Rami Korhonen is a Finnish tech entrepreneur focusing on digital services. Starting his career during the mobile phone boom era, Rami has founded and ran many tech companies since, all the while playing in the punk band- Fumble. 

He is the CEO of Oivan and has recently launched a bitcoin only savings app called Hatch.

Rami is taking his love of punk and deep understanding of bitcoin and combining them to create music that questions our present and fights for hope for the future.

BitcoinVN News: Where are you originally from and where do you reside now? 

RAMI KORHONEN: I’m originally from Finland. Born in a poster child democratic country. The happiest country in the world, a country that first gave voting rights for women. A very human-centric type of place. 

And currently I’m living in Saudi Arabia. On paper it’s much the opposite of Finland. They are not a democratic government and gender rights are only now emerging but there has been much improvement in the last 5-6 years with still more work to do. 

It’s very different from Finland, but at the same time, it’s not generally understood. There is so much positive progress happening in the lives of ordinary people. They are really utilizing their wealth to  build infrastructure and services and creating incentives for young Saudis in business and education to become more involved. If you stop anyone on the street and ask how the Kingdom is doing, 90% of the people would say they like where the country is heading.

BitcoinVN News: Tell us about your background with music, tech and how that intersected with Bitcoin? 

RAMI KORHONEN:  I was a skateboarder in a suburb of Helsinki, back in the day, that was before the internet in the late 80’s. One of the ways to get exposed to cool music was through VHS tape skateboarding videos. We got really inspired by those and the music in those videos and started a band that emulated that sound. We started a band in the early 1990’s called Fumble.

You know, like when you drop the ball.

That became a pretty good project. We were playing in festivals and when American bands came to play we would support them. In ’94 we put that into deep freeze as the band members moved to different cities to either study and do military service. That was about an 8 year break.

During that time, I was studying sociology and social-psychology, nothing related to technology or business. When I graduated my friends called me up and said, “We’re going to have a mobile entertainment company and you’re going to be the CEO.” That’s how it started and the first company was called Small Planet. 

We were doing very early, first generation mobile entertainment type of stuff- SMS based chat services, event guides, even dating services. We did an SIM-toolkit based dating service. We made a marketplace for selling these very early games. 

We had a pioneer mentality and we tried to do as much as we can with the very limited technology of mobile entertainment. Sound familiar to Bitcoin? 

So we were working on tech and had punk rock music on the side, and things really started to change around 2007-2008 when smart phones started to rise and Apple and Google were taking over. 

We shut that company down and started another company in the similar space where we created mobile apps for clients in Finland called Iwa, which is Japanese for ‘Rock’. Very early on we found a great team from Thailand and soon after that we had a business in Finland and developers in Finland and in Thailand. BUT THEN, my bassist introduced me to an entrepreneur that had a great idea for an app emulating a jukebox that can be played at a restaurant or bar. I left Iwa to work for this company called Playmysong. That led me to the US in SF.

That was a time when all of the early bitcoin meetups were happening. Ironically, I was living in Soma just a few blocks away. 

We were not able to scale Play My Song so we started to put that company to sleep and I moved back to Finland. There I continued to work with different mobile start ups, business development,  consultation and stuff like that. 

Then finally, I came back to Iwa at the end of 2014.Things were growing quite nicely and in 2016 we bought a small software studio called Movila. We got their clients their technical expertise, and then after I realized that they actually built one of the first bitcoin services in Finland called Coinmotion. They built this in 2013! And it’s still going on!

It was a simple broker service- send fiat and buy bitcoin. Keep it there or send it to your own wallet. The most basic thing you can ever think of. 

They were bitcoin only in 2013 but actually sold it during the bear market. They are still very bitcoin focused but they have also added other coins as well due to competition in the marketplace. The current people at Coinmotion are really great people, nice guys.

So anyway, I started working with my colleague and he was always coding with the bitcoin price somewhere on his screen. And I would ask him questions like, “Why are you so excited about this? What is so important about this?” And finally in 2017 when we had that crazy run up and it went down to $15,000 or something I said, “Okay, now it’s time for me to buy a little bit. Buy some sats and see what happens.””

That’s what I did. On the investment side, I’m very bitcoin focused. As a tech entrepreneur, at that time I had already built several tech start-ups and I have always thought bitcoin is the original technology, the one that is going to last and be the whole base layer of this whole crypto idea but… Smart Contracts and Blockchain! This is some cool new thing. I spent maybe a year or 2 exploring the whole thing. I was mainly thinking about how as we run our company building digital solutions for our clients, how we can integrate this into our work. 

I have to say… I started going to these blockchain conferences in Dubai and Malta… and the more I spoke to these people, the less convinced I became. The excitement was there, but it was more how to make money as fast as possible. And in every blockchain conference, there were maybe 1 or 2 bitcoin people, and when you talk to them, it’s more calm and they talk about how Bitcoin specifically is a much bigger thing. This is about changing the world and not about short term gains or anything like that.

Over time everything started to click. I had the tech background, I had the puck rock background. I started understanding bitcoin to the point of- Bitcoin Is The Most Important Thing. Everything else is secondary and in most cases harmful to people. By 2020 I went bitcoin only. 

BitcoinVN News: You also wrote an article titled, Bitcoin is Punk Rock. Tell us a little more about that!

RAMI KORHONEN:  Ah yes! Bitcoin is very punk rock if you think about it. Punk rock started as a kind of resistance movement to the corporate popular music that was big in the 70’s. You had this nice million dollar music. On the other side you had some people in garages who just wanted to go to the deepest essence and roots of simple rock and roll – and really playing without knowing how to play. Energy was more important than skill and production. It’s a great thing and has similar parallels to bitcoin. Satoshi just built something, a great idea, probably not the best coder in the world but built something that he thought was the most important thing in the world, with the need to push it out to the world. There is something similar there. 

And of course in the punk rock scene, there is this constant questioning of the world order. If you read the New York Times you are always skeptical about if what you read is a true story or when you hear a politician you always question if they mean what they say. There is this nagging feeling that people are trying to fool you. 

And with bitcoin culture, it’s exactly the same thing. There is distrust with the legacy organizations. Obviously, this “Don’t Trust. Verify.” principle is great. 

Sometimes you read something about bitcoin that is great – it makes sense, it’s well researched and accurate. But so often that is not the case and when they write about bitcoin, it’s so full of errors. Either ignorant or deliberate misinformation. A very similar kind of vibe to punk rock back in the day. 

BitcoinVN News: You released something recently, correct? 

RAMI KORHONEN: Yeah! I released one last Monday called, Truth Seekers

The production of the song is a bit of a change in strategy for me. So far, this project is just me and my acoustic guitar and recording on this  laptop. I take my guitar with me around the world and just ask around places if I can play. Primitive you can say. 

But with this song, Truth Seekers, I got my band Fumble to help. They played all of the instruments. We got a weekend in September and we produced 4 songs. Full production stuff, it sounds like real music! I surprised myself. 

BitcoinVN News:  Looking at your experiences and influences – Bitcoin, tech and music, where did you get the idea of embedding the bitcoin ethos message into your music? 

RAMI KORHONEN: Sure, great question. To continue off, my company got a lucky break in the Saudi market. There was a government institution that was mandated to work on digitizing the housing market. We ran a pilot program for them that was successful, which eventually led to huge agreement with them. Our business started to balloon and I was finding myself going there more frequently to where eventually I decided to move there. This was around COVID time so there wasn’t much to do. My family also moved there in 2023.

On the weekends I was like well, I can play playstation, watch Netflix or I can play music. Music was more creative and I was thinking – I have this background in writing songs, singing in a band. And I really like bitcoin and I have time and I have my acoustic guitar. 

I thought that I wanted to write songs that are related to bitcoin but also appeal to other people. Not with a message of bitcoin is great or bitcoin to the moon, but in a more sophisticated way, like stories within the bitcoin culture without ever putting bitcoin in your face. So you would have to kind of find it within the songs. 

I wrote 10 songs, but I had not done anything much with them. We had a family holiday but I was coming on with flu symptoms. This was still close to COVID so my family went without me. The next day I woke up and I felt great. I was alone with my family on holiday, so I drove up to the rehearsal studio and recorded all 10 songs. 

And on my subsequent trips, instead of watching the latest Game of Thrones on the flight, I was mixing the songs, with the little skills I had!

Finally, I decided to make a video. I rigged up a stand above a garbage can and laundry basket and put a GoPro at the top. Posted it on YouTube and that’s how I got started!

Some people liked it, and that gave me the courage to start posting more frequently. 

And at the beginning of this year I posted the last batch of songs I had made. 

Some American guys found it and reached out to me. They invited me to this Twitter spaces called Bitcoin Beats. I joined them and did a podcast with them. During the podcast they said, we’re going to have a Mass Adoption Freedom Festival in Boston and you’re invited to play! And I’m like, Okay, I’m coming! 

I made the arrangements and went there and it made this positive feedback global effect loop where I go somewhere, I meet other event organizers at the event, then I get the next place. 

When we met at the Bitcoin Conference in Thailand, I was going to Bangkok anyway. I had everything booked and then I noticed the conference was in the middle of my trip! So I sent the organizers a message that I’m coming and I can play for free and they said, “Yeah, you can play in the after party!” 

These kinds of things have been going on and on and it starts to snowball. Very low-key but a lot of fun.

BitcoinVN News: The bitcoin community and bitcoin only groups are sprouting up in every city it seems. So many places you can network and plug into.

RAMI KORHONEN: Exactly! Before I played in HCMC I was in Bangkok and I contacted BOB space

They have a co-working space and I asked to play there. I didn’t have any equipment, just my acoustic guitar, completely campfire style but still there were like 10-15 people there and we had a lot of fun.

The mode is so simple, it’s lean and versatile and fun to make. I can have the fun acoustic sounds for where I go and still make the production stuff for easy listening. 

BitcoinVN News: Where have you been so far? 

RAMI KORHONEN: Yeah! So let me think, Boston, Bristol, Bangkok… Riga for the Baltic Honeybadger Conference.

They had a Satoshi Rockamoto stage where bitcoiners played cover songs and they allowed me to play!

Next up was HCM in Saigon, and finally I played in HODLWeen in Charlotte.

And all of this context was from playing at these events. 

BitcoinVN News: Has anyone that is unfamiliar with Bitcoin come up to you and say that they’ve resonated with your message? 

RAMI KORHONEN: The main band, Fumble, has a long history so we still have people that still follow us. Some of them became aware of my solo project and started asking questions. I got a range of people contacting me saying this is kind of interesting and others who thought bitcoin was boiling the oceans, so they were asking me why I was supporting it. 

It was very interesting and the way I have to explain it with people. 

When I talk to normies I’ll say that it’s acoustic rock about freedom in the digital age. Almost everyone can relate to the fact that we need to fight back against governments and big corporations because they will own all of our data and gatekeep everything we do. 

They will shut you off from social media platforms when they want, banks can cut off your access anytime they want. So I talk about the wider thing, not having to mention bitcoin. Music is one of the great tools in this. 

BitcoinVN News: Are there other approaches to how you discuss bitcoin with others? 

RAMI KORHONEN:I think the best memes to get behind in the last couple years has been – Study Bitcoin. 

That makes a lot of sense and that’s the main thing I tell everybody. I’m not telling anyone to buy it or anything like that but learn about it. Maybe you don’t understand it or its profound meaning right away, but learning about it introduces the truth through teaching how the money you’ve been using all your life works and how we’ve all been duped in many ways with inflation and financial games. 

It’s fascinating and valuable learning, even if you don’t become orange-pilled or convinced. 

BitcoinVN News: What are your future plans for Higher-Low

RAMI KORHONEN: For now it’s just about keeping making music. We have 3 more full production songs I’m going to release in the next couple months. 

My friends from Fumble played and did a good job and the producer really knows how to capture energy. He’s also one of the best rock ‘n roll guitarists I know and plus a great singer. 

The way I describe my music is twofold. In bitcoin circles I call it Pleb Rock. 

He was putting those nice touches with layers and guitar solos. Little spices that make the sound sound huge. I had no idea it would turn out like this. 

I thought we would all go and play a simple version of the song and get something done. But because they really prepared and the producer thought hard about the songs. The way they turned out, I was blown away. 

BitcoinVN News: Your songs are bite-sized, catchy and poppy with a clear and distinct message. 

RAMI KORHONEN: Yes, a lot about hope. Often in the songs I describe something that is messed up in the world but now we have a tool, that if used right we can make the world a better place. 

Maybe for ourselves but especially for our children’s generation. The real big picture.