Johanna Elina Sulkunen invokes imaginary landscapes with her voice, electronics and a stellar ensemble on the new album Terra

    Johanna Elina Sulkunen – voc & compositions
    Pernille Kristianssen – violin
    Mika Persdotter – viola
    Nicole Hogstrand – cello

    Carolyn Goodwin – sax, clarinet
    Francesco Bigoni – sax, clarinet
    Henrik Pulz Melbye – sax, clarinet
    Anders Filipsen- keys
    Anders Vestergaard – drums

    With the second part of her trilogy with the solo project Sonority, the Finnish experimental vocalist creates a global vision while being trapped in Copenhagen, and invites the listener to question our modern life and its often destructive relation to nature.

    Ironically, in a time where the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us into involuntary isolation, vocalist and experimental composer Johanna Elina Sulkunen was forced to abandon her plan of isolating herself in a small cottage in Iceland to create her new album, Terra. Her intention was to make field recordings in the Icelandic nature and use them as part of her work with the follow-up to her acclaimed album, Koan (2018) – an album which was based on field recordings from Japanese Buddhist temples. Instead, due to the pandemic, the Copenhagen-based Finnish musician was in isolation in her own home studio with a bunch of electronics and acoustic recordings from the studio. Here she had to draw inspiration from imaginary landscapes and Copenhagen skies instead in her thematic exploration of how the voice resonates with nature.

    Then again, this plot twist in the making of the new album – the second part of a planned trilogy from her solo project Sonority – seems to tap into some urgent themes that are also reflected in Sulkunen’s work. As she says about the ideas behind the album: “In the times of a worldwide pandemic with all its social implications, the acceleration of climate change and the significance of mass-scale globalization has led many to question their values and the current modern way of living. Not least, myself.”

    Not only did Koan define a vocal electro acoustic space accompanied by field recordings from Buddhist temples. As the title suggests, the album was also an interpretation of Zen Buddhist koan texts. An exploration of the paradoxical wisdom of the koan, but also composing from their phonetic qualities. By breaking language into pieces she discovered sonic qualities as material for compositions and improvisations for voice and electronics.

    On Terra she continues the work with Zen Buddhism and the koan as well as her own lyrics, but she expands her musical space considerably and explores the transformation of the vocal language into instruments such as strings, horns and drums, letting the qualities of texts lead to the result. To achieve this, she has invited an extraordinary and international team of musicians along for the journey – with musicians such as Carolyn Goodwin, Francesco Bigoni, Henrik Pulz Melbye, Anders Vestergaard and the acclaimed string ensemble Halvcirkel joining her on the sessions while post production was done by Aske Zidore.


    2018 Johanna Elina Sulkunen launched a new project, this time as a SOLO, called Sonority. The project invites a multilayered journey of sounds of a human voice mixed with electronics and touching on life’s big questions. The name of the album, Kōan means paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.

    All the sounds on the album are based on vocal sounds and field recordings from Japanese Buddhist temples and manipulation of them– electronically. Johanna traveled to Japan in 2016 to record in temples and collect sounds. In her words: “I had to contextualize the text and the project that I’m working with somehow. I also wanted to record the sounds and objects in the temples to create music with the surroundings” Says Johanna.

    Rather than concentrating on the storytelling, language has been used as a tool. It has been broken into pieces exposing the poetics of a sonic material of letters, syllables, and words and revealing an infinite source of sound-based composition and improvisation.

    Concentrating on sound has opened a lot of doors for me as a composer and vocalist. The ‘liberation of sound’ is not a new statement, but with my background as a so-called ‘jazz vocalist’ the use of electronics and the more sound-based composing combined with the full autonomy in solo playing has been a personal liberation for me!” states Johanna.

    Along with her jazz background, some of the biggest influences for the project shine through in the album. Among them; Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros, and on the other hand electronic musicians like Ikue Mori and Holly Herndon. The result is a special combination of music concrete, improvised vocals and contemporary classical music mixed with jazz influences. Human vocal sounds and electronic sounds create a symbiosis where electronics become embodied in the human body and voice becomes electric.



    Album “Belonging” was nominated as a Danish Music Award jazz vocal album of the year 2016.

    Johanna Elina Sulkunen – vocals, compositions
    Anders Filipsen (Dk)- synths
    Henrik Olsson (Se) – guitar
    Håkon Berre (No) – drums

    Johanna Elina continues to cultivate her style […] Denmark based singer/songwriter with a jazz background is even more fearless and abstract than before” […] in the outstanding expression of the voice, that plays along with a small group- keys, guitar, and drums – that has played and produced in many layers. ” – Helsingin Sanomat. Finland.


    Her debut album”Our Garden” was released in 2011 with an exquisite response. There were altogether 11 musicians appearing on the album, among them August Rosenbaum (DK) on piano, international names like Francesco Bigoni (ITA) on saxophone, Joel Illerhag (SE) on bass and Håkon Berre (NOR) on drums. With an open mind towards different musical expressions, the music can be described as modern alternative jazz.

    About Our Garden

    “… Johanna Elina opens her debut album in superior fashion, full of originality and feeling of the simple melody and a cream of the crop accompaniment from the orchestra around her.” – Christian Munch-Hansen. Politken.DK

    Exciting new voice on the Danish jazz scene is bidding fall welcome with a confident and compassionate debut… that goes against the institutional jazz diva affectations, and gives space for independent and original songwriting.” – Geiger. DK

    “Johanna Elina has set an ambitious and high standard. It is music with depth, which insists on being listened to.” Jazz Nytt, DK.

  • IKI

    IKI is boiling intuition and EXPLODING improvisation! It evolves and transforms singing, and brings it into new, uncharted territories. Johanna has been a member and a co-leader in a democratic improvising group IKI since the beginning in 2009.

    The acclaimed and DMA-winning band IKI consists of 5 female vocalists from Denmark, Norway, and Finland. In March 2018 IKI released their third studio album ORACLE. It was produced by and electronic artist Mike Sheridan, adding new sound layers of mysticism into their experimental, hypnotic sonic universe. The album was nominated as the ‘Special Release of the Year’ and ‘Best Vocal Jazz Release of the Year’ in the Danish Music Awards 2018.

    Working with the voice as the main instrument and improvisation as their artistic tool IKI has toured most of Europe since 2010. By the use of electronic machines and pedals, they manipulate their voices live on stage. IKI has released the albums ‘IKI’ 2011, ‘LAVA’ in 2014, and the EP ‘DEW’ in 2016. IKI’s 3rd album ‘ORACLE’ was released in March 2018. Their visual world is built around masks designed by a London-based Damselfrau.



    Johanna Sulkunen – voc/composition
    Randi Pontoppidan – voc/composition
    Guro Tveitnes – voice
    Anna Mose – voice
    Kamilla Kovacs – voice
    Carolyn Goodwin – bass clarinet
    Pauline Hogstrand -viola
    Anne Anderson – trompet
    Ida Bach Jensen- double bass
    Maria Dybbroe – sax


    Johanna Sulkunen (voc/composition)
    Tapani Toivanen (bass/composition)
    Simon Toldam (piano,synths)
    Olavi Louhivuori (drums)


    Legendary free jazz trumpet player and ECM artist, Tomasz Stańko, with a group of younger highly accomplished musicians from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Poland. The Group played its first tour in Denmark during the Copenhagen Vinter Jazz Festival 2016 and received praise in the media and a sold-out concert in Copenhagen Jazz House.

    Tomasz Stanko (Pl) – trumpet
    Tomasz Dabrowski (Pl) – trumpet
    Snorri Sigurðarson (Is) – trumpet
    Thomas Hass (Dk) – tennor sax
    Johanna Sulkunen (Fi) – vocal
    Artur Tuznik (Pl) – piano
    Martin Fabricius (Dk) -vibes
    Stian Svenson (No) – guitar
    Richard Anderson (Dk) – bass
    Radek Wosko (Pl) -drums

    Read the reviews here:

    5 stars for The Tomasz Stanko Experience from Berlingske Tidende Review Berlinske Tiderne

    4 Hearts review for The Tomasz Stanko Experience from Politiken. “Strength of the concert was the democratic nature, where intensive listening played a big role… Johanna Elina Sulkunen spread out her voice also appeared with Dadaist cascades and also added text to her singing in her
    beautiful composition ‘Circles’


    Johanna Sulkunen – voice
    Aki Rissanen – piano/ synths
    Joonas Leppänen – drums