ALMA’s not new to the pop scene, but thinks people ‘don’t know’ who she really is despite writing with big artists like Miley Cyrus. Enter ‘Have U Seen Her?,’ her debut album.
You may have seen ALMA’s name in songwriting credits for big hits like Miley Cyrus’ “Slide Away” and the Charlie’s Angels theme song “Don’t Call Me Angel,” or watched her compete on Finland’s singing competition show Idols at just 16 years old. Most likely, you vibed to her 2017 dance hit “Chasing Highs,” which has racked up more than 49 million YouTube views. Between millions of Spotify streams and collaborating with pop royalty, she isn’t necessarily a new face in the music industry (she’s especially hard to miss with hair greener than Billie EIlish’s lime roots). But you don’t really know ALMA. Her new 12-track album Have U Seen Her?, dropping tomorrow on May 15, will serve as an introduction.
“A lot of different people that I admire, I felt like were coming to me [saying], ‘Hey, I like your stuff’…I just felt like they don’t even know who I am…I felt like the whole world didn’t know who I am,” the now 24-year-old Finnish singer EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife. She could confidently say that only a “couple” friends had a solid grasp of the person behind her stylish four-letter moniker (which is actually the first part of her full name, Alma-Sofia Miettinen). At 22 years old, ALMA made a decision: she was going to make her debut album to solve this problem. “I was just like, ‘Okay, f–k it, let’s do it. I want to do something different,'” she said, after releasing her debut EP Dye My Hair in 2016.
So, ALMA returned to the studio and one of her new album’s first tracks, “LA Money,” was born. It contains all the elements of an ode to the underdogs of society, but ALMA clarified, “The song is not even about, like, ‘I want to tell you something about me.’ It’s just like, you don’t know who I am.” These people may not know ALMA, but they sure do love to talk.
“Once I read an article before I went to the studio, which was something like, ‘ALMA is a loser and she’s not gonna make it’….I was super f–king pissed off,” ALMA told us. “And I was just like, ‘Nobody is allowed to f–king say that…they can tell me that I’m a s–t but they can never f–king say that I’m a loser…[and say] I’m never gonna make it because they don’t know who I am.” Later that very same day, ALMA had a revelation while talking to a producer at the studio.
“I was like, ‘Wait a second. Have I ever f–king told anybody that I’m something else than a loser?,’” ALMA continued, recalling the epiphany. “And then I kind of had the idea to be like, ‘Actually, let’s flip it around. I’ve never said that I’m something bigger than anybody else. So you can sell whatever you want…everybody can say, whatever they want about me. They can f–king hate me. They can love me. They can not care, whatever. Because I’ve never told anybody you know, to love me,” ALMA declared. Feeling “super empowered,” she went on to record a song with the cheeky title “Loser” that will also be featured on Have U Seen Her?. By reclaiming the diss, ALMA is once again reminding the world that they don’t actually know who she is.
So, who is ALMA? The answer to that isn’t a neatly wrapped up summary that can be found in one of her new songs. The tracks are more fun tastes of her genuine self — peep the cyber grunge, giant teddy bear-filled visuals for “Stay All Night” below — rather than tell-alls. But you’ll be able to learn a lot, since ALMA’s roots in Finland largely influenced the album. To guarantee that it would have more of a personal touch, ALMA even headed back to her home country, where she recorded much of her debut album (this is where she was also quarantining during our phone interview).
From her “teenage years” to experiences with bullying, ALMA wanted to return to the source of these “memories” while creating her new music. The physical location was important for ALMA, who made a conscious effort to draw the line between her old music and new. She pretty much had an album ready to go two and a half years ago, which ALMA decided to ditch.
“I wasn’t proud of it,” ALMA confessed. “I felt like I wasn’t connected with the songs that I was making…I was busy. And I was just touring around the world [for the] first time in my life. And I was very young and everything was new to me.” This left her unsatisfied. “I felt like what I was creating, music-wise, wasn’t real and just wasn’t my thing,” she said. It was another “f–k it” moment for ALMA, serving as yet another reason she needed to hit the restart button in the studio.
ALMA developed this “don’t give a f–k attitude” — a stance she honed when she wasn’t always taken “seriously” as a young female songwriter — thanks to the help of the queen of “Cattitude” herself. Yes, Ms. Miley Cyrus! “We did the whole EP that she released [2019’s She Is Coming] together,” ALMA shared. ”She was a huge inspiration for me to be like, opening up in my songs and having just like [a] ‘we don’t give a f–k’ attitude. Like we’re making whatever we want.” What was ALMA’s take-away from her time with Miley, which once involved the Disney Channel icon ordering a “tattoo guy” for an impromptu visit to the studio?
“If Miley Cyrus tells you to just do whatever you want, just do it.”
So, ALMA is now doing whatever she wants, and can finally feel “very proud” of herself. She even compared it to a high school graduation, a life step ALMA herself never got to experience. “I’ve been releasing singles my whole life and I’m, you know, bored with it right now and I can’t wait to put this record out and see where it takes me,” she said. And tomorrow, you’ll get to actually know ALMA.