Aksel: “It was pretty clear I wanted to participate again”

This Saturday we get to find out who carries the Finnish flag in Rotterdam, when the final of Uuden musiikin kilpailu (UMK) 2021 takes place in Tampere, Finland. One of the finalists of the contest is last year’s winner Aksel Kankaanranta, who tries to renew his victory with his emotional song Hurt. Aksel is a 23-year-old singer from Turku, Finland, and he first came to the public knowledge in 2017, when he finished second in The Voice of Finland. After Voice Aksel has done music both in English and in Finnish and also sang the chorus of the mega hit song Jättiläinen by Pyhimys, a member of another UMK 2021 contestant Teflon Brothers. 

Even though Aksel is very busy at the moment getting ready for the UMK-final, he luckily still had time to answer a few questions about UMK and music. This is what Aksel told us:

Hi Aksel and thank you for giving me this interview! Last year when I interviewed you just before UMK 2020, I asked you about your favorite Eurovision songs and you mentioned Fairytale by Aleksander Rybak. This year I’m going to start this interview by asking you about your Finnish Eurovision favorites. Who is your favorite Finnish Eurovision representative and why?

“Da Da Dam by Paradise Oskar, it’s just so comfy and beautiful song. And it also reminds us that even a single person makes a difference in saving the planet.”

You won UMK last year, but didn’t get to represent Finland in Eurovision since Eurovision 2020 got cancelled. How did you feel when you found out about the cancellation of Eurovision 2020 and was it clear to you from the start that you’d apply to UMK in 2021 also?

“I felt disappointment, not because the cancellation as it was expected, but what an amazing opportunity I missed, it would’ve been so cool to visit Rotterdam and see the other representatives. Also it was pretty clear I wanted to participate again, just to see if I’d still get my chance.”

Your song ”Hurt” is so beautiful and emotional and your interpretation is amazing! How would you describe the song and the message of it?

“The song is very personal to me, as it reminds me of how I finally got back on my feet after years of struggling with my own mind. And I hope the song helps others as well.”

You’ve done music both in English and in Finnish, and for example in November 2020 you released a single Muista kuka oot in Finnish. Was it clear to you from the start that your UMK-song would be in English and do you think it has some effect on the interpretation of the song if you sing in your native language or in English?

“I’ve always thought that I want to do music in both English and Finnish, I think singing in English helps convey the message of the song better to international listeners, and I also like how smooth it feels to sing in English.”

Do you think you have some advantage of the fact that you went through UMK last year and you know how the production of the show works?

“Well, maybe. It’s easier to adjust.”

What kind of stage show can we expect from you in UMK?

“Well, there’s a lot more choreography than last year and I want to try different things.”

Besides your own song, which song is your favorite from UMK 2021?

“I think Oskr’s Lie is my current favorite, I can relate to the feelings he conveys and it is a beautiful song. Go Turku!”

We all know you’re a really talented singer and musician. What other special talents do you have? Are you for example really good at drawing or cooking?

“I’m really good at video games 🌚”

What would it mean to you to win UMK for the second time and represent Finland in Eurovision 2021?

“It would be very cool, and I would be honored.”

What would you like to say to our readers and your fans from all over the world?

“Hope you like my song! And Topi says hi!”

Thank you very much for the interview and the best of luck to UMK final! 

You can listen to Aksel’s UMK-entry Hurt here:

If Aksel is your favorite to win UMK, don’t forget to vote for him in our poll:

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