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My Oulu: Italian composer Dario Tartagni fell in love with the sounds of Finnish forests

8.12.2021

Dario Tartagni is a 26-year-old Italian composer who moved to Oulu from Rome three years ago. What has made a young man from southern Europe fall in love with life in the far north of the continent?

Dario Tartagni arrived in Finland almost by chance at the age of 23.

After studying music composition in Italy, he was looking for opportunities abroad – and found an Erasmus scholarship in Oulu Game Lab.

“I am a gaming enthusiast and love music, so thought it was a perfect combination: why not use my skills in the service of the game?”

Tartagni spent his first year in Oulu composing music for game advertisements. Working with Game Lab also gave him valuable insights.

“I realised Oulu was a gaming industry hub and saw an opportunity to set up my own business,” he says.

Tartagni sees himself as an artist. Independence is very important, so running his own business was a natural choice.

“Mine is a one-man business: a music and audio production company. It is a Finnish company collaborating with people from all over the world, including the US and Britain.”

Starting a business

BusinessOulu gave Dario Tartagani a lot of help to set up his company – with experts guiding him through the whole process.

“Dealing with Finnish bureaucracy was a new experience: it is very different from Italy. But it all worked out and my business was up and running in May 2020.”

But launching a new business during the first wave of the pandemic brought its own challenges.

“In the creative arts field, marketing and getting new clients is very much based around events and word-of-mouth. But because of Covid-19, most events were cancelled.”

Still, Tartagni says his first 18 months in business have been a success.

“I draw an average salary for this business. Some months are busy, others are quiet – but that is normal. I don’t have a lot of expenses: I just need my laptop and I can work from home or whenever I am,” says Tartagni.

Music inspired by Finnish nature

Tartagni’s job is to create sounds for entertainment media and this young Italian man has turned to Finland's forests for inspiration.

“I go into the forests and record sounds from the environment. They’re amazing: natural life in the middle of nowhere that are difficult to find anywhere else,” he says while gesticulating enthusiastically.

“I love the sound of birds, water, trees being moved by the wind. I sometimes make a campfire in the woods and record noise of crackling and popping.”

Happy in Oulu

Tartagni will not commit to living the rest of his life in Oulu, but it’s easy to see how content he is for the time being.

“It was a huge coincidence that I came and fell in love with Oulu,” he admits.

“My goal for the company now is to grow more locally: I would like to have more clients in Finland. Right now 50 to 60 percent of my business is international. I would love to get more references from Helsinki, for example,” he says.

“I cheer every time it snows”

So what exactly has drawn an Italian man to the north of Finland?

“Oulu is very different from Rome which is a vast, chaotic metropolis. Life is stressful: sitting in traffic for an hour is an everyday experience.”

“Oulu is a small city where public transport works perfectly. I can get to the centre in ten minutes from my house.”

Dario Tartagni finds the Finnish way of life relaxing and believes that an important part of that is people’s relationship with nature.

“For me as an artist, it’s so inspiring”, he states.

So what inspires Tartagni the most in Oulu? The answer is snow – but it is not completely straight-forward.  

“I love snow. Every time it snows, I cheer, even though I have been here for three years. In Rome it snows maybe one day a year, so to me snow still has a magical feel – even though I don’t like winter and cold temperatures," he acknowledges.

Tartagni’s very close to his Italian family who have visited Oulu several times. His mother still asks him to consider moving back.

“But they understand why I’m here and they are happy that I am following my dreams.”

After giving this interview, Dario Tartagni has been asked to work for a project in London. He has moved to London and will be working there at least for two months.

Mies metsässä
Dario Tartagni goes into the forests and records sounds from the nature. “I love the sound of birds, water, trees being moved by the wind,” he says. Photo: Justus Salonpää

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