Flow Festival’s Tuomas Kallio on how they’re showing what’s hip and different in Finland

Emma Gritt

Tuomas Kallico Flow Festival  282x300 Flow Festivals Tuomas Kallio on how theyre showing whats hip and different in Finland As Finland’s music fans start to prepare for for Flow Festival, its Artistic Director Tuomas Kallio explains why he thinks the line up is the merely one of many factors to consider when creating an unforgettable festival.

Tuomas, who describes himself as “a musician by heart and social scientist by education”, was one of the founding fathers of the Finnish event, which started “being a sidekick for my music projects and other stuff but these days it’s the other way round.”

The first ever flow took place in 2004 at a warehouse in Helsinki called Makasiinit. “It was just a two nights indoor club thing with capacity of 2000 then,” he says.

Today, Flow Festival stretches over five days, starting with a Thursday night opener by Scandinavian heroes The Knife, and ending with an anticipated 3D show from Kraftwerk on the Sunday. In between there will be scores of local bands including much-liked newcomers The Lieblings, and international acts ranging from Azealia Banks and Grimes to Alicia Keys and My Bloody Valentine.

Over 20,000 people are expected to make their way to Suvilahti, an enormous disused power plant in Helsinki which is already home to numerous artist studios and creative hubs. For the tenth outing, the festival promises five days of art, music, food and environmentally friendly fun – last year 82 per cent of the festival’s waste was recycled, and this year they hope to beat that target by 8 per cent.

Where does Flow Festival fit in with other festivals from around the world?

I honestly must admit I may not be the best judge – as I don’t really go anywhere these days – but the feeling I get is that too many of the festivals are too concerned by the names on their (music) bills and line-ups and less concerned of what exactly is happening there when the event is taking place. How does it feel to be there? What do people do there (besides drink beer and watch bands play)? I personally think there can be so much more.

The festival site looks really cool, how did the festival come to be homed at Suvilahti and what it will feature?
In Helsinki we don’t have much cool vacant space that could be utilised for this sort of activities. Suvilahti is an early 20th century old industrial/power plant area with really great architecture and structures all around. We use the whole area so it features also some bigger open areas but the key thing are the shallow alleys and all those nice little corners. We spend crazy much energy and resources on the festival area and you can always find some new surprises such as the new plant installation (Living Flow), renewed Balloon 360° stage (our own 360° stage design underneath a huge 15m diameter balloon), huge arts project by local artist Otto Maja (24m x 6m), The Hate Destroyer – anti-hate collaborative project by a Berlin based “granny” with festival guests and so on…

What aspect of this year’s festival are you most looking forward to?

For me it’s always about the experience as a whole. Not just some of the music acts – even though they are pretty heavy this year too – but the feeling of browsing through the area filled with happy faces and getting  into it… the flow, you know.

How does Flow represent what is hip and happening in Finland at the moment?

I think we are doing things slightly different here. Well, I also do think we do things slightly different than anywhere, but still I’d say Flow Festival has brought some fresh air into the festival scene in this country.

What is your most joyous memory from previous festivals?
It must be the first one back from 2004 when none of us really didn’t have any experience and it was just a fun thing to do on the side. Eventually it worked so well that we got kind of hooked.

As a musician yourself, how does that affect the way you curate the festival?
I’m all about the music that is being played and less about the names on the bill. There are a lot of very popular acts I just couldn’t book as I don’t believe in their music at all. Thus I couldn’t ever call myself a promoter as I’m not coming from that background and think very differently. Maybe in economic terms it can be a bad thing sometimes, but that’s what it is.

If you weren’t running Flow, what would you be doing instead?
Concentrating more on making/producing music, I guess. Maybe I’d also have another project that has something to do with the city I live in as it seems important to me to contribute somehow into making it a better place to live.

What would you urge first time visitors to Helsinki to check out?
I don’t know whether the city opens up too well without local guidance. Try to hook up with someone local to take you somewhere special at that particular time. I guess it can be like Tokyo that doesn’t always feel much unless someone really shows you the cool stuff and places. Espscially in the summertime there are always cool things but it’s not like a specific building or museum but it’s the city itself and the people in there that make it very unique.

Who are you most excited about on the line up, and are there any more acts to come?

More announcements coming up such as the line up for Boiler Room at Flow for the first time. My personal picks would include AtomTM, Julia Holter, Kendrick Lamar (seven-piece live band!), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Beach House, Ravi Coltrane,
Kraftwerk 3D, Cat Power and Moderat, too. Oh it’s just too many.

Flow Festival, 7-11 August 2013, Helsinki, Finland.

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