This Saturday Jeremy Joseph welcomes the X Factor 2016 runner up to G-A-Y when the amazing Saara Aalto takes to the world famous stage. Dave Cross had a chat with the Finnish wunderkid about her time on the show and her plans.
Hi Saara, what was it like to get to the X Factor final and to sing with Adam Lambert?
It was an overwhelming feeling. I never expected to get that far so I’m incredibly grateful to have had those amazing opportunities. To have got to sung on that stage was crazy and I loved it.
We loved the film of you going back home to Finland, how was that?
It was amazing, thousands of people came to see me, which we didn’t expect. We thought some would be there but suddenly the whole huge square was packed with people. It was really quite moving.
How has the reaction been from your family and friends in Finland?
They have been so supportive and I think they are very proud of me. We didn’t think I’d get that far so lots of people back home were thinking what has happened? It was great to have them all at the final – my parents, my brother, sister, my fiancé and my friends.
When the live shows started you were in the bottom two more than once, which must have been hard for you…
I did actually understand that people weren’t voting for me. I’m not from this country and people do tend to go with something they are familiar with, and I know I was and am different. People needed to get used to my accent and I get that. But then I think that in the sing offs I really sang my heart out and I got some great feedback and people started to take notice of me and actually listen to my voice.
In the final you chose to do It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork again, and I think that was the point in the live shows when things started to change…
Yes, I think that too. That was the first week that I wasn’t in the bottom two. It was a perfect song choice to show my personality as well as my voice.
A song I really loved was Enough is Enough…
Oh thank you. Yes, I loved that one too, I’m thinking I might do that at G-A-Y!
As the show went on, the response from the British public to you got stronger and stronger – what does that mean to you?
Amazing. I was seeing people in the streets who were saying “We want you to win” and stuff like that. I’ve decided that I’m going to stay here now – this is my new home and it’s because I feel accepted here for who I am.
What have you learnt about yourself by doing the show?
Oh I could write a book about what I’ve learnt. It has a lot to do with the different cultures between here and Finland. I never really felt accepted in Finland and couldn’t be myself. It’s a small country of only five million people and it’s hard to be different there. But here, from the start, from my first audition, all the judges liked that I was different and for the first time I felt like I was doing something right. When the live shows started I told them that I wanted to do epic performances and the whole team were behind me from the start. I have felt so much love around me since I’ve been here.
In the semi-final Nicole compared you to Kate Bush – how do you react to something like that?
To be compared to someone like Kate Bush who is so iconic and talented and successful is just incredible. It gives me hope and encouragement and something to aim for in my life.
What was Sharon like as your mentor?
Oh my god, Sharon was everything. So supportive and honest and lovely. She is the best ever.
And finally you are at G-A-Y on Saturday, are you looking forward to that?
Are you kidding? Yes, I am so excited to play at G-A-Y. It’s such a legendary club. I’ve never been there before but know it’s going to be a very special night.