Mika Tyyskä: Mr Fastfinger and Laurie Monk discovers the yin and yang of Guitar

From musikmesse 2012

Mika Tyyskä (Born November 5, 1976), better known by his stage name Mr.Fastfinger, is a Finnish virtuoso guitarist, and multi instrumentalist who encompasses several genres of music. Originally, Mr. Fastfinger was an imaginary character, created and animated in Flash, to be "host" of the website GuitarShredShow.com, an award-winning combination of further animation and an online guitar school. The online guitar school opened 2005. The better the website was known, the more Mika Tyyskä was asked to share and to teach in clinics and guitar camps in Europe and Japan. The artist released his first solo-album, The Way Of The Exploding Guitar, in 2009. The second album, in Motion, was released in 2012.

[Laurie Monk] Now, I checked this out on Wikipedia so it must be true... According to the boys with the open knowledge Mr Fastfinger and Mika Tyyskä might actually be one and the same person... I find that hard to believe after see both you guys playing live at the Musikmesse... you both were performing on stage at the same time... so is what’s written in wikipedia true?

Mr Fastfinger and Mika Tyyskä in the studio 
[Mr Fastfinger] This is not possible.

[Mika Tyyskä] I admit our relationship is a little confusing.

[Mr Fastfinger] I consider you as my alter ego, Mika.

[Mika Tyyskä] Sensei is not imaginary, you’re seeing him also! Right? He’s just living in his own dimension and realm. Thanks to the all the modern technology it is possible to make him visible to all humans.

[Laurie Monk] Ha Ha, yeah... good point...of course all is possible if the feng shui is correct. OK, more deep thought... may be not the answer 42... but I notice both Mika and Mr Fastfinger were born on November the 5th... In the UK this is Fireworks night... do you think this is why you might have a propensity for explosive guitar playing?

[Mika Tyyskä] How long has this Fireworks tradition been going on?

[Mr Fastfinger] I’m meditating on this... If it’s a tribute to the way of the exploding guitar?

[Laurie Monk] Good point, the Chinese were ahead of the game here with fireworks... they started with the bangs back in the 7th century!

OK ontoa more guitar orientated question... Mr Fastfinger did you attend music college to get those finely honed chops?

[Mr Fastfinger] I’m all self-taught. Living in a desert island, there’s was no one there to teach me. The nature inspired me to develop my chops. 
Also thanks to Shred-ex, I was able to subscribe guitar magazines and books and records. That’s where I got it all.

[Mika Tyyskä] That’s not the whole truth Sensei.

[Mr Fastfinger] I took some tapping lessons from the dwarfs. 

[Mika Tyyskä] My story is very similar. I didn't have dwarves around me, but am thankful to all the fine musicians who I've ever played with. Musicianship you learn from working with musicians.

[Laurie Monk] So the better the player you mix with, the better your guitar playing becomes. Mr Fastfinger you are a guitar Sensei, what inspired you to take up your virtual thrown to become a guru for guitar playing, did Mika inspire you or was this something you always wanted to be?

[Mr Fastfinger] Once a tea bag shared this wisdom with me: to learn, read. to know, write. to master, teach.

[Mika Tyyskä] Mr. Fastfinger was found when I was searching for the right character to lead Guitar Shred Show -online school. He just was the perfect Sensei for the job. And very charismatic!
 I'll share with you a secret... the secret is how I personally keep everything progressing with Sensei. First I give Sensei ideas and skills I'd want to obtain. Techniques, theories, new ideas, attitude, anything. Once Sensei shows it back to me and I know I must master is to be able to perform it live or teach it at workshops. He's always a few steps further. 

[Laurie Monk] Apart from regular practice , is there anything you can recommend struggling guitar players who get stuck in a rut?

[Mr Fastfinger] ah... so... it is most important, remember guitar playing is about playing! Meaning like playing with a toy. Guitar is not the most important thing in your life, although it is most important! 
Life good + balance good = Guitar good!

From musikmesse 2012

[Mika Tyyskä] Picture the musician what you want to be. Figure out what it takes to be that and start taking the steps to that direction.

Don’t try to learn everything at once. One thing at a time is better.  
If you want to be an artist, remember you don't need to or should play like everybody else is already playing. Develop your own way of playing the guitar. Try to think out of the box. Combine things that usually should not go together. Check what others are doing but also spend enough time... just you sitting down and figuring things on your own.

Mika Tyyskä: Mr Fastfinger Scary Lessons

[Laurie Monk] Sage advice indeed. It is interesting how the best players have that original quality. 

I know you are a busy guy and you have just released your second new adventure, the New album "In Motion" described as "12 compositions that flow perfectly together. The careful selection of glorious musical themes alternates with very intense, fast and emotional guitar solos, very loud riffs with tribal percussion, ambient keyboards and an amount of exotic instruments unmatched in the instrumental rock genre."

Now I have listened to it and like your first album its packed full originality and, as you have pointed out already... fun!

[Mr Fastfinger] Epic it is!

[Mika Tyyskä] It’s strongly a concept album. We wanted to give the listener a sort of ear movie experience. Main motto's were:  "The only way to develop self is to let go of safe" and "You are your own worst enemy". 

Sensei got tired of just practicing the guitar in the safety of his island. Sensei went into the wild hunt for new ideas. So, each song is a new scene, Mr. Fastfinger is facing something that adds new colours to the palette of the overall album. In search of new, there's something that keeps slowing Sensei down. It's his own shadow. Towards the end Sensei is fighting hard against his own demons.

[Mr Fastfinger] It takes some serious down-picking and fast sweeps to beat the accordion demon!

[Laurie Monk]  Ha Ha! Yes good point!

[Mika Tyyskä] Yes. Adventure is of course heavily loaded with exciting and wild guitar parts. The album is also bit more of a band album, more so than the début was. Even for a cutting-edge cartoon soloist like Mr. Fastfinger, it’s really important to give room for other musicians as well. Thomas Törnroos, Lasse Rantanen and Kalle Katz gave a lot of input to the arrangements and overall sound of this album. 

[Laurie Monk] Yes, it is noticeable the difference between the solo studio produced work and that of the band unit.

Back to your début . I recall coming across your www.Guitarshredshow.com web site just as it was released. That web site was a genuine Internet phenomenon leading to the appropriately titled “The Way of the Exploding Guitar”. I just recall the page views were exploding for that web site, it must have had amazing views... I just recall thinking, the work that had gone into it was excellent and the guitar player had pretty cool chops. Do you credit this explosive growth to Mr Fastfinger or to your very own ability in the dark arts of Flash and design?

[Mika Tyyskä] I believe the success was largely due to the overall sensation. There was, and still is, no other web address to go for a free trippy virtual travel to a desert island where you get to shred the guitar with a charismatic cartoon guru. Then battle accordion demons and jam with a good bunch of dwarves!

[Laurie Monk] Ha Ha... yeah... the dwarves make the real difference! 

OK back to your latest opus. You have just released your new album which also features some great guest players like Jordan Rudess,Thomas Blug and Timo Kämäräinen. How did that come about and what was it like to have them on your record? Where they in the studio or did you have them play virtually and does Mr Fastfinger bring good Karma to a recording project?

[Mika Tyyskä] Having guest on songs is always surprising. Guests can bring excitement to the songs and spice it up. I ended up asking these friends to join for the song because I knew they would bring something new to the overall scene. 

All guests did their parts in their own environments. I sent them backing tracks and some instructions with e-mail. Then got their tracks as a reply. 

Jordan Rudess also played on the début album song "Big Trummors", but now I felt he would do great on song Super Sinister as well. In fact the song was pretty much still quite open when given to Jordan. I was stuck with it. I asked Jordan to play mean, super evil leads on the solos spot and then do some melodies for another song part I had trouble finishing. Despite his super tight schedule he delivered a mad and mean solo, which was perfect. He also did his melody but for a totally different part than I had requested! This really brought the song to another dimension. Because of this input, I now I had no trouble finishing and putting the rest of the song together!

Timo Kämäräinen is a very well known and respected guitarist in Finland. He’s more of a rock type of player. He’s more into bluesy, country and jazzy direction. I was listening to his début solo album when working on initial GuitarShredShow.com stuff. We met two years afterwards for the first time and to my amazement he played me some Mr. Fastfinger licks!!! Two years ago he was working on his second solo album and I was asked if Mr. Fastfinger would do a solo spot there. We then agreed that to make it even, he would have to play a solo for Mr. Fastfinger’s next album. So I found him a good spot from the piece Lost World and he did something very exciting. It’s the only moment where Mr. Fastfinger’s music has started to have a little gosbel vibe! He compliments the overal musical scene well with his totally different approach to the playing. 

Thomas Blug I’ve met maybe five years ago for the first time. We were both doing clinics in Germany for Modern Music School. We also had a little jam concert together with the band that day. We really connected. 
After that we've done many, many clinics and demo's together for Hughes & Kettner. I'm so amazed how the duet on Beach Turtles sounds. The feel is very warm and natural, makes me happy every-time I hear it. Thomas‘ musicality and that flow is incredible. All notes come out perfect, always sounding natural and organic. I respect him a great deal.

[Laurie Monk] Thomas Blug is a great player, I always enjoy seeing him play live. 

In terms of Jordan Rudess, I understand you were also asked to do some animation work for Dream Theater. How did that come about and what was it like to work for such respected musicians. 

[Mika Tyyskä] It all started when I got a phone call from Jordan some weeks after the release of Guitar Shred Show. Ever since we've done quite a few thing together. We are currently working on some cool stuff again.

He simply suggest me doing cartoons for Dream Theater. I feel honoured to work with the band. They're all super musicians, yet still they are great humans, humble minded and hard working men. My last working experience with them was very inspired. They were all collaborating with overall story and commenting all the designs and all. Felt more like working with them than working for them.

[Laurie Monk] I’ve seen your work for Hughes and Kettner amplification on a number of occasions . Working with the likes of Thomas Blug, Geoff Whitehorn. What’s it like to work for such a well respected amp company and also get to work with people like Thomas Blug?

[Mr Fastfinger] Ah yes, I very much see Hughes & Kettner, as my German family!

[Mika Tyyskä] They are a great company with great products and working with Hughes & Kettner has been such great fun too. I feel very fortunate being part of the family and for all the opportunities and projects we've done together with them.

Mr. Fastfinger explaining how to "Record at Night" with TubeMeister

For example, doing live demos at Frankfurt Musikmesse alongside such legends and masters as Thomas Blug, Geoff Whitehorn and Jeff Water has also been amazing. I feel so proud and humble!
 This year we collaborated to promote Tubemeister amps and Mr. Fastfinger’s in Motion album with a the live demo's in Frankfurt and now also the supernatural demo/lesson series: 

[Mr Fastfinger] I keep playing notes on the guitar and the amp follows. I keep walking my path and the amp follows. Good!

[Laurie Monk] I particularly enjoyed the last show clinic you did with the interaction of yourself and then Mr Fastfinger joining you on stage from his lofty TV monitor. Does it take a lot of time to plan that sort of thing and is that the sort of thing that you worry that the technical gremlins might strike?

[Mr Fastfinger] It takes a good amount of focus to do it. And if there’s trouble: use the moment!

[Mika Tyyskä] Use the moment for creativity! Seriously these things need to be planned and scripted. This last Frankfurt demo was a little step forward to the direction I've wanted to go for a long time. Mr. Fastfinger is now more present on the overall show. 
When I prepare new stuff for a show or demo, it seems that it’s really hard to practice the actual guitar performance. But on the other hand, at least Mr. Fastfinger will always perform perfect as long as the computer runs smooth!

[Laurie Monk] Laughs... as long as  computer runs smooth... the best laid plans of Sensei's and men... I guess, Mika, that if Mr Fastfinger gets too big for his boots you can decide to downsize him to a 15 inch monitor or may be an iPad...

[Mika Tyyskä] Great idea. Portable black and white TV with mono sound would do this trick!

[Mr Fastfinger] [meditates and breathes heavy]

Mr. Fastfinger explaining how to "Play at Home" with TubeMeister

[Laurie Monk] I noticed that you appear on the most excellent Guitar Addiction - a Tribute to Modern Guitar CD (Guitar Euro Media 2011) with Dave Martone and Milan Polak, how did that come about and can you tell us about how the recording was made?

[Mika Tyyskä] I got to do my soloing first before Dave Martone and Milan Polak. So it was just the backing track and Francks notes on where to land with my parts. This was a challenging song. It took some trial and error, some time to come up with the approach and parts. I remember taking a little adventurous approach with the guitar tone. I actually mixed the clean direct out signal of guitar with miked amp. With the DI signal of the guitar you can get very crystal clear top end to the tone. 
It was really cool to hear afterwards how Mr. Martone and Mr. Polak had continued with the song. 
Both are such established and amazing musicians, I'm very grateful to Mr. Ribiere for asking me to be part of this song and album. An amazing album.

[Laurie Monk] Yes, Highly recommend purchase for anyone who is a fan of guitar and definately one of the best of the more recent releases.

I notice too that you have also just been featured on Mark Hawkins new album Soul Cycle II, which also features a ton of great guitar players and is doing particularly well. How did you get involved in that project?

[Mika Tyyskä] I was asked to do a guest solo for the album. I didn’t know Mark before this project, but got interested and the material he had sounded very good. So I took some time and did my share. The end results of the overall album sounds totally awesome. I am just so glad about it! Yes, some amazing guitarists on the album. Remember that I had just gotten a new amp, Tubemeister from Hughes & Kettner. I was indeed on fire in many ways to do this solo. 

Mr.Fastfinger explaining how to "Rock on Stage" with TubeMeister

[Laurie Monk] Yes another great release on my recommend buy list.

You’re also working with Mad Guitar Records, a niche record lable with a penchant for top line guitar players. I know Roo is totally dedicated to investing in and sign independent guitar artists, with his goal to connect and gather the very best guitar talents so that releases will be self funding and build up a steady reputation for quality product. The label features Magnus Olsson and Rick Graham. Certainly your release fits the bill very well. Is that why you joined the label?

[Mika Tyyskä] I’ve known Roo for few years now. Got to know him when he was putting together the Melodic Soloists compilation. He lives in Helsinki and we've met quite a few times on and off. He’s been very kind and supportive in many ways and now offered his services. We met and talked about it. His
attitude and approach is great. Roo is also a great guitar player and is fully aware of the overall scene of this ground. Cooperating with Mad Guitar Records was the thing for us to do!

[Laurie Monk] I know you have performed in clinics, workshops and gear demos around the world, from in the local countries like Finland, Germany, France, Sweden to Japan. Is this something that is straight forward or have you had some lessons learned or disaster along the way?

[Mika Tyyskä] The biggest lesson I've learned is always practice and prepare for these shows! And do it well and do it well in advance! 
When preparing for a show or demo, I practice it in my room as if I was doing it for real. Play along the videos and backing tracks. And perform. One classic thing for guitarists is to practice playing while sitting down. Then when you’re supposed to stand and perform on stage things get hard. You need to practice playing but also practice with the choreographic elements too. Imagine the audience is there in front of you.

You might get very tired during a music fair week or during a tour. But even when you’re totally out of focus and tired you need to sound good and be professional!

From musikmesse 2012

Touch wood, there haven't  been any catastrophes or such, but you never know what kind of situations you mightget into, or how messed your mind can be after too little sleep. You also never know who might end up in standing in the audience!
Oh yeah, sleep is very essential during the nights!

[Laurie Monk] Laughs... yes sleep is something I'm working on... between work and blogging! OK this is a question really for me, the guitar fan ho can't get enough guitar... Can you list your top 10 albums, albums that you would recommend people listening to and highlight why a guitar player might benefit from listening to them?

[Mr Fastfinger] Listen to the birds sing!

[Mika Tyyskä] Aaargh. This is hard. Here’s something that comes to my mind, but in random order. I skip all the basic rock guitar albums, you know everybody is already listening to those. OK here you go.

Jan Johansson: Jazz på Svenska / Jazz in Swedish. Some of the most beautiful instrumental music I've heard. The scandinavian folk melodies, I felt immediately connected with the music as soon as I heard it! 

Stravinsky conducts Stravinsky: Rite of spring, Petrushka, Firebird

It’s the bonanza of exciting melodies, harmonies and rhythms. I've been even stealing some interesting and original sounding tapping licks from Igor’s good stuff. This music has been inspiring me since my teen years.

Devin Townsend: Devin Townsend Project 4 albums: Ki, Addicted, Deconstruction, Ghost. Just incredibly versatile set of music that simply inspires!

Philip Glass: Kundun. Amazing and beautiful minimalistic music. Incredible stuff with very simple and few elements. 

Steve Stevens: Atomic Playboys
 One of my all time favourite hard rocking album. Great songs and most incredible and rocking guitar playing ever!

Rainbow: On stage
Richie Blackmore live and on fire. Dio sounds unbelievable but Blackmore is the real star of the show. Filled with jams and improvised crazyness!

Marty Friedman: Scenes
Beautiful pieces, amazing playing, one of a kind atmospheres. Produced by Kitaro, who’s music has clearly inspired Marty here.

Uli Jon Roth: Earthquake
I’m a great fan of Uli’s playing and feel. The flow and the touch with the instrument is incredible.

Mattias Eklundh: Freak Guitar: Early 2000 I had lost almost all my interest in guitar. I thought everything had been heard and done, it was just getting boring. Then I heard Mattias Eklundh who's music was all joy! This music brought me back to guitar playing and enjoying instrumental guitar music. Still no idea what he's doing there, but I-I-I-I-love it!

[Laurie Monk] If you had a choice about any musicians in the world who would you pick to play with and why?

[Mr Fastfinger] Playing with musicians is always rewarding and educational. No matter what level they are.

[Mika Tyyskä] True. I never actually jammed with Jordan Rudess in the same room. Last time Dream Theater was in Finland we had plans to do jamming big time. That would have been way too exciting but then some heavy clouds appeared and we had to cancel it. 

[Laurie Monk] OK final question, have you thought about developing an harmonised twin guitar attack, like Racer X?

[Mr Fastfinger] This would be good!

[Mika Tyyskä] Absolutely, I think we are heading into this direction!
Heavy metal guitar duo in serious thunder storm!
This comes from the Mr. Fastfinger - in Motion - record release party at Bar Soho, Porvoo Finland in 30.3.2012. One of the most challenging Mr. Fastfinger songs for the whole band. There's just so many little things there. Dangerous twists and turns, explosions and suspense! Usually the only member in the band who plays this right is that cartoon dude in the back corner. But this time we all nailed it pretty good me thinks.
Remember to subscribe. There's more footage coming on from the show.
Song is from the new Mr. Fastfinge album: in Motion.
Available digitally from iTunes, Amazon. CD comes with special Fretboard game and extras. More info here: http://mrfastfinger.net/index.php/in-motion/
Special credits goes to:
Jokke Heikkilä (mixer for the live show and recording the audio)
Raimo Uunila (cameras)
Jocke Lybeck
Nyke ry
The fog machine stopped working right before the gig so all smoke here was added in After Effects:)
Respect to the band: Thomas Törnroo, Lasse Rantanen and Kalle Katz.
Guys have learned and re-learned and re-learned this song so many times during the last two years. For every gig it was a bit different. The arrangement kept changing until the very end, right before the album was mixed.

Cartoon Guitar vs. Human Guitar - Mr. Fastfinger Band plays Thunderpantz

[Laurie Monk] Thanks for the really great interview and best of luck to the both of you for your upcoming shows.

[Mr Fastfinger] Hoooow-wou. This was a very good interview!

[Mika Tyyskä] Thanks you Laurie for everything once again!


Mr. Fastfinger The Way of the Exploding Guitar (Elektrik Pyjamas 2009)

in Motion (Elektrik Pyjamas 2012)Guest Appearances

Pepe Deluxé Queen of the Wave (Catskills Records 2012)

Sauruxet - Saurusplaneetta (Leka Productions 2011)

Guitar Addiction - a Tribute to Modern Guitar (Guitar Euro Media 2011)

Timo Kämäräinen – Pulpae (Texicalli Records, 2010)

Niko Tsonev – Black Feather (Stunted records, 2008)

Pepe Deluxé – Spare Time Machine (Catskills records, 2007)Compilations

Melodic Soloists (Mad Guitar Records 2010)

Soul Cycle II (Mark Kawkins)

Gear and endorsements

Ben Reuters (guitars)
Hughes & Kettner Triamp and Switchblade (amplifiers)
TC Electronic (effects)
Rotosound (strings)
Guitar Pro 6 (software)
Plektra (Custom guitar picks)

Web Sites