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Ville Valo

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Ville Valo
Ville Valo & Agents 9 3 2019 (1).jpg
Ville Valo performing with Agents in March 2019
Born
Ville Hermanni Valo

(1976-11-22) 22 November 1976 (age 42)
ResidenceHelsinki, Finland
Other names
  • Balo the Singing Janitor
  • Bil Bao
  • Lux Airam
  • Rambo Rimbaud
Occupation
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • producer
FamilyJesse Valo (brother)
Musical career
Instruments
Associated acts
Signature
Ville Valo Signature.png

Ville Hermanni Valo (born 22 November 1976) is a Finnish singer, songwriter and musician, best known as the lead vocalist of the gothic rock band HIM. Influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Type O Negative, Valo began his career playing bass and drums in various bands around his hometown of Helsinki. In 1991, he formed HIM, which would go on to become one of the most successful Finnish bands of all time, and the first to receive a gold record in the United States.[1][2] Valo is also credited as the creator of the heartagram, the band's trademarked symbol. In 2017, HIM announced their plans to retire following a farewell tour that same year. The band played their final show on New Year's Eve 2017.

Outside of HIM, Valo has collaborated with various other bands and artist during his career, including Agents, The 69 Eyes and Apocalyptica. He's also made brief appearances in TV and film, often collaborating with Bam Margera of Jackass fame. Valo has been regarded as a sex symbol and received several accolades in the music industry. In 2014, he was found to possess the eighth-highest vocal range of any known singer in popular music by VVN Music.

Early life[edit]

Ville Hermanni Valo was born on 22 November 1976 in Helsinki, Finland.[3][4] His mother Anita is from Hungary, and she worked at a shoe shop and later for of the city of Helsinki.[5][6][4][7] Ville's father Kari worked as a taxi driver, until he left his job and opened a sex shop in Helsinki called Aikuisten lelukauppa, where Ville sometimes worked as a teenager.[8][4][9] Ville also has a younger brother Jesse, born in 1983.

A few months after Ville was born, his family moved from Vallila to Oulunkylä, where he attended comprehensive school.[3] Valo was first introduced to music through his father, who would often listen to a variety Finnish folk artists, such as Tuomari Nurmio and Tapio Rautavaara.[10] At the age of eight, Valo bought the album Animalize by Kiss, which sparked his interest in music.[11] After second grade, Valo was accepted to music class, where he took up playing the bass guitar, inspired by Gene Simmons.[11] It was during this time that he met fellow bassist and future bandmate Mikko "Mige" Paananen.[12] While still in school, Valo formed his first band called B.L.O.O.D., which played its first and only show in front of the music class.[13] Around the age of ten, Valo joined the Eloveena Boys, for which he wrote his first song.[13] In seventh grade, Valo met guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström and the two began playing together in Aurora, with Valo on the drums.[14] During his time in Aurora, Valo also played bass and drums in various other bands and attended the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory.[14] He also applied to the Sibelius Upper Secondary School of music and dance, but was rejected, and eventually dropped out of school altogether to concentrate on his music.[15] From 1992 to 1993, Valo played bass in the Donits-Osmo Experience.[16] Valo was permitted not to perform Finland's national military service, due to his asthma.[9]

Career[edit]

HIM[edit]

Ville Valo performing at Ilosaarirock in July 2007

Valo and bassist Mikko "Mige" Paananen first formed the band HIM in 1991.[17] The group broke-up in 1993, but reformed in 1995.[17] Joined by guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström, keyboardist Antto Melasniemi and drummer Juhana "Pätkä" Rantala, HIM released their debut album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 in 1997.[18] In 2000, now with drummer Gas Lipstick and keyboardist Juska Salminen, the band released Razorblade Romance, which reached number one in Finland, Austria and Germany.[19][20][21][22] The first single "Join Me in Death" also charted at number one in Finland and Germany, eventually going platinum in the former.[19][20][21][23] Following the addition of keyboardist Janne "Burton" Puurtinen, HIM released Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights and Love Metal in 2001 and 2003, respectively. Both cracked the top ten in several countries, and became the band's first albums to chart in the United Kingdom and the United States.[24][25]

In 2005, HIM released Dark Light, which became their most successful album to date, going gold in Germany, the UK, the US, and platinum in Finland.[23][26][27] In 2007, HIM released Venus Doom, which went gold in Finland and Germany, and gave the band their highest US chart position ever at number twelve.[23][25][26] After 2010's Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, the band went on hiatus after drummer Gas Lipstick was diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury and nerve damage in his hands.[28] HIM eventually regrouped and released the album Tears on Tape in 2013.[28] In 2015, Gas Lipstick announced his departure from HIM after sixteen years to pursue other musical projects.[29] He was subsequently replaced by Jukka "Kosmo" Kröger.[30] On 5 March 2017, HIM announced the end of the band following a farewell tour that same year.[31][32] HIM played its final show on New Year's Eve 2017 as a part of the band's annual Helldone Festival.[33]

Collaborations and guest appearances[edit]

Valo has collaborated with many different artists during his career, often under different pseudonyms. Between 1997 and 2004, Valo performed back-up vocals on five albums by The 69 Eyes, and appeared in the music video for the song "Wasting the Dawn".[34][35] In 1999, he sang back-up on Tehosekoitin's album Freak Out, and performed three songs with Finnish schlager band Agents.[36][34] In 2000, Valo contributed a track for the Tuomari Nurmio tribute album Tuomarin todistajat, and in 2001, he played drums on Daniel Lioneye's album The King of Rock 'n Roll and sang back-up on Five Fifteen's album Death of a Clown.[37][38][39] In 2002 and 2004, Valo sang back-up on two albums by The Skreppers.[40] In 2004, he also collaborated with Lowe Motor Corporation and Apocalyptica, performing the song "Bittersweet" with the latter, which also featured Lauri Ylönen of The Rasmus.[34][41] In 2005, Valo was featured on the album Hefty Fine by the Bloodhound Gang, and performed at the Roadrunner United concert in New York City.[42]

Ville Valo performing in São Paulo, Brazil in March 2014

In 2006, Valo played bass and sang back-up on Welcome to Carcass Cuntry by Jeff Walker und Die Fluffers, and made guest appearances on albums by Cradle of Filth and Isabelle's Gift.[43][44] He also performed two songs for the Finnish compilation album Synkkien laulujen maa, one of which was a duet with Kari Tapio.[45] In August 2006, Valo joined Anathema's Daniel Cavanagh on stage twice for a performance of "Inner Silence".[46][47] In 2007, Valo made a guest appearance on Manna's album Sister, and performed the song "Summer Wine" with Polish-German actress and singer Natalia Avelon for the film Eight Miles High.[48][49] The song eventually went platinum in Germany.[50]

In 2008, Valo sang back-up on Save Nuta's cover of "Rock 'n' Roll High School" by the Ramones. The track was a collaborative effort by several prominent Finnish musicians to save youth centers across the country.[51] In 2010, Valo sang back-up vocals on Anathema's We're Here Because We're Here album, and remixed three songs with his brother Jesse Valo for the HIM album SWRMXS.[52][53] That same year he also mixed HIM bassist Mige's solo album Cimmerica, which was released under the pseudonym MZ.[54] In 2014, Valo was featured on the track "Whisper in the Chaos '97" by Lullacry, which was released on their compilation album Legacy 1998-2014.[55] At the 2014 Helldone Festival, Valo rejoined Daniel Lioneye on drums and made his live solo debut under the pseudonym Rambo Rimbaud.[56][57]

Ville Valo performing at Tuska in July 2017

In 2016, Valo made guest appearances on releases by Teho Majamäki, MGT, The Mission and Andy McCoy.[34][58][59][60] On 4 July 2016, he released his first solo single "Olet mun kaikuluotain", a cover of "Annie's Song" by John Denver, with Finnish lyrics by Hector.[61] The song's music video would go on to win Video of the Year at the Emma Gala.[62] In 2017, Valo provided the soundtrack for the virtual reality game Downward Spiral: Prologue by 3rd Eye Studios.[63] He would go on to score the 2018 sequel Downward Spiral: Horus Station as well.[64]

In 2018, Valo sang back-up on Andy McCoy's Soul Satisfaction EP and reunited with Agents to perform previously unreleased songs by Finnish singer-songwriter Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki.[65][66] The first single "Orpolapsi kiurun" was released on 21 September 2018.[65] Ville Valo and Agents performed at the annual Emma Gala on 2 February 2019, and released their self-titled album on 15 February.[67] The album went gold in less than a week and debuted at number one on the Finnish Album Chart.[68] The group began their Finnish tour in March, which will continue until August.[69]

Other work[edit]

Valo has also done some work outside of music, mainly a few appearances in TV and film. In 1998, he played the role of "Lippumies" in the Ilppo Pohjola directed short film Asphalto.[70] Valo has often collaborated with skateboarder and Jackass member Bam Margera, appearing in his films CKY 3, Haggard: The Movie, 411 Productions Presents: 61: The Bam Issue, Jackass Number Two and Bam Margera Presents: Where the ♯$&% Is Santa?, as well as the TV series Viva La Bam.[70] In 2008, Valo voiced the character "Moto Moto" in the Finnish dub of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.[71] When asked about the possibility of becoming an actor, Valo responded: "I've had offers in the past. Nothing too big, nothing too interesting. But I'm not an actor. I've always felt that we need to sell about 80 million copies more for me to become an actor, a painter, an opera singer or a TV personality."[72]

In 2005, Valo designed a limited line of Coca-Cola Light cans, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross.[73]

Personal life[edit]

Valo currently resides in Pikku Huopalahti in Helsinki, Finland.[74] He previously lived in a 19th-century tower house designed by Carl Ludvig Engel in Munkkiniemi, which he bought in 2006. In 2015, the house was put back on sale.[75] Valo is an asthmatic, and non-religious.[76][77] He has been a vegeterian since he was a teenager, and currently has an "almost vegan" diet.[78]

Valo dated Finnish television host and model Jonna Nygrén in the early 2000s.[79] The two became engaged in 2005, but broke-up in spring 2006.[79] The couple reunited in the summer of 2006, but broke-up again in 2007.[79] In 2009, Valo was involved in a relationship with an undisclosed partner, which served as the main inspiration for HIM's 2010 album Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice.[80] In March 2012, Valo was linked to Parisian model Sandra Mittica.[81][82] In April 2015, the couple were reported to have ended their relationship.[83] Since September 2016, Valo has been linked to Finnish model Christel Karhu.[84][74][85]

In 2004, Valo was invited to the Presidential Independence Day reception at Finland's presidential palace, but was unable to attend due to a fever.[86] He attended later in 2006.[87]

Substance abuse and legal troubles[edit]

Valo performing at Soundwave Festival in March 2010

On more than one occasion Valo has been reported to have performed intoxicated.[88][89] In 2000, he nearly fell off the balcony of a hotel while under the influence, but was stopped by friends.[90] During a 2005 US tour, Valo's drink was spiked in Minneapolis.[91] He suffered minor injuries and was robbed of his jacket, asthma medicine, cigarettes, credit cards and cell phone.[91] In February 2006, Valo was reportedly arrested at his home in Finland after allegedly threatening to kill his neighbor and resisting arrest.[92] He elaborated on the incident stating: "It was a guy just talking a lot of bull about me and my fiancée [...] And I got pissed off, I went to his door [...] I kicked the door, he opened the door and I told him that if he was ever gonna talk badly about me and my girl, he was gonna end up being dead, and I punched him in the face, and that's the whole thing."[93]

During the making of HIM's 2007 album Venus Doom, Valo's alcohol abuse worsened to the point where he was vomiting and defecating blood.[94] According to Valo, he neither slept nor ate for weeks.[94] Things came to a head, when Valo suffered a nervous breakdown during the recording process.[94] He was able to recuperate, until he suffered a relapse during the album's mixing stage.[94] Valo was eventually admitted to the Promises Rehabilitation Clinic in Malibu by the band's manager Seppo Vesterinen.[94] Following his time in rehab, HIM released Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, which was the band's first album Valo recorded entirely sober.[8] Since then, he has relapsed, but Valo has said that he tries to balance his drinking, stating: "I'm an on and off guy. If I drink, I drink properly for long stretches of time. And if I don't drink, I don't drink at all."[72]

Tattoos[edit]

Valo is known to sport several tattoos. He has a total of five heartagram tattoos; one on the back of his neck, one on his lower stomach, one around his left nipple, one on his lower back, made to resemble a hexagram, and one on his right leg as the topper on a scepter of a pope with an astronaut's head, called the "Cosmic Pope".[95][96] The heartagram around Valo's left nipple was done by Kat Von D to cover up the initial of a former girlfriend.[97] Valo's left arm is covered with a full sleeve-tattoo, while his right arm has portraits of Timo K. Mukka, Charles Baudelaire and Charles Bukowski.[95][98] On his right wrist, Valo has a heart surrounded by lettering, including the acronym "DILLIGAF" ("Do I look like I give a fuck?"), which he got together with his then-fiancée Jonna Nygrén.[99] On his bicep, Valo has a monogram of Venus Doom, as well as an hourglass, and an eye with a skull inside the pupil.[96][100]

After getting engaged to Jonna Nygrén, Valo tattooed the letter "J" on his left ring finger but stated later on that he’d removed it himself, using lit cigarettes.[101][102] On his chest, Valo has a portrait of Maya Deren, and beneath it, a hexagram with malachim lettering.[95] On his stomach, Valo has a portrait of Klaus Kinski sucking his thumb, while lying on a naked woman.[100] On his back, Valo has the eyes of Edgar Allan Poe, which were done by Kat Von D and her then-husband Oliver Peck.[98] On his lower back, Valo has the Estonian letter for "night", which he shares with his brother.[96] The letter also has a minus sign inside one of the umlauts, which was done as a tribute to late Type O Negative singer Peter Steele.[96] On his left leg, Valo also has an Egyptian symbol for "flame".[96]

Artistry and influences[edit]

Many of Valo's songs deal with themes of love.[103] While talking about his songwriting, Valo stated: "I feel like there is no subject more important for a song than relationships. It's the only thing than moves me."[103] He also takes some inspiration from literature, explaining: "As a guy who writes songs, I get excited about an idea, or a book, or a sentence. I don't necessarily get excited about the whole of Tolkien, I just get excited about Uruk-hai. Just a little detail that just makes my mind work overdrive."[8] Valo and the rest of HIM referred to their music as "love metal", the idea of which was to combine more melodic and melancholic elements, with heavier influences.[104][105] Valo has described HIM's music as "sentimental, hard-hitting rock".[106] Some of Valo's favorite artists and musical influences include Black Sabbath, Type O Negative,[104][107][108] Neil Young,[108] The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim,[109] Johnny Cash, Depeche Mode,[110] Elvis Presley, Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki and Tapio Rautavaara.[111][112] Some of his non-musical influences include Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Timo K. Mukka, Charles Baudelaire and Charles Bukowski,[95][98][113] as well as Austin Osman Spare, Maya Deren and Shigeo Fukuda.[114][115]

The heartagram (pictured in the background) was created by Valo on his twentieth birthday

Much of HIM's success has been attributed to Valo's songwriting ability, as well as his image and charisma.[116] In 2004, Metal Hammer magazine described Valo as one of the few new "rockstars" in music, stating: "HIM were like no other band. They had a special something, but more importantly they had a special someone. Ville shone like a star with his blend of Mick Jagger posturing and Brandon Lee's dark charms in The Crow".[117][118] Helsingin Sanomat described Valo's image as utilizing "the tried and true James Dean formula, where sensitivity and edginess combined."[116] Valo possesses a baritone voice type with a five octave range, and was found by VVN Music to possess the eight-highest vocal range of any known singer in popular music.[119][120] Valo was ranked number 80 in Hit Parader's Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time.[121] Loudwire ranked him as the fourteenth greatest metal frontman of the 21st century, stating: "His baritone voice is undeniably gorgeous, his vampiric charisma is almost hypnotic, male fans desperately attempt to emulate him and female fans scream ballistically as if he was the second coming of Elvis."[122] In 2004 and 2005, Valo was awarded the Golden God Award and the Icon Award, respectively, at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards.[123][124] In 2004, Kerrang! magazine named him the biggest sex symbol in the world, and in 2011, Valo was voted the "Hottest Dude In Hard Rock And Metal" by the readers of Revolver magazine.[125][126] In 2018, Valo was voted "Finland's Hottest Guy" in a poll by MTV.[127] Regarding these accolades, Valo has stated: "To be honest, I don't know what a sex symbol is. Compliments are nice, but I've always liked compliments on the music more."[128]

On his twentieth birthday, Valo created the heartagram, which would eventually become the symbol of HIM.[71] A combination of a heart and a pentagram, the heartagram is meant to represent the juxtaposition of "the soft and the hard, the male and the female, the yin and the yang".[129][130] Musically the heart is meant to represent the softer side of the band, while the pentagram conveys the heavier elements of their sound.[130] Since its creation, Valo has stated that the heartagram "is probably the best thing [he's] ever come-up with", and that it's "worth a lot more than money" and "bigger than [the] band".[71] He noted in 2016, "There are a lot of people who have Heartagram tattoos now. Kat Von D has one, Steve-O has a dickagram, which is like a Heartagram but ends with a dick. It’s started to have a life of its own: there are a lot of people who have them who don’t actually know what it was, don’t relate it to the band, and in that sense, I consider that to be my greatest achievement. So it’ll be nice to have it on my tombstone. And it’ll be nice to see where it’s going to go next."[131]

Discography[edit]

HIM[edit]

Ville Valo & Agents[edit]

  • Ville Valo & Agents (2019)

Filmography[edit]

Awards[edit]

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards[123][124]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2004 Ville Valo Golden God Award Won
2005 Ville Valo Icon Award Won

BMI Awards[132]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007 "Wings of a Butterfly" BMI Pop Award Won

Emma Awards[62]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2017 "Olet mun kaikuluotain" Video of the Year Won

References[edit]

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External links[edit]