The Aarzemnieki (or Foreigners) phenomenon began as an unexpected shock for one German’s special interest and creative approach to the Euro introduction in Latvia. In the summer of 2013, Joran Steinhauer, whilst in his home in Bochum, Germany wrote a farewell song to the Lat currency, aptly naming the song Paldies Latiņam! (Thank You, Lat). Later, the video became a Youtube sensation with more than 100,000 views in one week. The popularity and enthusiasm surrounding the song was so large that Joran decided to pack his bags and make his way to Latvia with one thing in mind; “let’s see what happens next!”
Joran’s connection with Latvia, however, began well before the birth of this smash song, when he took part in an exchange programme in the city of Talsi in 2005. Later he volunteered at a children’s centre and in the German church of Riga. Remembering his first impressions, Joran recalls that it’s because of the group Brainstorm, who were third in the 2000 Eurovision final, that he was drawn to Latvia. After hearing their song he bought their CDs and it was at that moment that he became a true Eurovision and Brainstorm fan.
This isn’t the first time Joran has stepped on the Eurovision stage, having performed in the national Latvian selection in 2008 with his former group Axlina performing the song More Than 27.
The story behind the Aarzemnieki group’s name is quite precise due to Joran’s status in Latvia. The word’s complicated pronunciation reflects each foreigner’s struggle to integrate into the local society.
In the fall of 2013, the group grew from a solo act with three new members- violinist and vocalist Katrina Dimanta, drummer Raitis Vilumovs and Guntis Veilands, pianist, and the author of the song Cake To Bake.
Winning the Latvian selection contest, Dziesma 2014, has been their biggest accomplishment until now. Although the group is best known for the songs Paldies Latiņam and Cake To Bake their repertoire is full of many original songs.
Cake To Bake sends the message to live life without fear,don’t be afraid to not know something, don’t be too proud to ask for help or to admit to mistakes, this is what makes us human. An upbeat and catchy melody joins this message that begs for all listeners to sing along. The positive aura that surrounds Aarzemnieki is attributed to their down to earth aesthetic and joy for life. They wish to share their music and happiness with the people of all nations and to tell Europe about Latvia. We have a special perspective to show, all the more exciting from the eyes of ‘foreigners’.