Jesse Markin: A singer and songwriter from Finland, who doesn’t mince his words

(PHOTO: Shoot Hayley) Jesse Markin was honoured twice at this year's Emma Gala.
(PHOTO: Shoot Hayley) Jesse Markin was honoured twice at this year's Emma Gala.

(promotion)* Do you already know the singer and songwriter Jesse Markin from Finland? The Finnish artist was already awarded as „Newcomer of The Year“ at this year’s Emma Gaala 2020 and for his debut album „Folk“ he just received the „Critics Choice Award“. In the following interview he is talking about his music, his debut album and what inspires him for songwriting. And of course he also talks about his Liberian roots and why it is also important for him to write songs about socially relevant topics such as xenophobia, violence or hatred.

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“Folk” – a debut album with word power – Interview with singer and songwriter Jesse Markin from Finland

Finntastic:
Moikka Jesse, kiva tavata. We are excited to find out more about you and your music. But before we talk about your debut album “Folk”, just tell us about yourself. You were born in Liberia, but you have been living in Finland since you are six years old. Was it difficult for you as a kid to get used to your new home country?

Jesse:
Well, weirdly for me it started off well but mainly, because I was only six years old, when I moved to Finland. As soon as I started to understand my surroundings I began to pic up these little nuances.  Before that, as a kid, I wasn’t thinking of the colour of my skin. That came later with the environment and obviously as you grew there were more things to discover. For example I was the first black kid in our schools history. That already is something.

Finntastic:
The Finnish and Liberian culture seem to be quite different, or does both cultures also have something in common?

Jesse:
I feel like the human experience in general binds us all. We all want good for our families and we want to find our purpose in life. But if we are talking about music, food and things of those nature, they could be very different but beautiful and unique in their own way. 


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(VIDEO: Perttu Inkilä, Tuomas Kohvakka, Patrik Lilja and Tuomas Nurmi) The power in his songs makes his live performances an unforgettable experience. This is a recording from a live show at Tavastia Klubi  in Helsinki from September 2019.

Finntastic:
Since when does your heart beat for music and have you always wanted to become a professional musician?

Jesse:
Music has always played an big role in my live. I’ve been doing professional music since 2003. At that time I also began my studies to become a graphic designer. I graduated in 2006. But then music became more important.

Finntastic:
Before you started a career as a solo artist, you were a member of the rap group “The Megaphone State“ for tweleve years. What do you like about rap and how has this time influenced you as an artist? And are your Liberian roots also reflected in your music?

Jesse:
The first thing about rap that drew me in was the energy and the further I went the more I found.  History, art, culture and people in the form of music. In Finland they have a saying: “seura tekee kaltaisekseen”. Which means, you become the company you keep and I was inspired by artists like Common, Mos Def (at the time), The Roots and Mobb Deep. I have studied these artist and from there I found my own voice. And of course you will always hear in my music, where I come from and what are my roots. Musically as well as lyrically.


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(VIDEO: VILD music) Jesse Markin just thrilled the audience at Flow Festival Helsinki 2019.

Finntastic:
Why did you finally decide to start a solo career and what was the reason you changed from rap more to the indie-pop, soul and singer-songwriter genre?

Jesse:
I never really decided to make a solo album. Things just went that way. I’ve always loved to write songs and while I was in the band working on our songs, I used to write lots of songs on the side just for fun. Later I thought, that I should maybe work these songs further. Four years later I had my first solo album. I am naturally pleased about that.

Finntastic:
Your debut album “Folk” was released in May 2019. What do you associate with the album title and what can listener expect from the album? What was your inspiration for the songs?

Jesse:
It’s an album full of experimental combinations, when it comes to genres with an over all message that goes like this: as people we have more things, which unify, than separate us and we should focus more on the things that bring us together.

Finntastic:
At this year’s Emma Gaala 2020 you were honoured with the title „Newcomer of the year“- and your album „Folk“ received the „Critics Choice Award“. What does these awards mean to you?

Jesse:
It means a lot to me. It shows that hard work will pay off. It’s the proof that if you put your heart into something and believe in it, other people will see it too…eventually.


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(VIDEO: Pablo Films/VILD music) His song Jericho was released in January 2019 and is a song about letting go and finding peace through that.

Finntastic:
You like to deal with socially relevant topics like xenophobia, hate or violence in your songs, but you also sing about love and friendship. Why this is important to you?

Jesse:
All these things play a huge part in my life. They are not everything I am but the part is significant and just like everybody else, I’m singing through my eyes. I reflect what I see, feel, experience and think. And at the end of the day I also felt like these topics aren’t discussed as much in music so that was really a challenge at the beginning.

(VIDEO: Pablo Films/VILD music) His song Jericho was released in January 2019 and is a song about letting go and finding peace through that.

Finntastic:
Have you ever experienced xenophobia yourself and would you say, that this is actually a problem in Finnish society?

Jesse:
Yes, I have and it is unfortunately still a problem, in ALL societies, not only in Finland!

Finntastic:
Which song of the album is your personal favourite and why?

Jesse:
The song Root, because on that song I really dove into the topics of internal racism and self hate, which was a challenge. It’s a powerful song.


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(VIDEO: Pablo Films/VILD music) His song “Blood” is a powerful song with an important message: We all want to be a part of the society and we should live together in peace, because we all have so much good things in common.

Finntastic:
With which topic deal for example your songs “Jericho” or “Blood”?

Jesse:
These songs are about finding your place in the world. The name of the song “Jericho” came from the Old Testament, where the Israelites had to start from the walls of Jericho to get to their promised land. These walls can be found everywhere and that was the idea that led to a song. 

And with blood I wanted to emphasize as I just said the fact, that as people, there are more things, that connect us, than divide us. And I think, the need to be a part of a bigger whole is within all of us.

Finntastic:
You sang the song “Made of Stone” for the Moomin Valley 2 soundtrack. How did the cooperation start? What is the message behind the song and what do you personally connect with the song?

Jesse:
Acutally “Made of Stone” it’s a said song. A song about a broken love.  But I like the part of the message in the song, that no heart is made of stone and that everyone got one.


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(VIDEO: pop-up records) The first single of Jesse’s upcoming second album is called “Stars in your Eyes”

Finntastic:
How did you experience the Corona crisis as an artist? What are your plans for the future?

Jesse:
Creating new music. That’s what I did during the crisis and that’s what I’m going to do after. *smiling* I am planning to release a new album in spring 2021. And I have just released the first single „Stars in your Eyes“. You can listen to it for example on Youtube.

Finntastic:
Kiitos Jesse, for this lovely interview! I will check it out! Mukavaa joulu aikaa ja kaikkea hyvää tulevaisutteen!

Jesse:
Thanks to you too! Have a great Christmas time too and all the best for 2021!


About Jesse Markin

Jesse Markin
(PHOTO: Kai Kuusisto) Jesse Markin sings about many important socially relevant topics.

Jesse Markin is a Finnish singer and songwriter with Liberian roots. Before he startet a career as an solo artist, Jesse was a member of the rap-group „The Megaphone State“ for twelve years. With his debut album „Folk“, which was released in May 2019, he quickly became famous in the the Finnish urban and indie music scene. His songs are a unique and vivid mix of indie pop, soul, R&B and African folk music. And he openly sings about topics such as xenophobia, violence and hatred, which unfortunately are still a part of modern societies. But he also sings about good human values like love and friendship.

Jesse Markin has already received various music prizes for his music. This year, for example, he was honoured with the title „Newcomer of the Year“ at the Emma Gaala 2020. And his album „Folk“ also received the „Critics Choice Award“. His second album will be released in spring 2021. The first single „Stars in your eyes“ is already a sample of what the listener will expect.

More information about Jesse Markin you can find on Facebook, Instagramand YouTube.


See Jesse Markin live on stage in Schleswig, Germany! – Norden festival prize draw 2021

Norden Festival Tickets
(PHOTO: Norden – the nordic arts Festival) Take part and win festival tickets for the “Norden Festival 2021” in Schleswig an der Schlei, Germany.

“Nordic the norden arts festival is an annual open air festival, held at Königswiesen in Schleswig an der Schlei, Germany with live music, street art, artistics and film showing and artists from the northern countries, the Baltic States and Germany. Next year singer and songwriter Jesse Markin from Finland will likely perform live on September 10th 2021 on the main stage of the “Norden – the nordic arts Festival”!

See the artist live on stage at the beautiful Königswiesen at Schleswig and listen also to many other artist from the North, the Baltikum and Germany! Together with “Norden – the Nordic arts Festival” we raffel 2 x 2 week-end festival tickets for the “Norden – the nordic arts Festival 2021” in Schleswig, Germany. Take part at the prize draw, answer the following two questions and you will automatically slide into the lottery pot.

questions:

  • Which song of Jesse’s debut album “Folk” do you like the most and why?
  • Which musician/artist from the North would you recommend for the “Norden – the nordic arts Festival”?

We wish all of you good luck!
Inken


*This blog post is a cooperation with “Norden – the nordic arts Festival”, who provided the festival tickets for the prize draw and with the record label VILD Music.


Terms of participation, competition guidelines and data protection and privacy policy

By participating at this prize competition, the participants accept the following terms of participation, competition guidelines and privacy policy. Applicable Law for this prize competition is the law of the Federal Republic of Germany. If individual conditions of participation and/or competition guidelines be or will have become invalid, the validity of the remaining guidelines will remain unaffected.

The competition is open to any person aged 18 years or older, who is primarily resident of the Federal Republic of Germany or another country of the European Union, Switzerland and Norway. The  participation in the competition is only possible online via this blog post at www.finntastic.de. The participation is free of charge. The participants will not incur any expenses (not either for packaging and postage)! All lottery prizes due to the fact that they are not high-priced, will be send in general uninsured.

Each person may only enter the competition once. Multiple participations e.g. with different name profiles or e-mail addresses are not permitted and will automatically lead to an exclusion from the competition, in case it becomes obvious.

To participate in this prize draw, the participants must answer the two following questions and have to post their answer in a comment  under this blogpost:

Questions:

  • Which song of Jesse’s debut album “Folk” do you like the most and why?
  • Which musician/artist from the North would you recommend for the “Norden – the nordic arts Festival”?

Prizes/profit

Among all participants of the competiton we will raffle 2 x 2 weekend-festival ticktes for the “Norden the nordic arts Festival 2021” in Schleswig an der Schlei, Germany,  Material prizes are not paid out in cash and are excluded from exchange. Winnings cannot be transferred to third parties. There is no warranty or guarantee claim on the prize. Legal recourse is excluded. (Notice: Arrival, accomodation and meals are not included in the festival tickets)

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The competition runs from December 9th, 2020 until April 15th, 2021 exclusively on www.finntastic.de. The closing date for a participation is April 15th, 2021 at 11:59 p.m..Subsequent solutions and comments, which will be send after this date, cannot be considered for this prize competition.

The determining of the eligibility of the participation as well as the prize draw will take place on April 16th, 2020. The prices (see section: prize/profit), provided by “Norden – the nordic arts Festival” will be raffled among all participants, who fulfill the terms of participation. The winner will be selected at random and will be notified by email.

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This is a private prize competition, organized by Inken Paletta, Josef-Brix-Straße 42, 65187 Wiesbaden, Germany, the site operator of www.finntastic.de (For more information: see imprint). The prizes (see also section prize/profit) were provided to the site operator by “Norden – the nordic arts Festival”. The raffle is not connected to any other companies or persons and even not to social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Jesse Markin – Ein Sänger und Songwriter aus Finnland, der kein Blatt vor den Mund nimmt (German version)

Kennt ihr bereits den Sänger und songwriter Jesse Markin aus Finnland? Auf der diesjährigen Emma Gaala 2020, dem finnischen Pendent des Grammy, wurde der finnische Künstler bereits als „Newcomer of the Year“ geehrt und erhielt für sein Album „Folk“ auch den “Critics Choice Award”. Im Interview erzählt er uns mehr über seine Musik, sein Debütalbum und was ihn zum Song schreiben inspiriert. Und natürlich spricht er auch über sine liberianischen Wurzeln und darüber, warum es ihm wichtig ist, Themen wie Fremdenfeindlichkeit, Gewalt und Hass in seinen Songs zu thematisieren.

“Folk” – Ein Debütalbum mit Ausdruckskraft – Interview mit Sänger und Songwriter Jesse Markin aus Finnland

Finntastic:
Moikka Jesse, kiva tavata. Wir sind schon gespannt mehr über Dich und Deine Musik zu erfahren. Bevor es aber um Dein Debütalbum „Folk“ geht, erzähl uns ein wenig über Dich. Du bist in Liberia geboren, lebst aber seit Du sechs Jahre alt bist in Finnland. War es für Dich damals schwer, Dich in Deiner neuen Heimat einzugewöhnen?

Jesse:
Eigentlich nicht. Das lag wahrscheinlich daran, dass ich erst sechs Jahre alt war, als ich nach Finnland gezogen bin. Doch als ich begann meine Umgebung zu verstehen, nahm ich Unterschiede wahr. Als Kind habe ich mir hingegen nie Gedanken über die Farbe meiner Haut gemacht. Das kam wirklich erst später mit dem Umfeld. Offensichtlich gab es mit zunehmendem Alter mehr solcher Nuancen zu entdecken. Ich war zum Beispiel das erste dunkelhäutige Kind in der Geschichte unserer Schule. Das hat mich schon irgendwie geprägt.

Finntastic:
Die Finnische und Liberianische Kultur sind vermutlich recht unterschiedlich. Oder haben sie auch etwas gemeinsam?

Jesse:
Ich denke, das was uns grundsätzlich verbindet, sind menschliche Eigenschaften. Wir alle wollen Gutes für unsere Familien und eben unsere Bestimmung bzw. unseren Platz im Leben finden. Natürlich unterscheiden sich unsere kulturellen Ansichten, wenn wir zum Beispiel an Musik, Essen und solche Dinge denken. Aber diese kulturellen Unterschiede sind eben auf ihre eigene Art einzigartig und schön.

Finntastic:
Seit wann schlägt Dein Herz für Musik und wolltest Du schon immer Musiker werden?

Jesse:
Musik hat schon immer eine große Rolle in meinem Leben gespielt. Seit 2003 mache ich professionell Musik. Damals habe ich parallel auch ein Studium zum Grafikdesigner begonnen, dass ich 2006 erfolgreich abgeschlossen habe. Aber die Musik wurde dann mit der Zeit immer wichtiger.

Finntastic:
Bevor Du als Solokünstler durchgestartet bist, warst Du lange Zeit Mitglied der Rap Gruppe The Megaphone State. Was gefällt Dir an Rap und wie hat Dich diese Zeit mit Deiner Band als Künstler geprägt? Und spiegeln sich auch Deine liberianischen Wurzeln in Deiner Musik wider?

Jesse:
Das Erste, was mich am Rap anzog, war diese Energie, und je mehr ich mich mit diesem Musikgenre beschäftige, desto mehr erfuhr ich über die Geschichte, die Kunst, Kultur und die Menschen dieser Musik.

In Finnland gibt es ein Sprichwort, das heißt: “seura tekee kaltaisekseen”. Es bedeutet: Dein Umfeld prägt Dich als Person. Mich haben zum Beispiel Künstler wie Common, Mos Def (damals), The Roots und Mobb Deep inspiriert. Ich habe mich musikalisch intensiv mit diesen Künstlern auseinandergesetzt, und dadurch letztendlich zu meinem eigenen Stil gefunden. Und natürlich wirst Du in meiner Musik auch immer heraushören, wo ich herkomme, also wo meine Wurzeln liegen. Musikalisch, genauso wie lyrisch.

Finntastic:
Warum hast Du Dich letztendlich dann doch für eine Solokarriere entschieden und wie kam es, dass Du Dich ein wenig vom Rap gelöst hast und Du Dich jetzt mehr in die Indie-Pop, Soul bzw. Singer Songwriter Richtung orientierst?

Jesse:
Ich habe mich eigentlich nie direkt dazu entschieden, ein Soloalbum zu machen. Die Dinge haben sich einfach so entwickelt. Ich habe schon immer gern eigene Songs geschrieben, und während ich in der Band an unseren Songs gearbeitet habe, habe ich viele andere Songs ganz nebenbei geschrieben, einfach so zum Spaß. Und bei diesen Songs dachte ich dann irgendwann, dass ich sie weiterentwickeln sollte. Vier Jahre später hatte ich schließlich mein erstes Soloalbum fertig. Darüber freue ich mich sehr.

Finntastic:
Dein Debütalbum „Folk“ erschien im Mai 2019. Welche Songs erwarten den Hörer? Und was hat Dich zu den Songs inspiriert?

Jesse:
„Folk“ ist ein Album voller experimenteller Klänge, vor allem in Bezug auf ganz unterschiedliche Genre und es besitzt auch eine sehr wichtige Botschaft. Sie lautet: Wir Menschen haben viel mehr Dinge gemeinsam, als Dinge die uns trennen und wir sollten uns eben viel mehr auf diese Dinge konzentrieren, die uns zusammenbringen.

Finntastic:
Auf der diesjährigen Emma Gaala 2020 bist Du als „Newcomer of the Year“ geehrt worden. Dein Album „Folk“ wurde außerdem mit dem „Critics Choice Award“ ausgezeichnet. Was bedeuten Dir diese Auszeichnungen?

Jesse:
Sie bedeuten mir sehr viel. Es zeigt, dass sich harte Arbeit auszahlt. Und es ist der Beweis dafür, dass, wenn du dein Herzblut in eine Sache steckst und fest an sie glaubst, andere Menschen sie früher oder später auch anerkennen werden…

Finntastic:
Du verarbeitest in Deinen Songs gerne gesellschaftsrelevante Themen wie Fremdenfeindlichkeit, Hass oder auch das Thema Gewalt, besingst aber auch Werte wie Liebe und Freundschaft. Warum ist es Dir wichtig, über diese Themen zu singen?

Jesse:
All diese Themen spielen eine große Rolle in meinem Leben. Sie sind nicht alles, was mich auszeichnet, aber sie sind eben auch nicht wegzudenken, und genau wie viele andere Künstler singe ich eben gerne über das, was mich beschäftigt. Ich reflektiere, was ich sehe, fühle, erlebe und denke. Und letztendlich hatte ich das Gefühl, dass diese Themen in der Musik bislang auch ein wenig zu kurz kommen. Aber natürlich war es anfangs schon eine Herausforderung über diese Themen zu singen.

Finntastic:
Hast Du selbst auch schon einmal Fremdenfeindlichkeit erlebt und wie empfindest Du das derzeitige Klima in Finnland in Bezug auf das Thema?

Jesse:
Ja, auch ich habe schon Fremdenfeindlichkeit erlebt. Denn leider ist sie auch heute noch immer ein Problem in ALLEN Gesellschaften, auch in Finnland.

Finntastic:
Welcher Song des Albums ist dein ganz persönlicher Favorit und warum?

Jesse:
Mir gefällt am besten das Lied “Root”, weil ich mich bei diesem Lied wirklich in die Themen des inneren Rassismus und Selbsthasses vertieft habe. Das war übrigens eine ganz schöne Herausforderung. Es ist deshalb auch ein wirklich kraftvoller Song geworden.

Finntastic:
Worum geht es zum Beispiel in Deinen Songs „Jericho und „Blood“?

Jesse:
In beiden Songs geht es einfach darum, seinen Platz in der Welt zu finden. Der Name “Jericho” stammt aus dem Alten Testament, wo die Israeliten zunächst die Mauern der Stadt Jericho einreißen mussten, um in ihr gelobtes Land zu kommen. Diese Art von Mauern finden sich auch oft im Leben wieder und das war im Grunde die Idee, die zu diesem Song führte. Und mit dem Song “Blood” möchte ich wie gesagt betonen, dass uns Menschen im Grunde viel mehr verbindet, als trennt. Und ich denke, der Wunsch Teil eines großen Ganzen zu sein, liegt eigentlich in uns allen.

Finntastic:
Du hast für den Moomin Valley 2 Soundtrack den Song „Made of Stone“ gesungen. Worum geht es in dem Song und was verbindest Du persönlich damit?

Jesse:
Made of Stone ist tatsächlich ein sehr trauriger Song. Es ist nämlich ein Song über eine zerbrochene Liebe. Was mir an dem Lied aber so besonders gut gefällt, ist die Botschaft, die eben besagt, dass im Grunde niemand ein Herz aus Stein hat, sondern eigentlich jeder ein Herz besitzt. Das finde ich schön.

Finntastic:
Wie hast Du als Künstler die Corona-Krise erlebt? Was sind Deine Pläne für die Zukunft?

Jesse:
Ich werde an neuer Musik arbeiten. Das habe ich während der Krise getan und das werde ich auch danach tun. *lächelt* Mein neues Album soll im kommenden Frühjahr 2021 herauskommen. Gerade habe ich meine neue Single „Stars in your eyes“ veröffentlicht! Hört gerne mal rein! Ihr findet sie auf YouTube.

Finntastic:
Kiitos Jesse, für das spannende Interview! Ich werde auf jeden Fall auch in Deinen neuen Song reinhören! Mukavaa joulu aikaa ja kaikkea hyvää tulevaisutteen!

Jesse:
Dir auch vielen Dank und natürlich ebenso eine schöne Weihnachtszeit und alles Gute für 2021!


Über Jesse Markin

Jesse Markin ist ein finnischer Sänger und Songwriter mit liberianischen Wurzeln. Vor seiner Karriere als Solomusiker, war er zwölf Jahre Mitglied der Rap-Gruppe “The Megaphone State”. Mit seinem Debütalbum „Folk“, das im Mai 2019 erschien, hat er sich ruckzuck einen Namen in der finnischen Urban- und Indie-Musikszene gemacht.

Seine Songs sind eine einzigartige und lebendige Mischung aus Indie-Pop, Soul, R&B und afrikanischem Folk. Zudem nimmt der Künstler in seinen Songs kein Blatt vor den Mund. Er spricht offen über Themen wie Fremdenfeindlichkeit, Gewalt und Hass, die leider noch immer viel zu oft im Alltag widerzufinden sind. Aber er singt auch über die Bedeutung von menschlichen Werten wie Liebe und Freundschaft.

Jesse Markin wurde für seine Musik bereits mit diversen Musikpreisen ausgezeichnet. In diesem Jahr wurde er zum Beispiel auf der Emma Gaala 2020 bereits mit dem Titel „Newcomer of the Year“ geehrt. Sein Debütalbum “Folk erhielt außerdem den „Critics Choice Award”. Im Frühjahr 2021 kommt sein zweites Album heraus. Die Single „Stars in your eyes“ ist bereits ein Vorgeschmack darauf, was den Hörer erwartet.

Weitere Informationen über Jesse Markin findet ihr auf Facebook, Instagram und YouTube.

Ein Kommentar zu “Jesse Markin: A singer and songwriter from Finland, who doesn’t mince his words

  1. Maria L. sagte:

    I like “Run” the most because of its spooky atmosphere, especially live. I would recommend Mattias Kolstrup (former Duné) from Denmark for the festival in Schleswig!

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