Sukupolvien unelma (Huuhkajat EM-2021)
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As the saying goes: “What’s bad for your heart is good for your art.” The home truth for artists has played an important role in the life of Niila Arajuuri. Just last summer, the Finnish singer-songwriter became a shooting star with his celebrated debut EP “Sorry”, launching the 28 year-old musician into the ranks of the most exciting and highly talented artists of his time. And 2016 will also be a big year for the Scandinavian folk-pop melancholic: After support shows as a special guest with Sunrise Avenue and a largely sold-out headline tour of German clubs, Niila now presents “Gratitude”, his eagerly anticipated first LP!
As a child, Niila desperately wanted to become a professional footballer. But today, instead of shivering in shorts on artificial pitches and kicking balls in the Finnish first division, he has urban folk goals of a different kind, winning over the hearts and minds of his constantly growing fans. After gathering early experience in live performance at tiny gigs in his Finnish homeland, it didn’t take long for Niila to make his way onto the very big stages in this country. In late June, the singer and guitarist played as the support act for his Finnish countrymen Sunrise Avenue, performing to a wildly enthusiastic audience averaging over 25,000. Then last December, he travelled on his own headline tour of German venues, which was largely sold out – despite the fact that he had by then only released one 4-track EP! That alone speaks volumes about the incredible musical qualities of the likeable young singer. On his debut album “Gratitude”, Niila finally lets his music speak for itself!
Niila comes from one of those sleepy little towns in the south of Finland that you usually only hear about on insider travel reports. It’s about half an hour’s drive from Helsinki, as relaxed, attractive and charmingly obstinate as the songs by the bearded musician. Inspired by his dad’s record collection, Niila started writing his own songs at the age of 15, later posting them on YouTube. “I come from a pretty musical family,” the singer and multi-instrumentalist explains. “Our house was crammed with musical instruments. My dad was a songwriter and taught me the basics on the drums and piano when I was a child. He also had an incredibly broad taste in music, so I grew up with a variety of genres.” Those include rock, pop and hip-hop – elements that can be found today in Niila’s unique signature sound. When he finally finished school, Niila dived into his professional music career in his early twenties, with the great support of a good friend – none other than the Sunrise Avenue front man Samu Haber, who was quick to discover his exceptional talent and sense of captivating songs. After more than ten years’ hard work, the time is now right for the release of his first album.
While the “Sorry” EP released last June was produced by Jukka Immonen (Sunrise Avenue et al.) and recorded in his studio in Finland, Niila decided to record “Gratitude” with producer Hannes Büscher (Tim Bendzko, Culcha Candela, Lena) and his experienced team to give his creativity complete freedom in the renowned Berlin Beatgees studio. “The chemistry between Hannes and me worked immediately,” Niila explains as he describes the recording sessions over a period of several months. “We immediately understood each other and were on the same wavelength. Naturally there were also occasional creative conflicts, but I think you need a certain tension to fight for your music and ultimately deliver good songs.” While last June’s “Sorry” EP presented Niila in an extremely melancholic, world-weary mood, “Gratitude” reflects the full range of the Finnish musician’s different facets. “The EP was a good door-opener that provided brief insight into my sound cosmos. On ‘Gratitude’, you can see the complete picture – who I am, what I do. It’s important to me that my audience also gets to see my lighter side.”
Niila mixes his stripped-down singer-songwriter sound of light neo-soul vocals, acoustic guitar and piano with electronic programming, deeper urban beats and hand-picked samples to create a fresh style mix that immediately strikes the ear and is located somewhere between folk and pop. At times funky, uplifting and full of energy, it can change instantly to become engaging, intimate and emotional. “Gratitude” unites all the highs and especially the lows that everyone has to deal with from time to time. And it shows us how to make the best of it. Small gestures with great impact are packed into a modern production. Niila explains his work as follows: “When I write songs, I always start with the melody in my head. For the tracks on ‘Gratitude’ I withdrew deep into the Finnish wilderness, to a tiny hut somewhere in the forest, far away from other people. In my solitude, I listened inside myself to focus completely on my feelings and thoughts. Closed curtains. Darkness. Silence. It may sound like a bit of a cliché, but for me song-writing means a little self-therapy. It can be very liberating to write everything down and cleanse the spirit that way.”
Clearing your mind the Finnish way. For instance in the first single “Restless Heart” – an immediately catchy weighing up of two options; either to settle down with a partner or remain an unfettered free spirit and enjoy all the attractions of life. It’s Niila’s very personal struggle with the little angel and demon on his shoulders. The theme is continued in the contemplative ballad “Sail My Way”, a song about vulnerability and the pain of loving someone while you’re gradually moving apart from each other and the only hope that remains is that your paths will cross again one day. By contrast, the groove monster “New Love” and the dirty upbeat “Play You” set a different tone. Even on a second hearing, the latter song refuses to reveal who or what the object of Niila’s desire actually is – a woman... or perhaps his guitar? He laughs. “If you spend a lot of time with your guitar, you sometimes start getting funny ideas. For musicians, their instrument sooner or later becomes their babe. That can be an advantage, since a guitar never cheats on you...”
Niila knows what he’s talking about. “Life isn’t always about happy moments. Everyone has their own battles to fight and carries their burdens around with them. Those difficult times inspire me. It’s when the most powerful lyrics come to mind. ‘Sorry’ and ‘Forgive Me Brother’ are very personal, but the mood is a little brighter in ‘Smell The Roses’. It’s about not worrying too much. We can’t predict what the future has in store for us. Instead we should simply enjoy the beautiful moments. I express both – the good and the bad times. You can listen to my songs when you’re feeling rock bottom with a broken heart, sitting by the window in your pyjamas with a family pack of ice cream and tear-smeared make-up on your face. Or you can play it at a party to get into a good mood and pluck up some courage. Sooner or later things will always get better. Even after the worst crash.”
Niila will once again perform live as the supporting act for Sunrise Avenue around the time of the release of “Gratitude”.


Official Photos