EUROVISION 2016 - STOCKHOLM - SWEDEN

INTERVIEW - Saara Aalto, UMK Finalist (FI)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saara Aalto

 

NO FEAR

 

Could this be Finland's song for Stockholm?

 

With thanks to Katja Toivanen, Douwe Reveler and www.saaraaalto.com
 

Published by Gary Speirs for Sechuk.com

 

 

Saara Aalto narrowly missed out on representing Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 in Düsseldorf with 'Blessed With Love'. 5 years later and she is back with 'No Fear' and hopes to go all the way to Stockholm this time. We spoke with Saara shortly after she reached the final of Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2016 about what she has been doing in the intervening years, what motivated her to try again and what she fears the most.

Saara, congratulations on making it to the final of UMK 2016! How are you feeling and did you expect it?

I’m so happy and super excited about Saturday!! I really believed in my song at the semi final, so of course I had my hopes high! ;) And it was so great I got to the final! And I still believe in my song a lot and I think it would be a perfect Eurovision song!

Before we talk about 'No Fear' in more detail, could you please tell us a little about yourself? Do you come from a musical family? Where in Finland are you from?

I’m from Oulu , which is in the North of Finland. I come from a small village where I grew up in a musical family. Both my mum and dad sing a lot and play instruments. I learnt to sing before I could talk. I’ve played classical piano my whole life and started composing when I was 5. I’ve gone through music schools and ended up studying in a music university in Helsinki when I was 18. Since then I have gradually built up my career. I have my own record label and I’ve published 5 albums. I have also recorded one album in Mandarin Chinese and had concerts in Shanghai . It has been amazing and has given me lot of confidence which I’d need at the Eurovision! I’ve also performed with world known tenors like Andrea Bocelli and Jose Carreras. And I’ve been dubbing a lot.. I gave my voice to a Finnish Anna in the Frozen movie!

You have taken part in a couple of other competitions apart from the Finnish selection contest for the Eurovision. Can you tell us about those experiences and what they taught you ?  

They gave me so much confidence and taught me so much about myself. I grew up as an artist… learnt how I want to look, what’s my style, what kind of songs fit me.. I got so many fans from these contests and they have been really helping my career to grow.

5 years have passed since you came 2nd behind Paradise Oskar and 'Da Da Dam'. How did you feel at that time coming so close and is 'Blessed With Love' still part of your repertoire ? 

At that time I was still starting my career so for me the contest was a very good experience and I was so happy I came 2nd. I got good contacts from that contest..like my manager and my booking agent! I also published my first album just after the contest. Blessed with Love is still part of my repertoire! Usually I sing it in 3 languages: Chinese, Japanese and English.. and then the audience has to guess what was the order of the languages in the song. :D

Can you tell us what you have been doing in the meantime ?

Since 2011 I’ve released 5 albums, toured around Finland and performed also in China , Turkey , London .. I guess I basically said it all in the first answer :D

In 2011 the Finnish contest was still known as Euroviisut. Now in 2016 it is Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu. Do you notice any differences between the two contests ? How have things changed ?

So many things have changed. At Euroviisut you had to everything by yourself as a contestant. Like take care of your clothes, choreography, music video..everything! At UMK the Finnish YLE is helping the contestants a lot, YLE has their own designers, choreographers, directors and it’s free for a contestant to use them. So it is much easier to us now 

 

 

What made you decide to return to the competition ?

 

Eurovision is my dream, so I just had to try again! If you don’t try, your dreams can’t come true! :) I also thought No Fear was good enough a song for the Eurovision :D

 

The song you are hoping Finland will send to Stockholm is called 'No Fear'. Was it written with the Eurovision Song Contest in mind or is it just a happy coincidence ?

 

I just started composing it… but very soon I realized this is perfect Eurovision song!

 

You had some assistance with the song.  Can you tell us about the cooperation with Riku, Teemu, Matias and Tommi ?

 

When the song was ready I started working with Teemu, who has been my producer during all these years. We fixed some parts of the song to be even better and recorded the first demo with piano and strings. Then Riku produced it a bit more and made the nice Bollywood sound and beat to it. Matias and Tommi were the ones who made the final touch to the song.

 

Can you describe 'No Fear' in more detail to us and what it means to you ?

 

No Fear is a very important song with a deep meaning. I hope people would face each other with love and open heart, not with guns or guard. And that people would support each other and save each other.. accept each other! The message was so important for me that I even launched a #Nofear2016 –campaign. It’s a campaign where people are asked to share their No Fear-stories at the social media with a hashtag #nofear2016. No Fear story can be an inspirational story of your life, did you do something brave, did you overcome an obstacle, did you do something to achieve your dreams? I hope with these stories people would inspire others and be braver in their lives!

 

What are the strengths of this song and why do you think it should represent Finland in May ?

 

The song is an upbeat song with a strong message. I’m a very experienced performer and I think the song is very catchy! I also promise to make the best show ever!

 

It was very much a case of girl power in your semi-final with 3 ladies reaching the final. Of the other songs in this years contest is there one that you particularly enjoy and would like to sing yourself if you could swap compositions ?

 

I like Sandhja’s “Sing it Away” and Mikael Saari’s “On it goes” songs; I’d love to sing those! :D

 

'No Fear' is the title of the song but what do you fear most in life ?

 

That I would regret I didn’t do something I wanted… Or that something really bad would happen and I’d be miserable for the rest of my life.. I always try to stay positive though! :D

 

Can you tell us about your stage outfit and performance ? Who designed the clothes ? Will you change anything for the final ?

 

The origami dress is designed by the UMK choreographer Reija Väre. My body and jewelry is designed by my stylist Veera Eve. We are not allowed to change anything for the final.. that’s a shame, because now it’s hard to surprise you people! 

 

Tell us about the video clip. Where was it filmed ? 

 

The video clip was filmed in Helsinki in an empty hall. I love the video and the girl group dancing with me. I had always wanted to make a video where I’d dance!! I asked my trusted choreographer Nora Mahmoud to do the Indian-style choreography to the video.

 

Were you satisfied with your performance during the semi-final or are there things you want to improve ?

 

I was pretty satisfied, but of course I can always do a bit better ;D I think I will be more relaxed at the Final..! 

 

Krista who sang for Finland in 2013 is presenting UMK this year. Has she given you any words of advice on how to prepare for the final ?

 

Not really :D But I try to make it her way: stay positive, relaxed and have fun!

 

Last year Finland sent possibly the most talked about song and band. What did you think about Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät and 'Aina Mun Pitää ?

 

Well as a song, it definitely is not my favourite.. but I still think it was an interesting choice from Finland to choose PKN. The band itself had a strong message to people and I think that’s always a good thing!

 

What would it mean to you to fly the flag for your country in Sweden ?

 

It would mean a world to me!! A big dream would come true! I’d love to represent Finland and make Finnish people proud of me.

 

Speaking of Sweden , the contest will be held in Stockholm . How well do you know the city and do you speak some Swedish ?

 

I’ve been to Stockholm quite many times. I’ve studied Swedish at school for 6 years, so I know the language.. Of course I should practice it to get it more fluent.. But I’ll definitely do it if I’d go to Stockholm .

 

You are close neighbours but what are the main differences between Swedes and Finns ?

 

Hahaaa! At least the stereotypically Swedes are outgoing, happy, positive, talkative, confident, beautiful and Finns are quiet, love silence, melancholic, hide their positivity and insecure.. :D I should not say this, but I think I might be more like a Swedish than Finnish ;D AND I love the Eurovision as much as Swedish people do!

 

 

Saara, Kiitos for taking the time to speak with us. Every success in the UMK final on 27th February. 

 

Photos Credit : www.saaraaalto.com