Interview: ALMA

ALMA talks Chasing Highs, Finnish Idols and gal pal Charli XCX

You’ve heard her on the radio but do you know her name? Well it’s about time you did, as ALMA is part of a girl gang of fearless Nordic-pop talent firing shots at the UK industry with nothing more than hook-driven, beat-bleeding pop bangers as their weapon. Alongside the likes of Norway’s Sigrid and Sweden’s Zara Larsson, ALMA – hailing from the heart of Helsinki, Finland – is promising immense chart success, emerging from her home turf to represent the country in world domination. “There’s no Finnish music that is doing that great abroad, i’m really the only one who is touring globally. We’re still taking baby steps towards the rest of the world”.

I’ve got less than ten minutes with the singer backstage at Dorset’s Bestival; the 21-year-old appears high in demand as I wait my turn after various camera crew. She’s soon to be a huge star, and everyone’s catching her while they can. ALMA’s got an afternoon slot at The Box Stage today, which I later witness as a huge success in packing out the tent with roaring energy.

Chasing Highs

She’s effortlessly cool, with a quirky cyber-gothic, ’give a shit?’ swagger brilliantly breaking the prestige pop-star stereotype. She’s bold, fun – and refreshingly –  doesn’t take herself too seriously, something reflected just as much in her music as in her personality. “It started off as just a joke in the studio, and it just turned out to be a song”, ALMA speaks of her tropical-flavoured, synth-hooked single ‘Dye My Hair’. “I’ve always said I wouldn’t do anything for anyone; if they don’t love me as I am, f*ck it. So I joked ‘I would dye my hair blonde for you’ ironically, because of course I wouldn’t”.

Merging together a winning formula of urban songwriting and electronic beats with a gutsy vocal intensity, ALMA reveals who she plugs into as a music fan, most of which she also says she would jump at the chance to collaborate with. “I love love love Young Thug, you know, this very trappy stuff! French Montana, Mura Masa, Disclosure”. The singer’s very loyal to fellow female chart toppers, though, despite a mix of influences. “I’d obviously love to collaborate with my friends, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa, Zara Larsson!” It appears she’s been mentored by many of her fully-fledged powerful pop pals. “I’m very inspired by Charli XCX, she has been helping me a lot with my career, every time we hang out. She works a lot and inspires me just by the way she’s working, she’s f*cking great”.

“I’ve always said I wouldn’t do anything for anyone; if they don’t love me as I am, f*ck it”

Although being part of an all-star pop squad with such successes feeling all very new, ALMA did become a name in Finland a handful of years ago – when she was 16, making it to the live shows on talent TV programme, Finnish Idols. “It helped somehow, as it helped me to get to know the right people in Finland. I needed to have a number I could call about going into the studio. I couldn’t afford to rent a studio and I didn’t have any producer friends.” “But I was 16, I didn’t make it into any schools. It was a good thing at the time, I wouldn’t do it again though and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I think I would have made it here without it”.

She’s right. With nods from the likes of Radio 1’s Annie Mac, it’s unlikely that finishing fifth in a Finnish talent competition would have been what caught the eye of the bigger industry. Single ‘Chasing Highs’ made it into the UK top 20, gaining over 50 million streams on Spotify; its no secret that it takes some serious star potential to reach such a position amongst today’s top talent. “It’s been doing so freakin’ good in the UK, it’s unbelievable!” she beams. “It’s crazy because I released the song quite a long time ago now. I really didn’t think it was going to do so well, it’s a very weird feeling for me, but a very good one!”.

Check out ALMA’s latest single with Martin Solveig ‘All Stars’ here.

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