There’s no one quite like Johanna Juhola; nimble-fingered accordion virtuoso and multi-faceted composer, she blazes her own colourful trail, breezing blithely across style borders and genre barriers with a captivating mix of musical excellence and engaging charm.
Her compositions blend the parallel worlds of Argentinian and Finnish tango, following the latter’s path into the melancholic soul of Finnish folk, emerging into the sunlight with uplifting flirtations with pop music and innovative excursions into electronica. Her multi-textured sound-stories are inspired by such imaginative themes as a limping tango dancer, a love affair between a driver and his seductive sat-nav, the singing of whales or simply feeling like a hippo on the dance-floor.
A well-known persona on the Finnish music scene through her influential involvement with bands such as Tango-orkesteri Unto, Las Chicas del Tango, Troka and Spontaani Vire, duo collaborations with Timo Alakotila, Pekka Kuusisto and Milla Viljamaa, music for theatre, circus, film and television as well as at the helm of her own projects, she maintains an impressively busy work schedule; an indefatigable explorer of her instrument’s potential.
Her explorations began at an early age when a close encounter with the wheezing bellows and shiny surfaces of a button accordion prompted her to give up her piano lessons and take on the task of mastering this singular instrument. In 2000, aged 22, she won first prize with the Novjaro Quintet at the International Astor Piazolla Competition. Two years later she won another Astor Piazolla prize in her duo with fellow Sibelius Academy student and future long-term collaborator Milla Viljamaa, leading to their joint debut album ‘Piazolla Passage’. 2006 saw her joining acclaimed contemporary-classical-traditional folk ensemble Troka on their ‘Raharinki’ CD and the release of her debut solo album, ‘Miette’, which brought her composing skills to wider attention. In 2007 millions of viewers around the world saw her performing her specially commissioned composition ‘Fantasiatango’ at the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki. The same year saw the release of the second Duo Milla Viljamaa & Johanna Juhola album, as well as titles from Las Chicas del Tango and the Timo Alakotila & Johanna Juhola Duo.
Her prolific output continues to this day, including acclaimed albums with Finn-folk supergroup Spontaani Vire; the boisterously ethereal experimental ‘music without shame’ collaboration, Kraft, with violin maestro Pekka Kuusisto; her participation in Timo Alakotila´s ‘Concerto for Free-Bass Accordion and Chamber Orchestra’ and Finnish tango revivalists Tango-orkesteri Unto and, last but never least, further shaping her own original style on her own albums – Fantasiatango 1, Tango Roto Live and Fantasiatango 2 – and international touring with Johanna Juhola Reaktori and Johanna Juhola Trio.