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Johanna Kuvaja – Photo Credit: Jari Sokka
Call it Scandipop, call it sugary pop, call it bubblegum pop, call it mainstream – call it what you want. Music-crafters like Robyn, The Knife and Lykke Li have been at the cutting edge of such music for years, but another generation of emerging Scandinavian female musicians is also on the horizon. Could there be something in the water that far north?
Today we present the new single ‘Back for Good’ from Nordic vocalist Johanna Kuvaja – this is a heartfelt ballad reminiscent of Madonna’s seminal 80s heart-wrenching ‘Crazy for You’. This new single follows on the trail of Kuvaja’s debut single ‘Shower’, an upbeat catchy track that had the Finnish press drawing parallels with Sabrina and Samantha Fox and, further abroad, comparisons with Aqua, Katy Perry and Kylie Minogue.
Vividly catching, melodically focused, convincingly performed and flirtastic, this song was written by Kuvaja, who participated in the mixing with award winning London-based producer Sefi Carmel, who also produced and mastered this track. Carmel is no stranger to the music world, well known for his mixes for icons such as David Bowie, Phil Collins, Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, Massive Attack and Birdy.
This one is for fans of Eurovision song contest, fellow Scandinavians Roxette, Aqua and ABBA, plus The Spice Girls and Samantha Fox (two for Team Britain). Kuvaja is indication of the continued trend of Nordic women continuing to shape the pop landscape.
“When I wrote this song, I was at the lowest point of my life. I had lost everything; our house and belongings, health (due to toxic mold), my job, my marriage, and I was on a sick leave due to depression. I wasn’t loving myself and was desperately seeking love outside. These lyrics no longer resonate with me, because I realized that if you feel a void, no one else can fill it for you,” says Johanna Kuvaja.
“You have to do the inner work and become a full cup. So instead of waiting for someone’s love and appreciation, I started to cultivate it within myself. I became what I was seeking in someone else. I spent time alone, took care of myself, got my mind right, and started to build the life I love. Now I feel happy and free within my soul… As I wrote, ‘“The only love you can count on is the love you give to yourself”. Speak your truth and you will attract your reflection.”
A singer-songwriter and music teacher from Tampere, Finland. She has a long history of working in music, in collaboration with various renowned Finnish musicians, winning music composing competitions, touring the country as a duo and pop orchestra, and performing on Finnish television as part of the ‘Finnish Star’ series. Finally she’s putting her foot forward as a solo singer-songwriter.
With a vocal range of six octaves and professional training as a musician, her music has ben influenced by Mariah Carey, George Michael and Shania Twain, among others. Learning piano from the age of 6, she had entered the conservatory by the time she was 10. She eventually studied TV-performance and music at university, earning her degree and becoming a certified piano teacher.
After picking up violin and Finland’s national instrument, the kantele, at 10 she was part of an ensemble that claimed the Finnish Championship at the Folk Music Festival three years in a row (they were forbidden from competing the next year). Here she began performing on television and touring, both nationally and internationally. After winning her first songwriting competition, she entered more such events, including the Eurovision song contest.
After studying music, radio and TV performance at university and earning her Master’s in Education, Kuvaja has ample experience teaching music at school and giving kantele and piano lessons. The next ten years meant putting music to the side owing to motherhood, losing her home and belongings, and multiple health problems due to mold toxicity. For some time, Kuvaja had lost her voice and eyesight, suffered tremors, memory problems and MCS (multple chemical sensitivity). Kuvaja ultimately pulled through all of this, and ultimately found inspiration to write dozens of songs again during her sick leave.
“I love doing arrangements and It’s amazing that I found a producer who is so talented, supportive, respectful and open-minded as Sefi Carmel. He is such a professional, and I feel so blessed that I have a privileged to work with him. He understood right away what I want and he’s always open to my (sometimes crazy) ideas,” says Kuvaja.
‘Back For Good’ will be released on February 14 and will be available digitally across online music stores and streaming platforms.
Written by Johanna Kuvaja
Lauri Hämäläinen – recording, instrumentation, backing vocals
Lauri Malin – recording
Sefi Carmel – production, recording, mixing and mastering
Catch the latest full video from Johanna for Shower, released towards the end of 2019: