Both masters of the sonic and the visual, Pearly Drops is the musical duo hailing from Finland who are redefining DIY pop. Integrating 80s whimsical sounds with poetic lyricism, Sandra and Juuso’s dual identity transpired into their own personal styles, with Pearly Drops’ Instagram looking like a curation page. Just last month, Pearly Drops released its sophomore album titled “A Little Disaster”, a soundscape with horror-movie worthy undertones. Today, we talk to the duo about their new album, their musical and visual styles and upcoming gigs.
Hey both! Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Hi! We’re Sandra and Juuso from Helsinki, Finland and together we form Pearly Drops. It’s a project that began in 2019, but before this we had already been making music together for years in various projects.
You recently dropped your new album “A Little Disaster”. Tell me a little bit about the story behind this project.
It’s a direct sequel to the story from our first album. While the debut might’ve been quite isolation-themed, the new album deals with death and loss. The creation of “A Little Disaster” coincided with an abundance of worrisome global events – like the pandemic and the war in Europe – and we found ourselves feeling pretty unarmed and weary in a world that is seemingly always on the brink of a disaster. Sonically, however, we were striving for something otherworldly and ethereal – maybe as a means to dissociate from the harsh reality.
The song Kiss Away The Pearly Drops stuck with me, not only for your name dropping but also for its vulnerable quality, as heard in the lyrics “My mind is dry, I’m living in a coffin / I’m giving all, yet I’m getting nothing”. How did you come up with this one?
We just really wanted to have a theme song! Several of the tracks on this album were actually supposed to already appear on our debut, but we decided to divide the burden into different parts. That being said, we may not be in the same situation right now when the songs were first written, but we’re really happy that this state of mind was bottled up. Our music is not exactly diary-like or a direct mirror image of our normal life. But let’s just say that during the last five years, there were moments when a certain gloom hovered over everything, absolutely nothing happened and it seemed like there was no way out.
Your sound can be described as synth-heavy dreamy alt-pop with hazy vocals and an almost DIY nature. Where does your musical inspiration come from?
We were just recently wondering where the so-called haziness in our vocal performances might come from. Maybe it’s all the Enya, The Cure’s Disintegration, Seventeen Seconds and New-age ambient Gregorian chant music that we’ve been exposed to in our childhood. To us it just feels normal. We try to do things intuitively and what feels natural to us. And of course our cozy cocoon-like studio space and the few hand-picked instruments from the ’60s and the ’80s further affects and defines our sound.
Your visual language is almost just as important as your musical one, notably in the music video for Take Me Down where we can see warping images with an old television aesthetic. How do you tie together the visual aspect of things with the musical?
Just like with the music, the visual inspiration has also been quite a foggy dream from our childhood. We’ve tried to channel the feeling that we get from the Finnish cartoonist Mauri Kunnas’ work combined with the early 90s 2D point-and-click adventure games. In the music video for Take Me Down we wanted to try and bring that feeling to an even more dystopian and Second Life -inspired 3D world. For the music video we had the chance to collaborate with Gabriel Boicel. Together we scanned our bodies and ran the results through a cathode-ray tube. We decided to create something quite feverish, distorted and beautiful.
Your visual identity is also quite contradictory at times, juxtaposing nature and older methods of art, such as painting used as the cover of “A Little Disaster”, with a digital approach of hyper-augmenting your look such as in the music video for Call For Help. Talk us through that.
With all the visual aspects of Pearly Drops, we really try to embody what the music means and sounds like to us. Sonically, we think that both the past and the present are prominent in our songs, so to us it’s only natural to try to convey this in our visuals.
Being a musical duo who does everything from styling to press shoots, how do you two share the creative decisions and tasks?
When it comes to our press photos, social media content and such, Juuso definitely comes up with the majority of the ideas and concepts. He’s usually the stylist and does the editing for the photos, for example. But of course – like with all the other aspects of this project – it’s all teamwork in the end. We both need to be on board and have the final say in any decision. And honestly, it’s a lot of work to do all this by ourselves. But we try to keep the atmosphere as playful and not too serious as possible, and during the photoshoots we sometimes really feel like we’re kids again playing dress-up.
What does the song-making process look like? Does it usually start with the lyrics or the beats? Or does it change from song to song?
It definitely can change from song to song, but usually it starts with a riff or chords that evoke a strong emotion and feel catch to us. We really feel like we’re producers first, because we can’t even bother to proceed unless there’s first something interesting there productionwise.
You also both have a strong sense of fashion, both styles taking on oversized silhouettes, often wearing caps and shades. Do you see fashion as part of your artistic identity?
Yes, definitely! In the beginning when we started thinking about what our visual world would look like, we just basically went with the most straight route and turned to our own wardrobes. They contain years and years worth of research and second-hand finds. In our past and previous projects we have usually let others style us and build the concepts, but this time it felt somewhat empowering to just realize that we already had what we needed. Of course it helped that we have a quite wide selection of inspiring designer creations to go to. For example, from designers whose work and collections have made us look at fashion in a different way and in turn inspire our own artistry. We could mention Raf and Margiela, for example.
With already an album out, what do you hope to achieve this year?
Our next big step is to finally perform live. We’re currently preparing for a couple of summer festival shows in Finland. And who knows, we might even do a couple of gigs outside of Finland later this year.
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