Monday, February 22, 2016

10 Questions For: Jannike


Whenever the editors of Sounds European! think they've had the best interview of the site's history, a new one appears and goes further beyond. And it's exactly what has happened once again: we've had the chance of talking to one of the most talented artists from Finland. And she was totally open to discuss all topics with great depth and detail, resulting in an amazing interview. These are our 10 questions for Jannike:

Sounds European!: Tell us a bit about your music background. What artists did you grow up listening to? Who are your current idols? Do you feel they influence the kind of music you produce?

Jannike: The radio was always on at my childhood home, so I grew up listening to music. My mom tells me I used to point at this old Bach LP and wanted her to play it so I could "dance"... by then, I couldn't even walk, so I guess I was kind of a weird baby... Only Bach would do. :)
When I started to choose my own music in my early adolescence, I first started listening to ABBA. I just loved them and I still can sing every word to their songs! I also loved Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Céline Dion, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder... and of course I had to go with a boyband as well, which in my case happened to be the Backstreet Boys. :)
Nowadays, I listen to a lot of different music – everything from Adele and Taylor Swift, to Dixie Chicks, to Adam Lambert, etc.. If it's good, it's good! Of course I take influence and get ideas from the music I listen to, but I don't want to sound like someone else – that's important to me, so I really just let me get inspired and then try to create my own thing with my producers. I'm very much involved in the studio and I love it!

SE!: We know that music has been in your life since a very young age. How did it all start? When did you realize that music was your passion? You have studied piano and violin and attended classes at renowned music academies. How were these experiences for you?

J: If I danced before I could walk, I definitely sang before I could talk. My mom has these compact cassettes with me singing, and I just really sang my heart out even then. :) I was put in music school when I was three, had my first solo gig at the same age, started taking classical piano lessons at five and began with violin lessons at nine. At home, I taught myself to play chords on the guitar.
In the music school I went to, you had to perform many times a year, play in exams and take part of the orchestra and the choir, so I really had my hands full with music. I loved playing my instruments, especially the piano, but my number one passion has been and will always be singing. That is my most precious instrument. It has always been clear to me that I want to breathe music, in one way or another, so after high school, I applied to the Sibelius Academy (which is a very famous music university) and spent over ten years studying there. I loved it, and sometimes I wish I could do it all over again, although it was very, very stressful and I felt I had to be so good all the time and achieve a lot. I'm very grateful and proud of my degree!

SE!: You took part of the Finnish version of Idols in 2008. What took you to audition for it? What did it feel like to be judged by the public week after week? And what were the lessons you've learned with the show?

J: The year before Idols, I was really torn because I wanted to pursue a music career but I didn't know how to do it, and sometimes I wasn't even sure what I wanted. A little part of me knew I wasn't ready, but I attended the auditions with the worst flu ever the day after my grandma's funeral. It went okay and suddenly I was living in a house with cameras on me and was thrown into the limelight. I learned a lot and made great friends, but I wasn't happy there. I felt the show wasn't edited in my favour and I remember standing on stage singing live and wishing the three minutes would be over soon. Then I felt it was not right and that also, of course, affected my performances. I wasn't really there and I felt quite relieved when I was dropped, finishing in ninth place.
I think the judges were right most of the time, but they also needed to say some unnecessary things because of the format of the show. It was quite a negative atmosphere back then. But it was a great and fun experience in many ways and a good school on how to handle the media and the audience and how not to care about what people think. You can't make everyone happy – that's just the way it is. After Idols, I was really down and questioned myself a lot. I decided to take a break from the music biz. I also didn't want to be "just-another-Idols artist". I'm glad nobody remembers me from that now when I'm back with my own stuff. ;)

SE!: You have worked with some big names of the Finnish and Swedish music scene, such as Jari Sillanpää, Robin, Peter Jöback and Loreen. Can you tell us a bit about your work with them? What could you learn from them?

J: I was on tour singing backing vocals with Jari Sillanpää and Katri Helena (two of the most loved artists in Finland), and I really had the time of my life! It was sooo much fun! I loved going on stage without the pressure of being the solo artist, and I learned so much. How to always be professional. How to always put a smile on your face even though you are having the worst day. On a big and fancy gala concert, the producer of the show wanted me to rehearse a song with Peter Jöback, teaching him a harmony before I sang backing for him at the actual show. I was such a big fan and was so nervous being his "music teacher" for a while. :D After the concert, he said we were the best backing singers ever and wanted to take a selfie to post on his Instagram. It was lovely to see such a big star behave so "normal". I guess that's my biggest lesson with all my backing history: all the great artists are just like you and me – people.

SE!: About your solo work. You are giving your first steps into a solo career. And, by the way, they are very promising steps, in our opinion! We love what we've listened by now: your singles show an interesting versatility, and an ability to explore different possibilities of pop music. Is it your objective? What kind of music do you intend to offer to people?

J: Thank you so much! I like that I can be versatile, and I love surprising my listeners with different styles. I'm definitely into pop, but quite the grown-up style. I will probably lean to the more acoustic sound as I work on my new songs. I'm having a lot of fun testing the waters with these different styles and I think you shouldn't decide which way to go too soon. Or ever. Who knows, I might wake up one day feeling like I want to be a rapper! No, all jokes aside, I know what I'm capable of, I know what I like and how I want to be portrayed as an artist. I am more of the sensitive storytelling woman with the sensitive voice playing the piano. I want people to relate to the lyrics.

"I know what I'm capable of, I know what I like and how I want to be portrayed as an artist" (Picture: official website)

SE!: You have recorded songs in Swedish, worked in the United States and shot videos in Greece. And, very soon, you will be launched as a new artist in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. That's very international! Have you always dreamed of having a career abroad? When you imagine the future, what do you project for your career? What do you want to achieve in the music business?

J: Yes! Although I was born in Finland and my career started there, I have always wanted to be launched abroad. I'm so happy and thankful I got signed to a German record label. It's hard to say when you think you've "made it". I mean, things are going very well, but I feel I have just gotten started with my career and I'm working very hard on it. I have a great team and we always try to come up with unique ideas to get me further. I want to make a living out of my career and enjoy it at the same time. I don't have just one dream, like some people want to be able to scream "Thank you, Wembley" – I have so many! I'm a big planner, but you never know which plans succeed and I'm very realistic about that. I want to become more successful and live the true artist life everyday! That is my dream.

SE!: Finland is a country which is usually recognized worldwide because of its rock music. However, the local pop scene has a very high quality. Why do you think Finnish pop gains so little attention outside Finland? Is it easy to produce pop in your country?

J: If I knew the answer to this, I would be very happy! It's an unsolved mystery. It's easy to produce music here, but people tend to like the more melancholic and sad music. And it's something with the Finnish people, they just don't know how to get out their music, or then they don't care. And most of the artists over here sing in Finnish anyway, and they are the biggest artists in Finland. The Finns need to understand the songs in a different way. It's hard to explain...

SE!: What are your professional projects for the near future? What can your fans expect for 2016?

J: Oh, so much! My first album is coming out in Finland and Germany and that is very exciting. I'm planning to have a great record release concert in Finland and to tour a bit in the summer. I'm also doing a lot of big and fun gigs, doing some live videos and so on. Stuff is constantly happening. And, of course, I will continue to put out music and music videos regularly! My next one will be a big surprise and a lot of fun! I constantly update my Facebook page, and I have a website, so all the updates can be found there. For Germany, we have a different plan and schedule, as I'm being launched as a new artist over there. And the German team is working hard to get me as much attention and PR as I can during the summer. So I hope I'll spend much time there as well!

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some Finnish and international artists you'd like to collaborate with?

J: Oh my... Ed Sheeran maybe?

SE!: We would like to post a song of yours to close this interview. What is your favorite song of yourself, and why?

J: Right now, my favorite songs are from the album, so they are not released yet. But, of my singles, I think I like my second single "Hallowed ground" the best. It was written by Linda Thompson (who has written for Whitney [Houston], Céline [Dion], etc.), and she wrote it about what she learned about life from her ex-boyfriend, who happened to be no other than Elvis Presley. So I guess you could say that Elvis is singing through me, haha. ;)

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