ALMA is restless.
The ever-colourful Finnish pop talent has flown into Brighton to play VEVO’s stage at the Great Escape, just the latest leg on a journey that has already stretched around the globe several times.
There’s only one problem, though: it’s an early soundcheck, and ALMA has a slight issue with actually waking up when her alarm goes.
“I never get used to the lifestyle where I need to wake up early!” she says, before exploding into a fit of giggles. “I’m not a morning person. Never. I’ve missed so many morning flights that you don’t even want to know. Every time when I don’t have a tour manager with me – like if I’m writing in LA or something and I need to go back home – I always miss the flight. I’m like a baby. I need someone to wake me.”
It’s this honest – this innocence, even – which makes ALMA so fascinating, so relatable. The ‘Heavy Rules’ mixtape seemed to push her to pop’s upper echelons, a collaboration-fuelled ode to female-forward Los Angeles pop hedonism. Oddly, though, when she first travelled to the City Of Angels the Nordic artist simply couldn’t put down roots.
“You know, I didn’t like LA for the first five times, but then I found Charli XCX and the whole gang and they treated me so well that now I just hang out with them!” she exclaims. “This last year has been crazy – I’ve met so many artists, so many producers, and it’s been overwhelming how much I love LA nowadays.”
“I thought I would hate LA til the day I die, I thought I was never going to fit in but then I found the right people and I’m really loving it. You have sun, you have great friends, and you have a lot of fucking parties.”
She continues: “In LA you can have a party and then next day you’ll have a session with somebody crazy famous, or crazy talented. And I love that. There are so many opportunities.”
Right now ALMA is completely fixated on one thing and one thing only: her debut album. “I can’t even remember that I have a mixtape out now because I’m so focussed on the next single, and the next album,” she insists. “‘Heavy Rules’ was important for me but it was just a release that I wanted to give for the big fans, for the ones that are really waiting. Everyday I get so many messages – like, where’s the album?! And I’ve been saying for one and a half years: It’s coming soon, guys! And I still say ‘soon’ because, really, that album is so important to me, so I don’t want to rush with it.”
From those early singles to that phenomenal mixtape, ALMA’s journey so far has been an incredible ride, something she wants fans to share every step of the way. “I just want to be honest with them,” she says. “I want them to see how I grow.”
“There are so many artists who put one single out, and they do 100 songs that year and they are just there. I want to put more stuff out. I want to change the culture, the Spotify game, where artists just post one single, or three singles in a year, and then they just never fucking drop the album or the mixtape or anything. That’s why I love Drake and what he’s doing. He’s just putting stuff out all the time. And I love that! And I hope that becomes a part of every pop star’s world.”
The album itself is “60 or 70 percent done, I’m deep in it” and might be completed before the end of summer. It’s going to be different, she says, but completely, utterly ALMA. “I think if I’m going to have some collaborations they’re going to be very intimate,” the singer explains. “They need to be my friends.”
“That album is so important to me – it’s going to be a new era, it’s going to be something new. Everybody who knows my old songs is going to be: OK, this is interesting, what is happening now? I’m very excited but I’m old kind of nervous because it’s going to be a big u-turn that I’m taking. But I hope that people like that, and they see this is what she wants to do.”
ALMA’s independence is something she has fought for, but it’s something the team around her seem to cherish. “I think when I started, obviously the label was pushing,” she recalls. “They don’t know what they’re investing their money in. But now they trust me. With this album they’re like: do whatever you want.”
“When I went to the meeting and showed them basically half of my album – which is totally new, and totally different – I was so scared. But then when I was like, this is probably going to be the single… do you like it? They were like: fuck yeah, this is so great!”
Despite the glitz, the glamour, and the parties, though, ALMA still longs to be at home. Her material might gain that Los Angeles polish, but the root, the core always begins in her native Finland. “That’s the place where I start all the songs,” she insists. “I go to the studio and someone plays the guitar and then I go to LA and I’m like: I have this voice memo that I did in Finland, let’s make this into a song. That’s how I just love to do it.”
“If I’m in LA too much then… everything is too good there! The sun is shining, food is great, somebody pays my apartment, somebody pays my drink at the bar. And then in Finland always the reality hits that life is life. I don’t want to have an album that is about me going to VIPs and doing shots with Miley Cyrus! I want it to be real, what I’m really doing when I’m home, about my childhood experiences.”
Returning home to Finland to finish her album, there’s no doubt that ALMA’s journey is set to reach a new level very soon. So long as she sets her alarm, that is...
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