Millennium Falck is the brainchild of Helsinki-based producer Juha Petteri Falck. His songs and visuals are the stories of future world. Juha Falck has 20 years of experience in various genres of music production, but last year he started a solo project.
Karl Magi: In general, what first sparked your passion for making music?
Millennium Falck: My dad and my brother are also musicians, so music kind of runs in the family. I think that the pivotal moment for me was when my brother showed me a program called Screen Tracker 3 around 1994. It changed the way that I perceived music making. Before that, I was just playing guitar and singing.
I have to give big respect to my brother because he got me into computer music. He brought me into the electronic music world, even though he was more of a black metal guy. In Finland, it’s quite common to be into black metal. I haven’t gone through a black metal phase in my life! Still, my brother is very important to what I am today.
photo: Alexander Patouchas
I’ve always enjoyed making different styles of music. I’ve done rap music, country music, folk, electro-pop and instrumental. You name it, I’ve done it. I think that passion keeps on going because now I can truly create whatever I want.
Another pivotal moment came in 2002 when I bought my first music-making program. I had all the sounds that I could imagine at my fingertips, so I could boost my imagination and start creating whatever I wanted.
KM: What are the elements of synthwave draw you into creating that style of music?
MF: I wanted to make a story-based project with Millennium Falck. Millennium Falck is the main character who lives in Neo Helsinki in the year 2080. I wanted to take a bit of a different approach to music. The current synthwave scene relies heavily on ‘80s nostalgia. I’m an ‘80s kid and I love everything related to the ‘80s, but I also wanted to bring in the futuristic side of things.
Synth-based music is a great way to create worlds — I’m only limited by my imagination.
KM: Are there any particular artists you’d say have been influential to how you approach music?
MF: Freddy Mercury and Queen were a big influence for me. They had the attitude that they didn’t want to compromise anything. One thing, especially about Queen, is that they could transform the way that they did music. If I think about Bohemian Rhapsody and then I think about Radio Gaga, they’re from completely different worlds but people still love them.
If I think about Coldplay, I used to love them when they did old school Britpop, but when they started going to a more synthesized sound I actually didn’t like it anymore. With Queen, it didn’t happen. Even when they started making more synth-based music, it was like, “This is still Queen!”. When the Bohemian Rhapsody movie came out, it was just like being a kid again and finding Queen’s greatest hits in your dad’s record collection.
From the Finnish music scene, there is this band called The Crash. They also had a big impact on me because English can be hard to pronounce for Finnish speakers, so we’ve had artists that sing in what we call ‘Rally English’*.
There were some bands that came out back in the ‘90s. When The Crash came out, their lead singer sounded like he was from England. It was totally mind-blowing. It was like, “Oh my god! This Finnish guy is singing in English and he is so convincing!” I’ve always enjoyed singing more in English than Finnish.
From the synthwave scene, Mitch Murder has been a huge inspiration to me. When I heard his music for the Kung Fury movie, it was also a pivotal moment. I started to understand that there was actually this growing scene with a nostalgia for the ‘80s that I could truly attach myself to.
KM: In general, how does creating new music work for you?
MF: My approach is usually to use my imagination. It’s a bit hard to explain because it’s an internal process. I see the song in my head before I start a project. It’s like I’m staring at a wall and even though I know that I’m staring at a wall, somehow I can actually see what the song will look like and hear what it’ll sound like.
When I come back from that mood and start touching the keyboard, the song starts to come out as I imagined it. It’s a bit of a cinematic way of composing music.
I’ve done a lot of music for short films and in that case, the director gives me three to five adjectives describing the mood of the scene, so I’ve tried to implement that into my creative process. I think about if the song’s going to be dark or light if it’s going to be in space or Neo Helsinki. I like to let my imagination loose and see what happens. It’s been working for me until now.
KM: Tell me more about The Kallio Mixtapes 2080 Vol I. Where did the idea for it originate?
MF: Kallio is a district in Helsinki. It’s a part of the Neo Helsinki story that I’m creating. I really wanted to give each district of the city it’s distinct sound and mood in Neo Helsinki. Kallio has been voted the most hipster place in Finland multiple times and I work there on a daily basis, so it’s a headquarters for my daily activities.
That’s why I wanted to make Kallio the first place when I created this atmospheric EP. It’s a soundtrack for the district of Kallio in 2080. The group that lives there is called CyberYuccies — a mix of ‘90s yuppie culture and cyber enthusiasts. I got kind of a Daft Punk feeling about those guys and if you listen to the EP, I think that you can spot a bit of the Daft Punk-ish sound.
KM: Where do you want to take your musical career in the future?
MF: There’s a lot of ambition going on with Millennium Falck. One thing I want to do is make Neo Helsinki a virtually real kind of place at some point. I started studying the Unreal Engine. I’ve also been doing 3D modeling for ten years, but with this new technology, I could perhaps create a Neo Helsinki in 3D. So, you just could put on VR goggles and visit it.
If this all goes through as I’m planning, you could go into Kallio in Neo Helsinki and step into a disco where you could listen to the Kallio mixtapes and see how it looks in real life.
Basically, it’s creating a Blade Runner world of my own, but it’s Neo Helsinki.
On top of that, I have the Kallio Mixtapes Vol.II already moving forward and four or five singles coming out that will be more of the traditional synthwave sound. I also have a darker cyberpunk EP coming out that will tell the story of the darker side of Neo Helsinki.
KM: What’s your assessment of how synthwave music is doing as a genre?
MF: The synthwave scene is growing by the day. There are so many new artists coming up and so much good music coming out, so I’m truly happy to be a part of the #synthfam as we call it on Twitter. It’s funny because I’ve been doing music at least semi-professionally for twenty years and in so many different genres, but synthwave is truly the first genre where I’ve encountered a really warm and welcoming atmosphere.
There are lots of people my age getting into a nostalgic mood watching movies on VHS, playing games on Commodore and Atari computers and hooking up with friends by actually meeting them instead of sending them a message. I think we’re looking back and thinking how cool that time really was.
I really want to tell other artists in the genre that we need to keep it open and welcoming instead of becoming hostile. Also, hope that the new artists and producers coming up into the genre will keep it fresh and try new mashups of genres, otherwise, we’ll just end up with endless playlists of arpeggios.
KM: How do you refresh yourself creatively?
MF: Music is my way of keeping myself sane. After a hard day’s work, it’s great to get on the computer and start creating another world. Sometimes it wears you down though. I get what I call ‘post-gig/release depression’ after a concert or a release where I get two or three days of total emptiness afterward. Those days are super hard.
Luckily I also have gaming as a release. I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid. Sitting with my PS4 is my way of refreshing myself. Even one hour of gaming keeps me refreshed and takes me to another world.
*Rally English is a stereotypical Finnish English accent. The term comes from Finnish rally drivers who would often speak with this accent when interviewed.