The Start of a New Year

A new chapter, a fresh start… as humans we can’t help but think about where we are in relation to our goals and our dreams during this time of the year. There is nothing like overindulging over the Christmas holidays to set people’s minds back on track, ready and focused to dive head-first into whatever it is they want to get done during this new year. I have found myself to be no exception to this and – as usual during this time of the year – I'm filled with a renewed sense of motivation and creative ideas aplenty. I think it would be quite unnatural and against our better instinct towards improvement if we weren’t to be looking forward, though I recognise that too often we might find that the constraints of our fears, emotions, condition or situation bind us firmly in place. Despite everything and with hopeful intentions, I’m looking ahead towards the coming days of 2022! 

As of this day of writing (7th January), I should be leaving on the yearly folk music cruise-festival, Folklandia. I would have been performing both with the class of Kaustinen’s Folk Music Line, as well as with the folk group Häly accompanying the Ottoset dancers of Kaustinen’s Youth Association. It would have been a really fun experience to meet and to listen to the performances of many of Finland’s brightest folk artists! I’m sure I would have found it very inspiring, but I understand that safety must come first. It is saddening when thinking about all of the events that have been cancelled due to the pandemic, but I like to think that we as a people muddle through and find ways to still make life enjoyable for each other as best we can. 

I have a lot of opportunities this year to be grateful for; I’m walking along the start of several paths, of which their destinations are yet to come into vision. This could be quite nerve-wracking, but I find it rather exciting, for all of these opportunities revolve around music. At the end of last year, I signed with a Japanese-based composing agency that works within the world of video games and anime series and film. I pondered on the decision a while; whether or not I was at the right place and time in my career and life. Fortuitously, it came at a time where I was transitioning to focusing solely on music within all aspects of my life. More on that in the future, but for now, I am excited to see where this leads. I am also taking a more active role within the OC ReMix community this year; a non-commercial organisation dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of video game music! It’s a wonderful website in whose shadows I’ve lingered in the background since I was just starting out in video game arranging. More on this also in a later post, I’m sure! 

I mentioned earlier that today I would have been at Folklandia, and in actuality it would have served as a goodbye to studying folk music and living at Kaustinen, as I have done since the summer of 2021. I’ll be moving back home to Vaasa, which is a considerably more active place than Kaustinen during winter simply due to its larger population. I have gained so much as a performer and composer from intensively studying and performing Finnish and Nordic folk music, that I will carry with me moving forward. As it happens, I will be applying to study Finnish folk music full-time at the renowned Sibelius Academy in Helsinki this year. I would love to be in an environment that allows me to actively develop and create, amongst like-minded individuals in a world-class musical institution. This is something I’ve never had, but have always wanted. Fingers crossed! 

There is much in the works that is yet to be released that I’m actively working on over a longer period of time, hence the sense of vagueness in this post. I can certainly delve into greater depths on the particulars of some creative ideas I’ve had for this year though. As somebody that releases the music that they create, thinking in terms of standard formats for distribution (single, EP, album) has always left me lacking in creativity and unsure of what steps I'd like to take. I think it puts pressure on artists like me who want to make all sorts of different genres of music, as one has to also think of continuity and cohesion from one release to the next, which can actually be quite limiting. Having a clear identity as an artist, as with any brand in general, always requires a sense of consistency so the audience knows what to expect. My mind when it comes to working on music just doesn’t work in this way though, so I’ve been thinking in more depth about how I approach and view music, and how I might reflect this in the way I release music. 

I’ve decided I’d like to experiment with releasing my songs through musical “Moments” – like a polaroid captures an image, a compressed audial snapshot that captures a particular mood, feeling, memory or… moment. This will allow me to work on all manner of personal projects without the pressure of worrying about cohesion, or whether a lack thereof might negatively impact or bring confusion to my artistic identity. I have so many ideas for this year! I want to work on songs in Japanese, in Finnish, in Elvish, instrumental songs, lullabies, music box compositions, video game arrangements, Celtic songs, orchestral music, nostalgic synth music, collaborations with session instrumentalists that play unique world instruments, and much more! I’ve come to realise that while these different projects might not be connected to each other on their own, they are all connected through my love of creating each of them being a strong part of me, like different patches that make up a larger blanket upon which I can continue to build and weave new creations. There is also not the pressure to sit on songs for so long to save up for a whole album. I have many stories I want to tell and many worlds I want to build! 

I’ve also just started to create playlists of different genres of music on Spotify. There’s barely a minute of the waking day where you won’t find me listening to music of all sorts of different genres and moods. Aside from the enjoyment this brings me, as a composer, I think it’s a fundamental part of one’s own creative development to continuously freshen one’s mind with newfound songs of any genre. If somebody has put their heart into it, its message will likely reach me as a listener. I have heard so many beautiful and inspiring songs over the years, so collecting them and categorising them into different playlists allows me to re-explore these songs in a deeper way - by carefully choosing the right songs to fit the right mood to create as fitting and wonderful an experience as possible. I also get to enjoy these myself and spend even more time carefully listening to music; getting to know what elements of songs speak to me personally and capture my interest.

Expect to see my productivity and output increase a lot in the coming months! I am really grateful that I am in a place in my life where I finally get to focus deeply on music, and still have time to do other things that I want to do and spend time with the people that are important to me. I had a wonderful time in England over Christmas and New Year, especially considering I hadn’t been back to my homeland for over two years. Consider me rejuvenated and raring to go. 

Hugs & good vibes for all,