Last Saturday, the Finnish audiences made their vote on who will represent the country in the Eurovision Song Contest – and the choice was a surprise to many. But as the title of the winning song – by a character named Windows95man – says, No Rules!
On Saturday’s UMK24 (Contest for New Music) final show, Windows95man, a character invented by dj and multidisciplinary artist Teemu Keisteri, won the public vote with a landslide, garnering a total of 313 points and chosen to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö in May 2024. Second runner-up was the international juries' and local media's favorite as well as the biggest streamer: Sara Siipola’s power ballad “Paskana”, with 273 points. The UMK24 winner was chosen by the votes from the Finnish people (75%) and points given by the international juries (25%).
But who is the mystery man, clad in (extremely low cut) denim shorts and Microsoft Windows 95 t-shirt, who will succeed Käärijä in Eurovision? While he might seem to be coming out of the blue, Windows95man has actually been making a career for 10 years already. Originally Keisteri invented the Windows95man character’s outfit to be worn at Flow Festival 2013, where he caught the eye of many photobloggers and journalists (and also electronic artist Evian Christ, who allegedly posted a photo of “the mad raver on first row” on his socials) and went “viral”, so to say.
The next thing Keisteri knew was that his home videos on YouTube started circulating all over the world, with one of the videos even ending up in a commercial aired during an NHL game. Soon he was deejaying in Japan, Tenerife, on a Finnair flight and at the afterparty of Sweden’ own UMK, Melodifestivalen. Dubbed "Finland's most entertaining DJ", Windows95man has toured extensively throughout Finland, as well as abroad. In his home country, he is a household name, familiar everywhere from office Christmas parties to major festivals and mall openings to art school wingdings. More visibly Windows95man has performed at Helsinki’s New Year’s celebration in 2022, and as an opening act for Käärijä at the Helsinki Ice Hall.
Keisteri describes the Windows95man alter ego “a sweet and pleasant individual, a bit of a shy nerd during the daytime, but when he puts on his uniform and gets on the stage in the evenings, he transforms into a superman.” The UMK website called him “an embodiment of the 90s, who frees a once timid family man from his everyday life”– and indeed, in real life Keisteri is a 38-year-old dad from Espoo, an ample but quiet suburb of Helsinki. Originally, Keisteri is a visual artist, best known in the art circle by his other artist persona, Ukkeli. Additionally, Keisteri plays italo disco in the group PEU.
The energetic euro dance banger "No Rules!" was debuted at the music contest UMK and only the second release by the artist, the first one being 2019's rave-influenced EP "Yaksa Yaksa". According to Keisteri, the message of his song is that “you don't have to take everything so seriously – a person can be just as relaxed on the UMK stage as at home in a hot tub.” The song was written by Keisteri, Jussi Roine (the CEO of All Day Entertainment, the company behind Windows95man) and Henri Piispanen, the golden-voiced singer who really makes the song the irresistible earworm that it is. Piispanen is also known from his long-running rock band Pasa, as well as being in-demand voice actor, best known to Finnish children as “Chase” from Paw Patrol.
And indeed, Windows95Man put on one heck of a show at the UMK24 final in Tampere: people present at the event testified that his performance was the one that really woke the audience up and got everybody off their seats. There is no denying the sheer force of a pair of denim shorts, descending from the sky and ready to burst out fireworks. No rules!