Exciting times are upon us, and here at Rock the Joint Magazine we were thrilled to talk to the one and only Erja Lyytinen about her new studio album, released in the UK on October 7th.
Carrying on from the gifted guitarist’s last two studio albums, “Stolen Hearts,” and “Another World,” respectively, Erja Lyytinen continues to explore themes such as love, loss, heartbreak, and sometimes even revenge. Events transpiring around the world occasionally feed into the storyboard of Lyytinen’s songwriting. This is one seriously talented lady, and with a tour on the way as well, forget the economic depression and focus on some great music instead!
The album was recorded during the first half of 2022, between Erja’s hectic touring schedule, with the bulk of the sessions taking place at The Hollywood House in Helsinki, Finland. Erja was joined in the studio by long-standing bass player Tatu Back and drummer Iiro Laitinen. Having played on every one of Lyytinen’s albums since 2008, Harri Taittonen features once again on Hammond and keyboard.
“Waiting For The Daylight” illustrates a new chapter in Erja’s musical and artistic trajectory. The album was proudly produced by Lyytinen herself. Subsequently, Erja simultaneously explored sounds on the periphery of the blues-rock genre. She fearlessly pushed herself and the band further than they had previously gone before.
So onto the interview, it was great fun to do and Erja’s enthusiasm is infectious-on with the show!
We started asking Erja about the amazing art of the album cover. It has to be one of the most beautiful and distinctive examples of cover art we have seen in a while.
Erja- I agree! I think the cover is amazing and unique. It has been created by using AI. Basically, you feed the computer words you wish to use in the piece. It was done by my photographer, Antti Karppinen who has won a lot of prizes and he has a great eye. We shot our latest studio album with him, so I sent him to the studio and we took these portraits, then he started to create the background for the album by using some words from the songs and the ideology behind the album; so I’m seeing it as (left to right) from the dark to the light, we wait for the daylight. Then there are things to express the wholeness of the album, and the things – feelings, emotions, and stories in the album.
One of the plus points in the album is the storytelling aspect, and the new album by Erja is a great album of storytelling. It is a blues album in many respects, but it does build on an album we love. “Forbidden Fruit” (2013) had a smooth blues feel (it’s a blues education in itself). We wondered whether the storytelling aspect of her work was retained as she has moved more toward the rock edge of the blues.
Erja- For me, stories are still so important. The lyrics are so important as they support the music and on this album there are songs that have topics that are a lot deeper than before. I have always addressed hard topics, but on this album there is long lost love and in a nasty sense, such as “bad seed.” There is a story that happens there, and there are songs about school bullying, and through music we can express these hard topics. By using art, we use stories.
Listening to the album, there is real beauty in the song “Never Really Had You,” which is a bluesy song. It is really lovely and we wondered if it had a backstory for its creator.
Erja- There are many times in my songs when I have a feeling that I want to express out loud. This is about a love you cannot achieve. You know you love but cannot get there. You wanted it, but you tasted hell as the other person didn’t want you. Love songs are interesting as there are different approaches. There is the initial love where you are all “ooh” and then there is the point of being in love and then after the love comes the other emotions.
Perhaps we can only hate what we loved in the first place.
Erja- Yes. And to love something that perhaps you’ve never actually had. Do we see things clearly in life? The song really sounds like a heartbreaking story. It has a chorus where we pace down the tempo, and quite strong guitar work. First we go strong, but then there is me moshing on stage with that huge “I never really had you,” this deep emotion that outpours. It is very bluesy, it touches that moment when you have that metaphorical knife in your heart. I can see the blues fans out there will love that song.
There is so much there for rock and blues fans. And we touched on the importance of the blues. Emma Wilson, when she spoke to us here in the magazine, raised the importance of the blues throughout music. The influence of the blues on George Harrison, The Beatles, and Elvis, throughout modern music. You will find the blues. Of interest to us here was Erja and her love of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath.
Erja-You know these things take me back to being 15. I started at the age of 14 playing the guitar, and I was listening at the time to Sabbath, Zeppelin, and those styles of bands. Then after that, I had an affair with jazz music and soul music, and now as I am getting a little older, I seem to be returning to heavier music again. For me, I am developing as a guitar player all the time, I challenge myself to play harder stuff, more challenging material. Many of those hard rock players are really good, and I come from the blues, more traditional blues. My pedal boards are changing, and I’m using more distortion to create different worlds and sounds, making the music heavier.
As a straight comparison, listening to Erja on “Forbidden Fruit” and then listening to “Waiting for the Daylight,” it is clear that the direction has pulled toward a heavier sounding rock with the blues now layered underneath.
Erja- It’s life. Life changes you, and in a decade actually, you change a lot. As an artist, I have been a musician who likes to develop and not stay static within a box. Life changes your music, and in a decade, so much changes. Look at what has happened in the world since my last album, “Another World,” in 2019. For artists and performers, we entered a dark period, and I put all that frustration into my music. While we enjoy the sun, let us have a new album.
There is a great video for the single “Bad Seed” that we will include at the end of this piece. There is a lot to like about this video, from country hats to line dancing! There is some southern style going on there, blues and rock all the way. We wondered how much input Erja had on the videos.
Erja- I have a director doing the video. But my drummer, I think, wanted to add the cowboy dance. It was a little strange having the country dance maybe, but it turned out to be eye-catching. It is a rocky, bluesy song, a number of different elements, and if I think about it, the dance was quite cool. The dancers were just people, we just showed the same emotions, and it was good fun.
And the new album is out very soon, but there is a tour on the way as well.
Erja – There are single releases planned from the album, and there will be a UK tour with Dom Martin, which is really something to look forward to. That is in November, and I can’t wait to play the new songs live.
Here at the magazine, we have our tickets and can’t wait to get our hands on the album vinyl. Seriously, it’s a cover that alone could be framed for the office wall !
Bad Seed (5:13)
Last Girl (5:28)
Run Away (5:00)
Waiting For The Daylight (6:12)
Never Really Had You (5:15)
Diamonds On The Road (4:25)
You Talk Dirty (6:17)
Love Bites (3:58)
The End of Music (6:55)
Erja Lyytinen – Vocals, Guitars, Violin, Keyboards
Harri Taittonen – Keyboards, Hammond
Tatu Back – Bass
Iiro Laitinen – Drums
By Benny (The Ball) Benson
& Mark C Chambers.