Q&A with multi-talented Finnish actress, singer-songwriter

Reporter: Tomi Hinkkanen, Los Angeles
Photographs by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Irina Björklund by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

You are known primarily as an actress – how did your musical journey get started?
IB: I wrote my first song at age 7, years before I started acting. As a child, I played piano, violin and guitar. For the past few years I’ve finally had time to concentrate more on my music again – I feel it goes hand in hand with acting. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to be one self on stage, especially since the texts are all my own.

If I am correct, “Chanson d’Automne” is your third album. Why a French language record and tell us how you learned to speak French?

IB: I grew up in France as a child, even graduated from high school there. To me, French is the most natural language to write in, and it allows one to speak about big feelings without making it sound cliché. And France being known for it’s “art de vivre”, it allows one to contemplate over the philosophy of life – about what things in life really are important, after all. It’s also such a universally accepted language, musically speaking. After gigs people in the audience would often ask to buy “the album with most French songs”. I simply felt it was time to write and record an all French album. My previous 2 albums were in 5 different languages.




by Tomi Hinkkanen
Photo Credits: Tomi Hinkkanen

Julian Jones was born in Finland and came to the U.S. with his family at the age of five. His father Markku is a well-known photographer, his mother Anne is an art director, and older brother Tomi is a graphic designer. Julian found music as a teenager and has written songs ever since. Julian’s debut album, ‘Julian Jones’ Gentle Parade’, came out this Summer.

The record launching took place in Malibu. Tall and slender 23 year old Julian sings and plays the guitar. “Come and spend some time with me down by the water…” His music is melodic, with influences of folk, pop and rock. Themes of the songs come from Julian’s own life. They deal with relationships, beach, friends, struggles with Finnish and American identities. Even the Northridge earthquake in 1994, a traumatic childhood memory that has stayed with him to this date.

“I had only been in Finland, and I had never heard of earthquakes. I did not understand what happened. I was pretty horrified by the following couple of months after the incident”, Julian recalls. The band does two sets and gets an enthusiastic applause from the audience. We sit down to talk. His Finnish language skills has remained smooth thanks to the childhood Summers spent with grandparents in Tampere.

“At home we speak Finnish. Fortunately, it was important to my parents that I maintain good Finnish language skills and visit Finland regularly, so I know where I come from,” he acknowledges. “Upon arriving in America, Julian started school right away. Fortunately, he had attended an English preschool in Finland which eased the transition into the American school system. “I didn’t have many friends initially because I did not speak English as well as they did. It was also difficult to get accustomed to the pace of the school. It took a couple of years before I understood the language well enough to adapt and to make more friends. I became more American,” Julian says. He certainly considers himself first and foremost a Finn.

Music arrived in his life by chance. “I had a really good schoolmate with whom I hang out on a daily basis. One day we started playing with guitars in his parents’ house and then I realized how much fun that was. I went home and began studying the music of the Beatles and Oasis. That’s how it started.”

Through devoted determination, Julian trained himself to become a musician. “I read books, studied sounds, listened to songs and started to play along. Playing and singing came easily for me. It’s probably why I became interested in them more than other hobbies. It was easy to continue on the musical path, learn more and enjoy it.”

He graduated from Calabasas High School at age 18 in 2005 and enrolled in Santa Monica City College.” I wanted to study music, because I just started to play a couple of years earlier. I wanted to learn how to read and write



Produced by Tomi Hinkkanen
As shown on Finnish television
(in Finnish and English)




Pia Laine-Langley’s “My Scandinavia” opened its doors in 2008 in Reno, Nevada. The store offers baked goods, handmade candles, jewelry, crochet accessories and other gift items at reasonable prices. She also teaches the Finnish language and culture on weekends to groups.

Pia Laine was born in Vantaa, Finland in 1969. She has a younger sister and a brother. Her parents Leena and Kari, who are now retired, worked in publishing and advertising. She attributes her entrepreneurial spirit to them.

“After graduating high school, I started to study the travel business, did some modeling, I was a substitute teacher, I tried different fields”, Pia recalls. Then one faithful New Year’s Eve in 1990 she decided to ring in the New Year on a 24 hour cruise that departed from Helsinki.

“I met my future husband on that cruise. His name is Lee Langley and he was born and raised in Las Vegas. He was a professional musician on a gig, playing the drums on show band. I was dancing on the dance floor when he saw me. He later said he that he knew that as I was the girl he was going to marry.”

They dated for a couple of years and married in 1993. The newlyweds moved to the husband’s home town, Las Vegas. Pia was 23 at the time.

“Las Vegas was a huge culture shock. I had a lot of problems getting used to the everyday routines. The people were so different and the whole lifestyle was so much faster compared o the Finnish lifestyle. The weather was just amazing. In August, it was 120 degrees, so I was melting. I really didn’t have any friends there, which made it really hard. My husband was playing and touring a lot. So I was feeling lonely. I had no car, so I felt stuck. Lee’s family is all in Las Vegas, so that made it easier. They were driving me to places and taking me to the bank, to the doctor, etc. You really need a car, because you cannot walk anywhere. It was a very different kind of an experience for an independent, Finnish woman. It was really hard to get used to living there, ” Pia recalls.