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Why Finnish pop singer ALMA can’t stop chasing highs

The neon-haired singer went from TV singing sensation to setting Vegas alight with her new video ‘Chasing Highs’, premiering exclusively on Dazed

“If I’m being totally honest – we wanted to party,” Finnish pop singer ALMA says of the decision to fly from Helsinki to Las Vegas to film her speaker-busting video for “Chasing Highs”. “Me and my friend had our 21st birthday and we were like, ‘Fuck, let’s get a lot of money and shoot that video there.”

And why the hell not when you’re a highlighter-haired cease and desist letter to boring societal norms, armed with label funding? Sin City serves as a fitting backdrop for ALMA, real name Alma-Sofia Miettinen, who gambled her way into the industry by first appearing on Idols, Finland’s own version of singing talent competition The Voice.

Often with TV talent shows, we think of naff acts and attention seekers trying to snag their 15 minutes. Not ALMA, who was only 15 years old when she signed on for the show. “I didn’t get to go to music school and I was like ‘Fuck it! I’m just going to go there,’ you know? I think for me it was the only solution – I didn’t have any producer friends to call, or anyone from any labels; and I couldn’t get out demos or anything.”

Belting out her off-kilter pop – a burnished vocal mélange of Amy Winehouse and Charli XCX – to the entire nation yielded a solid fanbase and a deal with a local label. Fast forward to now, the 21-year-old is wrapping up sessions in LA with MNEK, Rudimental, Charli XCX, Sub Focus, and Two Inch Punch.

It was only during a car ride with her mum, singing along to the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, that she realised she should take music seriously. “I sang that to my mum and she started crying and I think that was the first time I was like, ‘OK, what’s going on?’ I remember I was a little in shock.”

Though bass-thumper “Karma” was her first release last July, “Chasing Highs” was one of the first tracks ALMA wrote while on a songwriting kick in Berlin. It’s a quasi-club anthem about modern love and swipe-right culture. “I just had a strange moment when I was in a club and I was very wasted and somehow this person made me feel, like, ‘Wow.’ It’s about this weird feeling you get when you see someone and you look into each other’s eyes. I think I felt that a bit more, sober.”

Directed by Thomas Trail and Morgan Freed, the video is a 24-hour takeover of Vegas, where ALMA and her matching neon-blonde cronies tread the pavements, bash speakers with a baseball bat and (literally) burn rubber. It’s all laying the foundation for ALMA’s zero fucks persona.

Naturally, ALMA knows exactly what she’s doing. “I’m very involved!” she says, “about my style, how I look – everything. I have a very clear image of how I want to look and how I want to sound and what I want to say.” With her trajectory mapped out and her cybergoth image on lock, ALMA’s future looks as bright as her glow-in-the-dark hair.