A Finnish perspective to idol business: Noora and Petra from Pinky! Noora & Petra interviewed for ‘Helsingin Sanomat’

In June, Arama! Japan wrote about a new idol unit, named Pinky! Noora & Petra that consisted of Dempagumi.inc member Ayane Fujisaki (Pinky) and Finnish sisters, Noora and Petra Sirola. The trio released their debut single in August, titled ‘Aurora to Peace’.

After nine months of relentless touring and other activities, Noora and Petra returned to Finland. They were interviewed for a Finnish newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’ about their time in the idol business. The article was released on December 29th as both, print and online versions. Behind the link you can read a translated summary of the interview.

As is often the case when it comes to the Western media, the article is framed with the infamous mindset of idol business being skeevy: the article puts emphasis on the idol subculture being about young girls performing for middle-aged men willing to spend thousands of dollars on idol events and merchandise. Noora, 23, and Petra, 20, however, didn’t feel themselves uncomfortable.

“In Japan, nothing is too strange”, Noora comments in the article. They compliment Japanese audiences, saying they are fun and grateful. The girls tell the reporter that the frantic fan culture wasn’t surprising to them, as they had watched many idol concerts through YouTube before.

Their background is similar to other Westerners making a breakthrough in Japan: the manga and anime loving sisters have an odottemita channel in YouTube, titled parallel channel. Noora’s ‘LOVE&JOY’ video has nearly 300,000 hits at the time of writing.

When Noora was in student exchance in Tokyo, she noticed that Dearstage agency, the agency home to her favourite group Dempagumi.inc, was looking for new talents. She decided to apply. After returning to Finland, Dearstage contacted her via email, offering her and her sister a chance to work in Japan.

The new idol unit was marketed as a sort of collaboration between Japan and the Nordic countries. Petra points out that they were rarely asked about anything. She says, “Idols are rarely asked anything – it feels like the knowledge the Japanese have about the foreign countries comes from Google. They easile make Finland to be a magical forest country, where moomins skip about and everything glitters”.

Though the sisters would’ve had plenty of work in Japan, they decided to return to their home country in September. They say the catalyst for the decision to return was the constant demand for pleasing. Petra says that as a Finn, being pleasant all the time was tough, although being pleasant is the job of idols. “I thought, I don’t have to please everyone.”

As downsides to being an idol in Japan, Petra and Noora list the pay and long work hours. According to them, it is seen honorable to work a lot, even if it isn’t very productive all the time. The days off were scarce. They also confirm that the success of idols doesn’t show in the paychecks of idols themselves, as idols are more often than not on monthly salary.

“Eventually I felt like, at times, idols are more salesmen than artists,” comments Petra.

Read the full article here. (In Finnish, for subscribers only.)