“When started going out with my girlfriend, was hiding it for about a year,” says queer X Factor alumnus, Saara Aalto, who sat down for a chat with us about her rise to fame, coming out, and what we can expect from her forthcoming show at Dublin’s Academy.
Hi Saara! So what can your Irish fans expect from the show in October?
This is my first headline tour so I’ll be performing some of the X Factor songs along with songs from my new album, Wild Wild Wonderland. It’ll be a great variety of uptempo and emotional acoustic numbers.
The news series of
has just started, how was your experience on the show?
It changed my life, but it was really tough! You live in the X Factor house for four months and you don’t have anything else in your life. I’d moved straight from Finland so was learning cultural habits and behaviours from scratch. was so exhausted, but loved it. And of course working with Brian Friedman, who was the creative director, that was the best thing.
You became a judge on the Finnish version of X Factor
what was it like being on the other side of the desk? always wanted to be a judge on a TV singing competition because felt like would have a lot to give. took it very seriously; even gave my singers private singing lessons.
My girl won, so think it helped!
You represented Finland at
How was that experience?
It was always my childhood dream to go to Eurovision but have to say it was also a really hard process! You actually prepare for it for nine months in advance.
Was it strange having cameras follow you around making the behind the scenes documentary?
It was like a nice memory, so could see what actually did! Because honestly doing the Eurovision and after X Factor, my life was so hectic really can’t remember that much about it!
Is your album
Wild Wild Wonderland
a good reflection of who you are as an artist?
It’s a perfect image of my life. In Finland, felt like an outsider. People didn’t get my style or how wanted to be. always wanted to be really flamboyant, with big costumes and big shows – it’s not very Finnish! The album is about being brave, being colourful and being in my own wonderland.
As a gay woman in the pop world, was there ever pressure to play down your sexuality?
When started going out with my girlfriend, was hiding it for about a year. But we both agreed that if we could help somebody by being an example, we both wanted to do it. At that time didn’t really have a record label or anybody to prevent me, it was only me and my decision. In Finland, in some smaller places it’s still really hard, that’s why feel like need to keep talking about it.
What are your plans for the future?
For now I’m concentrating on the tour, but there will be a lot of new adventures. don’t know how but always end up in weird places!
What are you looking forward to about visiting Ireland?
I’ve been to Dublin during the X Factor tour. It was the final city and it was the best audience that we had. It was amazing. So I’m assuming the audiences are usually really good!
Saara plays the Green Room at The Academy on Thursday October 11. Tickets available at