Glow-In-The-Dark Finnish Pop Star ALMA On Global Breakthrough, Famed Neon Locks, & Working With BFF Charli XCX
Meet ALMA. The Finnish pop powerhouse has generated over 150 million combined Spotify streams since the release of her acclaimed debut EP -- the aptly titled Dye My Hair.
The set has earned her praise from Charli XCX, BBC's Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw, and even Elton John. She also earned the "Best Newcomer" and "Best Export" honors at Finland's answer to the Grammy Awards, the EMMAs.
Her latest single "Phases," produced by Charlie Handsome (Drake, Mac Miller) and featuring French Montana, also saw the buzzing global pop star collaborate with her new BFF, fellow pop titan and budding music video auteur Charli XCX, who co-wrote the track and helmed the raucous clip. Charli is also writing on the upstart's upcoming album.
Hard at work on her international full-length debut LP, ALMA has also been collaborating in the studio alongside a bevy of diverse hitmakers such as MNEK, Rudimental, Two Inch Punch, Gorgon City and Sub Focus.
Below, ALMA opens up about her fast rise, working with Charli and French Montana, and her "clean, soft punk" style.
Tell us a bit about your origins as a pop singer/songwriter. How did you first get started as a musician in Finland?
I started writing songs when I was 15, started touring with a Finnish female rapper and after that I got signed! Since then it’s been just work, work, work!
You collaborated with Charli XCX on “Phases” and she directed the video as well – how did you first connect with her and what makes her an ideal creative partner for you?
She actually tweeted me saying that she likes my songs! After that we've been making songs and having parties. She totally gets my vibe and she’s very real and a good friend, so it doesn’t feel like working. She’s one of the most talented humans I know!
She seems to have really taken to directing music videos (did her own “Boys” clip as well) – what makes her a killer cinematographer?
She sees visions when she hears songs! She’s very free and open-minded and a bit crazy, so there’s always crazy and unique ideas.
What was the shoot like? Tell us a bit about the production/vision.
Very cool! I felt like the coolest person on the planet when we were shooting. Charli brought lots of cool and nice people to the shoots. It felt like we were really in a crazy house party!
Where did you guys write/record “Phases” and how did you link up with French Montana?
We finished the track in Finland, actually! That was very nice. We were both performing at the same festival, so we were partying at night and working in the day time. We made some calls and found out that French knew who I was and liked the song and the rest is history!
Your debut single “Chasing High” and aptly titled EP Dye My Hair have generated over 150 million streams to date – how have you coped with the fast rise to fame and what has been your biggest “pinch-me” moment so far?
It’s been a huge year for me, so basically the whole year is a big “pinch me” moment! Our summer festivals around Europe were crazy and unbelievable! There have also been moments when some of musical "idols" have contacted me, those moments are also crazy! There’s so many moments, I can’t pick one.
You were praised by pop legend Elton John – what was it like to get a shout out from such an icon?
Its huuge! I think I won’t believe it until I see the man in person! He’s a legend so of course I’m very honored.
You're working hard on your full-length debut w/ MNEK, Charli, Rudimental, Two Inch Punch, and others – what can fans expect from the unreleased tracks and the body of work as a whole?
I’m working very hard on the album at the moment! It’s very important for me and the most important thing is that its real. There’s gonna be songs about me growing up, about love, about fame, about parties, about everything that I feel that I need to speak about! It’s very therapeutic for me to get everything out.
We’re obsessed with your neon locks. When did you first decide to go all the way and have you ever looked back? What do you like best about having such a bold look?
My twin sister did it first and then I just copied! I thought it was going to look horrible, but I’m very glad she did it so I could see that it’s the coolest hair ever. I love it and I hate it cause it’s so bright that everywhere I go people are gonna see me!
How does the strong color effect what you wear/don’t wear (if at all)?
Yes sometimes It’s hard to wear colors cause I feel too childish, etc. But I’ve always just worn black so it’s kinda easy!
You’re traveling constantly for work – how do you maintain the hair color on the road?
This is a good one! I do it by myself, but I’m the worst with my hair. It’s crazy that it’s not falling off yet. Really I use the cheapest conditioners and shampoos, so maybe that’s the secret!
How would you describe your personal style in 3 words?
Clean, soft punk, silver