix them again for each concert. ‘Sumu’ ended up being an ambient dreamscape when we performed it at Third Space gallery in Helsinki. ‘We Feel This’ is currently named as ‘We Feel Trance’ in our live folder. But in more larger terms, we want to make Biitsi our life, economically and physically.
Lastly, we wanna send a lot of love to everyone who tries to be present and emotionally honest in this world!**