Perfection is boring.

Do you remember that crush you had on your kindergarten teacher? She was maternal, tender, nurturing, lovely… Now multiply by three and let them softly sing in your ear; that’s what Mimie Moore, a refreshing, multi-talented, passionate trio of voices and unconventional instruments brings to the Helsinki music scene. Watch this clip first (if you haven’t), please:

Hello, Mimies! Tell a bit about your backgrounds, if you please?

Saana: I come from a very musical family. Almost everybody plays something, so when I was young I assumed there was no other option than to be a musician (laughs). I attended music school, and after high-school I went to Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. After that I worked with children and music, puppet theater, things like that. I was also singing in a choir (Grex Musicus) where I met Salla and we became friends. My main instrument was piano, and accordion interested me sound-wise, but singing felt like my own thing the most.

Elina: My musical career started with violin, which I played for, like, twelve years. I hated it (laughs). Both my parents played violin, so… I also played piano from third grade, and sang in a choir. Then in middle-school I took electric bass and started to play in bands. And then saxophone, which broke and that was the end of it (they all laugh). But yeah, I always liked singing, and in high school I studied jazz vocals and sang with a-cappella groups. I also come from a very musical family. A week ago it was my grandma’s 90th birthday, and it was pretty impressive to hear my twenty or so cousins, aunts and uncles singing, as everybody has been in one choir or another.

Salla: I started playing piano when I was five. We had our own piano at home but nobody played it, so I tried simple songs, by ear. My mom then sent me to piano lessons and the first two years were fun, but then I had a really rough teacher and that was… unpleasant. But I continued to play anyway and to sing in a choir, ’cos I love music… Singing has always been the thing for me. After high school I went to Sibelius Academy to study music. There I got into drums, which I love —in Mimie Moore I play a lot of percussion. So yeah, then I joined Grex Musicus, where I met Saana… (Elina’s baby wails at this point, demanding attention)

How old is the baby?

Elina: Five weeks.

Salla: We have been in two gigs already with him.

Saana: He quiets down when we play.

Or maybe you can’t hear him. (they laugh)

Tell about the origins of the band.

Saana: A couple of years ago we were talking with Salla about doing something musical on our own.

Salla: And I knew Elina, with who I had also talked about having a project like that…

Elina: At the time we were playing in bands that had mostly boy members, where it was really chaotic, ‘cos they themselves are in a gazillion bands, they are really busy, and there’s no time to practice… So the idea was to have a small, all-women trio, with vocals being the main thing, and unconventional instruments. I wanted to play my washtub base!

Salla: …and I wanted to play percussion instruments that are NOT instruments at all…

Saana: …and I have this accordion which is not my main instrument —I kinda taught myself to play it— so when I joined Mimie I decided that I wanted to play that, and learn it more…

Elina: And you have!

So MM is also a platform for your musical exploration.

ALL: Yeah!

Salla: So, we gathered two years ago before Xmas, to jam and start playing, see if anything cool happened. And it did! It turned out to be AWESOME! (they all laugh)

Elina: I guess it always starts so that we pick some song and then start working with the harmonies.

Saana: With vocals…

Elina: Yeah, we record something, then we go “naaah, this part’s not working…” and then we add instruments, to see what works. We change instruments a lot in this band…

Who composes the songs?

Saana: Elina does most of it.

Elina: We all do, everyone brings something in, but yeah. Also my friend Eric Bergman has written some songs that he let us play. But the arrangements we create together in our practice sessions.

Do you ever fight?

ALL: NO! (they laugh)

Salla: We usually talk a lot while creating the songs, what works, what doesn’t. We also go back to old songs that have gotten too “old” and modernize them, bring something new into them…

Elina: It’s good to keep things fresh.

Are there any albums out?

(they all sigh in unison)

Elina: We just recorded our first EP —which is five songs— and we’re waiting for the cover design to be ready… We got a record deal from a small company called Inka Records, and hopefully we’re going to have a full album before Xmas.

Salla: We have more time in the summer, to write and arrange things…

Will it come out in digital form, CD..?

Elina: Probably. We actually don’t know! (they laugh). But the full album will come out also in vinyl, that’s for sure.

That’s very retro. Very… organic.

Saana: Our music is pretty organic, considering the type of instruments we use, so an LP fits perfectly.

Let’s talk about the Mimie Moore persona.

Elina: We don’t know how it all started, but we knew we wanted a woman’s name for the band. So then we were trying different ones…

Saana: Something that sounded good.

Elina: Yeah, so we came up with Mimie Moore, which at first was spelled M-I-M-I…

Saana: But then we googled it and found out it was the name of a famous porn-star! (they laugh).

It kinda evokes Demi Moore, the Hollywood actress. Were you somehow thinking of her?

ALL: No, no, not at all.

Elina: So we liked the name, we wanted to keep it, so my husband said “why don’t you add an ‘E’ at the end, so it’s a different name?”

Plus you get the free boost off the adult entertainer. (laughter)

Elina: Then we created this story about her. Like, she’s this sensitive, but kinda wild, woman. Creative, wants to try new stuff…

Salla: And she’s funny. She’s not just a lady, she can be clownish too. And she thinks perfection is boring!

ALL: Yeah!

Elina: For example, if you go to a concert to listen to very academic musicians, it’s all so perfect, from beginning to end! No-one plays anything wrong, it can sometimes be very boring…

Saana: The playing can sometimes be very clinical, or even less charming.

I guess classical music is very traditional.

Elina: Yeah, for sure. But mistakes make music sound more lively, and… present. I like gigs where mistakes happen, stuff flies from a hand, things like that…

You like spontaneity. Do you girls ever jazz? Or do you improvise while you play?

(they reflect for a moment)

Saana: A little bit, yeah.

Elina: Kinda, yeah. I went to this jazz school for a while, Salla went too. From there I really started to love the chords of jazz. I love adding plus-fives and minus-fives and nines, elevens, and whatever. And not to have only clean chords but also jazzy ones. It has affected our music, definitely.

Salla: And I used to sing in a choir called Finnish Improvisation Choir (Suomen Improvisaatio Kuoro) which doesn’t exist anymore. We used to improvise everything.

Everything? There was not even a basic phrase? What did it sound like?

Salla: No phrases, nothing, just singing. Sometimes we used some techniques to start the music, for example “sing only with vocals” or “one person starts” but after that it could go anywhere, it could develop freely and wildly. Everything was created in the moment. It could come out jazzy, folksy, pop-like, classical, contemporary, sometimes traditional… It was a very interesting project, and it was very good for me. I’m not so nervous anymore when I’m on the stage, I go with the flow… And I have to thank the choir a lot for that.

Do you ever find the music scene in Finland too structured, perhaps?

Salla: Well, the music education in Finland puts the emphasis on the technical aspects, but little on the feeling of the music. You’ve got to figure that on your own.

Saana: Nowadays there are nice reforms in the music schools curriculums. More improvisation and composition, for example, which is good.

Elina: I feel that in the jazz and classical scenes the circles are pretty small. I mean, you’ve got twenty or so jazz musicians who all are playing in twenty bands! I’ve been a producer in a jazz festival, and while writing the line-ups of the bands I’m like “this guy is in this, and this, and this band, this other guy, etc…” Everyone is very skillful, but yeah, it can feel pretty structured sometimes, and you don’t see fresh faces coming out too often. But things have been changing recently. Lots of underground bands and mix of styles…

What type of music does Mimie Moore play?

Salla: It’s a mix of stuff. Blues, jazz, folk…

Elina: We don’t consciously choose a genre for the songs, we don’t say “it will be this or that way”. We just explore to get the feeling we want…

Saana: And then people come and say “ah, that sounds jazzy, or folksy” or something else.

Elina: …that’s why we’ve never been able to label our music. It would be easier for us, but we choose not to.

Is there an angle with the all-women lineup?

Elina: We have nothing against guys, we think they are awesome. (they laugh)

Saana: We’ve had male “guests” too!

Salla: And if we toured in Europe, or around the world, we’d take some guys with us!

As roadies, to carry the heavy stuff?

(they laugh) YEAH!

Salla: No, no, if we wanted a bigger sound.

Elina: We are not feminists or anything. I personally don’t care about that. And in Finland women are on pair with men, very independent, sometimes too much, in my opinion. Maybe it comes from the war, when men were away and women had to cope…

Projects for the future? A world tour?

Elina: Tours, yeah, absolutely… They are so cool, but take so much time to organize… Maybe now that we are with a label it will be (hopefully) easier, and we’ll also have more time to make songs.

Salla: Some theater project, maybe… We are really open-minded. And we talked about a band for children…

Saana: MINI MOORE! (they laugh, I do too)

This is Mimie Moore’s website, and this is their Facebook page.