Eurovision hopeful wants to prove Finnish music can achieve global success

Eurovision hopeful Kaarija has said he wants to win the contest to prove songs in the Finnish language can have international success.

The singer, 29, has captured the attention of the voting public with his luminous green bolero-style jacket and riotous song, Cha Cha Cha, which goes from metal to hyperpop in less than three minutes.

He faces stiff competition during Saturday’s grand final from other Nordic countries including Loreen from Sweden, Alessandra from Norway and Reiley from Denmark.

Eurovision 2023
Finland’s Kaarija in his mobile sauna outside the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency from inside his mobile sauna parked outside the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, the Helsinki-born musician said: “In Finland many people are thinking that if you go to Eurovision with a Finnish song that song can’t win.

“I want to do that and say to Finnish people that yes, it is possible to do that thing. And of course, I want to do something new. I want to be the first artist who does that.

“Of course in Finland we have bands and artists who do that and make concerts in Europe but I want to do that huge.”

Kaarija, who is also a semi-professional gambler outside of his career in music, stopped short of giving odds on his own victory but suggested it would be tight with Sweden.

“Hard question because I think Loreen is now the top one,” he said.

“Of course I have a chance. I don’t know how big my chance is but I hope I have some chance to win.”

Eurovision 2023
Kaarija during the first Eurovision semi-final (Peter Byrne/PA)

He also revealed his pre-final ritual will include breathing exercises and listening to rock band Rammstein, whose logo he has tattooed on his chest.

“I try to relax and breathe slowly,” he said.

“Sometimes I listen to Rammstein’s music to give me power and energy.

“Then we put our hands together and, ‘One, two, three’ and we say, ‘Paalla’, which means ‘Game on’.”

Kaarija has received much support from his home nation, where the stone men statues outside Helsinki Central Station have been dressed in his trademark green outfit.

He said: “Of course it feels great but I don’t want to think about these things too much. I try to put my focus only on the final and do my best.”