Tears Apart is a four-piece Finnish soul-pop band that blends soul, pop, and acoustic rock styles. With a tinge of dramatic electronic noises, it has its own unique spin on the formula.
Songwriter and producer Jani Lankinen, together with vocalist Charlotte Svartsjö, met in the early 2000s at Turku, Finland’s Clayland studio.
Both on stage and in the studio, the band’s creative expression and enthusiasm for their music have earned them a reputation for their ability to enthral an audience both with their songs and their performances. There is a wide range of experience among the band members.
We met down with the band’s singer and leader Lotta shortly after the release of their most recent record to get an inside look at the creative process.
What is your real and official showbiz name?
I’m Lotta Svartsjö (that’s “black lake” in Swedish) and my band’s called Tears Apart.
How long have you been making music and what attracted you to it?
I’ve been a professional singer for over twenty years now. During these past decades, I’ve consistently been part of the creative process of making music.
Now a bit later on, with Tears Apart, I’ve come to consider myself, even more, a musician and songwriter though my main instrument definitely still is my voice.
Music has always been a big part of my life, but the moment that changed the course of my dreams was when I was 13 and had the privilege to experience the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “The Phantom of the Opera” in London.
I was totally star-struck, overwhelmed and so impressed by the skilled cast, the visuals, the drama, the atmosphere, and thought “this is what I want to do one day!”.
I’ve always loved big female voices and great pop songs, so the teenage me started to paint a rosy path towards a professional music career – and here I am today with twenty years of versatile experience and more energy and motivation than ever!
What were your first project and the people you worked with and which year?
I started out as a backing vocalist in a funky garage band called “Pretty Ugly” when I was 16-17 years old (in the late ’90s). My actual singing career started with the girl pop group I´Dees in the early 2000s.
We entered a talent show on TV, got signed to Sony Music Finland and experienced some amazing and busy years together. We actually still have one of our songs, ”Time”, played on Finnish radio on a regular basis, which is well done for a twenty-year-old song! I’ve also worked with a bunch of famous Finnish artists and bands as a backing vocalist.
Who or what inspires you or motivates you? And why?
My greatest inspiration is probably frustration. I am also creative when I’m angry, sad, afraid or lonely. Happy moments make me sing and dance.
My motivation is the musical expression itself: developing new ways of expressing emotions through music excites me! Learning, understanding and experimenting drive me forward – and sharing music with other people gives it all a whole new shape and purpose.
What are your friend’s and parents’ thoughts on your career in singing?
I’ve been a singer for so long, that I don’t think my friends or family could picture me in any other way.
Sure, there have been many ups and downs and years of less work and more stress, but the musician in me hasn’t given up at any point and my friends and family have backed me up through it all.
What are some of the challenges you face in your career path?
Back in the days, as an artist signed to Sony Music, a lot of work was done for me, not by me. Today, as an independent artist, I understand the puzzle of creating, releasing, distributing and marketing music a whole lot better.
Especially now, when releasing an album (which takes an enormous amount of work!), it would be great to be signed to a big label and get to share the responsibility and different parts of the distribution work with professionals with extensive contacts and networks.
A big challenge is also not to give up on your dreams when everything seems meaningless, totally pointless and dark. But I suppose that challenge is one every one of us faces at times no matter the age or profession.
Not giving up when you get a ”no thank you” a hundred times in a row. Not giving up when you are voiceless and have a big gig coming up. Not giving up when the people you work with have lost their inspiration and you just wait for the stars to align.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Uuh, this is a tricky one! I suppose I’ll answer ”in every way”! The world has gotten closer and yet expanded massively due to the Internet. Everyone is reachable – in theory. On the other hand, the amount of information available is overwhelming.
In the music business this means a lot of potential possibilities to cooperate with musicians, labels, distributors, you name it, all over the world. And this is great! But at the same time, it means, that you’re not only trying to break through in your own area or country, but you should convince the whole world. And as we know, this only happens to a few.
My first own album was Michael Jackson’s ”Dangerous” (1991). I got it in CD format and played it on repeat for months. At that same time, my parents listened to vinyl from such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Barbara Streisand and Simon&Garfunkel, while I always chose to put on Tracy Chapman’s debut album.
I also remember the nervous waiting by the radio with my finger ready to push ”rec” on my cassette recorder in case New Kids On the Block would be played. Albums in different physical formats were valuable, bought with consideration and treated like jewels.
In early I´Dees times, we toured with a sing backtrack in mini disc format instead of a live band. So I’ve experienced quite a few different ways of consuming music before this digital streaming era.
Having said all this, I don’t think music itself has changed that much. Just the way we consume it. And this has a big effect on musicians´ possibilities to earn their living on their music sales. Streams pay un petit peu. Then again, the digital streaming platforms increase the possibilities for artists and bands to find new audiences, again, all over the world.
Social media is an interesting phenomenon and, honestly, still quite a mystery for me. I get the basic idea but feel at times so outdated. As a young, female pop artist I got fan mail … by mail.
Once a month in big envelopes from the record company. I answered something sweet and short (maybe). Today’s music scene is half music, half social media – or even the other way around?
And then the flip side again: social media, music blogs and streaming playlists present intriguing music, just waiting readily for you to discover! You really don’t need to tire of repeating your old favourites and can easily afford music consumption.
Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters?
Always trust your instincts. Play, have fun and experiment. Don’t just think outside the box – live outside the box! Don’t be your own worst enemy and criticize your creations, but dare to share your ideas. Write a lot. Go with the flow and wait for inspiration, but also work regularly. Improvise. Train your skills. Work hard. But most importantly, enjoy and LOVE what you do!
What is your current project about?
We have just released a new album called LOVE with Tears Apart, my band for ten years now. LOVE is a collection of 10 original songs drawing a portrait of day-to-day life in all its colours and shapes.
We play soul-pop music spiced up with acoustic rock and subtle electronic flavours. Our contemporary take on retro rock and soul really speaks to me and I love how our songs can take different shapes depending on our moods and feeling.
What does this song/ album mean to you?
Creating the ten songs that form the LOVE album has been my and my partner Jani Lankinen’s way of dealing with pride, disappointment, fear, satisfaction – and the lockdown during the pandemic.
LOVE tells about the challenges as well as the joyous moments in adult life. It’s about pleasure and pain, heartache and harmony. LOVE means the world to me, but I’m also happy that the album’s finally out and living its own life.
What are your hobbies?
I dance, mainly in a show and lyrical styles, in an adult dance group. Dancing makes me happy and unstressed. I also do yoga, preferably vinyasa, but Hatha is a good challenge for my overactive mind. I love nature, flowers, art, cats, romantic movies, British TV series and a glass of wine.
What do you do aside from this profession?
I’m also a primary school teacher. My main teaching subjects are music and arts. I have also studied music for the past two years, which has been perfect since the pandemic more or less cleared the gig calendar and I prefer more to do over less.
Luckily this summer’s closer to ”normal” again and I’m happy to be booked as much as I am for gigs and events.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
LOVE is all you need.