Finland 2024: Windows95man
Photo: Nelli Kenttä / YLE

Windows95man from Finland: "My song is far from a joke"

INTERVIEW It wasn't unanimous, but the voice of the Finnish people spoke louder than the UMK 2024 jury and were clear that they wanted Windows95man and his song "No Rules!" to sing in Eurovision 2024. He is joined by Henri Piispanen and cannot wait to bring happiness and joy to Europe

Welcome! His name is Windows...Windows95man. He only lives by one rule and the rule is...NO RULES!

Unless, of course, you're participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, a competition structured by rules. Even so, Teemu Keisteri (the man behind Windows95man) will get to keep his stage name, and not just its branding inspired by the operating system Windows 95 for which Teemu wears a hat and a t-shirt with the respective logo. The alternative found was to blur the characteristic image even if it remained recognizable.

For this Eurovision participation, he brought along singer and producer Henri Piispanen who fits right in.

Why the peculiar character "Windows95man"?

Windows95man performs "No Rules!" at pre-party in Madrid

– It basically all comes from my childhood. I had a really happy childhood, so it's really comfortable to go back there and retrieve some of those moments, Teemu Keisteri says.

– And I also love stuff from the '80s and the '90s. Its pop culture, the music, and all that kind of art.

"Windows95man" isn't Teemu's first adopted persona. In 2008, "Ukkeli" was born:

– Well, all of those are also me, Teemu Keisteri. But the normal me can be a bit boring.

– When I put on this sort of superman version of myself, that's when the magic happens and I can go above and beyond, he explains.

– Sometimes I get lost between them. Like, Windows95man starts making Ukkeli's paintings and I get a little bit confused about what's happening.

How would you describe your normal self?

– I am an artist who, every now and then, goes to take a shower and tries to think, "What can I do next to confuse the world in a happy and joyful way? How can I bring more happiness into the world?" That's really important, but it's also my lifestyle. If I don't do Windows95man or Ukkeli, I am just a shadow of myself.

Despite giving life to crazy and extravagant acts, Eurovision is a brand new experience for both Teemu Keisteri (Windows95man) and Henri Piispanen. They didn't expect the contest to be all of this:

– It's all really new for us and, at first, I just wanted to continue my normal life, it was quite intense, says Teemu Keisteri.

When I put on this sort of superman version of myself, that's when the magic happens.Teemu Keisteri

– But once you get used to it, you get the time to also take care of yourself. And it's also nice that we have each other to rely on.

How does Windows95man help you deal with all of this?

– So much. I always feel more at ease when I put my hot pants on. I feel braver, more shameless, and free.

Just a while ago they visited Käärijä (Finland 2023), last year's Eurovision runner-up, who told them "not to do many interviews and to just enjoy the trip." We're unsure if they're following his advice. Regardless, coming after such a great run that almost took the contest back to Finland must be overwhelming:

– I actually feel the opposite because I personally love to take risks and work better under pressure. It gives me adrenaline and motivates me to do things better, Teemu explains.

A match made in heaven

In order to fight the nerves and back away a little from this crazy world called Eurovision, the boys try to continue their normal life whenever possible:

– We do grounding things when we're at home. I bake bread, Teemu plays Tomb Raider, Henri says.

– Yeah, and also some woodwork, being with my family even though it isn't always possible.

Since we're on the topic of normal things, let's speak about their personal musical projects: Peu and Pasa, who share very little in common with what they're presenting with "No Rules."

Peu is Teemu's project:

– If I am honest, it's really difficult nowadays to find time for it, but Peu is a really, really personal project that I do 100% for myself. If someone wants to hear us or book us for a gig we'll do it, but we are not trying to achieve anything with it.

Peu's music leans into the sound of the '80s and are usually dark love songs.

Pasa is one of Henri's bands:

– Pasa's music is pretty melancholic and I take it extremely seriously. I am not saying it's not fun, but it's completely different in perspective and mentality.

How did you two meet?

– We actually met during this project, Teemu says.

– I was producing the song and then I sang the demo version so Teemu could find a singer for it, but I guess I sang it too well and got stuck in this project, Henri laughs.

Finland 2024: Windows95man – "No Rules!"

– The rest is history, it was a match made in heaven. I remember being concerned in UMK's rehearsals wondering if he could dance, but it turned out he was really good! Henri is very brave to show his emotions the way he does.

It was back in February that Finland held their national selection Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu 2024. In the end, Windows95man's fun song "No Rules!" won, but if it had depended on the jury they wouldn't have. In fact, they ranked last amongst the jury vote that (luckily for them) only accounted for 25%:

– The biggest win for me was getting the 12 points from the United Kingdom I thought, "This is the biggest moment in my life." I mean, it's such a big country and has such a massive music industry. I really try to see the positive aspects instead, explains Teemu.

The public had an opposite point of view and ended up giving the duo the victory which was "mind-blowing" for both of them as most of the contestants were big names in the Finnish music industry.

I think it's just the perfect "no rules" platform.Teemu Keisteri

This when their act had to go through some adjustments. The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) was fine with Teemu Keisteri keeping the act's stage name, but not with the conspicuous Windows 95 logo. As mentioned above, the duo decided to blur the brand as an alternative:

– I didn't stress too much about it, Teemu says. As soon as he finishes the sentence, the blurred figure covering the original art falls from his hat, he quickly catches it.

I hope EBU didn't see that.

He laughs:

– I think my character and my art are powerful enough. And then again I love taking risks, it motivates me.

And why do Eurovision?

– I think it's just the perfect "no rules" platform. I just feel like there's this big freedom of art in it and you can just be yourself and bring all of the messages.

Except for your logo, of course.

– Well, yeah, and they're a bit stiff with nakedness, but that's a positive challenge.

A joke entry?

The Eurovision community has been welcoming with the duo. Henri says "it feels like family," and comments on an immediate connection with the other artists. Teemu quotes his wife:

– My wife says that Eurovision is this light-minded thing that there is and I couldn't agree more, it doesn't even feel like a competition. Everybody likes each other.

Even so, not every Eurovision fan is onboard with funnier, and not so serious, entries. Despite the message of "No Rules!" a few online comments accuse them of being a parody act or a joke entry.

What I can tell you is that I take what I do seriously and it'll be the moment of my life. It's far away from a joke.Teemu Keisteri

Is it wrong being unserious?

– I don't know, Teemu says.

– I don't judge people for how they might feel, but what I am doing with my art is just who I really am so it's my natural way of passing on my message. What I can tell you is that I take what I do seriously and it'll be the moment of my life. It's far away from a joke.

Henri adds:

– The song is about expressing yourself.

We go on to speak about it:

– "No Rules!" is really my motto and what I've been using in my art for the past 10 to 15 years. Not everyday in our lives needs to be serious and we don't need to be perfect, it's all right to make mistakes, Teemu explains, adding that there was no other song they thought about submitting to UMK.

As for the Eurovision 2024 staging, the duo will keep the same format as they did in UMK but, of course, elevated:

– We loved the UMK show so much that we're just going to do everything bigger.

In the national selection show performance, Windows95man came out of an egg, which is representative of his birth. The point is to introduce him to a bigger audience and present his art. From there, people can decide to follow it or not.

What do you want to achieve with this participation?

– It's the world's biggest music competition, it's a fantastic platform to give the joy and energy I am carrying inside of me to the biggest audience possible. That's also what we want people to remember us from, Teemu says.

– Indeed, that we're happy and nice guys, Henri concludes.

Windows95man will compete with "No Rules!" in the first Semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 on 7 May.

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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