Turku Atomic Berries delivers groovy, retro-futuristic soundscapes. The duo consists of vocalist and luminous front-woman Juniper and song-writer-producer Mike Midas.
After many surprising coincidences in an abandonded booze factory in Turku, Finland, the band was suddenly formed in 2018 with singer Marjo-Reetta. Marjo-Reetta’s schedule kept growing exponentially, she had to leave her position, and in the midst of 2020 Midas found a new vocalist – Juniper – to join the journey.
Straightforward, bass-drum grinding techno beats, evolving synthesizer sounds, and catchy lyrics create a trance like hypnotic atmosphere. This combined to the vibrant and expressive vocals of Juniper carry you to another relaxing, uterus-like, dimension.
Interview by Tim Brown
When and why did you start playing?
I was probably six or seven when my mother and granny decided I should start playing the piano and put me on lessons. I had already been a musical child, singing and moving to music, so it was natural to make me play an instrument. It was also kind of a tradition in the family, that almost every child was put on music lessons of some sort, at some point. But since then, the piano stuck with me. I wasn’t too inspired of playing for the first years and bounced from teacher to teacher. I even remember one teacher slapping me on the fingers whilst saying:” You are gifted, but lazy.” I don’t know about the gifted part, but I sure was lazy. I stopped playing completely after seven or eight years and focused on singing instead. I sang in school, in youth theatre and wherever I could really. At some point I decided to sit in front of the piano again, and just started playing my own melodies and songs, and the rest is history. I’ve been singing in five different bands, for almost eight years now, and Atomic Berries is definitively the positive oddball here. Singing techno was something I’ve never done before, so I just had to try it when I got the chance, and the results were better than I ever imagined.
Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
I really, I mean really love the Finnish industrial metal band Turmion Kätilöt. The guys in the band do everything just the way they want, or at least it seems so. Their stage presence is amazing and funny, and they don’t care about haters. They are just what they want to be.
Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
I really don’t know any specific records or tapes I would be inspired of. I draw my inspiration from everything I see and hear, so it’s not something I can strictly specify. For instance, I was driving home from work one night and it was raining. I saw a butterfly take flight from the wet road and started to wonder how do butterflies with their gentle wings survive during the rain. Instantly I got a melody and words in my head and recorded them on my phone. The next morning, I went over to our piano and the new song was played for the first time.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
As I already mentioned above, I just love Turmion Kätilöt. Other bands on my list of favourites are Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Dunderpatrullen, Blutenegel and many more. When I really need a power hit, I’ll listen to songs like People = shit (Slipknot) and Sikiö (Turmion Kätilöt), and when I just have that party feeling I like to sing along with songs like Dancing in the light (Blutengel), Dansbandstechno (Dunderpatrullen) or Phoenix (League of Legends). The genres I like the most are diverse including metal, techno, jazz, and chiptune.
Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?
I have been to a few competitions, but they are mostly karaoke. I won two of them and was third and the audience favourite in one. I also tried out a singing competition on TV, but I didn’t get through. They thought I sang with too much feeling, and I just probably wasn’t what they were looking for.
Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV
I have performed quite a lot during the last years. I’ve had tens of gigs with a big band, and a couple of gigs with a rock band and some other performances as a solo guest. I also recently got my first radio play with a metal band. It doesn’t matter if I play in front of ten people or a thousand people. I still get a little nervous in front of an audience because I don’t want to f**k up. I just want to have fun, and I want them to have fun. If someone goes home after the gig and says, darn that was good, then I have succeeded.
What makes this kind of music “good” to you?
I have a quite diverse taste in music, so I can’t specify what really makes music good. I hear a song and I either like it or not. It must be a combination of different things, generically saying the beat, the melody, the singing and the lyrics, and of course the overall feel of the music. The music we make in Atomic Berries has something in it that I like. There is the feeling. I don’t know where it comes from or how we do it, but I like it. It’s interesting and not generically only pop or lyricless EDM. It’s a tasteful combination of different genres, so it has something for almost everybody.
Why did you choose to play this kind of music?
Techno was the genre I hadn’t yet tried, so when I saw Mikes ad, where he told he was looking for a new singer, I just had to apply, and oh boy the cooperation turned out good. I had my doubts in the beginning, but as we recorded and worked with the songs, they started to sound better and better.
Let’s Talk about your music and your last work…
Chasing the dream is my debut album even though I’ve been singing and playing for ages. The music and the lyrics on this particular album are all Mikes handywork, so I just kind of came to a readily cooked meal and just had to start eating. We recorded the lyrics in, well, record time, with each session only lasting for about an hour. It took approximately three hours till the vocals were ready, and I just thought what the heck? My style of singing and Mikes music just clicked. There was almost no need to re-record anything. Three vocal tracks per song and boom, done. The process came easy and naturally, and that is exactly the way the album sounds. It’s real and natural. No weird gimmicks or massive autotune. Just pure and weird, good music.
How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
The internet is both good and bad. It’s way easier to spread your music and advertise the band on the internet, but at the same time, internet spread does not pay the bills if you aren’t like HUGE, a major super well-known artist. But I’ve never done music for money, at least not yet, but just for the pure joy of it. When I see the audience clapping, dancing, and singing along with a smile on their face, it is the best feeling ever.
What are the plans for the future?
I’m definitively not leaving music at any point. We are already planning the next Atomic Berries album with Mike, even though the first one just came out of the oven. The drive is there, and it is real. We also hope that when the whole pandemic is over, we will definitively try to get some gigs and play live.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music?
Well, my first years of playing consisted mostly of classical piano music and Finnish pop hits, so I’ve taken a pretty big leap in composing my own music and singing techno and metal. It’s not anymore so much about the rules, it’s more about breaking them and trying to make something new and innovative. It’s a challenge, but I sure as heck will try.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
I can’t make music without inspiration. I know it’s a huge cliché to say, but I really need it. It could be a situation in life, a person or a butterfly, but when the inspiration hits, I need to start writing lyrics or playing on the piano, and I need to do it right away or the song is lost for ever. The music comes easily when it’s the right moment. I feel like if you just grind a song till it’s ready just for the sake of making a song, it will sound like it was made with force. It’s nothing new and it will miss that something. When recording the vocals for Atomic Berries the inspiration was eagerness, the thrill of trying something new, and the driving force was intuition. We went there and did it. It just came and the result is something old, something new, something retro and berries for you.
Lots of love and hughs to everyone reading this! –Juniper (Atomic Berries)
PL 44, 20781 Kaarina