Written by Joanne Pollock for Roland Canada
I fell in love with the JUNO-106 while working on the first Poemss album. At the time I was relatively new to using synthesizers, and I gravitated toward it initially because it was easy to use, and not at all intimidating. (As is the way with most keyboard synths from that time, all the parameters you need are right on the front panel. Incredible!) The JUNO is all over that album – not just because it sounds amazing, but because through the overwhelming experience of recording a first album, it was a source of comfort. I knew I could make beautiful sounds easily, and it would sound great on any song. In Gentle Mirror in particular we used it for some really emphatic chords throughout the song.
When I moved in to making more of my own solo music, it remained my go-to synth. As I started to sing frequently in my songs, I would turn to it for more muted chords to back up my vocal melodies. I also tend to like to use a lot of woozy, detuned chords to lend depth and interest to more straight sounding parts. In the song Farewell To My Thoughts from my EP Optimist, almost the entire song is made from the JUNO, including both the backwards-sounding modulated chords and the melodic line happening in the instrumental.
One thing I love to do as a producer is layer different synth sounds on top of each other. Stacking up different types of synthesis is such an easy way to create interesting new sounds in a track. It’s easy to highlight certain elements that you like of a certain sound, and provide what they lack with another sound from a different synth. I find myself often adding a bright, lightly filtered JUNO note or chord on top of a sound that is interesting but needs more emphasis. The textures you can get this way are amazing! In River Flood specifically, at the very beginning of the second verse (1:19) you can hear the sparkly brightness of the JUNO on top of a more flat sounding, low digital synth sound. Contrasted with the beginning of the first verse (0:26), which is exactly the same sound but without the JUNO, you can hear a big difference. It’s amazing how layering sounds can completely change their impact!
Though I now have quite a few synths, I can’t imagine ever not having my JUNO. It was definitely my first synth love, and though there have been others since, none have quite that special place in my heart. There are certainly synthesizers that are more complex, but in my opinion there are few that sound as good! I realize now that the simplicity of the JUNO-106 belies the incredible versatility and beautiful sound of this instrument.