There’s a lot of quality music being made in Finland, but it doesn’t necessarily appear at the top of the streaming charts or on the shortlists for the Emma Awards. That’s why IndieCo, Finland’s association of independent record and production companies, organised its fifth gala to award the most successful indie music artists of 2023.
Indie in this context means an independent artist or publisher, and indie labels are companies with majority ownership.
The Album of the Year award went to internationally acclaimed pop artist Alma for her second album Time Machine. Helsingin Sanomat, among others, gave the album four stars, praising it for its bold and musical compositions.
The song of the year was Kaiken takana on Bämä, a song that smacks of misogyny in Finnish rap. Behind the song is the feminist collective Bämä, which combines pop, rap and club music and is made up of Nelli Milan, Helena Routa, Satu and Tiia Karoliina.
Tinyhawk & Bizarro won the Newcomer of the Year award. The group, based around the compositions of guitarist Jenni Kinnunen, who is known from the Rosita Luu band, plays rhythmic and proge-tinged instrumental music.
The band of the year award went to Stam1na, who play melodic and tricky thrash metal. The band released their tenth album X last year, which, like its predecessors, reached number one on the album charts.
Lauri Haav, who combines rap, pop and r&b, won the Artist of the Year award. The Jyväskylä-based rapper’s third album Aino is doing well on streaming services, with ten of the 12 tracks on the album already crossing the 1-5 million streaming mark on Spotify.
The most streamed indie song of the year easily surpassed these figures. At the time of writing, Tampere rapper Cost’s track Maailman ympäri has been streamed 16.5 million times on Spotify.
The Indie Awards also honoured IndieCo’s Board of Directors’ Indie Friend of the Year, Lotta Savolainen, who runs Radio Helsinki’s Uusi Ääni programme and club. Music Finland’s Export of the Year award went to jazz label and festival We Jazz, while Radio Helsinki’s honourable mention went to Minna Records, the feminist label of Minna-Kaisa Kallinen, known as Hulda Huima.
The winners were chosen by a jury of IndieCo’s board, including Soundi’s Mikko Meriläinen, Yle Finland’s Johan Lindroos, Radio Helsinki’s Lotta Savolainen, YleX’s Ella Ossi, Tavastia Club’s Mikko Merimaa, Nelonen Media Live’s Janne Tamminen and Qobuz’s Sini Tiainen.