How do you feel like being a foreigner in Berlin?
Basically, it's not a big thing for me. I come from a culture, which has a good reputation in Germany. But sure, I do have some problems, for example, with the language. I do not talk German too well. That's giving me some hard time. And I also get some trouble because I don't know the city and the culture yet. My habits and my norms are Nordic. They differ a bit from the central European habits and norms.
Is it easier to be an artist abroad or an artist in your own country?
It depends. I'm in the situation, where I don't have any name in my own country. It seems to be, that I'm totally stuck. I have to "fight" for the possibilities to work, to play. But, again, as I don't have the name, no one gives me the chance to try. Here in Berlin, I -of course- have the same problem. But, why not to try to do it here? Here I can face the problem to be discriminated as well. If I have to build up my name by myself, from the level zero -why not to do it here?
Could you imagine yourself do it in another country, in another city in Europe or in America? Would it be easier for you, or more difficult?
Well, earlier I thought I'd like to do it in Sweden. I'd like to move there, I know the language much better than German. However, the Swedish culture is pretty much like the Finnish one, so it wouldn't really make any difference to go to Sweden. I've also tried Paris and London. I think Paris just doesn't work in my case, and I also believe that London would be too difficult. Right now it seems to be that in jazz Berlin is the place to be. Here the atmosphere is the most open, the most creative, the most productive. That's why I came here.
Have you heard of German racism, of skinheads? Are you not afraid of them?
No, I'm not. Actually, I look like a skinhead myself. I'm bold, too. I've heard about the German racism. But, I think "the skinheads" or other extreme movements have nothing against me.
So, you are a European. Would it be more difficult for you if you were black?
I guess it would be more difficult. For years I've considered myself as a European. I don't even feel like being an East or North European any more. I just feel like being a European.
Once again. Why not Finland? Why do you want to leave, to move abroad?
My dream is to become an international artist. Finland is a good place to educate yourself and to gain the basic skills that you need in your profession. I suppose it would be hard to be an international artist if I lived in Finland. And, as I told you earlier, I'm almost like a foreigner in Finland. Why not be a real foreigner, in a new place? Why not build up the new name somewhere else?
That is interesting. Why do you feel like a foreigner in Finland?
I work in the jazz field. My instrument is rare.
What do you play?
I play five string viola. Or, let's put it short: I play jazz violin. There aren't too many people who try to play jazz on a viola...I mean, already in my own field, jazz, I'm a sort of foreigner. Violin is not a part of jazz tradition, at least the violin is not so strongly connected to it, if you compare it, for example, to the saxophone or the piano or the drums. Also, I don't like the way you're supposed to get a name in Finland. You know, I do not want to do it in the normal way. That's not me. I mean, I don't want to be good at school, to gain publicity in a normal way, to apply for grants, scholarships, etc. That's not my style. I feel strongly like being an individual. It is hard to get started, because I'm not just a musician. For example, if I may compare myself to an average musician, it seems to be that I've been reading much more literature. It seems to be that, among musicians, people think I'm "an intelligent guy". They think that I read too much...
After your studies, you worked three years as a teacher. Then you decided to quit that job. You didn't want to do it any more. Why?
I decided that I'm not going to do it "so much" any more. I think I have to do it a little bit. But from now on I try to do it as little as necessary. When you teach your own profession, your own area (which is music in my case) you may lose a lot of energy and your creativity. When I was teaching music, I was not able to do too much music, to compose or to play. The teaching turned down the music in me, in my soul. I guess, it would have been easier if I was teaching for example a totally different subject. Let's say, literature. However, I'm not yet so good in literature.
Do you think that an artist should be supported by the government or an organisation in order to get his freedom and time to work as an artist?
I believe that the artist should be able to support himself. I say so, because I haven' had the possibility to get a grant or a scholarship. I don't get them because I do not have the name. If I were in a position were I could get them, I think I would say the support is cool and an artist definitely needs it. But, I do not know. It seems that when you have to fight for the living, and also earn the money to support your art, the artistic results are a little bit better. Things may not be too easy. But, on the other hand, it is important to have communities or foundations, which can arrange events and programs, or which can try to publish new things. Like contemporary music. I experience that I must have something that makes me "depressed" or "angry". I need to have something to fight against. From that "fight" I get my artistic energy. If I'm feeling too good and satisfied, I won't be doing anything. I'll totally lose my inspiration. Then, in my case, a scholarship could damage my creativity.