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Pää-Äijät: “Our song is about freedom and overcoming obstacles” (Finnish semifinalists – Exclusive Interview)

ESC+Plus has talked to Pää-Äijät (Julmari, JaBa), semifinalists of this year’s Finnish national selection for Eurovision, “UMK”. Julmari and JaBa will perform “Shamppanjataivas” (Champagne sky) in the first semi-final set on February 6.

ESC+Plus: Hello! First of all, thank you so much for your time and congratulations on having been selected to take part in UMK 2016.

E+: Can you tell us about you, your musical career and important achievements?

Julmari: We both come from different backgrounds artistically and musically. Jaba has been a Dj almost his whole life and learned how to entertain people with his raw physical charisma and unnaturally athletic body language and still not even knowing how to sing properly. Only now as he has learned that he has a charismatic and personal voice is his entertaining potential reaching its peak with Pää-äijät and what a great time it is now right before the ESC2016!

Jaba: Julmari has a different background than mine. He has done metal music in his youth, studied pop and jazz in conservatory and only after that, started rocking his DJ-set. He basically started from scratch as he had no references or prior touch with the DJ-scene and has done some pretty innovative stuff on his own so i was excited when we started talking about joining forces back in the day. We made a song called ”#TINDERMUNAA” as The Nevöhööd Djs Julmari & Jaba, a song about Tinder, the dating application and it got a little bit of attention but nothing major but we didn’t mind ‘cos at that time we just made the song to add some flavour to our Dj-set.

Julmari: yeah, we had some great times touring and rocking Finland so we decided to do another song with another producer and with that song (Pääpäivä or Mainday in english!) we landed a record deal and things got a little more serious. We seriously had to ponder whether nevöhööd djs was the right name for us or not as we were already gaining popularity and decided to ditch the name. The chorus on the new single said something like ”I’m the maindude or mainguy” so we borrowed from that and Pää-Äijät was formed, it means basically ”MAINMEN”, your go-to-guys when partying and having a good time.

Jaba: That was about six months ago and since then we’ve managed to do a series of amazing yet unforeseen things that we are proud of, for an example the Finnish Red nose day. We had an underground following that kept asking for our music on national radio stations but they didn’t play it for some reasons unknown, but on red nose day they had a special show that said they would play our music as long as people keep donating money. The show collected about 4000e for the children in undeveloped countries and our music got played continuously for 1 hour and 40 minutes, the whole duration of the show. The funny thing was that we only had two songs at that time, so it was the same songs playing over and over again!

E+: What impelled you to take part in UMK2016?

Julmari: Actually, nobody asked us, at least not until we had secured a place there. Kari, the man behind our label said that he’d secured us a place in UMK2016 if we would like to go and we were flabbergasted like WHAT?!?! five minutes of spontaneous yelling and screaming later we said YES in surprisingly smooth tone.

E+: How did you feel when you knew you had qualified for the semi-finals? Did you expect it?

Julmari: It was a surprise definitely, as our record contract was only for one song and we were waiting for information if we had caused enough stir and gained enough popularity to continue doing this.

Jaba: It was awesome time. From despair to ecstacy as our label OK’d the new songs and writing commenced. The first demo was ”Shamppanjataivas” and our label offered it (yes! the demo) to the organisation and they loved it! So two days earlier we were on the brink of giving up, couple of days later we are one of the lucky 18 from finland to compete for a place in the biggest musical competition in the world, how do you like that, a Cinderella story.

E+: What would it mean for you to represent Finland? 

Julmari: We have always been proud finns and will be after this competition, so if the Finnish people vote for us to compete in ESC2016 we are more than honoured to accept that responsibility.

E+: Can you tell us about your song? What is the story behind the lyrics?

Jaba: Most defiantly! The song is about us on the road working hard to make money, money that enables us to support our families and loved ones while at the some time having fun and just basically ROCKING..!!

Julmari: it’s a song about freedom, overcoming obstacles and being a better person in the process!

E+: Why do you think your song has to be selected for Stockholm? What are your strengths to reach the top in the competition?

Jaba: the song is hope in its purest form! if we can make it to Eurovision song contest, then anything is possible and the world can be a better place if you just believe.

Julmari: yeah, that is our strength. Two ordinary guys from Finland making it there, a fairytale story and a killer song, not to mention the show! We promise the most rocking show EVER in Eurovision history if we make it there, big and flashy has always been our forte!

E+: Have you started to prepare your stage performance for umk2016 ?

Jaba: Yes, plans are on the way and advancing, expect greatness!

E+: Do you usually watch Eurovision? What are your favorite songs of the history of the competition?

Julmari: I don’t watch it to see how finland does in the competition as we usually don’t succeed very well but i like to watch the shows and the glamour of it all, the performances are astounding to say at least!

Jaba: of course i watch, how could you miss a party that great! My all-time favorite comes from Sweden (don’t tell anyone!) and is ”Euphoria” by Loreen, a great and beautiful song.

Julmari: My favorite has to be Finland 1966, ”Playboy” by Ann Christine, a charming and joyful song about a neighborhood playboy who’s up to no good, but the singer won’t give up to temptation, how can you not like that?

E+: If you could choose a Eurovision former participant to sing with, who would it be?

Jaba: I love my 90’s eurodisco so it has to be Gina G, great britain 1996, uuh aah, just a little bit!

Julmari: if I cannot choose the same, i have to pick Conchita Wurst, ‘cos we basically look the same 🙂

E+: Besides Eurovision, what are your plans for this year?

Jaba: This is the year of victory for us, the whole ESC2016 came as a sidetrack for our original plans but this is a way too big thing to miss so this is our main priority now and we will see how long does it take us..!!

Julmari: We already have new songs ready and plans are on the way for a lot of things, everything is going to plan except the ESC we didn’t count for, so we might even have an international fan base by the start of the summer so that will make things a little bit more complicated but nevertheless awesome!!

Jaba: I think at least ”Shamppanjataivas” is already being translated to english and maybe the other ones also, all that depends on our success at the UMK2016 and if we make it to Eurovision.

E+: Finally, can you send a message for our readers and Eurovision fans?

Jaba: If we can do it, you can do it! Julmari: Join us on our quest for glory, ‘cos we just ROCK!!

E+: Thank you for your time and good luck!

About Tony Rodríguez (Spain)