ALMA on her ‘scary’ debut album, and working with Charli XCX, Lykke Li and Halsey

"This is a time for females"

Rising singer songwriter ALMA has revealed an all-star wish-list of collaborators for her upcoming ‘scary’ debut album – including Charli XCX, Lykke Li and Halsey.

Having wracked up millions of streams on Youtube and working as a frequent collaborator with Charli XCX, the young Finnish pop sensation won a place on the longlist of the BBC Sound Of 2018, and shows no signs of slowing down. We caught up with ALMA before she owned the VEVO Stage at The Great Escape 2018 to find out what the future has in store.

How’s 2018 going for you?

“It’s been very great so far. I’m working on my album at the moment with a lot of really inspirational people. I’ve been in LA like five times this month and I’m excited about festival season and my tour. It’s super exciting, but mainly I’ve been writing a lot. The album is in a really good place.”

How has LA been shaping the record?

“You know, it’s a good balance between LA and Finland. I get the memories, the feelings and emotions in Finland, then I go to LA and finish the stories in a good way. If I stayed in Finland, then I’d just write stories that don’t go well. I always love movies and need them to have a happy ending. Even if somebody dies, there needs to be hope. In LA and I can have a deep and crazy story from Finland, then LA just gives it another perspective.”

Where would you say the album takes your sound from what we’ve heard so far?

“It’s definitely a big step for me. People are going to react and like ‘what is she doing now?’ It’s something different that I’ve never done and it’s the first time that I’ve been 100% behind what I want to do and be true to myself. As an artist, that can take time. Some don’t find it until their third album. I’m really happy that on my first album I’m like ‘oh fuck, this is it’. It’s a risky move for me, but everybody around me is supportive. I’m quite nervous.”

So you’ve gone quite far out of your comfort zone?

“Yes – musicwise, melodywise, everything. I try not to think about any pressure or anything. I just want to focus on what makes me feel good. This is my whole identity. The first single that is coming soon is the best song I’ve ever done, or can ever do. It’s just 100% me.”

Lyrically, what are you dealing with on the album?

“I don’t want to reveal too much, because if I reveal the whole title you’re going to be like ‘oh, I get it’. It’s all about what it’s like to be a woman and the struggles I’ve gone through to become who I am now. It’s about breaking the rules as an artist and a young person. I’m not a typical pop star. It’s very scary, but I can’t be anything else.”

Having you noticed much a change in the culture of the music industry towards female artists in recent years?

“I think so. Yes, but I’ve grown a lot. I started doing this when I was 18 and now I’m 22. I know that it’s getting better, and people take me a little more seriously now because I actually have a vision and I’ve proven myself. I can write songs on my own. I know what I am. I think the next two years will show that this is a time for females.”

Are people still getting the wrong idea about you?

“Not that much. People say that I’m a pop star who does up tempo dance music. You know, I’ve done that. That’s a good place to start, but the new album is going to be a different beast. I change all the time. Maybe I’ll do punk music in five years?

Does it get frustrating when people lump ‘Scandi pop’ all together as one term?

“I don’t take it like that, because I think Scandi pop is the best kind of pop. I hope and feel that Finnish music is coming up slowly. In two years it’s going to be the most exciting thing. Finland is undiscovered. There are so many great young rappers. I hope young people get inspired by my career because in Finland the culture is that Sweden is better and America are the superstars and we should just mind our own business. We’re not international in any way or the country of winners. We are a country of people that are just fine with what we have and not reaching to be bigger. With social media and the internet, our time is coming. It needs to happen.”

What can you tell us about the collaborators on the album?

“I work with Charli XCX, and there’s a songwriter whose executive producer on the album called Justin Tranter. I’ve also been working with producers like Bloodpop and Andrew Wyatt. Hopefully I get to work with Lykke Li soon. I met her recently and we talked about it, but you never know.

“Tove Lo too, I’ve been working with the best people.”

And you’re playing with Halsey in October. Do you have any kind of working relationship with her?

“I met her at a party in LA and she just ran to me and hugs me and was like ‘I’m your biggest fan’. I was like ‘are you Halsey?’ It was crazy, and she was like ‘we have to work together’. Whatever you want. We hung out at Coachella, and we’ll hopefully record together on tour. She has the craziest schedule in the world. She loves me and I obviously love her.”

Halsey tour dates and tickets

Check out Halsey’s upcoming UK dates with ALMA below. Tickets are available here.

London – Eventim Apollo (September 22)
London – Eventim Apollo (September 23)