Helsinki hip hop: An Interview with Finnish Rapper Bunny

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As Easter approaches, we can’t help but notice a rapper named Bunny. The Helsinki-based queer rap artist and writer (who is formerly known as Kääpiö), has a melodic mouthful about life in the north, relationships, overcoming shyness and her take on the world from a corner in the Helsinki neighborhood of Kallio. Bunny’s most recent track — Homopropaganda — is a song about the Russian anti-gay laws, other tracks have been released on two EP’s, Muna kädessä in 2011 and Winterreise in 2012. You may have seen the Menee huonosti music video from 2012, which tours the Finnish capital on a chilled-out, sunny day, but here it is again. After a show at Berlin, we briefly caught up with this Finnish rapper to find out what’s in the lyrics, keeping your strength as an artist and what the future might bring.

LSD: In short, what is your story?

Bunny: I was born to a middle class family in Helsinki in 1981 and grew up in a cute red wooden house in the suburbs. After a lot of sidetracking, I became a drama writer, an amateur hip hop musician and as a side product, a proud queer. I feel that writing is the basis of my existence, and music is my heart and soul.

How did you get into rap music?

Although I’d played some as a child, music came in kind of late for me. I started to play keyboards in a reggae band around the age of 25, and was very enthusiastic about it. I had my own small band projects, met cool hip hop musicians, then began writing lyrics. For a long time I was so shy, I couldn’t imagine going on a stage. When I tried to present my first lyrics to a friend, I almost fainted. A lot has happened since then, I’ve found myself as an artist and become stronger.

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At what point did you realize you wanted to become a rapper?

One time in a party at a squatted garden in Helsinki there was a band jamming, and I felt like someone had to grab the mic and make people dance. So I did it. That’s when I realized, this is what I want to do! It was a key experience of my life. Afterwards I was determined to find beats and people to make music with, and that’s what I’m doing still.

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What do you rap about?

Anything that moves or irritates me. I have a strong feminist perspective, because I’ve experienced the music scene as very male dominated – I hate that it’s so hard to do things if you are not a cis male. The themes of the songs vary, though, from relationships and everyday life to political issues, gay rights and so on.

Is there a hip hop scene in Helsinki? If so, what is it like?

Sure, there a strong scene. I’m more familiar with the leftist, underground stuff, I’ve been influenced by artists like Asa, Jontti&Shaka, Eevil Stöö and the like. There’s great rap performance artists like Dxxxa D. Then there’s also a more commercial scene with artists like Cheek. We have a great hip hop show on the radio station Bassoradio, called Ghetto Styles, they share the shows also in the internet. The only thing lacking from the scene is, unfortunately, women.

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What is your opinion on popular rap and hip hop today?

I don’t follow it that much. I have a feeling that there’s lot of stupidity like in most mainstream music. But maybe things can change. I’m very happy about that queer artists like Mykki Blanco have started to make space for new voices. Mostly mainstream hip hop makes me feel like it’s not meant for me.

What do you have upcoming? What can we watch out for from you?

I want to release a couple of new songs in the summer, possibly an EP. We’ve been doing some studio time lately. The most important now is Homopropaganda, a song I made after the Russian anti-gay laws were passed. I’m performing in Turku in May, the first show outside the capital city. More shows should be coming, in Finland, in Berlin, anywhere I’m invited! I love to perform live, it’s great to interact with an audience.

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Fan Bunny on Facebook.