After Impressing judges on Finnish Idol at just 16, the subsequent five years has seen Alma work with the likes of French Montana and Charlie XCX. BBC have just named her on the sound of 2018 list. Writing both her lyrics and music, Alma must have something special under the hood.
Since you started your music career, what’s been the biggest change in your life?
Everything has changed. I don’t have anything that’s kept the same. I’m doing interviews, i’m doing shows, i’m doing promo, i’m flying every week. When I was 15, i’d only been in a plane once and now i’ve been on a plane at least a hundred times in the last two years. Everything has changed.
Do you enjoy the lifestyle or do you find it hard?
Sometimes I find it fucking annoying. But I like music. I do it for the music. If It was just the work side of it, i’d stop immediately.
Who would you say are the big influences on your life?
I think my friends are very big influences, and love. I know that’s so cliche but that’s just true. Friends, love and other people’s music. Amy Winehouse, I love what Sia is doing and my good friend Charlie XCX. She’s a big inspiration and has taught me so many things. I would say my friends and my personal life, that’s the stuff I write about.
You have a heavy hand in your music and write both your music and lyrics, have you always done it since an early age?
No, when I first got into this business I got signed as a songwriter. So after that they found my songs to be good and then I became an artist.
Is there anything from your own Finnish culture you always bring with you on your travels?
I am very Finnish person. I’m always very real. Some people find it rude, but I don’t consider myself as rude. It’s just Finnish, we don’t talk shit. Honesty. If we don’t like something, we always say in a polite way. Now i’ve been travelling so much, i’ve seen different cultures and people are so polite. In Finland it’s so dark we’re very emo, it’s so dark. 8 months just darkness and snow.
When you write, what is that like? Do you have a specific spot or does it come to you all the time?
Everywhere, when I’m thinking. Most of the songs we create in the studio but I write a lot on the plane. There’s no wifi, there’s no 3G it’s just my thoughts. Also when i’m home, that’s when I get all the memories. Or when my friends are crying and saying things, I just say I need to write that down and I take a little note on my phone.
Tell us about your single ‘Phases’ with French Montana, how did that come about?
I’ve been working with my friend Charlie XCX and we wrote that song together. It’s just about teenage stuff. When you are not trying to be rude but you’re just a teenager. You fall in love and then ‘sorry’ you’re on to the next one. Then you realise you’ve hurt someone else’s feelings.
Working with French Montana, do you get starstruck still or are you used to it?
I’m definitely not used to it and I do still get starstruck. That’s a very Finnish thing, like we don’t have paparazzi or fan culture. Even the biggest artists get to be very chilled. When I see these artists sometimes I don’t even believe it that it’s true. It’s just not our culture. When I see big stars i’m of course honoured but i’m not freaked out.
You say Finnish culture is very dark, you’re wearing all black but your hair is fluorescent green?
My sister dyed it first. Our mum is very arty. She’s always been teaching us to be arty and free. To do whatever we want to. Whenever we’ve wanted to do some crazy things she’s always told us to do it, even when other people tell us no. She’s been an inspiration for us and she’s always inspired us to be free.
Does your sister go everywhere with you? Is she your partner in crime?
I wouldn’t do it without her. I’m blessed to have her with me. Always just taking her hand and saying ‘now we go’. Even when she’s asleep.
Would you ever dye your hair another colour?
Someday, but not soon. Maybe neon orange.
If you could work with anyone, who would it be dead or alive?
Amy Winehouse. I would also love to work with Drake, I just love his melodies. Even though I know that’s never going to happen, i’d love to.
What’s the last melody or song that you heard that you loved?
I listen to Raye’s ‘Decline’. It’s a cover, I just have it in my head all the time. I love 90s RnB and Hip Hop.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you do?
I would be studying to be someone who helps kids in the right direction. Not social worker, it’s a Finnish word in particular. I’ve always loved to work with teenagers and kids.
You’re very busy but when you do have some free time, what do you do?
I party. I hang with my friends and with my cat and family. I like to party. It’s something that keeps me. It’s not even about getting fucked up it’s about seeing my age people and being free. I love music and that’s where everything comes together. I love dancing, even though i’m a horrible dancer.
Photographer: Sanne Glasbergen
Make-Up Artist: Alena Steinbrink