Blind Channel will represent Finland at Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam with their song “Dark Side”.
The group earned the right to represent Finland by winning Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2021. “Dark Side” convincingly beat entries from six other strong competitors.
And now we’ve compiled 10 facts about this “violent-pop” six-piece. Let’s do this!
Finland at Eurovision 2021: Facts about Blind Channel
1. They formed in 2013
It all started when Joel Hokka (vocals, guitar) and Joonas Porko (guitar) were in high school together. They decided to start a band and recruited Olli Matela (bass) and Tommi Lalli (drums) from groups they’d played with previously. They found rapper/singer Niko Vilhelm Moilanen at a party where he impressed them by rapping over a Linkin Park track. This led to their first live appearance in 2013 in their hometown of Oulu. Blind Channel was born. They knew they had struck gold when they won two big band competitions in quick succession. Their debut single “Naysayers” arrived soon after.
2. They’re a tight-knit squad
It’s not unusual for rock bands to go through multiple line-up changes, especially ones that have been around for almost a decade. But Blind Channel are a tight-knit squad. They’ve had no departures over the years. All five original members remain part of the group. However, the band has expanded. They welcomed keyboardist and sampler Aleksi Kaunisvesi to the fold in 2020. He was first spotted by Joel in 2016, when he released his debut single “UFO”. “It might have been some remix idea that Joel first contacted me about. But we quickly dropped that when we figured out that we had exactly the same musical interests,” says Aleksi. “We started hanging out and making music together until last year, when the guys said ‘shouldn’t you just join the band already, since you’re here all the time anyway?’”
3. They describe their sound as ‘violent pop’
Blind Channel appear to have come up with a sub-genre all of their own — violent pop. It’s essentially heavy metal music with elements of pop. Speaking in 2020, Joel and Joonas explain that there’s more to their sound than waving middle fingers and being angry. “You have to express your feelings somehow and tell the story in your own way”. They also named their most recent album Violent Pop.
4. They got a record deal after playing at Wacken
Germany’s Wacken Open Air is the largest outdoor heavy metal festival in the world. And Blind Channel played there just one year after their formation. They hadn’t even released a full-length album yet. They took part in the Wacken Metal Battle, a competition for unsigned metal bands and talent from all around the world. On the back of this appearance, they signed a record deal with Ranka Kustannus. This led to them supporting many rock and metal giants, such as Simple Plan, Amaranthe and their own idols, Enter Shikari.
5. They’re known for their covers
While a metal band at heart and having “violent pop” as their brand, Blind Channel are not afraid to put their own spin on songs from outside their usual genre. One of their first covers was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us”. In 2020 they released their own version of Anastacia’s “Left Outside Alone”. They also reimagined Ed Sheeran’s “Doubt” and included it on their Revolutions album.
6. They were nominated for a Finnish Grammy
The Emma Gala Awards are Finland’s answer to the Grammys. The prestigious event is arranged annually by Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland and recognises the most distinguished artists and music professionals of the year. Blind Channel received a nod for ‘Rock of The Year’ act in 2018 for their album Blood Brothers. They lost out to Haloo Helsinki!’s Hulluuden Highway. The two bands crossed paths once again at Finland’s Eurovision 2021 selection when Haloo Helsinki! performed as an interval act.
7. Their hometown dedicated a scholarship program to them
After Blind Channel’s UMK victory, their hometown of Oulu set up a scholarship fund of €2,000 in their honour. Inspired by the band, Oulu seeks to promote and financially support local talent and music culture with this new program. The area has no shortage of talent — ranging from Eurovision 2018 singer and X Factor UK alum Saara Aalto to these violent pop pioneers!
— Kaleva (@Kaleva_fi) March 1, 2021
8. They’ve always performed in English
Ever since their first song in 2014, Blind Channel have always recorded and performed in English, rather than their native Finnish. The band admit that this was a risk initially and they were originally advised to sing in Finnish. However, they stuck to their guns. Speaking in a 2020 interview, Joonas and Joel say: “I think it’s brave enough to start a band which is singing in English in Finland… All the record labels said that we need to sing in Finnish… back in the day when we made the first demos and first EPs. They used to say that. But now we’re here”.
9. They have many influences
As we mentioned, they originally bonded over their collective love for Linkin Park. The U.S. outfit remains their biggest influence — “That’s the one influence you can still hear in our music”. They also listened to acts like 30 Seconds to Mars and Enter Shikari when the first started out. Later they began to take inspiration from the likes of Bring Me the Horizon and Twenty One Pilots. However, the band’s tastes go beyond rock — “You have to know pop music if you wanna make violent pop!”. They also listen to Billie Eilish and Post Malone.
10. They’re UMK record breakers
Blind Channel broke all sorts of records when they won Finland’s UMK selection for Eurovision 2021. They achieved the competition’s highest ever televote, taking 54.31% of the total votes cast. For contrast, former record holder Krista Siegfriends netted 38.60% of the total televote, while 2015’s runaway winners PKN had 36.20% with “Aina mun pitää”. And while they did so with a much smaller margin, the six-piece band also set a new record for the highest percentage of the jury score at UMK — 24.49%. Next on the list we have Aksel’s “Looking Back” scoring 23.75% in 2020 and 2016’s Sandhja getting 22.79% for “Sing It Away”. This makes “Dark Side” the most convincing UMK winner since the national final format’s launch in 2012. They also became the first Finnish Eurovision act to hit number one on the charts in over a decade. The last entry to reach the top spot was Waldo’s People with “Lose Control” in 2009.
What do you think of “Dark Side”? Are you looking forward to seeing Finland rock it in Rotterdam? Let us know in the comments!