From dreams to reality —
a bank loan for an album
Written by Moona Laakso
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“I started doing gigs when I was young. I played piano and violin, sang in blues, rock, jazz ensembles and was involved in folk music bands as well as in theatre productions. I was offered big recording contracts a couple of times. But I refused. Afterwards, I’ve wondered if it was silly to do that, but I just wanted to play gigs then.
For years, I’ve been in a process of finding ‘my thing’ and my identity. When I turned 30, I felt like I needed some distance from playing as a solo artist. It’s hard work, especially if you don’t know who you are. We had also done a huge amount of work with folk-pop band Ksenja and had received attention. We decided to put that in the dock, too. I needed time to determine for myself my own values, who I am and what I do. I pretty much gave up everything, including the apartment and my stuff. I knew I’d never remove a musician in myself, but I wanted to get out of the race.
As I traveled the world, I began to see myths and stories in a new light. I felt like I wanted to grow as a sound artist, combine all my experience and expertise into a multidisciplinary entity, make an ambitious and unique album and realize the visual world that supports it. From there, I could continue to explore professional identity.
I returned to Helsinki from around the world and decided to apply for a loan for the project because I knew that my competence was not yet sufficient for grants. I also wanted the freedom to build my own work instead of, for example, a record company influencing what I was doing. In order to get a loan, I worked at the same time as a voice actor, lyricist, cleaner, gym worker, barista.
Four years ago, I marched to the bank to ask for a loan even though I knew it was difficult to convince a bank about an arts project. I intuitively found a person who understood my vision and granted a loan that covered the making of the album. After taking out the loan, I was scared and nervous every day, but I just decided to trust myself. After receiving the loan the intensive work mode continued for two years as I worked with the compositions, lyrics and the songwriting collaborations of the album material. I was really inspired and felt like I was finding myself. When risk taking does not come from the need of proving something to others’ but from genuine enthusiasm, one should not be afraid to commit. Afterwards, it became clear that many people were surprised that I had funded my project myself; as I collaborate on the album with music producer Jukka Backlund, it was seen that as an experienced male producer he leads the project and I was just the one obeying. I feel it just proves that it is challenging to be seen as a strong professional, as a female, in certain fields of work.
I’m proud of years of hard work. I’ve found new collaborations and friends and a whole new confidence as an artist. The loan was used to make a great record and with renewed confidence I negotiated for myself to collaborate with Playart Productions and we created a series of three music videos. I’m sure a lot of people around me think I’m out of my mind, or this is never going to work out. I think it’s more important than the goal to travel. The goal is important yet the creation part; the making of something should be the main focus. I would like to encourage others to have the courage to invest in themselves professionally or privately even if people around you don’t support or see who you can grow up to be.”