Interview with PK
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I got into music through a healthy mixture of going to school in the sketchy part of town, being surrounded by a lot of people who would rather hold rap battles in the park than go to class, music running in my genes from my parents, who actually met in a band and just the organic teenage interest in the music culture/scene.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Nowadays, most activities are somehow connected to music. When I want to relax and switch off, I usually play video games with friends or go to concerts (which is actually still related to music lol). I play some poker too, I actually used to play semi-serious. Learned all the math, probabilities and whatnot. Always struggled with patience but it’s a great training for that! Finally started watching “Black Mirror” too :o Ofcourse the casual hangouts with friends, jokes, philosophizing, talks about life and our overall existance are always a thing. The latter definitely build up my creativity A LOT since I hear all these other views on the world that sometimes I might not agree with but that doesn’t even matter. It all feeds the brain.
How long has your band been around?
I started with my first stuff in 2004, or 03. Either way - a long time ago haha. But those first years were iffy at best. Some good stuff in there for sure but overall, that was only the start of my whole journey. I don’t really take the first years very seriously musically but I recognize that they molded me and played a huge part. This reminds me - I should do something dope for my 20th anniversary.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m from Tallinn, Estonia. Lived here all my life if not to count 2 months that I stayed in another town. I’d say I’m very cityminded, most likely thanks to that. It’s very likely that I would approach music a bit differently if I grew up in a smaller village or in the countryside. At some point I even refused to go on summer holidays because I felt that being connected in the biggest city in Estonia is something I need to have access to at all times. I’ve evolved on that front but I still don’t think I’ll ever move to the country. Never know though, life is a trip and anything can happen. Atleast now I’m open to taking trips and widening my sights. I’m starting to understand how small I am and how huge the world is, there is so much to see. Even in the small country of Estonia.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Actually I didn’t haha, my friend did. We were talking online and I told him that I need to pick a new name, because my old one was just an english word that didn’t really make any sense with my personality, it was just the last name of my favorite poet at the time - Marie Under. So my artist name was Under. Anyway, my friend replied that I have such a unique flow and I should keep the name relatively estonian while still being international enough to use outside of Estonia. So he said PK, which means Painduv Keel (Flexible Tongue in english). It symbolized by rather unique flow at the time but as years passed, the meaning has gone way more liberal. I don’t really mind how people call me but PK at this point is not just a name, it’s an idea, it’s a part of me. So whatever it might mean to someone, it will always work because I know there’s my very essence behind it.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I have a very old song with a LOT of lyrics (I used to fill the beat up real good). I haven’t really performed it many times but I did at one show and I think I forgot a part or just ran out of air, but then I saw a dude in the front row just rapping all of it. Not into the mic, just vibing on his own. Seeing him brought back the lyrics in my head so I could finish the song. We went on to become best friends lol. Overall, the “for a better life” party series shows were always crazy. My first time performing in a town called Rapla, I was pretty abrubtly invited to do a set with a friend. I didn’t even know anyone in the crowd which was weird for me, in my hometown there were always a lot of familiar faces. Between songs I set down on the stage and told the story what was behind “for a better life” for me and I remember feeling at that point how much we connected with all those people. I did that little monologue, got back to the set and it was so turnt. I got very passionate fans from that one performance. One time I threw water in the crowd and the DJ cut it and said into the mic “don’t do that, my computer will get wet”. That was super awkward but luckily we’re good haha. There’s a crazy amount of stories like that, I should write a book. No seriously, I have thought about it.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Red Emperor bar was always insane. Unfortunately, it’s closed now. Suhkrumoll was great - that’s the place I held most of the “for a better life” shows. That’s closed now too. Haha I see a theme - as soon as I do a set there, they close up..lol. CLub Prive was great just because I wanted to do a show there for many years and finally did in 2017. The main stage of Estonian Hip-hop festival is special. That one Rapla show I just talked about, definitely. But I don’t really care where I perform, as long as the energy is good and people are willing to let go and enjoy the evening together. I always said - I’m not performing for people but with them.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Any? Well with no limits it would probably be MGK, Panic! at the Disco & Blink 182. Maybe BMTH. There’s so many more though but I don’t think they would all fit in one party haha. We could host another one with 93feetofsmoke, blackbear & Lil Peep. And then another one with…
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I’d say listen to as many people as you can. But analyze what they say, don’t just take it all as a truth or as a lie. Everything has two sides. Put in work. There are a lot of good people out there that will help you if you just let them. But there are a lot of those who will try to use you too. Keep your eyes open.
To my younger self - it doesn’t really matter what I say because I know you still will want to experience it all on your own, just remember that everything is about balance. The thing you are so passionate about - letting go. Try it, you might be amazed. Or not, but trying different emotions will work for you way better than being stuck in one. It’s all about the little things.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Don’t live your life in fear of fading away. You are meant for more.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“corners”. I wrote it in a place with no doors to get out of. That was it - the legacy I’d leave, the void, the smothering limbo. The unbearable numbness. It was my last breath and my final powerless signature. Listening or performing that song will always remind me of the feeling of being obsolete, of letting go from grasping for straws. Of sinking. The feeling of welcoming nothing is scary. In retrospect - the feeling of not even feeling scared of the nothing, is worse. I was sure it was my last breath. But it turned out to be my last breath before my first one. I will always carry that song with me just to decide over the emotion which decided over me for so very long. I will write great songs but I will never write another “corners”. Literally crying just talking about it. Life is a trip.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I think “eemal/ära” gets requested/played the most. Atleast from live audiences here in Estonia. My favorites to play are the most energetic ones because I feel that’s the point in me. The energy, the connection with people. I took a long break from performing but that was not really me. Once I got back on stage and could share in a direct intimate way, I remembered instantly - this is why I’m here.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Everything starts with an instrumental, always. I don’t think I ever had a song with lyrics ready prior to the instrumental. The sounds inspire me massively. When I hear something and it hits me in the right spot, the lyrics just happen on their own. Rarely I sit down and start thinking about lyrics. With collabs, yeah maybe more but solosongs pretty much all just happen from being here.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My point has been for years and years “for a better life”. That’s always me, it’s what’s in everything I write. It’s just a question of how visible it is. A lot of my songs are actually quite depressive BUT that’s because I have been a pretty lost person for a long period in my life. But my point has remained the same. I’m writing a blog about my life. People sometimes think that my point switched up. Nah, the blog theme never changed, the chapters just change like everything in life. I just want people to feel good. That’s a big reason why I’m not getting stuck in “I need to be this or that genre” but jump around everywhere from punk to trance. Whatever that moment in time wants me to do, I’ll do it. And we should all do it, we should all be proud of who we are in THIS exact fraction. And once it changes, it’s more than okay to change too. Just be you, always.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I have disagreements all the time but luckily it can be solved easily with a crying session so that’s all gravy.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Only getting more active, right now I have several live shows/appearances booked for the summer, looking to book more for autumn. One at SOS Lasteküla, which is an organization that provides kids from broken households with a home to stay. So that’s going to be very emotional and amazing. Looking to give them a lot of positivity and energy. Hopefully we can connect and move forward to greater things. Many songs dropping, some amazing collabs which I can’t talk about yet but they are some of the coolest projects I have ever created. So join me on this alternative path to a better life and let’s enjoy the power of sharing. Haha damn I sound like I’m tryna sell you something…