What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I’ve been playing piano my whole life. I think it was in high school when I had only two options left. My father was an architect and I had always thought I might try to study that too, but the call to music was irresistible.

Introduce yourself and your musical history.

Hi, my name is Ilmari Aitoaho from Turku, Finland. I am the brain behind Muscular. I work as a freelance musician, producer, booker and entrepreneur. Since my graduation in 2016 as a Bachelor of Music I’ve been aiming to get a living out of making music and nowadays that is the reality for me. Besides Muscular I play in  an indie rock bandYournalist, retrosoul act Punomo and funk-rock group East Funk Attack. I am also one of the co-founders of our own indie label Drink Tonight.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

No, but..

Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?

..what pandemic? (just joking)

What useless party trick do you have?

Controversial jokes

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

With Muscular we have only had one gig, but it was a super nice summer gig at a small festival. During the years I’ve been having so much fun on stage with different acts. If I have to point out something it would be the three German tours with East Funk Attack.

What was the worst experience on stage?

I have made loads of wedding gigs with my party band and I’d say the absolutely worst case was once in the wedding when I managed to press mute on my keyboard software Main Stage during the last set. I did not know what happened and I tried to restart the software and the computer, but nothing helped ‘cos I did not know about the master mute. I ended up just pretending to play the whole set without the sound. That was embarrassing. 

If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it? 

I think my music would sound quite familiar to aliens since there are loads of space sounds from the synths 🙂 But If this is more like an Englishman in New York kind of a situation I would describe my music as a mixture of electronic music with grooves of Funk, harmonies of Soul, synthesizer sounds from the future i.e. deep basses, vocoded singing, and sparkling arpeggios stirred with organic instruments such as pianos, guitars, horns and percussion.

What makes you stand out as an artist?

I have a relatively long and diverse relationship with music. I’ve been playing Jazz, Indie Rock, Soul, Pop, and Latin music in very many different ensembles. In Muscular all this experience and knowledge sum up, making the music sound like me. I think no one else could have done this music but me. 

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most?

I am so pissed off about so many things at the moment. That could be a surprise to people who know me because I am quite a restrained person. We don’t even have to go to wars and heavy stuff like that. If we stay in the field of music; I just read an article about how the majority of Finnish people don’t want to pay for music because they listen to it so little. Overall I feel that musicians and artmakers are not appreciated enough in Finland.

I hear you have new music coming, what can you tell us about it?

My first album “One The One” will be released on the 23rd of September. It contains 9 tracks, 40 minutes of Electronic Funk music. 4 of the tracks have been released as singles (“Auraraver”, “Word On The Wire”, “Demons” and “Keep The Lights On”). 

Talk me through the thought process of the album.

Everything started in 2017 when I did the first demos of “Auraraver”. I didn’t know back then that I was making the opening track for my debut album, but ultimately that track inspired the sound of the whole album. I had piles of demos on my computer and I felt like I had to finish them. The pandemic gave me an opportunity and time to concentrate on my own music. First, the idea was just to release singles, but in 2021 I got the idea of making a full album. All the songs have a different line up as I asked different singers and instrumentalists to work with me. I still think the result is a solid sounding and coherent album.

What was the recording process like?

Due to the pandemic the process was really different than what I was used to. People who I worked with recorded their parts remotely and then I put everything together at home. Fortunately, we have cloud services and fast internet connections. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the album?

Most important thing I realized was how important it is to listen to other people’s opinions but also to trust your own vision. It is also vital to make the decision when the piece of music is ready and just release it. People wait too much for the right timing and are afraid of what others think. Reality is that no one cares. And if someone reacts, that is always a good thing, even if the feedback is unpleasant. 

Would you change anything now that it’s finished?

I am a bit sad that it took so long to get this album ready. I just lost my father and now he will never hear my first album.

What are your plans for the year ahead?

At the moment I am working on  my second album. Muscular is growing to become a band! I am also putting together the live show. My plan is to apply to showcase events and festivals next year. First show will be the vinyl release gig in January in my hometown.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Remember to support your favorite artists. It means the world to them.

ALBUM PRE SAVE LINK: https://ffm.to/o0xyebb