Pearly Drops: Finnish nature imagery and DIY indie hits

Helsinki-based indie duo Pearly Drops was born when two experienced musicians and producers, Juuso Malin and Sandra Tervonen, decided to make 2010s-style pop music entirely on their own terms.

Pearly Drops, which is steadily gathering fans and popping up on playlists, seems to have appeared out of nowhere – but the Finnish duo has a long history of making music together.

The roots of the band go back to Juuso Malin's previous band Femme en Fourrure, which was active from 2008 to 2018 and which Sandra Tervonen joined in 2013. Malin and Tervonen founded Pearly Drops as a solution to a situation where they no longer felt inspired to make music under their previous project. They wanted to consolidate their sprawling discography and develop a new type of band concept from scratch. Pearly Drops' first songs were released in 2019, with their debut album Call for Help released the following year.

“Before this band, there were even times when I felt like I didn't even want to make music anymore. Everything I’d done before seemed uninspiring; everything that was the opposite seemed interesting. For example, something analogue and organic. Then I started playing guitar during the pandemic. Something started to resonate and give me an incentive to write more songs, even though we didn't originally think that there would be guitars on this project,” Tervonen recalls.

“I think we’d been in too tight a box about how things are done. But there were things we were both still inspired by, so we decided to invent a whole new set of rules. In a way, this is indie music, but I don't think we’re creating any kind of really difficult, introverted music in that genre, although there are moments like that in between. However, the structure of the songs is quite pop,” Malin explains.

A super-enthusiastic fan base, found by chance

After their first album, Pearly Drops began to gain playlist visibility and streams internationally. Cascine Records from Los Angeles signed them, and the band began to play club gigs and industry events in the US.

“The first album was completely self-released, but it was a success on its own, which was quite a surprise. It felt great to see that there was enough interest and an audience – even superfans,” Tervonen tells.

“There was no big plan behind it. When the record company contacted us and persuaded us to get involved, we were just interested in trying it out. But then the first club gigs in Los Angeles were a crazy experience since the audience clearly wanted a piece of us. That was surreal compared to Amsterdam or Brussels, where the audiences are more reserved,” says Malin.

In Pearly Drops' music, traditional indie and electropop is dressed up in the colours of contemporary hyperpop with 90s influences. There are strong pop-history references including more traditional British 4AD bands or New Order, even American grunge riffs. The band particularly appeals to young audiences, but as Sandra and Juuso see it, the music is easily approachable for mature indie audiences, too.

Maybe we're first and foremost producers, even though we write and perform these songs at the same time – Juuso Malin

“The audience has been pretty young. We saw that in the reactions to the gigs we played in 21-and-over venues, asking why the minimum age was so high – although that was beyond our control. Based on Instagram feedback, we also notice that there are older fans hanging out in the back row,” Tervonen says.

Both members both compose and write lyrics. Their roles vary. Sandra and Juuso are both professional producers, and refining their sounds and the overall image of their albums is important to them. That’s obvious in the results. In 2023, Call for Help's successor, A Little Disaster, came out. With the new album, they aimed to create a more coherent, consistent sound, after trying out different approaches and styles on the debut.

“Quite often the production comes first. Maybe we're first and foremost producers, even though we write and perform these songs at the same time,” admits Tervonen.

“With Pearly Drops, I started doing more mixing. I felt like I wanted to concentrate more and spend more time on that. We’ve thought the end result through more; there’s a lot of fine-tuning,” Malin tells.

Stylish on their own terms

The overall vision extends to the band’s carefully considered image and look. Album covers, photographs, styling, fashion and live performances, including the lights, are all important to them. During the pandemic, Sandra started painting covers for the band. The duo uses Finnish nature imagery, for instance, as a way of standing out on social media. They try to pick up their fans' wishes and respond to feedback as much as they can.

“What’s different about Pearly Drops is that we do almost everything ourselves. In our previous band, all the videos, covers, pictures were always done by different people. We realised that if you do all this yourself as well as you can, it feels more personal and says more about you as an artist,” Malin recounts.

The style and look are almost half – or at least an integral – part of the band – Sandra Tervonen

“I feel like the style and look are almost half – or at least an integral – part of the band. We think it's important to think about what we wear at gigs, the styling, the promo pics and so on. The fact that we do everything ourselves has also helped me realise how much time and energy it takes to do it all, so I’ve learned to appreciate these things more,” says Tervonen.

The band is currently working on their third album. Once again, it may be something completely different from its predecessors. The band envisions it as a smaller, more compact entity, maybe with acoustic sounds and more stripped-down expression. Their only concrete wish is to complete the album more quickly than the previous one – so it's just a matter of time before we hear more from Pearly Drops.



Pearly Drops on Spotify

Listen to Pearly Drops' music on Spotify.

"A Little Disaster" on Apple Music

Stream Pearly Drops' latest album "A Little Disaster" (Cascine, 2023) on Apple Music.