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Christian “Chrism” Pulkkinen is a progressive metal keyboardist, audio/video engineer and producer with Dark Noise Productions, a company that he founded. In addition to his expertise in composing, recording, and producing music, he is also a marketing and music industry professional. Chrism plays and produces several projects including Simulacrum, Epicrenel, Adamantra, and the recently disbanded Eden’s Curse.
Chris exercises mostly for the mental benefits, and secondarily the physical ones.
Although he used to party more when he was younger, Chris only drinks casually now and only gets drunk on special occasions. He admits that if the music he is playing is very technical, he cannot be drinking. He will have some beers after a show, but never beforehand.
On marketing music, Chris said you either have to catch a break with a vehicle like “The Voice” or put the milage into consistently posting content on social media and gradually building an audience online. Further he mentions that a good label can really help you speed up the process.
Chris says that if you can get to know your fans it really pays off. The inaccessible rock star is a model that no longer functions in today’s music industry environment.
He also goes on to say that if someone leaves a negative comment, you should not delete it. People will notice and think you cannot take criticism. He says you can let your fans respond, but you should also respond positively.
Chris tries to get in about 10 minutes of stretching before his workouts, he also plays badminton. He balances his week with two days weight training and two days of aerobic activity.
Since his keyboard is about 50lbs with the case, he realizes he needs to keep his strength up to prevent injury and not get overly tired from just loading in and out of a gig.
Chris says if you train 1-2 times a week, you won’t end up getting ripped or in super good shape but it is sustainable for life and you should stay in good enough shape for a musician. In addition, he says it’s a good idea to take the opportunity to commute by foot and bike rather than using vehicles.
Admittedly a foodie, Chris has periods of what he describes as unhealthy eating. Then he feels bad about it and diets for some time. Some of the damage control tactics that have worked for him have been eating off of a smaller plate, and increasing how often he plays badminton. The most effective strategy was simply tracking his food with an app. He basically says you just have to eat less than your maintenance calories.
For supplementation, Chris simply uses protein post-workout for recovery.
Chris reflects that having a stable job with a 40 hour workweek is uncommon in this industry. You end up mostly freelancing and making ends meet that way.
Reflecting on what it takes to be an entrepreneur as an artist, Chris says you have to be organized, manage your time well and save for paying your taxes. He say’s it’s not for everyone, but if you can manage it, you can live a free life and live on your own terms.
Chris says that if you want a chance at succeeding as a musician, especially one playing a very technical style, you need to be responsible—showing up on time and staying through rehearsals, putting in the time on your own and just showing professionalism.
Balancing professionalism and fun is important to Chris. It can’t be too much of one or the other.
Running is one of Chris’ preferred ways of clearing his mind when he has a lot going on. He doesn’t listen to music to relax since he works on music all day long. He will often put on a Netflix series or read to relieve his stress. He’s into fantasy and sci-fi, which his says is far enough away from reality that it distances you from your stress.
Chris reflects on how Roland’s subscription service is useful to him when producing since he just pays a flat monthly fee and can download whatever he needs to use for a given project.
There are lots of tools online to help artists make some extra money these days. Chris says selling merchandise online is pretty easy now. The costs are minimal for setting up a an online store. Crowd funding is another revenue stream that can help an artist fund his work in advance. If your country has it, getting a culture grant can also be a great boon and you can even apply for them online. Chris says the Scandinavian countries help support the arts in this way.
When composing, Chris writes everything into finale, a scoring software. Writing his music as a score helps him create more elaborate works that would be tough to conceptualize otherwise. He writes for all the instruments, except vocals because he prefers to leave that to the singer.
Although he writes for the band, Chris gives plenty of leeway to his band members to insert their own personality into their parts. His original composition serves as a guide to get the basic idea across to the others.
On tour, Chris calls his girlfriend daily. He also phones his family and band members of other bands when out on the road.
As for partying, Chris may have a drink or two to relax after playing on a given night, but withholds partying until the tour is over.
Chris is a foodie and loves to treat himself to some five star dining around four times a year.
To stay on top of your health, Chris says its a good idea at least once every few years to go to the doctor for a blood test.
Chris makes a good point of saying that musicians really need to go to other musician’s shows and show support for one another.