Architecture in Helsinki

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Architecture in Helsinki
A six member group is on stage. At the left a woman is standing behind keyboards, further back is a man with a long beard playing guitar and he is half turned in right profile. At the back of the stage is a man singing and playing an instrument, beside him a seated man with a short beard is playing drums. At stage front is a man singing and playing guitar and then a man in right profile playing a guitar.
Architecture in Helsinki performing in Helsinki, August 2007.
L–R: Kellie Sutherland, Jamie Mildren, Gus Franklin, James Cecil, Cameron Bird and Sam Perry.
Background information
OriginFitzroy, Victoria, Australia
GenresIndie pop
Years active2000 (2000)–2018
LabelsTrifekta, Bar/None, Tailem Bend, Moshi Moshi, Polyvinyl, Scotland Yard, Co-Operative, Modular, Downtown
Past membersCameron Bird
Gus Franklin
Sam Perry
Kellie Sutherland
Jamie Mildren
Ben Donnan
James Cecil
Isobel Knowles
Tara Shackell

Architecture in Helsinki were an Australian indie pop band which consisted of Cameron Bird, Gus Franklin, Jamie Mildren, Sam Perry, and Kellie Sutherland. The band released five studio albums before going on hiatus: Fingers Crossed (2003), In Case We Die (2005), Places Like This (2007), Moment Bends (2011), and Now + 4eva (2014). The band has been inactive since 2018.


Formation and Fingers Crossed (2000–2003)[edit]

Architecture in Helsinki developed from a short-lived high school music experiment in Albury, New South Wales, by childhood friends Cameron Bird (lead singer), Jamie Mildren and Sam Perry. By 1999, the trio had moved to the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, where they used the name Architecture in Helsinki for Bird's first collection of self-penned songs. Bird got the new band's name after cutting up a newspaper and re-arranging words.[1] They played a small number of gigs before going into hiatus.[2] In 2000, while studying photography at art school, Bird met James Cecil, the two developed a musical connection and within months Cecil joined the band on drums.[2] Around that time Bird took up guitar, he also met Kellie Sutherland at a party and invited her to play clarinet for the band.[2][3]

The five-member group began to work on their debut album, Fingers Crossed, at Super Melody World, Cecil's recording studio built in a church hall in a south-eastern suburb.[2][3] Recording was halted when Bird left for an extended holiday in the US, leaving the album unfinished. Upon return from Portland, Oregon, Bird was inspired to write short, catchy pop songs, which marked a new direction for the band.[2] At art school, Bird met members of The Rhinestone Horns, a brass ensemble, and he recruited Isobel Knowles, Tara Shackell and Gus Franklin – all three originally from Victoria's Western District[4] – to complete Architecture in Helsinki's eight-member line-up.[2][3] In 2002, the group signed with independent record label, Trifekta, which released their debut single, "Like a Call" in December. Nearly two years after starting work, Fingers Crossed was issued on 9 February 2003.[3] Most of the group's members play multiple instruments and their music makes use of a wide range of instruments, from analog synthesizers, samplers, the glockenspiel and handclaps; to concert band instruments like the trumpet, tuba, trombone, saxophone, clarinet and recorder; and the more standard guitars, bass guitar and drums.[5]

In Case We Die (2003–2005)[edit]

In 2003, Architecture in Helsinki toured Australia supporting The Go-Betweens, then undertook their own east coast tour followed with a support tour for international acts, Yo La Tengo, múm and Arab Strap.[6] The group issued the Kindling EP in October, which included collaborations with Qua (an electronica artist), B(if)tek (electronic duo) and Bogdan Raczynski (braindance artist).[6] As a bonus on the disc, Knowles provided an animated video for "Like a Call".[6] In December they appeared at the Meredith Music Festival.[4] From February 2004, the group toured Japan, Europe and US.[4] In April, Fingers Crossed was released in North America by Bar/None Records.[7]

In 2005, the group issued their second album In Case We Die on their own Tailem Bend label.[2] It featured guest appearances by local musicians and was produced by The Carbohydrates (James Cecil and Cameron Bird's production duo) in Cecil's Super Melody World studio, now set up in a large garage space in Melbourne's inner northern suburbs. It was mixed by Tony Espie (The Avalanches, New Buffalo, Robert Palmer), at 001 Studios in Melbourne. Cyclic Defrost's Vaughan Healey described a typical gig as "a bewildering ride through dynamic tempo changes, finger clicks and swapped instruments. You never really know who is going to sing or what will happen next, and somehow the eight-piece juggles this anarchic structure with a music class worth of instruments and staging rearrangements."[8]

For the ARIA Music Awards of 2005, the album received three nominations: 'Best Independent Release', 'Best Cover Art' (by Bird) and 'Best Adult Contemporary Release'.[9] The song "It'5!" (pronounced "it's five") received wide airplay on the national radio network Triple J and reached No. 56 in their annual Hottest 100 for 2005.[2]

Line-up changes and We Died, They Remixed (2006)[edit]

In mid-2006, Architecture in Helsinki announced via their MySpace page that Knowles and Shackell were no longer members and cited "creative conflicts" with Bird as the reason for their departure.[2][10] Knowles continued with her work in animation and music.[11] In September 2007, Franklin, Knowles, Shackell and Sutherland provided the brass section on the Kevin Ayers album The Unfairground.[12][13] Shackell returned to tertiary studies and is a ceramicist.[14]

On 28 October 2006, as a six-member group, Architecture in Helsinki released We Died, They Remixed, a remix album consisting of all tracks from In Case We Die, and the song "Like a Call" from Fingers Crossed.[2][10] Artists who provided remixes included Hot Chip, New Buffalo, Safety Scissors, DAT politics, Mocky and Isan.[2]

Places Like This (2006–2008)[edit]

Architecture in Helsinki issued their next album, Places Like This on 28 July 2007 on Polyvinyl Record Co.. In September 2006, Pitchfork Media reported that they were working on tracks with Bird in Brooklyn and other members in Melbourne.[10] It was recorded at Dave Sitek's (from TV on the Radio)[15] studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and in Sydney's Big Jesus Burger Studios between October 2006 and January 2007. It was engineered and mixed by Chris Coady, who has previously worked with TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Grizzly Bear. The first single from the album, "Heart It Races", was released ahead of the album in May and peaked into the top 50 on the ARIA Singles Chart.[16] Places Like This reached the top 30 on the related albums chart.[16] In the US, the album reached the top 10 on two of Billboard magazine's component charts: Top Electronic Albums and Heatseekers Albums in September.[17]

Architecture in Helsinki performing at SXSW in Austin, Texas, in March 2007.

Even though the group's name includes Finland's capital Helsinki, they first played there at the Flow Festival in August 2007: "When we were in Norway at the end of last year there were a few Finnish interviewers who came to interview us mainly about the name. I think they were quite perplexed. To us, the name means having to answer many questions and inquiries about the name, which I guess, is entirely understandable." Sam Perry said.[18]

The band also issued other singles, "Debbie", "Hold Music", and "Like It Or Not". At the ARIA Music Awards of 2007, "Heart It Races" was nominated as 'Single of the Year'.[19] "Heart It Races" and "Hold Music" were listed in the 2007 Triple J Hottest 100 at No. 19 and No. 36, respectively.[20] In 2007, they did a Take Away Show acoustic video session shot by Vincent Moon.

During the ensemble's New Year's Eve performance on 1 January 2008, they came on at midnight, they announced that it was James Cecil's last show with Architecture in Helsinki. After leaving the band, Cecil provided backing vocals, engineering and mixing for Kes Band's 2008 album Kes Band and drums for Qua's 2011 release Q&A.[21]

Moment Bends (2008–2012)[edit]

In mid-2008, the band hired long time mentor and collaborator François Tétaz to help them produce their fourth album. Work began immediately in a new studio space, named Buckingham Palace the band had set up in Melbourne's East Brunswick. In November 2008, the five-piece released "That Beep", the first taste of a new sound that they would develop with Tétaz over a two-year period. Tétaz was working simultaneously on Gotye's Making Mirrors album, toggling between the two records. In October 2010, the band announced via Twitter[22] that the record was finished after more than two years in self-imposed studio exile. In January 2011, the first single issued from the album came in the form of "Contact High", which would later become the most popular song Architecture in Helsinki had released in Australia. It was nominated for Pop Release of the Year at the ARIA Music Awards of 2011 and polled at number 12 on the Triple J Hottest 100 for 2011, Australia's largest musical democracy. Moment Bends was released in April 2011 in Australia[23] and in May 2011 in the US[24] and featured a more detailed, produced and focused pop sound than on their previous records.[citation needed] Moment Bends debuted at number 12 on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia, the highest chart position for the band. Two further singles from Moment Bends, "Escapee" and "W.O.W", were released. "Escapee" is featured in the football video game, FIFA 12, which was published by EA Sports.

Now + 4eva (2012–2014)[edit]

In early 2012, the band began work on their follow up to Moment Bends, deciding to stick with the polished pop sound that had worked on the previous album. They recorded in a makeshift studio above a café in Melbourne. The space had previously been a hideaway for junkies. As a result, during recording the band tried to combat the negative energy previously associated with the space. To promote the album, the band set up a temporary concept store in Melbourne Central Shopping Centre. It was open from 28 March 2014 until 6 April 2014. Bird described the store as "an opportunity to forge a vibrant new connection with our audience and in turn, explore new ideas of what music retail could be." It sold the album on vinyl, CD, cassette, and USB, in addition to other products such as jewelry, drink bottles, rock candy figurines of the band members, a fashion line, and prints of the album's cover art. The products were commissioned from local designers and friends of the band. The album's singles were "I Might Survive," "In the Future," and "Dream a Little Crazy." It was released on 28 March 2014 in Australia and New Zealand, and on 1 April 2014 in North America.[25]

Final years (2014–2018)[edit]

After the tour cycle for Now + 4eva, the band took an informal sabbatical. Bird stated from 2004 to 2014, they had been in a constant album cycle and "there comes a time that you need to step away in order to have that life experience that you can turn into new work." During this time, the band had sporadic performances, including in an episode of the Australian children's educational show Play School where they covered the song "Big Bass Drum" with toy instruments.[26] Bird and Cecil also helped produce the second album for The Goon Sax in 2018. In May 2018, the band announced a headline set at Kennedy Art Ball at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth. Bird said that in the current incarnation of the band, there are six members instead of the usual nine. They also announced that they were setting up a space to record new music. Bird said that the band was "not really on a schedule - we're just making, and when we make something that we're proud of, we'll put it out into the world."[27] The band has, however, been completely inactive since this announcement.[citation needed]

Band members[edit]


The band toured heavily throughout Australia, the United States, and Europe, playing festivals such as Coachella, Sasquatch, Sound Relief, Big Day Out, SxSW, Primavera, Groovin the Moo, Pukkelpop, and Haldern.

Architecture in Helsinki toured and/or played with: David Byrne, Dr Dog, Death Cab for Cutie, Yacht, The Go-Betweens, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Santigold, Glass Candy, The Presets, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Au Revoir Simone, Field Music, Lo-Fi-Fnk, Yo La Tengo, The Polyphonic Spree, and Múm.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Chart peak positions

2003 Fingers Crossed
2005 In Case We Die
  • Released: 5 April 2005
  • Label: Tailem Bend
  • Formats: LP, CD, download
67 159
2007 Places Like This
  • Released: 28 July 2007
  • Label: Tailem Bend
  • Formats: LP, CD, download
30 187 7
2011 Moment Bends 12
2014 Now + 4eva
  • Released: 28 March 2014
  • Label: Casual Workout
  • Formats: LP, CD, Cassette, download
"–" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album details
2006 We Died, They Remixed

Extended plays[edit]

  • Like a Call (2 December 2002) Trifekta (HORSE021-2)
  • Kindling (27 October 2003) 10" Trifekta (HORSE035-2)
  • Keepsake (15 March 2004) Trifekta (HORSE038-2)
  • Like it or Not (8 July 2008) Polyvinyl Record Co (PRC-157), Scotland Yard, Tailem Bend


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
Triple J 100 UK


2005 "Do the Whirlwind" 168 In Case We Die
"Maybe You Can Owe Me"
"It'5!" 56
2006 "Wishbone"
2007 "Heart It Races" 47 19 18 3 Places Like This
"Hold Music" 36
2008 "That Beep" 75 28 Moment Bends
2011 "Contact High" 70 12
"Escapee" 55
2013 "In the Future" Now + 4eva
"Dream a Little Crazy"
2014 "I Might Survive"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.


Year Artist Track Version Album name
2003 B(if)tek "Hi Fi Kids" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Frequencies Will Move Together
2006 Shout Out Louds "Very Loud" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Combines EP
2007 Bonde do Rolê "Office Boy" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Office Boy EP
The Bumblebeez "Dr Love" Architecture in Helsinki's Dr Hookah Mix Dr Love EP
Yacht "See a Penny (Pick It Up)" Architecture in Helsinki Remix I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real
33 Hz "Paris, Texas" Architecture in Helsinki's Supermelody Remix Paris, Texas (Remixes)
2008 Midnight Juggernauts "Into the Galaxy" Architecture in Helsinki's Choose Your Own Adventure Mix Dystopia
2009 Metronomy "A Thing for Me" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Nights Out
The Very Best "Warm Heart of Africa" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Warm Heart of Africa
El Guincho "Antillas" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Alegranza!
2011 Cut Copy "Need You Now" Architecture in Helsinki Remix Zonoscope

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Director(s)
2003 "Like a Call" Isobel Knowles
"Kindling" Kellie Sutherland
2005 "It'5!" Isobel Knowles, Ali Dullard
"Do the Whirlwind" (Australian version) Paul Robertson[42]
2006 "Do the Whirlwind" (UK version) Nima Nourizadeh
"Wishbone" Isobel Knowles
2007 "Heart It Races" Kris Moyes
"Hold Music" Kim Gehrig
"Debbie" Josh Logue
2008 "Like It or Not" Josh Logue
"That Beep" Krozm
2011 "Contact High" Krozm
"Escapee" Marcus Soderlund
"W.O.W" Krozm
2014 "Dream a Little Crazy" Lucy McRae
"I Might Survive" Andrew Goldsmith

Awards and nominations[edit]

Australian Music Prize[edit]

The Australian Music Prize (the AMP) is an annual award of $30,000 given to an Australian band or solo artist in recognition of the merit of an album released during the year of award. The commenced in 2005.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007[43] Places Like This Australian Music Prize Nominated

J Award[edit]

The J Awards are an annual series of Australian music awards that were established by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's youth-focused radio station Triple J. They commenced in 2005.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005[44] In Case We Die Australian Album of the Year Nominated
2007[45] Places Like This Australian Album of the Year Nominated


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External links[edit]