The Showcase Must Go On presents Finnish music and visual design at SXSW Online

Music Finland and Genelec will implement a digital showcase at this year’s SXSW Online, South By Southwest’s digital festival and conference. Taking place on March 19, the performers of the 30-minute show are ALMA, Yotto and Antti Paalanen, and its stunning visuals combine virtual reality technologies and on-location footage.

“Genelec & Music Finland present: The Showcase Must Go On” is a unique and innovative showcase concept featuring three Finnish artists: contemporary accordion master Antti Paalanen, acclaimed electronic music producer and dj Yotto, and singer-songwriter and luminous pop star ALMA.

It’s an inter-arts production by world-renowned creative director Jesse Auersalo (pictured in the above image with ALMA), combining on-location footage, special effects and spaces created with VR technology. It’s designed to be a new type of concept in the music export field – neither a music video nor a substitute for a live performance, but a production that adds value to the music.

Inspiration from the gaming world

The visual themes include the Finnish forest and biodiversity. The performance is linked to the roof themes of the Finnish pavilion at SXSW: circular economy and innovative wood.

“With a storyline made up of three performances, I walk the viewer through the three different stages of a circular economy that serves as the roof theme: Wood as a raw material, innovation and solution. As a starting point for the script, I gave each artist a role representing one of these aspects. I wanted to visualize resources as an luminous, abstract energy that will enable the artists ’own charisma to shine. The sparkling light here symbolizes old wisdom and new ideas that the artists take from one performance to another like a torch that doesn’t go out even with countless recycles, ”says Auersalo, creative director of the production.

“One of the biggest achievements of the project was to bring technology borrowed from the gaming world alongside conventional video production. There is now huge demand for this kind of opportunities in the industry and many are looking for natural models for cooperation. Therefore it was great to be in charge for the showcase’s direction, which will in the future help pave way for this kind of collaborations throughout the industry, ” Auersalo continues.

Jesse Auersalo, the creative director of the production, is known for his numerous works in the fields of lifestyle, fashion, music and sports. His previous clients include Nike, Red Bull Music Academy, The New York Times, Apple Music, Mark Ronson and The Chainsmokers.

The showcase adapts virtual environments created by Zoan, a virtual reality studio based in Helsinki, Finland: a dreamy forest landscape, an empty industrial hall and the rooftop of a city. The on-location and studio video recordings are produced by Kerttu Penttilä with cinematographer Jukka Moisio as director of photography. The color grading is by director and visual designer Juho Risto Aukusti Lähdesmäki. The six songs by Alma, Yotto and Antti Paalanen were recorded live for the showcase.

During SXSW Online, the showcases are only available for music industry professionals registered at the event, but the Finnish showcase will be made available to the public in April.

SXSW goes online for the first time

The showcase is presented and produced by Music Finland and professional audio monitoring company Genelec, and it is part of SXSW’s Finnish pavilion organized by Business Finland. Our other partners at South by Southwest are the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Visit Finland. The showcase was implemented in part with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture and The Finnish Music Foundation (MES).

Traditionally held in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest (SXSW) is the entertainment industry’s most important professional event and showcase festival in the United States. Under normal circumstances, the event gathers about 20,000 professionals from the music, film and technology industries each year. This year, for the first time, SXSW will be hosted entirely on a network platform.

Antti Paalanen, a contemporary folk music artist and composer who handles his bisonoric (diatonic) accordions in shamanic ways, is known for his intense performances and hypnotic music, also called “accordion-trance”, gathering listeners across genre boundaries.

Yotto’s music, which has gained widespread popularity around the world, is melodic and uplifting electronic dance music and is also known for his remixes for Coldplay and Gorillaz, among others.

Alma, the raspy-voiced and neon-haired pop powerhouse who released her debut album “Have U Seen Her?” in 2020, is one of the globally most streamed Finnish artists in streaming platforms, and has also written songs for artists such as Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan and Matoma.

Watch the trailer for "The Showcase Must Go On":


See full credits for the showcase video

Still pictures from "The Showcase Must Go On" video: