Aleksi Pahkala


Helsinki is big enough for an introvert like me to find my own peace.

For the musician Aleksi Pahkala, the best thing about Helsinki is its suitable size and untouched beaches. Those are the bits of coast that he often runs along. "Helsinki has 130 kilometres of shoreline. I like the fact that it is not all built up and developed." 

Pahkala grew up in the Vantaa suburb of Rajatorppa in the 1970s but often rode the bus number 362 into Helsinki to spend his allowance at the Fennica and Oskun Divari record shops. He moved to the capital right away when it became possible. "Helsinki felt more free and open than Vantaa. Streel-level shops, culture, record stores, clubs, and more people like myself." Selling and buying records also became a profession for Pahkala later on. He worked for years at the legendary Stupido Shop record store on the central pedestrian street Iso Roobertinkatu. Community was at the heart of the job. "I was like a bartender without booze at the check-out. Titles didn't exist and any customer walking in could have been a perfectly ordinary guy or a millionaire. We discussed any and all topics, from family troubles to world politics and music." 

"Brick-and-mortar shop culture needs to be nurtured"    

Today, Pahkala is head of the All That Plazz record label, and also works as a musician and presenter. He hopes that brick-and-mortar culture will not be wiped out due to high rents and the Internet, and instead lives on also in the future. "Small local streetside shops and services are gems that are important for the community. We should nurture this type of culture."   

Pahkala refers to himself as an "on-off human rights activist". He has participated in the organisation of large-scale anti-racism demonstrations. "Community is really important for Helsinki. If difference is not accepted and if people feel that they do not belong here, we are diving into a very deep end with no return." 

Pahkala thinks that doing things together and understanding other people are all part of Helsinki. He feels that the whole country has work to do in the equal treatment of all people. 

"There is still a large group of people who struggle to make ends meet. Such items should not be out of sight and out of mind. They should be something to discuss in a more open manner amongst people in different societal positions."      

Aleksi Pahkala 
Age: 43 
Profession: Musician, journalist, human rights activist
Lives in: Töölö
What you didn't know about me: "We used to glue posters on electricity boxes all over the streets in the 1990s with Wallu Valpio, even if it was illegal at the time. I still like to go around furtively glueing posters and posting stickers on all kinds of grey surfaces."      

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