Born in Kuopio and raised on the internet, Alma is Finland’s foremost rising pop star. With unmissable neon hair and an origin story that includes an appearance on Finland’s Idol, nothing about Alma is expected, not even her sound – unapologetically pop. We meet the artist through a computer screen to discover what she’s like offline
The first thing you will notice about Alma is her hair. When the Finnish pop star first dyed her hair neon green nearly a decade ago, it was a “very, very big deal for people.” “They were calling me ‘Smurf’ and ‘Shrek’ and everything,” she says. But Alma was instantly obsessed – she’s never once returned to her natural dirty blonde. Even back then, her mission statement was clear: “I wanted to be a rebel and make pop music.”
It is early morning in Los Angeles when I open my laptop to speak to Alma over Zoom. In Helsinki, where she sits, it is late and darkness sweeps across her apartment windows. We are worlds apart, yet when the conversation shifts to music, I am struck with an immediate sense of closeness. “When I was having hard times, I started to listen to music, but I don't come from a musical family at all,” she says.
Watch Vogue Scandinavia's video with Alma here:
Born Alma-Sofia Miettinen, Alma grew up in Kuopio, the eighth most populated city in Finland. She describes living in a poor neighbourhood, with monotonous buildings populated by teeny tiny apartments. “My mom, however, got us this beautiful place with a big forest in our backyard,” she says. “We happened to live in the same kind of house as everyone else, but the backyard was a big, big forest. I remember my sister and I just playing and really hanging out there. We spent most of our time hiding in the woods. It was nice.”
According to her mother, Alma would spend “like, eight hours in a row” watching music elated content on YouTube. Still, actually making music herself felt just out of reach. “When I was growing up, music felt like quite a privileged thing. I felt like if you played an instrument, you came from a rich family, or your parents really cared about you,” she says. “My mom and dad, they didn't even realise that music could be an important thing in someone's life.”
Taking matters into her own hands, Alma dropped out of high school at 16 and entered Finland’s version of Idol, from which she was discovered by a German producer and signed as a songwriter and artist. Within a span of four months, she had done the seemingly impossible and become a professional musician. “Music was never something you can get a career out of, and it's still pretty crazy that I have a career out of music. It is one in a million,” says Alma, now 26. “I know that. And I'm very happy.”