Episode 61

Kätälyst: Making Music in Finland as a Multinational Band

In this week’s episode, Matt hosts Kätälyst, a multinational rock band based in Espoo. Each of the band’s five members came to Finland independently for education. Although they met online and at Aalto University during their studies in 2010, they did not form the band until 2017.

“Most of us were focusing on our education, trying to find jobs and ways to sustain ourselves. When we finally achieved that, then we had some time to pursue our hobbies.”

The band gets its name from an earlier group that its founding member started in Pakistan in 2004. Because they met and began playing together in Finland, they decided to go with the Finnish spelling of the name. They say that, although their name is Finnish, they are not usually mistaken for a Finnish band.

“We haven’t really been to events where we would be expected to sing Finnish songs.”

From Bangladeshi folk music to Bollywood and from Metallica to English movie tracks, each of the band members has eclectic musical influences. While this occasionally causes conflict over how to develop their sound, it also helps keep their music original and interesting.

Over time, the band’s style has evolved from quieter folk music to loud, rambunctious performances. They do not often choose to play quieter Finnish venues, and they tend to find more receptive audiences in louder outdoor venues.

Kätälyst has a lot of fun playing shows together, but they have faced challenges while trying to find success as foreigners in the Finnish music industry.

“I think we haven’t had the opportunity to perform in places where Finns would. I think one of the main reasons is that… we don’t have a circle of friends who are mostly Finns, particularly in the music community.”

Having access to resources and opportunity comes from being connected to the local scene, they said, which is harder to break into without connections and a good command of the local language.

However, they have had success playing open mic events put on by student organizations; these events usually attract larger, more international audiences who appreciate their sound. In general, they said, Finnish audiences are kinder than audiences in their home countries.

“[Finnish audiences] are not as merciless as the people in Bangladesh. Even when they don’t like us… they clap.” 

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear more from the members of Kätälyst, and to hear their song “Hymn of Hope” featuring Elias, Mea, and Samuli.


Listen to Kätälyst on YouTube