In this blog post I’ll be going through each track from ’Quarantine Diaries’. Lots of interesting trivia and behind the scenes stuff, so grab a drink, put the EPs on and enjoy!
Hope (I Hate the Noise That Cars Make): First song of QD project was originally meant to be Melancholic Zombie track, but when I started working on the lyrics it began to feel something else – and I realized that it would fit Juho & the Jellyfish from Jupiter repertoire perfectly! Musically it’s inspired by Bon Jovi and 80s rock in general with some Red Vox and Mars Volta influences here and there. I had this new distortion/bow guitar pedal from Russian company Gamma which can be heard on almost every song on QD as it sounds perfect. The guitar solo is in fact played with a cola bottle! I think lyrics are pretty clear for anyone who listens them closely (hint: climate crisis).
Song for Myself: This song melted my computer and I couldn’t get it working for a while… ‘Song for Myself’ takes a lot of influences from Lordi’s music and it’s easily heaviest track I’ve ever released. Lyrics are reflecting on my own music making journey. It has some nice progressive rock things going on, but in the end it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. Verse bass lines are pretty good though.
Don’t Colour Inside the Lines: While my main computer was taking a break (…) I had to use some other tools to make music. So, as I am a professional, I went to the internet and created synths and drums for this track with BeepBox – it’s a free tool for making chiptunes and so on. At that point my Macbook magically recovered and I built a song over those synth and drum tracks. Using a lot of reverb and distortion/bow pedal I created some guitar layers that remind David Bowie’s “Heroes”. Lyrics were originally written for first version of ‘Dying Wish of the Jellyfish’ and are just weird dream-like sentences put together, and this is the only song I didn’t create brand new lyrics during the month I was working on it. It’s a simple song but at the same time it’s something I’ve always wanted to create. Unfortunately it feels a little bit out of place on QD EP but after all this is an experiment, not a product.
Waiting for the Rain (in This Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland): This name monster draws inspiration from Pale Waves’ ‘Who Am I?’ album and The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m in Love’. It has the most complex acoustic guitar parts I’ve written, though I have to admit that I created them layering many records over each other. I tried to keep this song “airy” with lots of sonic space for each instrument – it worked out pretty well. The growing tempo on synth solo was probably hardest thing to nail on QD I as I’ve never done anything quite like that. Lyrics are inspired by an art piece I saw, where two persons are playing onstruments on the roof with post-apocalyptic backdrop, so I created a little story around that. Once again, something new but pretty cool. Original lyrics were more personal and I might write song around them one day. Maybe. Anyway, this is one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written.
Boys Don’t Cry: Well, what can I say about this one? It’s pop punk! With some alternative rock influences. In fact this track started as a cover but soon enough it turned into its own thing. I dug out my old Boss DS-1 for this one and before I realized I was palying pop punk riffs, just like when DS-1 was my main distortion. So, that’s the story how this track became what it is. There’s some cool musical things going on, but I especially love the prechorus vocal melodies. And speaking about voccals, there’s those pop punk styled shouts(?) on verses, which give a lot of character. Lyrics are pretty clear, fuck toxic masculinity and so on, though I wasn’t sure if I am able to put out track with suvh a harsh language. But I’m happy that I did, because the message wouldn’t really come out otherwise. Did I already say fuck toxic masculinity?
Not Dead Yet (What Am I Doing Here?): This is a weird one. It’s mostly composed as a tango with a heavy metal C part and umm… It’s weird. Drums in this track are only ones in the whole QD that eere not made using Garageband’s drummer function. Instead I build them by hand, beat by beat. Haven’t really done that since the first MZ recording back in 2013. Distorted and flangy bass sound was inspired by Muse, which I finally have grown to like a little bit (but that’s a whole other story!). On guitars I tried to do something else than piäower chords that I usual tend to play, and chorus guitar parts ended up pretty cool sounding in my opinion. This is also a good demonstration of things you can do with EHX Memory Boy delay as it’s heavily used throughout this track. Lyrically ‘Not Dead Yet’ is a dreamy, not really drawing inspiration anywhere except maybe there’s some Dante’s Inferno and Edgar Allan Poe there.
Woah, we’re halfway there! QUARANTINE DIARIES was originally going to be a full length 12-track album, but as my vinyl distributor only allows about 20 minutes for one side and Chapter I was already over 30 minutes I decided to cut it in half and create two EPs instead. Now we begin our dive into Chapter II, which is very different compared to the first one…
End of the Consumer Society: After finishing Chapter I I really didn’t know where to go next. In the end an instrumental song felt like a right choice as I’ve already made few of those for ‘Ecostrophe’. This gave me a lot of headaches – original track I created was using only synths, but it felt too different (and then it became MZ’s ‘Birds I & II’ so…). After listening some Nightwish I came to conclusion that I need to create my own version of instrumental NW songs, and thus ‘End of the Consumer Society’ was born. Violin changed to synth, I created a heavy riff and took some inspiration and guidance from compositions of ‘Moondance’ and ‘Last of the Wilds’, and putting all these things together made this track what it is. Once again, kinda out of place on Chapter II but it has some cool moments that I’m really proud of.
Ghost: Longest song on QD. I wanted to do a track that’s more progressive and not so tightly structured – something like songs on ‘Ordinary Living Dead’ EP which showcases what I originally wanted to do with Juho & the Jellyfish from Jupiter. ‘Ghost’ was created by jamming with guitar and then putting those ideas together to create a track. I got to even use the weird whale noises KMA Audio Machines Astrospurt Phaser creates! Improvisation was the main focus with this track, as I felt little bit limited when working on Chapter I tracks. This can be heard at the ending solo which is in fact to different improvised guitar solos played over each other. At first it was supposed to be only “one” solo but the recording got corrupted and I had to do some trickery… I also really love mildly distorted drum sound I managed to create. Lyrics are inspired by Extinction Rebellion’s protests in Helsinki and climate crisis situation in general. The chorus has a little lyrical nod for Mars Volta’s ‘Miranda That Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore’. Great track, if I say so myself.
“Let’s Party Like It’s the End of the World”: Lordi released a disco song –> I released a disco song. Coincidence? I don’t think so. If ‘Ghost’ was jam based, this one is crafted very carefully. It has a story, which is being told through the musical structure – there are dance parts, moments with only synth playing, riffs etc. There are even some musical nods to songs from Jonathan Coulton and Linkin Park. Can you spot them? Mix is pretty wide and open, “alive” even, as I tried to give every instrument it’s own sonic space. Lyrics are about animal cruelty, funnily enough – though in this story animal finally had enough and are giving back. Lyrics are one of the better ones I’ve written and this whole track is pretty good, maybe even the best one on QD! Then again, ranking music is pretty stupid (except in Eurovision. That’s only place where it works somehow).
If You: In September I wanted to do a scary song for Halloween. I took some inspiration from horror soundtracks and made the intro, which then turned into C part of ‘If You’. First version of this song was very different with that horror tune being the main focus and the whole track was 8-9 minutes long! But I realized it was kinda boring, so I did some changes – there was pretty good riff which I then chose to be the main thing. And then I build the song again around it. I like this version better – it’s pretty straight forward track with clear focus on the chorus and melodic hooks. As with every other song on Chapter II, I recorded vocals with different microphone than on the previous EP which have very unique sound and it can be heard best on this track. Whole vocal performance is probably best one on QD I managed to achieve in general! Lyrics are mildly inspired by whole quarantine and pandemic situation, but they are pretty timeless still. I personally like some them a much, especially line “every turn of a page of the favourite book keeps away the blues”. I’m proud of that one.
I spend some time recording a music video for this track too and it’s pretty good in my opinion – captures the vibe of song perfectly.
Leftover Melancholy: My personal favourite from QD. This one started with the “riff” and everything else came pretty naturally. There’s nothing fancy going on except maybe some deep vocal layers. ‘Leftover Melancholy’ is dirty and rough, just like post punk song should be. There’s in fact two mixes available right now, original one with heavily reverb vocals (can be found from Youtube) and the one on EP, in which reverbs are not so big and vocals are more clear. I really like the C part of this track. And that’s it – it’s a very simple song as I said.
(This Doesn’t Have to Be) The End: Well, I borrowed chord progression from Tonight Alive to make this one. As Chapter II didn’t have any acoustic guitar action going on I decided to take that as one of the main focuses of the sound and built everything else around that. And to be honest, ‘The End’ is perfect ending for whole QD project as it showcases many of the skills I learned during making these two EPs – it’s where I am musically right now. And I really like the part between second and last chorus where there are only synths doing synth stuff. It’s weird, melancholic and beautiful. Lyrics have a hidden meaning, can you catch it? I lost my voice few days before recording vocals and it’s a miracle that I managed to sing anything at all – though I think that pressure of must getting it right on first time gave vocals some charm.
That’s all ‘Quarantine Diaries’ stuff for now! Hope you found it interesting. Which of the 2 EPs or which track you liked the most? Tell me (or don’t, it’s okay).
I dont know if theres going to be any new Juho & the Jellyfish from Jupiter music this year – it depends. I might create and release some single tracks but I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna start working on new album or EP for a while.
‘Ordinary Living Dead’ EP is going get vinyl release at some point by the way. And speaking of vinyls, I really hope you get QD vinyls (or CDs) as I spend a lot of time working on music and artwork. I know they’re quite expensive but on the other hand vinyls last and you’ll always have the music. Holding a real record on your hands is pretty cool, abd maybe it inspires you to give these EPs few more spins than what they would get on Bandcamp etc.