We interviewed current X Factor contestant Saara Aalto
DtL: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Saara: I’m a 29 year old singer-songwriter and I come from Finland but I’m now living in London. You can see me on the X-Factor UK at the moment. I’m from a very small town in the North of Finland and when I was 18, I moved to Helsinki, our capital city, to study music. Singing and music have always been my life and my passion. I tried to build up my singing career in Finland but it was really difficult, because I wanted to sing in English and I always had this dream of performing all over the world. Many years I struggled and tried to find my way, but now FINALLY I’m here in London singing and London is where I really want to be. I’m living my dream right now, and I couldn’t be happier.
DtL: Have you ever experienced bullying? If so what happened and how did you overcome it?
Saara: Yes, I was bullied quite badly at school. I was really interested about learning new things, I really liked school! I also loved to perform my own songs at school events, I was always very happy and dressed differently to everyone else. In a small town in north of Finland that was too much for some people and I was bullied. They called me names and said my songs were no good, they criticised my clothes, they tried to push me down and isolate me. I was pretty lonely. Luckily I’ve always had a very supportive family and they always believed in me and just told me to do my own thing. I realized that I would never give up my passion and style just because someone else has a problem with it. I believed from an early age that if I just kept on doing my thing, I would eventually prove them wrong. Be true to yourself. Don’t worry what other people think.
“They called me names and said my songs were no good, they criticised my clothes, they tried to push me down and isolate me”
DtL: What advice would you give to those that are being bullied?
Saara: Just try to remember that those who bully are not feeling good about themselves. There’s always a reason why people bully and want to hurt others. It’s not you, it’s them! They might have a difficult situation at home or some other struggles going on in their life and they don’t know how to cope with that. Unfortunately then they direct this at other people. Try to remind yourself that those that bully probably feels worse than you. Bullying is never acceptable, so tell someone and get help. Don’t suffer alone. The most important thing is to concentrate on yourself. Stay strong and keep doing what you love, you’ll thank yourself later. Stay true to yourself and be patient, things always work out for the best in the end. You may find yourself in a horrible situation now, but eventually you will get to the right place filled with amazing people, who will understand you and accept you. We need different kinds of people in this world, your uniqueness is the most beautiful thing in the world!
“Your uniqueness is the most beautiful thing in the world”
DtL: We couldn’t agree more. We’ve just released a short film challenging people’s perception of what is normal, celebrating diversity and promoting equal love.
Saara: It’s fantastic. The message is so important, now more than ever with everything that is happening in the world. I am a huge advocate for equality and especially LGBT rights. We are who we are and we must always be true to ourselves. I’ve always thought relationships are about love regardless of gender. I’m engaged to a beautiful woman called Meri, who supports me every week on the show. I am thrilled that she is sharing this X-Factor journey with me. She’s my soulmate. I really enjoy being in London, because it’s full of different kinds of people and everybody is accepted. But we’re lucky. In so many places, LGBT+ people suffer simply for being who they are. We need to all stand proudly together, hand-in-hand and show those who bully, torment and persecute that they cannot hurt us.
DtL. Our research revealed that 35% of teenage girls believe that their gender will have a negative effect on their career. What are your thoughts on this, based on your experience in the music industry?
Saara: Sometimes I do feel that it could be easier to be a boy, but I would never change who I am. Girls are so strong, intuitive, they connect with their hearts very well and that’s why they have so much potential in them. This world needs feminine energy, softness and love, I believe girls and women are going to save this world.
“In so many places, LGBT+ people suffer simply for being who they are. We need to all stand proudly together, hand-in-hand and show those who bully, torment and persecute that they cannot hurt us”
DtL: How do you feel the public have received you? What inspired you to audition to the X Factor in the first place?
Saara: This year I realized that I’d never achieve my dreams of being an international singer if I just stayed in Finland. I thought it was finally time to just do something dramatic and take a risk to make my dreams come true. That’s why I came to the X Factor UK. Now that it’s already week 8, I feel like the British public has finally found me, they understand who I am and they seem to be really enjoying my performances. I am so thrilled. It feels really good and I’m so grateful for all the amazing people supporting me. I never thought I could actually have fans here, I’m so happy. I hope that I can demonstrate that if you work hard for your dreams, and believe in yourself (no wonder what others may say) everything is possible.
DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?
Saara: I’d say: Saara, you’re doing so fine. Just remember you don’t have to be too hard on yourself, have a little mercy and remember that everything is going to be fine. Just believe in yourself and know that you will be led in the right direction. Everything happens for a reason. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Keep positive. Keep moving forward.
“We are who we are and we must always be true to ourselves”
DtL: What has been your proudest moment so far?
Saara: Giving my voice to a Disney Princess Anna in the Finnish version of Frozen. I’ve always wanted to be a Disney Princess, I’ve dreamed about it my whole life. And when it actually happened I realized that if you believe in your dreams, they can really come true!
DtL. What does the future hold for Saara?
Saara: I’ll be staying in London and building my music career in the UK and beyond! I’m so excited!! I’ve always wanted to live here! I will hopefully find a good team to work with, I’ll sing, write new songs and try to make a world a better place with music and messages of love, equal love.
DtL: What are the best / worst things about being in the public eye?
Saara: The best thing is the opportunity to meet people from all around the world! I love to talk with my fans and supporters on social media or in the street. The worst thing is probably that your life is not so free anymore. You always have to think very carefully if you want to go somewhere public, but that’s all part of the fun I guess! I’m thrilled to be doing what I love and I am so grateful for everyone’s support. Please keep voting for me, I don’t want this journey to end!