April 20, 2017

10 Questions: Olli Hirvonen

Olli Hirvonen is a Finnish guitarist living in New York.

  1. What’s your unmissable breakfast item?

Coffee, no competition there.

  1. How do you relax?

I love to read, and also watch movies and TV on my time off.

  1. How did music become such a big part of your life?

I started playing guitar when I was nine years old, and then it just kind of happened from there naturally. At some point, I noticed I didn’t have much else going on than just practicing and playing, so it seemed to make sense to make it my life’s pursuit.

  1. What makes a perfect song?


  1. Which Finnish musicians inspire you and why?

Guitarists Teemu Viinikainen and Raoul Björkenheim are big influences for me, as they are both virtuosic guitarists and great all-around musicians. In general, people who inspire me the most are the ones who carve their own paths outside the already beaten ones. Great examples of this are younger musicians like Verneri Pohjola, Panu Savolainen, Aki Rissanen, Artturi Rönkä, and the oboist Saku Mattila.

  1. You’ve played a huge number of gigs with different bands – what’s the most memorable moment you’ve had on stage?

It’s impossible to name a single moment like that, but one of the most memorable ones was playing on the big main stage of Pori Jazz with my quartet in 2011. Another very different kind of concert that I’ll always remember was playing with my roommate’s rock band at a house party in my backyard in Brooklyn with some really good friends.

  1. How has growing up in Finland affected your music?

Growing up Finland affected my music in many ways. First of all, I would’ve never probably been able to get where I’m now without the system of local city funded music institutes where I was able to get private lessons free of charge for so many years, and overall the support of the free public education system that allowed me to focus on music and study it to the highest level without having to worry about tuition, student loans etc. Musically, I think you can hear my background from my playing quite easily.

  1. What are your dreams and goals as a professional musician?

At this point, my goal is to be able to make the music I want to make, and support myself doing just that. Of course, I’d also like as many people to hear my music as possible, but I definitely don’t want to make any compromises to achieve this.

  1. What do you miss from your home town Lappeenranta?

Summers boating on Lake Saimaa.

  1. What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

Practice! And play with as many different people as possible as often as you can. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get into the schools you want or are not selected for the opportunities you’d like to take advantage of. Persistence is the key!


Photo: Dave Stapleton / Edition Records


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