We recently caught up with the charming Madis Aesma from Estonian band Ans. Andur for an indepth discussion about the band dynamic of Ans. Andur, their musical influences, the collaborative nature of the Estonian music industry and of course Eesti Laul!
ESCDaily.com: First of all I’d like to thank you on behalf of all of us at escdaily.com for participating in this interview, and congratulate you for making it into Eesti Laul 2011!
Madis Aesma: Thank you very much!
ED: Well, starting at the beginning, can you please introduce the band and what each person’s role is within the band?
MA: There are four of us. Me, Mihkel Kirss, Madis Kirss (those guys are brothers) and Gert Pajuväli. The roles aren`t very clearly defined. I play mostly bass – on some occasions guitar too, like on “Lapsed ja lennukid” – and sing. Mihkel plays mostly guitar or keyboards and sings too, I suppose we share the lead vocals about 50-50. The other Madis plays drums and does some backing vocals and Gert plays mostly guitar, but sometimes bass too. And last summer he got a midi keyboard and started messing around with it – as he does also on “Lapsed ja lennukid”. We all write songs together, the main root ideas come mostly from Mihkel or me, but the songs are always arranged and worked out together. So we all do pretty much everything, which is sometimes complicated and almost always fun!
ED: How did Ans. Andur form and what does the name mean?
MA: We started playing music together something like 10 years ago in different bands in Paide. Paide is a small town in the middle of Estonia and then somehow out of two bands – me and Gert played in one and the brothers Kirss in the other – became one. About the name – we very pretty surrealist in the beginning and then our drummer suggested this pretty dumb name and it has stuck with us since. Andur means detector or transmitter and Ans is an abbreviation from the word ansambel which means ensemble in English.
ED: How would you describe your genre of music and who are your musical influences?
MA: Indie rock or pop would be an easy-lazy answer, but nowadays the term is so broad that it doesn’t mean really anything anymore. So, basically, it is music with guitars and drums and vocals and the occasional synth. Although the synths haven’t been so occasional lately. About the Influences: R.E.M., Beatles, Beach Boys, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Neil Young & The Crazy Horse, Pavement, Guided By Voices to name only a few.
ED: Can you please tell us what your song `Lapsed ja Lennukid’ is about and why it was the song you decided to submit to Eesti Laul?
MA: “Lapsed ja lennukid” means “The Children and the Aeroplanes” and is basically about waiting for your moment in time and life through the picture of children watching the white lines in the evening sky, dreaming about being up there and flying wherever they want to. Everyone can of course figure out their own meanings or it can be just be taken as a hopefully joyous, summery pop song. We decided to send it away because it was by far the poppiest new song out of our new material and we thought it could fit in.
ED: You’re singing your song in Estonian at Eesti Laul. Would you consider recording an English version if you go to Germany, or would you remain with the Estonian version?
MA: We`ve always done our singing in Estonian. I think that if we got to go to Germany, then although a lot of the people wouldn’t understand a word, it would be pretty interesting for them. And it would be hard for me to re-learn the song in another language. And it would surely lose some of its originality. So, no. We would go with the original. Estonian language sounds nice enough.
ED: Have you heard any of the songs also competing in Eesti Laul and if so, any favourites?
MA: Oh yeah, most of them. Our semi-final is flooded with strong songs and musicians. I wouldn’t really pick one out of them but my bandmates have mentioned Meister & Mari and Outloudz as their favourites.
ED: This is not your first participation in Eesti Laul. In 2009 you were part of the band Köök along with Mihkel Kirss and you also co-wrote the song `Üürnik’. What are your reasons for returning to Eesti Laul, and are you taking a different approach to the contest this time around?
MA: The approach is pretty much the same – send away the song, get qualified, be happy, put on clothes, take you guitar, go and perform. Although his time I have to sing, the last time I was on the drums. It was a bit easier. And as we are competing at Eesti Laul this time with another band, it’s not really a return, it’s a debut. Yes, we have some experience now. We are experienced in having fun and maybe not taking everything so seriously. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t care about it.
ED: Since the revamp of Eesti Laul, the contest has attracted many genres and styles of song that would not traditionally have been considered and has become more about showcasing local talent rather than selecting the song to represent Estonia in Eurovision. Had you considered participating in Eesti Laul prior to 2009, or was the revamp critical to your decision to enter?
MA: I think the revamp was critical, because a lot of semi-pro/amateur/indie/UG musicians started to send away their songs. A lot of our friends from different bands too. We would not have made the cut back in the olden days, no way. We would not have suited stylistically too. And we weren`t that good, so I am happy we didn’t participate. I think that diversity is good. The competition is more interesting, that’s for sure.
ED: How do you feel about potentially participating in Eurovision and about Eurovision in general?
MA: It`s unrealistic but I think it would be fun if it would happen.
ED: Do you have any favourite Estonian Eurovision Songs?
MA: Sure, “Eighties coming back” by Claire`s Birthday/Ruffus. Our friend Jaan Pehk played rhythm guitar on it. We didn’t know him back then but he looked cool as hell with his shades on. And voila – 2 years ago we played together in Köök on the Eesti Laul 2009 and this year we are competing against each other. Estonia is small! Malcolm Lincoln was great last year too.
ED: If you are unsuccessful at winning the ticket to Düsseldorf, what are your plans for the rest of 2011?
MA: We all have day jobs so we`ll get on with them and there is hopefully a nice lazy summer coming up. Music-wise, we are actually trying to create our 4th album. About 50% of it is recorded, I guess. Maybe less. And yes, “Lapsed ja lennukid” will be on it.
ED: Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
MA: Don’t worry, be happy! And check out our myspace page if you want to get more familiar with us. The pleasure is on our side.
ED: Thank you for your time Guys! We wish you the best luck in Eesti Laul 2011 and with wherever your careers lead you from here!
MA: You are very welcome!
Madis and Ans. Andur take part in the first semi-final of Eesti Laul this Saturday, the 12th of February with the song ‘Lapsed Ja Lennukid’ which you can hear below. We wish the guys all the best, and good luck!