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Villa Nah and the Case of the 80's Revival

East-Helsinki childhood pals Juho Paalosmaa and Tomi Hyyppä make the kind of pure electronic pop that current chart acts could only dream of.

Stylewise, Villa Nah on Sahko Recordings exude an 80’s cool, not pastiche or tongue-in-cheek like Preston, Little Boots et al. Eschewing software and sample loops, it’s a genuine synth soundscape-fest with constant referencing to bands like Heaven 17 and New Order. Dazed meet up with Keys Of Life’s new protégés at Helsinki’s Flow Festival.

Dazed Digital: You’ve worked together musically since childhood. How do you complement each other?
Juho Paalosmaa: We’re a combination of two opposites - Tomi listens to complex IDM, I like writing melodies. Tomi knows how to reroute a midi controller onto a 101 sequencer, I ask myself 'How do you turn this thing on again?'
 
DD: What about aesthetically?
Juho Paalosmaa: I’m more obsessed with pop music. Tomi’s experimental.
Tomi Hyyppä: Everything from indie rock to all this ambient, pure techno...
Juho Paalosmaa: Plus we used to play in rock bands, like Breekbaar and Colors.
 
DAZED: You can’t really hear the rock influence in your new stuff.
Juho Paalosmaa: No! We gave up playing guitars because we weren’t very good. But we have a rock mentality - we don’t really use software like a lot of other electronic acts. We’re playing instruments.
 
DD: Was it a conscious decision to move into throwback 80's electronic music?
Juho Paalosmaa: The 80's part not really. We kind of discovered making electronic music because of Tomi’s dad who had a synthesizer... we got fond of the sound. It’s just that synthesizers automatically have an 80's sound.
 
DD: Electronic music as an umbrella genre at the minute is really saturated. Did you turn to it, noticing how successful it is?
Juho Paalosmaa: No, we actually have been making this kind of music before the 80s scene became big again, maybe it helped us get noticed though?
 
DD: So what do you do differently to the other guys, is there anything specifically unique?
Tomi Hyyppä: The big difference is that we don’t really do this tongue-in-cheek.
 
DD: The people you’re compared to – British electronics like Human League – are they influences?
Juho Paalosmaa:  We do appreciate these bands.
 
DD: So it’s a compliment that people see these similarities?
Juho Paalosmaa: Absolutely, because that music was of such a high standard, iconic. People still sing these songs. People who loved and grew up with it are putting us in the same bracket – it’s definitely a compliment.
 
DD: What are you working on at the minute?
Tomi Hyyppä: Shows, shows, shows...
 
DD: And the album?
Juho Paalosmaa: After the shows that’s gonna be our main priority. It will surprise. It will show a different side to us, using elements that we haven’t been able to give to the live shows yet. At the gigs we try to make it party music, but when we jam, and in the record, there’s these ambient pieces made of sweeping sounds, that are not really pop songs. I’m a big film fan, and we want to take that idea of creating a place, an image, making music that belongs to somewhere.
Tomi Hyyppä: We just want to take all this stuff out of our heads and make it as good as it can.
 
DD: Five years down the line will you have moved onto a different sound?
Juho Paalosmaa: Change happens in such a way that you don’t even notice it happening. It doesn’t happen quickly.
Tomi Hyyppä: But it won’t change for market trends.
 
DD: Why did you pick Flow Festival to showcase your new work?
Juho Paalosmaa: Because it’s the only Finnish music festival that doesn’t champion death metal.
 
DD: What is that about? All the Finnish people I’ve met are very stable, calm, centred people.
Juho Paalosmaa: On the surface yes. But they have an inbuilt repressed depression born of not having sunshine for like, 8 months of the year. Come back in January when everybody’s suicidal.