We talk to Helsinki’s multi-talented KO:MI about her new solo album and more

Sanna Komi is maybe one of Finland’s busiest musicians out there at the moment – today sees the release of her wonderful album ‘We Said We Didn’t Know but We Knew’ on Soliti Records and under her solo project name KO:MI.

We got the opportunity to listen to it and it is an absolutely spellbinding piece of work – we caught up with the singer to find out more about all her incredible projects. It is also worth noting that since hearing ‘We Said We Didn’t Know but We Knew’ we haven’t stopped listening to it since – be sure to check out the video to the track at the end of the interview!

Tell us who you are and what is your sound?

My name is Sanna Komi and my solo project goes by the name KO:MI. I’m a Finnish musician from Helsinki, and in addition to KO:MI I play multiple instruments in multiple bands, of which the most active are Pintandwefall, Kynnet, Cats of Transnistria and Dugong Dugon. All of my bands vary quite a lot in terms of sound, but my solo stuff has been described as soundtracks to imaginary movies. It does have a very visual, strong atmospheric quality to it. The newer songs I have written have been – at least to some extent – inspired by a combination of repetitive classical music in the vein of Philip Glass, and female artists with a flair for some drama, such as FKA Twigs, Ane Brun and Agnes Obel. I write music on my violin, and live versions of the songs are mostly based on violin and vocal loops amid some samples, while on the albums there’s a more diverse sound palette consisting of strings, woodwinds, keyboards and electronic stuff. It’s organic chamber-pseudo-pop with big emotions, but only moderate amounts of angst.

What exciting projects have you got coming up?

My second album, titled We Said We Didn’t Know but We Knew, is coming out today (November 13th)! I am really happy with how the album turned out and can’t wait for people to hear it. It has been in the works for quite some time and I am not a patient person by nature, so I’m super excited that it is finally getting out there. Another thing that’s coming out in early Spring is a 15-year anniversary special from Pintandwefall, which is also something to look forward to.

Where did you grow up and what music influenced you?

I grew up in Vantaa, the slightly cheaper city right next to Helsinki. It was a great place to spend a childhood, and also big enough (and right next to the capital) that there was always a lot of stuff to do growing up. I started playing violin when I was six, and I was super excited about Vivaldi. But I didn’t really have any music enthusiasts around me, and mainly subsisted on a popular radio -diet until high school, when I met people who listened to Radiohead, Muse, Placebo and the other almost-but-not-quite-mainstream indie staples. I obviously got super invested into Radiohead and Björk, and especially the latter I think shaped my ideas of what pop songs can be: anything.

What cool places do you recommend to visit in your city (bars, restaurants, etc)?

You can get a sense of the local indie music scene in bar venues such as Lepakkomies and Loose, and in Tenho and Siltanen you can enjoy a night of free live music with really good food and drinks (with great vegan options, too!) I’m also addicted to the Mien Tron in Sen Chay – I could eat it at least twice a week for eternity.

The modern art museums Amos Rex, Kiasma and Taidehalli host really interesting exhibitions, and there is a vibrant art scene that you can sample for free by looking at what’s on show in the many galleries in the city. A different kind of a must-go is Sompasauna at the edge of Sompasaari, which is a volunteer-run free sauna (+swimming in the sea) sitting basically on occupied land, right next to new property developments. There’s also lovely hiking/nature opportunities very close by in Nuuksio and Sipoonkorpi national parks, which are well worth a visit!

We love recommendations – what have you been listening to, watching, or reading recently?

I’m currently reading Monika Fagerholm’s Vem dödade Bambi? (Who Killed Bambi?), and I can already whole-heartedly recommend it. I’m sure there will be an English translation soon as it just won the Nordic literature prize. Also, I think everyone should read Sarah Schulman’s Conflict Is Not Abuse, which is a very timely and thought-provoking book about our relationship with conflict from the personal level to the international.

Lately I’ve also watched a lot of trashy TV and movies to cope with everything the 2020 has given us, and my favourite might be the bisexual season of reality-match-making-tv Are You the One. Also I absolutely loved the biopic of Hilma af Klint, and I finally gathered enough bravery to watch Carrie, only to realise that it’s not at all the horror film I always thought it to be – so that’s a recommendation to all the fellow horror-sissies out there!

If you’ve never listened to Pablo Casals playing Beethoven’s Cello Suites, you really should give it a try even if classical music isn’t your thing – and not just on the background, but really listening to them. I get chills every time. Other artists that give me chills are Kath Bloom, Agnes Obel, and Kadhja Bonet, and I really like the new soundtrack Själö by Lau Nau for the film of the same name.

Finally, what was the last thing that made you swear out loud?

Yesterday I wanted to fix a hook for a small curtain on a beam near the ceiling in our entryway. First, I tried to hammer in a nail, with no luck. Then I tried a screw, with lots of cursing and still no results. Finally, I tried to drill a hole in it. Screws and nails constantly falling on the floor very far below the folding stairs I was on, and arms tired from holding all the tools above my head, this ******* beam beat me. The curtain continues to hang too low and now the ceiling has some lovely markings from all my hard work.

Watch the beautiful video to KO:MI’s “We Said We Didn’t Know but We Knew” directed by Hetta Inari Komi

Interview by Alex Minnis

Photography by Hetta Inari Komi

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