By Nicholas Jason Lopez
After hundreds of concerts played and five album releases as a part of metal duo Mystons, Mauri Kosonen decided to explore his dark folksy singer-songwriter side under the moniker Mauri Dark.
Based out of Turku, Finland, he recently dropped the music video for his debut single “Dreams Of A Middle-Aged Man,” which will be featured on his debut solo album, slated for release on Dec. 18, 2020 via EluccaArts. The video was directed and filmed by Vesa Ranta (Dark Tranquility, Amorphis).
Influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake, he sought world-famous professionals for his album. His audio team included mixing engineer/associate producer Hiili Hiilesmaa (HIM, Apocalyptica, The 69 Eyes), mastering engineer Vlado Meller (Johnny Cash, Metallica, Michael Jackson) and associate producer Jussi Vuola of V.R. Studio.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with Mauri Dark about his upcoming album and more.
Music Bugle – What inspired the name “Mauri Dark”?
Mauri Dark – My real name is Mauri Kosonen and I use my birth name as professional visual artist. Mauri Dark kind of came naturally as a short, easy name that depicts my music and personality.
Music Bugle – How did you get the idea for your new single “Dreams Of A Middle-Aged Man” and did the music video come out how you envisioned?
Mauri Dark – I got a special 1976 Gibson ES-175 jazz guitar. One day, I was playing with it and this song came out. The lyrics were a long process. They are autobiographical, but also have a generic view on the life of a middle-aged man, spiced with dark humor. We made the music video with director Vesa Ranta between July and October, planning the script and shoots carefully. Ranta had great ideas filming the video in a burnt house and burnt forest. The video gives a different perspective to the song. It came out better then I had envisioned.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your new album?
Mauri Dark – A long, demanding, but rewarding process. The first songs came in 2016. I built a home studio and and learned to record properly. I was sort of making my dream album – altogether my ninth – so I set the bar high with sounds, songs, lyrics, feeling and everything. I used mainly acoustic instruments because they have a feeling when you play them. I played all the instruments for it, so it was time consuming. My metal duo Mystons band mate and friend Jussi Vuola helped me out as associate producer. Hiili Hiilesmaa mixed the album and also helped a lot and Vlado Meller made the mastering in the U.S.. Overall, it is a really personal and bare album. There is nowhere to hide, no reverb or anything. Just me and my guitar in a room, playing live with some spice instruments added afterwards.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Turku, Finland to someone who has never been there before?
Mauri Dark – Turku is at the southwest tip of Finland, next to Sweden, Stockholm with the Baltic Sea in between. In front of Turku, there is the world’s largest archipelago, so it is a sea city with lots of islands. At the eastern side of Finland’s border, there is Russia, so Finland is between east and west. Turku is a historical city, Finland’s old and first capital – capital moved to Helsinki after Turku burned badly in 1827. River Aura runs through it. Population is 187,000, making Turku the sixth largest city in Finland. The dome church ”Tuomiokirkko” is from 13th century. Turku feels like a kind of international city, having always been an important harbor, university and arts city in Europe.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs was the hardest to write or compose?
Mauri Dark – I can not remember. They all take time to finish. The hardest one to record was definitely “Love Will Prevail.” I just couldn’t get a right vibe and flow to it until some miracle happened and I nailed it on the 59th take or something. (Laughs) The other songs were much, much easier.
Music Bugle – What creative advantages would you say come with being a singer-songwriter?
Mauri Dark – Total creative control. You are able to put out music in its purest, personal form, so anyone doesn’t get to fiddle with it to make it more trendier or commercial in between. In the long run, music is mostly about the quality of songs, so you have to make really good songs. No-one will make them for you.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your solo material to your work with Mystons?
Mauri Dark – Two different things. My solo material is one man’s music at its barest with vocals and acoustic guitar. I can’t hide behind the wall of fuzz and scream as loud as I can. Much more sensitive and personal stuff. Mystons is about the primitive feeling and rhythm when two guys get into a room and play their instruments and sing as loudly as they can. Mauri Dark is as quiet as music can get and Mystons is as loud as it can get.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Mauri Dark – I am from the ancient age when CDs ruled the earth, so importantly, I listen to album formats on CD with an old stereo. The artists intended music to be listened in a specific track order, which is an important artistic part of the album entity. I listen mainly to 70s and 90s stuff. Some of my favorites are Tom Waits, Johnny Cash (American Recordings), Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and bands like The Doors, Pink Floyd, Alice In Chains and Black Sabbath.
Music Bugle – What has been your most memorable moment while at a show?
Mauri Dark – I counted that I have done about 500 shows, so they have kind of blended in my head. In Mauri Dark shows, the really quiet moments in the audience are the best. When everyone is 100 percent concentrated on listening, it becomes a collective experience.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Mauri Dark – There are a lot of limitations in Finland because of COVID-19. Live shows are very unpredictable to arrange now because they have limited seats and strict safety measures and are very likely to get cancelled in short notice. I suspect I had the disease right before the first official cases were tested and reported. Testing was limited. I hope that afterwards, people will think of COVID-19 as something that brought us together as humans and makes us reconsider how we treat and raise animals.