The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.
– H.P. Lovecraft (one of the most significant 20th-century authors in the horror genre)
Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the whole concept of it: the scary masks, haunted houses and trick-or-treaters. And then there are all these incredibly cool memories. For instance, I will never forget my dad getting stuck in a hairy monster suit he had rented to scare me. This was in the late eighties. The zipper got stuck and we just couldn’t get the suit off him. We tried nearly an hour. Even my mom, who was laughing her head off, couldn’t get the bloody thing off. Finally, as my dad was getting hot and frustrated to the point of panicking a bit, we had to resort to more drastic measures. Ultimately, it came down to my dad instructing me to cut the suit open with a pair of scissors, a job that demanded tremendous concentration on my part because the suit was too small to begin with and I definitely didn’t want to stab my own father.
Finally, after a carefully planned procedure, we were able to release my dad from his hairy prison. He was dripping sweat as he stepped out of what remained of the suit. By the way, this was the last time ever my dad dressed for Halloween. In years to come, I would ask him what he was going to wear and his response would always be the same, “Forget about it! The last time I wore a costume, I almost got dehydrated and died. And by the way, I still have a scar from those scissors.” Okay, so I might have stabbed him just a little bit with the scissors. It was unintentional, a fact of which my dad’s still not convinced! He’s only joking, of course.
This Halloween marks a first for me. I’ve been making records for a long time but I have never before released a song written with a festival or holiday in mind. And yet, this is how “Effigy” was born. Way back in July, The Impersonators’ publicist asked me if we were ever going to release a Christmas song and I said, “probably not.” I know artists do this a lot, they release holiday songs and I actually like some of them but writing one for The Impersonators had never really even crossed my mind – until that afternoon. Then, to prove to myself I could write one if I wanted to, I gave it a shot, I tried to write a Christmas tune but nothing came out of it. I caught myself thinking how much easier the writing process would be if Christmas had a tad more street credibility, if it were a little more like Halloween. Then it came to me, why not write a Halloween song instead? Well, a song that would cater for Halloween in terms of its feel and atmosphere but a tune that could also stand alone. As it happened, my bandmate Antti Autio had sent me a lyric a while back that perfectly seemed to capture the right mood. I added a few lines and “Effigy” soon became a rock song about killing your ego, a topic that’s been of great interest to me lately.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have egos for the simple reason that we all need something to make us feel important. This sense of importance can come from religion, work, being attractive or having special talents – really, the list is endless. The only problem with egos is that they are fleeting and at the end of the day, rather meaningless. Whoever builds their confidence this way builds it on a very shaky ground. The more I thought about this realization, the more I started understanding my own meltdowns and anxiety.
So to me, “Effigy” describes that moment in all our lives, when we realize that we‘ve grown tired of protecting our ego, that moment when we are done worrying about how we appear to others. Rather than wanting to be cool or important, we want to be happy and discover our true identity. I read a few articles about this topic and they all seemed to trumpet the importance of destroying your ego to achieve happiness. Hence, the lyrics:
Effigy is hanging from a tree
A broken man who looks a lot like me
Effigy can only make you scream
Just a whisper will never set him free
So in all essence, “Effigy” became a song about committing suicide without actually committing one, killing only one part of yourself that needed killing: your ego. However, that’s the story behind the lyrics, I still had to write the tune and more importantly, we still had to inject the song with a dash of Halloween.
Produced by Janne Saksa and yours truly, the soundscape of "Effigy" with its thunder-and-rain sound effects, scary atmosphere and “demonic” guitars works quite nicely in my humble opinion. As with all our tracks, Janne Saksa worked miracles on this one once again. When I heard the finished master for the first time, it sent shivers down my spine and I realized what a great job Janne had done. Sonically, the track takes you on a disturbing Halloween trip where egos are hung and sleeping identities are awakened but at heart, regardless of the progressive flavor of the track, “Effigy” stays true to the sound of The Impersonators, featuring all the familiar trademarks of the group: poignant lyrics, emotive music and sixties-flavored vocal harmonies.
And then of course, we needed to make a music video that had the right spirit, something that would be a bit scary and mystic but also humorous and light at the same time. After all, this was a rock’n’roll record; not a heavy metal one. We bounced around a lot of different ideas but settled for the short story you’ll see if you watch the video. Hope you like it.
Have a very scary Halloween!
Track Sponsor Of The Month: Effigy by The Impersonators
“Effigy” describes that moment in all our lives, when we realize that we‘ve grown tired of protecting our ego, that moment when we are done worrying about how we appear to others. Rather than wanting to be cool or important, we want to be happy and discover our true identity. And the best way to achieve this is to kill our ego.
You can learn more about The Impersonators here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.