THIS year’s World Village Festival is hotter than ever, serving up sizzling global beats and a fascinating cultural programme. The annual Helsinki happening organised by KEPA, the Service Centre for Development Cooperation, once again features a wide variety of events taking place on six stages, in several theme villages and inside the Market of Possibilities tent for NGOs. The musical line-up gathers artists from around the world. And don’t miss Mad Juana (featuring Sami Yaffa of New York Dolls fame) and their unique cross-cultural, eclectic sound – guaranteed to get the crowd bouncing.

A SOLITARY troubadour plucking or strumming away at his guitar was emblematic of the 1960s folk explosion, but since then the concept of a one-man band has transformed into an artist and a laptop – though the music might sound like a full orchestra blasting away. Those closely following the UK music scene may have heard of London folktronica artist James Yuill. Like an electronic latter day Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan, without the leftist political leanings, Yuill is a one-man folk act armed with samplers and a laptop, aside from the requisite acoustic guitar.

BY REPUTATION (mostly generated by his lyrics), MC Ruudolf is a mythical figure of Herculean proportions, whose own bio describes him as: “half man, half muscle.” He is also a man of faith, one-quarter Mexican, an aficionado of action films and a twice-crowned Finnish Champion MC who once ruled the streets with his notorious freestyle raps. His calm flow, lyrical dexterity, ironic play on hip hop clichés and straightforward attitude have lifted Ruudolf from cult favourite to a household name. Now working on his fifth (or so) album, the hip-hop heavyweight talked to SixDegrees about life, language and classic cartoons.

THIS YEAR’S Tampere Biennale features one of the most internationally renowned Finnish dancers, Virpi Pahkinen, who is performing solo accompanied by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. Currently residing in Sweden, Pahkinen travels all around the world as a choreographer as well as a solo dancer.

The Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in turn is the only full-sized symphony orchestra outside the capital city of Helsinki. As Pahkinen is rarely seen on the stage in her former home country, her upcoming appearance at Tampere Biennale has become a much-anticipated event.

EMMA LARSSON is a rather rare Scandinavian in terms of her international career, in that she chose to leave her native Sweden and head east, across ‘the neck’ of the Baltic to take up a job as a teacher of pop and jazz vocal techniques in Oulu. With a second album entitled Let it Go coming out in late March, Larsson’s career as a singer is ready to launch into new territories – particularly in New York City, the home of both cutting edge jazz and her current pianist Benitez Gonzales.

SixDegrees caught up with the diminutive Ms Larsson to discuss with her the dual roles of songstress and educator.