Islaja is Merja Kokkonen: a composer, performer and recording artist based in Berlin, Germany.
Since her debut in 2004, she has released four albums on Finland's Fonal Records, one on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label and one on Berlin-based monika enterprise, as well as a series of singles on labels such as Not Not Fun and Root Strata.
The most recent album Tarrantulla came out on Svart Records in December 2017.
She earned quick praise in the international music press for her unique vocal style and daring DIY approach to music composition, with kudos from the Wire magazine, Pitchfork and Tiny Mix Tapes.
In addition to her solo work, she also performs with Monika Werkstatt, an all-female collective founded by Gudrun Gut. This Berlin-based group of international artists organizes workshops, panel discussions and collaborative concerts and aims to provoke discussion about women in electronic music.
Tarrantulla takes an emotionally urgent, spiky and loose approach to arrangements that allows Islaja to cross genres with ease. -The Wire
There's nothing quite like the feeling of having missed out on something when discovering that the artist you've just heard for the first time has recently released their sixth album. Islaja, where have you been all my life? - The Line Of Best Fit
Completely unlike any other songwriter I've ever heard. - Arena
Tarrantulla finds Islaja breaking free from traditional songwriting, creating an album that fucks with the formula in just the right ways. - EXCLAIM