New music on “early” instruments.

(2014–2021)

Juho Myllylä | blockflutes, electronics
Miron Andres | viola da gamba

Wesley Shen | harpsichord

Ugly Pug was founded in 2014 with the single objective of commissioning and performing new music. While the trio would have been a fairly standard formation from 400 years ago, the recorder (Juho Myllylä), viola da gamba (Miron Andres) and harpsichord (Wesley Shen) were in this contemporary music context, an exception to the norm.

By treating their instruments completely detached from their past and ‘standard’ repertoire, the trio and the composers they work with have freedom to explore new sounds and possibilities not found in traditional chamber music formations of our time. The ensemble performed at festivals in The Netherlands and Finland and was mentored by the top specialists in the field, such as recorder player Jorge Isaac and harpsichordist Goska Isphording. They also expanded their ensemble in various collaborations with harpsichordists André Lourenço and Ere Lievonen, viola da gamba player Clémence Schiltz, violinist Kirsti Apajalahti, visual artist Jean-Marie Caddeo, tap dance artist Marije Nie and the Trash Panda Collective.

The name of the ensemble often elicited strong reactions: “What do you mean by ‘Ugly Pug’? Pugs are not ugly!” The group was named after a very special pug, Sabba, and the endless and still unresolved debates over his supposed ugliness or attractiveness. Ugly Pug reflected this very problem of aesthetic judgement and the contradictions in the concepts of beauty versus ugliness. The dichotomy in Ugly Pug’s fusion of divergent instruments and style, allowed them to break away from all traditional expectations and standards of beauty to explore something different.

Ugly Pug was based in Amsterdam. Their debut album Crossroads was released on Olive Music/Etcetera Records in 2021.