Finland UMK 2024: Cyan Kicks
Photo: Nelli Kenttä / YLE

Cyan Kicks from Finland: "We want to win UMK 2024. That's why we came back"

INTERVIEW After two years Cyan Kicks are back for another attempt, again hoping to represent Finland at Eurovision 2024. We spoke with the band's lead singer about their beginnings, losing to The Rasmus, and their hopes for UMK 2024

Cyan Kicks are back in Finland's Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) just two years after their first attempt. They're more confident, more experienced, more determined, and won't be taking home another second place: they want to win and that's why they came back. This time with the song "Dancing With Demons."

In 2022 the band lost to The Rasmus, who ended up taking "Jezebel" to Turin and finished 21st in the Grand Final. The defeat wasn't easy to deal with, but it was right after the results that Susanna Alexandra, Cyan Kicks' frontwoman and vocalist, decided they'd need to return:

– I just knew we had to come back and I'd do everything I could to get us back. It was an amazing experience and now we really want to win. That's why we came back. We want to represent Finland at Eurovision and we're so happy to be back.

We're speaking with Susanna Alexandra. She's by herself and has the liberty to speak on behalf of the other three members: Niila Perkkiö, Leevi Erkkilä, and Pietari Reijonen.

UMK 2022: Cyan Kicks – "Hurricane"

You may not believe it, but going back to their first UMK participation in 2022 Cyan Kicks had done less than 30 shows. This has drastically changed since they presented "Hurricane" on the national selection stage. They've played multiple shows, toured Europe (including being the opening act for Smash Into Pieces), released an album and multiple singles. That's the major difference between then and now:

– Yeah, we didn't have that much experience. We're Cyan Kicks 2.0 now. We've created more music, played all over Europe and we've grown. I think this time, we'll actually deliver.

You've delivered already, back in 2022.

– We did the best we could and I am proud of it but I think this is our moment now. Back then, I had a massive fear of performing. Before the finals, I was panicking and I was just too in my head. All I wanted was to focus and not to screw up, I didn't let myself enjoy the moment. Now I am confident and extremely excited, she claims.

Susanna Alexandra admits that they're glad they didn't win in 2022.

– We wouldn't be here right now if we had won. I think everything happens for a reason and this was just the right timing. Obviously back then, it was a huge disappointment for us because our goal was to win and I am not a good loser. Regardless, I am glad we took part in the competition and I am so grateful for everything it did for us, it was a game changer.

The Käärijä effect

UMK is truly a massive platform for upcoming artists. We inevitably talk about Käärijä (Finland 2023), who went from being an unknown artist to a massively popular artist:

– Exactly, nobody knew him.

Finland 2023: Käärijä – "Cha Cha Cha"

It was also last year that the two met:

– I didn't know him before UMK but we started to get to know each other and have been friends for a while now. He's been a huge supporter of Cyan Kicks and I just like him so much. His personality, honesty... There's something so special about him and he's a very inspiring person. I am very happy for what he did to UMK and for what he gave us last year in Liverpool.

We continue to speak about Käärijä, and address his second place to Loreen's "Tattoo":

– I was sad and shocked because I really thought he'd win but the fact that he won the televote feels almost like winning even if I also love Loreen, she says.

Käärijä's massive success with "Cha Cha Cha" boosted the interest in UMK and Eurovision. Suddenly every Finn follows UMK and knows all about the upcoming songs. That can have its positive aspects but also some negative ones:

– The expectations are too high and I must admit there's a lot of negativity going around which is a shame. Many people don't like the songs because they expected something like "Cha Cha Cha" or like Käärijä but there's no other Käärijä.

When asked about her favorite Eurovision memories, Susanna Alexandra laughs:

– I have two favorite memories that I am sure you can guess.

That's right, it's Lordi (Finland 2006) and Käärijä (Finland 2023).

Finland 2006: Lordi – "Hard Rock Hallelujah"

Susanna admits that stepping on the Eurovision stage would be an honor for the band. Not only would they be introduced to a bigger audience, but they'd also represent their country. And while the music contest is important and would be a massive conquest for the band, Cyan Kicks are more than Eurovision. I ask her about the band's beginnings:

– I started with Niila [Niila Perkkiö] in 2011. We met in that year in a previous band but quickly realised we needed each other and needed to be together in order to find our own style. In 2016, we invited Leevi [Leevi Erkkilä] and Pietari [Pietari Reijonen] to Cyan Kicks, and the beginning was really just about spending time in the studio, trying to find our own thing. It took us a while, and during many moments I felt like my faith was vanishing but they kept me going. Little by little, things started happening.

Up until today, they remain strong and a "great group of friends," even if sometimes a little fight gets in the way of Susanna Alexandra and the band's drummer, Pietari Reijonen:

– We just explode too easily but we haven't been fighting at all nowadays, she says while laughing.

"Dancing With Demons"

While in 2022 the band presented "Hurricane" on the UMK stage, this time around they're giving us "Dancing With Demons," an improvement according to the vocalist:

– "Dancing With Demons" is bolder and more surprising. It's more energetic as well. We're better songwriters than we were two years ago and our upcoming album will follow this register, she says.

UMK 2024: Cyan Kicks – "Dancing With Demons"

The song was written in collaboration with Dan Lancaster, a three-time Grammy nominee and Cyan Kicks' favorite songwriters Elize Ryd and Sara Ryan. It was actually Elize who triggered the theme of the song:

– In fact, there's a somewhat scary story behind "Dancing With Demons," she shares.

– We were at the studio and Elize just told us, I don't remember why, about this supernatural experience she had where she saw an actual ghost during a specific moment of her life. She told us about this dark figure that'd be standing in front of her and moving between rooms and, one day, her mother saw it too. That's when she realized it wasn't just a product of her imagination. This led to demons, to inner demons and to the idea of what if, instead of being afraid of our demons, we could flip it and make them part of our gang?

The music video brings that into reality. In it, Susanna tames her inner demon and sits quitely with it. Will we see parts of the music video on the UMK stage?

– There won't be rain or water, I can tell you that, but there is a connection to the music video. I can tell you that too.

– Actually, there's also a connection with our first UMK performance, she teases, going silent after that as there's not much more she can share.

It's clear that Cyan Kicks are aiming for the victory. It's shaping up not to be the easiest task as the competition seems to be fierce. Does that put pressure on them?

– Everything is so great and I am so hyped, but I am mostly focusing on our show and on how to make it the best we can. I haven't been stressing too much, to be honest. I am a little bit nervous but mostly excited. I am always thinking about it, about the choreography, and I am just too into it. I don't see the whole UMK as a competition.

Cyan Kicks promise that you'll be able to hear the experience this time around and want to stand out. They're working hard and are determined to do what they weren't able to in 2022. The band will take the UMK stage on 10 February where they'll perform "Dancing With Demons."

Do you have a message to the Eurovision community?

– I want to thank the Eurovision community for all of the support, it means the world. I hope you like our song and will enjoy our upcoming show. I'd also like to wish you all a nice Eurovision national selection season. Let's have fun!

About the author: Pedro Santos (Portugal)

authorPedro comes from Lisbon, Portugal. He's 30 years old and graduated in journalism. He has attended Eurovision Song Contest three times live - 2018, 2019 and 2022 - and covered the show twice more (2021, 2023) but his first Eurovision memory takes him back to 2007 when Sarbel delivered his catchy "Yassou Maria" performance. Pedro's favorite Eurovision song is Albania's 2015 "I'm Alive" by Elhaida Dani which is also his favorite Eurovision edition.

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