Rock n’ Recipes: Rules
We’re nearly 3/4 of the way through what has been a crazy ride of a year, and for me, I’ve really delved into two things, cooking and music. Cooking for my family, just for joy and taking up time, and music for my solace. So, I thought why not combine the two with a new feature we could run…highlight some great music and some great food. We begin this journey by reaching out to Sarra Keppola of Rules; we talk about the band’s debut LP, literature and, of course, her recipe for Overnight Focaccia. They release their self-titled album this Friday via Soliti Music!
ATH: First, this record is delightful from start to finish, so congratulations. How did you end up working with Iiti? Did you begin with a goal in mind, perhaps to combine literature and pop music, or did it come around more organically? Was there an act that you envisioned when this was all created?
Thank you so much! Very glad youre enjoying the album!
We have been best friends with Iiti for a very long time and I was happy, though a little nervous when she asked a couple of years ago if Id like to do some songs with her. I have never really done music before, though I enjoy singing and playing piano and guitar a little. She wanted to make more music but was not so inspired to write lyrics so, as I enjoy writing, she asked me to make some lyrics that she could then compose.
Quite early on we thought of combining literature to our music, and the thought came about quite naturally: I had never written lyrics before and was a bit unsure of how to approach the medium and so Iiti suggested I write about the books Im reading. I was studying English and literature in university at the moment so this felt like a familiar ground to me.
Initially I dont think we thought of making the literary theme so pervasive, but the combination and contrast of world literature and tangy, sweet pop tunes was working really well so we went all out.
ATH: Speaking of literature, a great deal of the songs reimagine scenes or characters from the world canon. How did you go about selecting which characters or scenes would fit into your vision?
The selection is really pretty much based on what I was reading during the time we were creating these songs. As such I feel it could be even more varied, but they are all works that inspired me in some way and resonated with my thoughts at that moment of life. There are certainly themes that bind the songs and their characters together, and they come from themes I was occupied with personally when reading these great, inspiring works of literature.
ATH: Sticking with literature for one more question…Nick says you’re baking focaccia bread, so if you could “break bread” with any 3 authors living or dead, who is at your table?
What a question! I always find it so difficult to list my favourites of anything, there are so many great options! But lets see.. I would absolutely include one of my favourites, Shirley Jackson, whose character Eleanor inspired one of the songs. Then I think my all time fangirl favourite Stephen King would be invited: I know hed also love to meet Shirley, so there would be great conversation for sure. Then I think Id like us all to meet Mary Shelley too (though Ill have to finish Frankenstein before this dinner date, I think).
ATH: With a debut album a week off, I’m sure there are tons of emotions to go through. Can you put any of that into words at this moment? If so, is it affected by the state of the world at the moment?
Im just very excited and happy, and just a little nervous too, as Ive never done this before! It feels a bit funny that the day has really arrived, it feels like such a long journey. I couldnt be prouder of the songs and I think we have really made a great album and had loads of fun doing it and Im very happy to get to share that with everyone! I think now people are very much in need of new stimulus: something delightful but also maybe thought provoking, and I think our album hits this sweet spot pretty well.
ATH: It seems we’re often too busy to immerse ourselves in an entire record, so if folks are stopping by briefly to visit your debut, what two songs do they have to listen to before moving on to the next thing…or that makes them fall in love with its genius and listen to the whole record as it is.
I think Nils is not to be missed, it really shows off the talent of our brilliant producer Oskari Halsti, and the song combines Iitis genius compositional elements in such an inventive way its really worth a listening to. Another example of the unique way we have crafted this album, starting with me doing the lyrics, Iiti composing based on them and Oskari producing it with a totally new perspective is Susie, a song based on the horror film Suspiria, that has turned from horror into an uplifting anthem of empowerment. And I think then you really have to listen to the rest of the album because all the songs are so different and great in their own way!
4,5 dl lukewarm water
1 ts cane sugar / honey
8 dl wheat flour
4 ts dried yeast
2 ts salt
1,5 dl good olive oil
Tomatos (San Marzano)
I really love baking, I do it to relax on my days off and recently Ive taken on some classics to master. Focaccia is one of these that I have been working on for a while to get it exactly right. This is the best recipe Ive gathered so far, enjoy!
- Mix together water, sugar, flours, dried yeast and salt. No need to knead the dough, simply combine the ingredients well.
2. Oil a bowl and place the dough there.
3. Cover the bowl tightly to block air and set aside to rise for 1-2 hrs.
4. Place the dough to refrigerator to rest for as long as you like, 8-12 hrs is good, but 1-2hrs will do and even up to 48 hrs will work. Take the dough out to room temperature for about 0,5-1 hr. Meanwhile gather a baking dish of approx. 20×30 cm, and pour about 1 dl of olive oil in a cup and wash your hands.
5. When the dough has started rising a little at room temperature, dip your fingers into oil and fold the dough from four sides towards the other edge. This will flatten the dough and create air bubbles inside!
6. Pour almost all the oil from the cup to the baking dish and spread it generously up to the edges as well.
7. Place the dough to the baking dish and flatten it out onto it. If the dough keeps shrinking, let it rest a while and shape again. As you spread the dough, dimple its surface into deep dimples for the toppings.
8. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the dough, cover with a cloth and again leave to rest for up to 2 hrs or at least while you pre-heat the oven to 275 C
9. While the oven heats, chop some San Marzano tomatoes, Kalamata olives and fresh rosemary (or anything else you want to use as topping, simply dried rosemary and finger salt works fine, too!)
10. Re-work the dimples with your fingers and sprinkle finger salt generously on top of your dough. Press the toppings deep into the dimples and drizzle a little olive oil to top it off.
11. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Want a downloadable PDF of this recipe from Rules? Click here!