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story

DUMBØ

I’m not a robot – my personal story of how 'Sad Bangers' came to life.

Text by Emma Kemppainen

Back in 2013 I had a very strong vision of wanting to make a night time/dance music record that would include our weird visions of songwriting, production ideas and the diary scribbles I had for lyrics. It all started with two songs, Fooled and a song called Call it a night. My then boyfriend had just broke up with me and I was dealing with loads of emotions and finding myself, dating, building a new self-esteem that I didn’t have as younger.

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We were struggling in finding a producer with a shared vision, funding and a label for the project. I got turned down from so many places I lost count. But we never stopped working on new material, I never stopped writing about life and my thoughts.

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To get by I was finishing my art school studies, got a job at a local radio station in Helsinki, started organizing a local club event, DJing, working on songs for other people, involved in festival organizing, got an iPhone, started instagramming… I felt like I was part of a community again after being alienated from the Helsinki scene as a teenager in Berlin. I started becoming very vocal about sexism in music industry, attending loads of social events and standing up on stage, talking in public. I branded myself as a strong superwoman who was here to change the music scene. The habits of partying I had from our early career got more intense. I loved feeling busy, like a robot, it made me feel important, like I had something to live for.

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In 2015 we signed to a small Helsinki label and released the self-produced song Fooled. It felt like the beginning of a new era for the band. We did shows, worked with local producers and released Procrastination 365 and then Rookie, all songs that were meant to build up to our second full length.

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All of the other jobs I had and the numerous DJ-shows, club events and the endless feed of free drinks started catching up on me. I had been feeling the walls falling in on me for so long I thought it was normal, and that I just had to push through it. I started sleeping less, get crippling anxiety attacks, but I kept going, because I wanted to finish and release our record. We worked with people who had ideas about what we should sound like and be, and I felt our original ideas and our original songwriting slowly fade under pressure of “making it” in the industry. Shortly after the release of Rookie we realised this record was not going to happen, not with the people we had around us and not with the now blurred idea of what used to be me.

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I went down with that record. All the energy was used up by feuds, music business, joggling ten job tasks at once, pushing myself over my own limits with work. I made a decision to quit drinking and to drastically tone down my social media habits. I was literally laying on the couch for months, that turned into years. I think I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life. It also left me to deal with traumatic events and relationships I hadn’t dealt with from the early years in our teenage band. I was in a total burnout.

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In the midst of this devastating tiredness and depression I discovered something to hold on to, and that was art and music. We sat down in the summer of 2016 with Mia and listened to all the songs we had written over the last years, the songs that at that moment I felt will never be released, because with what energy could that be made possible?

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We re-produced, wrote, thought, laughed, cried (oh god we cried a lot), got writer's block then got inspired again. Listened to a lot of the music we loved and wrote some brand new songs as well. We found a producer who listened to us, came with constructive feedback, could sit with us the long winter of 2017 and help us put together what we had so long wanted to do. With the new and old, reworked, equally twisted and polished, we put together what became Sad Bangers. We met our current manager who urged us to follow our vision. After that things started to fall into place. We got signed and could start plotting a release in 2018.

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The songs on this record are the tunes from this time period. My messed up late 20s. They go from very strong and reckless to a complete meltdown and then to something that feels like a conclusion. ‘Call it a night’ is in there, it’s still my favourite tune of the record and I’m so happy we got to finally release it.

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I’m never gonna be the same person that I used to be, I’m still tired, but I felt like sharing this information is crucial in how you listen to the record. I feel like this is something I needed to share with you, our dear fans and listeners, everyone who’s been here since the beginning and the ones who discovered us along our journey. You’ve been so kind and patient and your response to our music, online and at shows is what really matters to me. I’m so grateful for everything. I feel honoured when I think about how our music has empowered you and soundtracked your moments in time.

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No matter what anyone ever tells you, remember to listen to yourself, and most importantly: be kind to yourself. No one is a robot