Directed by: Ville Lipiäinen
Release Date: September 7th, 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Vocalist Jonne Järvelä said of the track:
“‘Harmaja’ is an unusual Korpiklaani song with its slow tempo and emotional strength. The song is about longing and I managed to charge it with a great emotional atmosphere. When making the album we mostly used the first takes; we didn’t get stuck in details when there was no particular need to. It was important for us to keep the emotion and mood at the forefront even if the technical side wasn’t absolutely perfect at times.
I was surprised – although in a positive sense – that Nuclear Blast wanted to release ‘Harmaja’ as a single and a video. Usually they prefer more uptempo, fun drinking songs. The new album Kulkija of course has that material too since being over an hour long it contains the entire scope of different emotions.
I bought a new classical guitar and started to reacquaint myself with the 5-finger picking technique. I created a finger exercise that then formed the basis of the song. The exercise started to sound more and more like an actual piece of music and suddenly a melody came out of that. I sent a very basic version of the song to our lyricist Tuomas Keskimäki who, in the same evening, sent back the lyrics for ‘Harmaja’. The text refers to ‘Sylvian Joululaulu’, a well known poem about longing by Zachris Topelius. I sang the demo in my home studio immediately and that was it – the song felt good and strong right away and I knew that it was going to end up on the album.
The video was shot in the pool of the Maritime Safety Training Centre in Lohja. The water was so cold that even constant visits to the sauna couldn’t stop the coldness from creeping into my bones. It was very difficult to remember the lyrics, keep my head above the surface of the water and sing – while at the same time trying to look like I wasn’t freezing to death. All for art!
We managed to create a nice contrast in the video with the angel. Director Ville Lipiäinen found her accidentally while grocery shopping. I don’t know if he stumbled on her wings or what, but the angel also flew to the same pool in Lohja. The story is about a man missing his dead wife who then returns from the afterlife for one last goodbye, so that the poor man can go on with his life. He manages to drag himself out of the stormy waters back to dry land. Lipiäinen knew exactly what was needed for the video and managed to create just the right atmosphere. The shots change slowly, there is no rush with anything and the story stays just right above the surface until the more stormy ending.”
Violinist Tuomas Rounakari adds:
“An expensive repair was done for my long lost friend, a Collin-Mézin violin from 1896, giving it a new lease of life. It was used for the first time in ten years for this album and its sound exceeded all expectations. ‘Harmaja’ is a good example of it. What you hear is basically the best of two run through takes combined.”
The story behind Harmaja, which translates to “The Grey” follows:
The blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), the bird in the song, has been unable to migrate south because of a broken wing. The song depicts anxiety and the fading memory. A Finnish poet Zachris Topelius wrote in 1853 a poem titled “Sylvian joululaulu” about homesickness which is referred to by ‘laulu kaipauksen’ (a song of yearning) in the song. The song can also mean the “greyness” when a partner of an old couple dies.