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Heavy metal music and Finnish identity are deeply intertwined

Academy Research Fellow Toni-Matti Karjalainen knows how Finnish metal music contributes to the Finnish country brand.
Toni-Matti Karjalainen pitämässä esitelmää.
Toni-Matti Karjalainen presenting in Modern Heavy Metal Conference in June 2018. Photo: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University

Academy Research Fellow Toni-Matti Karjalainen does research on cultural narratives in music industry and media. His key areas of interest include Finnish heavy metal music export and its narratives, as well as the role of music in building the Finnish country brand. Knowing this, Senior University Lecturer Anne Kankaanranta invited Toni-Matti as a guest lecturer to her Intercultural communication course within the Master's Programme in Management & International Business. Toni-Matti lectured to 40 course participants about his research topic ’Tales from the North: Heavy Metal Music & Finnish Identity’.

“My lecture offered an example of intercultural communication, for instance of how music and popular culture change our perceptions of different countries and their cultural characteristics, and how international media, national institutions and cultural sectors and actors build and cherish a certain kind of country brand and stereotypes that are then commercially exploited”, says Toni-Matti Karjalainen. “The students had the chance to learn how and why we have arrived at this point, and how it is possible that we can hear President Barack Obama mention the connection between Finland and metal music in the first sentence of his address to President Sauli Niinistö.

“Toni-Matti’s presentation was captivating“, says Anne Kankaanranta. “He had great examples of Finland’s metallic brand, international media discourses and stories of Finnish bands. The students were surely impacted by the presentation’s music and visuals. Personally, I was most impressed by Toni-Matti’s excitement and deep knowledge of the subject, both from an academic perspective as well as from an insider's point of view.”

Modern Heavy Metal conference and many other interesting projects

In addition to research work, writing, lecturing and supervising, Toni-Matti is always working on a number of interesting projects.

He coordinates the Modern Heavy Metal (MHM) conference, which is being organised for the fifth time and will take place at the end of June this year (www.modernheavymetal.net). “It looks like the programme is going to be really interesting. There will be some thirty speakers from nearly 20 countries. The majority of them are metal music researchers, but among the speakers there are also artists and music industry representatives. Most of the presentations will address the main theme of the conference “Authenticity and commercial appeal”, says Toni-Matti.

It is the first time that this “blackish” conference will be organised in Otaniemi. In previous years, the event was held in the premises of the School of Business main building in Töölö. “The School of Business and the neighbouring School of Arts, Design and Architecture will definitely offer an interesting new setting for the visitors. I hope that Aalto University people will also drop by to experience the casually profound and profoundly casual heavy metal atmosphere. Everyone is welcome to listen to the presentations”, Toni-Matti says.

Toni-Matti Karjalainen. Kuva: Kalle Kataila
Toni-Matti Karjalainen. Photo: Kalle Kataila

For the end of this year, Toni-Matti is planning a cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral research seminar that runs under the name “Designing the Performance, Managing the Stage” . This joint seminar of the IDBM Programme (idbm.aalto.fi) and the Nordcode Network (nordcode.net) will address research and new perspectives on design and design management in cultural and creative areas, with an emphasis on cross-sectoral cooperation.

He also recommends us to keep an eye on the upcoming Mall of Tripla, located in Pasila, and the launching of its spectacular FAME Music museum and Finnish Music Hall of Fame (finnishmusichalloffame.fi). “I have been a member of the project’s Advisory Board and I am also preparing them a metal installation related to my research. At the moment, until the end of spring, I am visiting Lund University and also working on creating more collaboration with my Swedish and Danish colleagues”, says the active Academy Research Fellow. 

Further information:
tonimattikarjalainen.info

Text: Terhi Ollikainen

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