We thrive on inspirational tales, and who doesn’t like a good old D-beat love story? Katri Chapman ( née Kankkunen! ) of the superb crust punk outfit HAAVAT tells us about moving from small town Finland to the UK, and chasing her dreams.
“I used to listen to a lot of old bands…..I always loved female vocals, it just sounds better and kicks ass….”katri 2022
How did you end up singing in a Norwich D-Beat band?
Hi! It’s quite a long story but I will try to make it short!
I left Finland in 2014 for good as I always wanted to live abroad. I got to a point in my life where I was quite depressed and my business drove me into a burnout. That’s when I decided it’s time to fuck off and start all over. I sold most of my belongings, quit my business and moved to London.
As soon as I got there I joined a band with Agnosy guys. Their drummer went travelling for a year so the rest of the guys started another band in the meantime and needed a singer.
I had met Chris (Agnosy bass player) back in 2009-2010 when he saw me playing with my old band Rakkaus in Sweden and we talked already back then that one day I’ll move to London and we’ll start a band together!
That band was Gift of Death. That’s when I met Alex (Agnosy singer and Gift of Death bassplayer) and we got married in 2016. We played shows in London and Bristol, recorded a demo but the band dried up as we couldn’t find a drummer in the end.
2017 I fell pregnant and we decided to move to Norwich, Alex’s hometown. We already knew Mid and when we met at gigs in London we also said if we ever move to Norwich we’ll start a band together. And that’s what we did!
When I first heard Haavat I felt like I was hearing some great old-school Finnish punk. Most noticeable it is in the vocals – maybe it is the phrasing of Finnish sentences that makes it sound that way? Did you have any influences in mind when you started singing?
Yes it’s probably the phrasing I would say! I absolutely love Finnish punk, there has always been a great scene with a lot of bands and still is.
When I first started playing in bands in early 2000 I used to listen to a lot of old bands like Pyhakoulu, Pohjasakka, Mellakka, Kaaos. Also bands like Detestation, Nausea, Dirt, Anti-Product, Harum-Scarum, Sanctus Iuda, Homomilitia. These are just a few to mention on the top of my head. I always loved female vocals, it just sounds better and kicks ass.
I guess all those bands influenced me but then again, I really didn’t know (or still don’t know) what I was doing, just opened my mouth and shouted and that’s what came out!
I used to get people coming to me at gigs to ask if I wrote the lyrics and when I said yes they asked what’s wrong with you?!kATRI 2022
You write all the lyrics, in your native language. The themes are quite dark, and poetic, very different from usual – I like them very much. What do you see as the message behind the band Haavat?
Thank you! Writing lyrics is a way for me to fight my demons. Fears, thoughts, wonders and issues that are wrong in this world or in my head. I get inspiration from books, poems, articles, news, conversations with people….anywhere really! Many times there might be a phrase or a word popping in my head and that’s a start for a new song. I’ve got a creative mind and quite ADHD so writing lyrics is a form of art, a way to express myself.
I can’t play any instrument, I really wish I could because I would love to write music. I just have no patience to learn, I’m too hectic and busy minded to concentrate.
I chose to write in Finnish because obviously it’s easier for me, it sounds better and makes our band more original.
What comes to a message behind the band, we never really discussed it. When we started we all did have a similar idea what kind of music we wanted to play, but then just decided to see what comes out when we put our heads together. We all may have slightly different tastes in music so I find it interesting what we come up with and playing together it’s one way to express ourselves.
Message from the lyric point of view I will leave to the listener.
I used to get people coming to me at gigs to ask if I wrote the lyrics and when I said yes they asked what’s wrong with you?!
I tried to learn Finnish on DuoLingo for one week before going there, I’m afraid to say none of it stuck….how was learning English for you? I sometimes chat will people over there, and it is almost like I am chatting with native English speakers, their English is so good.
Basically every Finnish person can speak and understand English. They might be too shy to talk, but they can! We start learning it at an early age, like 9 or 10.
For me, thanks to travelling, touring and meeting international punks my English got better and better. When I moved here I found it hard to understand different accents but by the time I’m getting used to it. My kids are talking proper Norfolk hahaha!
D-beat style punk is characteristically plain and un-ornamented – nobody shows off, or plays guitar solos, unlike punk from other parts of the world. I suppose it is quite ‘reserved’. I wonder if you’ve ever wondered what it is that unites UK, Scandinavia and Finland to make such music?
I guess Finnish people are reserved in general so it fits. They also are the opposite of showing off. I think there’s definitely some similarity in Scandinavian and UK punk and mentality.
I know that a lot of old Finnish bands got their influence from UK bands so I guess that explains the similarity. Otherwise I really don’t know as UK punks and Finnish punks can be quite different.
Do you like Norwich? And don’t you miss Finland? I only ask, because I am already quite a boring guy, but even I got bored after a couple of days in Helsinki. I think it’s because everything is almost so perfect and I’m used to the absolute chaos of living in crazy-town ( Birmingham, UK).
I love living in Norwich. It’s a very creative, cultural and artistic city with a lot of history. I also love London and miss it sometimes so it’s great it’s only 2 hours away as sometimes I still work there. I love big cities and Finland has none. Even Helsinki it’s not big.
Like you said, it’s almost too perfect. It’s not a relaxing place at all! Not for me at least. Full of stupid rules and laws, people are reserved and not very open minded. It’s a beautiful country though and nice to visit but not to live (for me).
Like you, I like a bit of chaos in my life. That’s why I feel like home in the UK. Everything is a little bit fucked up, people are chatty, helpful and friendly. And not even mention the pubs!
I miss my family there but otherwise not at all!
How much has the band played live, and do you hope to do more in 2022?
We have only played 6 gigs in total so far. Which is not much considering we started the band in 2018! It’s been me having babies and covid that slowed us down.
We still have a couple of gigs planned for this year so far (Norwich 29.6. and London in October). We will do more if we get offered! We are all people with families and other duties so we are not fussed about playing every weekend.
We are also planning to start recording an LP hopefully soon.
I can see that you were pregnant on stage at one point. As if playing live wasn’t stressful enough already. Does the baby go still when it hears you are singing, or does it carry on kicking and flipping around?
Hahaha! Yes I have 4 and 2 year old children now. They both like punk and hopefully it will stay that way!
It was a little stressful to play a few gigs pregnant but we booked them before I knew it and I really wanted to play them. The last gig was Means to an End festival in Bradford and I was nearly 6m pregnant. The drive to Bradford was long and after the gig I had to go straight to bed.
I played a gig in Puntala (a punk festival in Finland) when my first one was 9 months old. I really wanted her to see our gig but she bloody slept through the whole set!
I do hope they both get into music one way or another as it’s creative, good fun and a great way to spend time.
What’s it like having a punk rock superstar like Mid in the band?
Awesome of course! He’s definitely one of the nicest and down the earth people I ever met and a good friend of mine. I really appreciate his musical and artistic achievements and feel privileged to share a band with him, as well as with all the other guys in the band. We make a great team! We’ve done some art projects together with Mid and hopefully will do more in the future.
How has punk influenced other areas of your life, such as perhaps your business?
It definitely has influenced almost everything in my life. I got into punk as a young teenager, first came the music and then the political side. I’m from a small town near the Russian border and left when I was 16 years old. There wasn’t much there and I was itching to meet other punks. I moved to a city called Jyvaskyla to study and made new friends who then became my punk family and we started our band Rakkaus. Those times I was quite active in the local animal rights and anarchist scene. I also helped put up shows and also we played a lot of gigs with Rakkaus. I moved to Tampere 2005 which is a bigger city with a great punk scene.
I studied puppet art and later on fashion. I used to run a little distro and printed a lot of punk patches and t-shirts. Nowadays my business www.katrikdesign.co.uk is influenced by my past, punk and upcycling. I use mostly recycled bike inner tubes in my work and also second hand fabrics.
If you could go back in time to when you were younger ( not saying you’re old ), what advice would you give yourself?
Well, I will be 40 next year!!! I feel like 25!
I would say be brave, life is hard, get on with it. Don’t compare yourself to others, do what you feel and BE WHO THE FUCK YOU WANNA BE!
Do you have any pets? Any photos you would like to put in the interview – dogs, cats, rats etc?
I have a dog called Viivi. I got her when she was 8 weeks old, she’s a mix terrier (her mum was a stray puppy from Spain). I got her when I still lived in Finland. She moved to London with me.
She’ll be 12 this year so needless to say we’ve been through a lot together!
It’s a real effort to stay positive these days, but it’s something we have to do. So, do you have any messages of hope / favourite quotes?
Nowadays I am quite a positive person and that’s because I really take good care of myself physically and mentally. So I would say to everyone to prioritise yourself, take good care of YOU. Make your dreams come true, don’t wait, start now. Keep yourself busy with things you love to do, hang out with people that make you feel good.
There are things happening in this world we can’t do much, so do what you can and the rest of the time enjoy life, we are not going to be here long!