“If I were to start music from scratch, I would play the electric guitar loud and good as hell,” says singer-songwriter Selma Savolainen, whose band Selma Juudit Alessandra is performing at Tampere Jazz Happening for the first time.

What’s happening?

My band Selma Juudit Alessandra is finally able to unleash the piled-up energy from the release of our first album this autumn. It feels very special in these odd circumstances. Looking at the calendar and seeing all the cool stuff that has accumulated there makes me feel privileged, happy, and excited.

This is your first performance at Tampere Jazz Happening. However, the music that you have composed for these jazz musicians is not exactly jazz. What is your relationship with jazz?

Jazz is literally my home. I have been hearing and listening to jazz and hanging out at gigs since I was a baby. My relationship with jazz is close, like one with a family member who you take care of and who you get irritated by once a while. Of course, through studying, the relationship has gotten more intellectual, but I am trying to break out of that. As a songwriter, I don’t really think about genre, but the concept of freedom in jazz − musically and mentally − is something I draw from while composing and performing.

You are a musician and a composer but above all a singer. Supposedly, your voice is your preferred instrument. Why? Is it the best vehicle for self-expression?

The raw bareness of singing has always fascinated me. You can hear everything from a person’s voice, and exposing all that is the bravest and wildest thing I know. From time to time, it is also draining and terrifying. Sometimes I speculate my choice of instrument and it feels like composing is the most accurate form of self-expression for me. The analytics and craftiness of composing and the intuition of singing feel like a coherent combo. If I were to start music from scratch, I would play the electric guitar loud and good as hell.

You perform mostly your own music, but you must have role models. What kind of singers and what type of vocal music move you? Are other qualities more important than style?

When I was in fifth grade, I used to listen to Jimi Hendrix’s single cough just before the second verse of Foxy Lady. I thought that in this short second you could hear his entire essence taken apart from his character and the show. I am so fascinated by the moments when the artist gets, in a way, exposed. More important than style is being receptive to your voice and accepting all the coughs and weird shrieks or the godly clarity and perfect resonance that might be outside your control and intelligence.

What’s going to happen?

This year has shown that you can make plans, but what ends up happening is totally out of your control. I hope that our band Selma Juudit Alessandra keeps gigging next year, too. We are working on new material that will gradually turn into something bigger. On top of that, a million other projects and ideas! Also electric guitar!

Selma Juudit Alessandra on Friday, 30 October at 9 PM at Telakka. Tickets 25/20 €