Nordic Music Scene #4 – News and Reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

Nordic Music Scene #4 – News and Reviews from across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries

N#4 – 01 June, 2018

Welcome to the fourth edition of Nordic Music Scene, a monthly section within God is in the TV that is dedicated to reviews and news of artists from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and their associated territories, focusing on indie artists and labels.

In this edition: Sauropod; Dagny; Sykur; Oxen; Lykke Li; Wildhart; Klara; Menke; Francobollo; Uma E. Fernqvist; INES/Wild at Heart Festival; NONONO; Esther Vallee; NOTD; Becky and the Birds; When ‘Airy Met Fairy; STRØM; Summer Heart; Kastrup; Frøkedal; Highasakite (reprise); Lula

Sections: EPs/Singles/Albums/News

All the editions of Nordic Music Scene are stored under ‘Features’ on the GIITTV website or can be located by searching for ‘Nordic Music Scene’

EPs

Menke (Sweden) – Till Havet

Here’s one primarily for the Swedish subscribers to Nordic Music Scene for the simple reason that it’s all in Swedish. However, even if you don’t speak the language the beauty of these songs is evident.

Sara Menke has just released (25th May, Size/Cosmos) her debut EP, ‘Till Havet’ (‘To the Sea’). It’s a hefty one, with eight tracks, each featuring her delicate, fragile voice that is still powerful enough not to be overwhelmed by some immense arrangements.

It isn’t unusual for musical artists to work with poets, living or dead, in Sweden; indeed Nordic Music Scene featured a contemporary co-operation in the first edition, Åsa Larsson (aka Resmiranda) who transcribes the poetry of Claire Dubois into song. No mean feat, as poetry is not the same as song lyricism.

And it is much the same with Menke, who works with the themes of the poetry of Karin Boye. Boye, who was a poet, author and translator (she translated many of TS Eliot’s works into Swedish) in the 1930s, was also known for her novel, Kallocain, a dystopian work reminiscent of 1984 and Brave New World. She was a sort of Swedish Virginia Woolf; she even died, aged 40, in the same year, 1941, just a month after Woolf, and in the same way, by suicide.

It sounds somewhat pretentious and arty-farty to say you can feel the power of the poetic word in Menke’s songs but you can. She’s aided by an outrageous talent to combine and to create atmosphere out of traditional instruments such as piano, guitar banjo, cello and vibraphone (occasionally played with a bow) and more unconventional instruments such as lyre and wine glasses. And she plays all of them on this EP.

The EP begins with Nattskärran,’ with sweeping, strings straight out of a Bond movie, then ‘I Rörelse shrouds the listener with Menke’s echo-effect laden vocals and vibraphone.  The title track (3) and the final one, simply ‘Havet’, are more experimental, ‘Havet’ in particular sounding electronic though it probably isn’t, while ‘Troner Och Folk Och Städer’ with words from Rudyard Kipling, is the most delicate track. The brooding ‘Stjärnsång’ lyrics are taken from Friedrich Nietzsche but it isn’t as heavy as that suggests.

The debut single from the EP was Moln,’ (‘Cloud’) which featured in Spotify’s ‘Most Beautiful Songs in the World’ playlist.

And here’s a bonus. Soon afterwards she released a remix of ‘Moln’ in collaboration with the acclaimed German musician Alva Noto, who is known for his unique ability to combine ambient sounds with outside environmental aspects, all of which was showcased in his score for the Oscar-winning film The Revenant. Noto took the strings and ambient tones of the original, and injected swathes of distorted electric guitar and electronic beats, overlapping them with Menke’s angelic vocals.

The best way I can describe this EP is to say it should be prescribed on the NHS as an alternative to Prozac. All the benefits, with no side-effects.

Singles

Sauropod (Norway) – I Know Where You’ve Been 

There’s something slightly saucy in the title of Sauropod’s latest single, shades of Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii! Or Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough in a Cissie & Ada sketch. A particularly suggestive Bamforth postcard perhaps.

It has been hard to place Sauropod, which is named after a lizard-hipped dinosaur. I’ve danced with a few of those, myself. The Oslo trio’s last single that I reviewed, ‘Never on Time’ had a head-banging melodic pop-rock sound to it with a pumping bass line but I recall noting that not all their material followed the same pattern, even if it is all played at a fair pace. Nordic bands are rarely simple to categorise.

Six months later they’re back with another melodic head-banger, this time a little heavier and the first single from a forthcoming self-titled EP to be released on 24th August, so I guess this is the future for a dinosaur that escaped extinction. I’m not surprised to learn that they’ve supported Sløtface, Norway’s premier exponent of tune-soaked pop-punk, even if they are on the same label.

At times a little of the old grunge slips into this track as well. In fact the opening bars could be Nirvana , especially that Novoselic-like bass line.

The song is about “being in a shitty mood and still trying to have fun”. Favourite line – “A cloud is taking a leak; the town is filled with a reek”. Priceless.

Sauropod are Jonas Røyeng (guitar, vocals), Kamilla Waal Larsen (bass, vocals) and Jørgen Natland Apeness (drums).

Sauropod return to the UK later this year for their first headline shows.

Dagny (Norway) – That feeling when

With the Eurovision Song Contest having recently taken place I’m reminded that in my last review of Dagny I described her song ‘Love You Like That’ as a suitable candidate, a synth-poppy one that was full to the brim with “love yous”. And no clucking noises.

She follows it with ’That Feeling When,’ a song about “my personal experiences of not only falling in love, but also sorrow.” This first single of 2018 “shows another side of me as an artist, with a more melancholic, epic and atmospheric sound.”  It was written on one of her favourite instruments, the Omnichord, a Japanese invention from the 1980s, and the accompanying video was shot in her home town of Tromsø, interspersed with clips from a sold-out show at Oslo’s 1350-capacity Rockefeller Music Hall, where there seems to be more people than in the whole of Tromsø.

Another Scandinavian with a hefty return from streaming, Dagny has over 100 million streams to her name on Spotify and this video has been racing ahead with views since its publication on 3rd May. Some previous ones have garnered millions. You get the sense that Dagny is on the cusp of a major breakthrough, beyond Norway.

I can’t help but feel though that there’s something a little too sugary about the video. And in stark contrast is Dagny’s stage performance where she looks like she’s mimicking one of Alex’s droogs from A Clockwork Orange. Perhaps somewhere between the two is the real Dagny?

Sykur (Iceland) – Loving None

‘Loving None’ was actually released in Feb-2018 and figured in ‘Tracks of the Week’ #15 in GIITTV but a new official video at the beginning of May is good reason to feature it again.

Sykur, which has been a favourite on the Icelandic scene for the best part of a decade now, compose in both English and Icelandic, choosing which language best suits the song as they are writing it, the previous release to this one being in Icelandic. Loving None’ is part of a package of new work. It is melodic, powerful and big as usual, just like singer Agnes Björt Andradóttir’s hair. They even recorded a song called ‘Messy Hair’ in the early days.

Agnes is an interesting lady; once a teenage model she looks the part again here. At first I thought the video had been shot in those giant greenhouses just outside Reykjavik at Hveragerði where they grow date palms and bananas, you’ll know them if you’ve been there. But the more I look the more I reckon now that it’s some weird Reykjavik bar. There are plenty of those.

Incidentally, they may eat puffins, shark and ram’s testicles but dog is not a standard form of transport in Iceland.

Oxen (Sweden) – Soulmate

Oxen (Erik Hases and Stefan Söderqvist) featured in the first Nordic Music Scene and now return with ‘Soulmate’, the second single from their forthcoming debut album, to be released in the autumn. The song is “a modern everyday romance tune about those small things in life, like doing laundry and dreaming of Paris…but it also touches that feeling we all know so well, the feeling of not being good enough”.

Oxen consistently find a tune, and often something of The Beatles in their ballads. This one is said to strike a nerve in the same way as ‘I Will’ from that band and I can go along with that view.

Having recently signed to Swedish indie label VÅRØ, Oxen is promising much more material this year, supported by a tour of Germany and possibly the UK.

Wildhart (Sweden) – New Beginning

It is a new beginning for the Gothenburg duo, which was a trio when they released their debut album ‘Shine’ 18 months ago. They (Ylva Holmdahl and Kiwi Berg) return later this summer with a new EP called ‘Caught In A Fisheye’, and this aptly-titled single is from it, their first new music since that album.

The song details “the realisation of something that’s been dragging you down for some time, endlessly holding you back – before you finally find a way to let it go, and move forward.” I suppose the change of pace towards the end signifies the “letting go” bit as singer Holmdahl’s vocals are amplified and contorted into a synthesised vocal choir.

Conversely, as the wonderful Danish/Swedish Bron/Broen/The Bridge makes its long-awaited return to British TV for its final series I can’t help but feel the last minute of the song would have fitted one of its tense moments perfectly.

Otherwise they are pretty laid back and easygoing and the rumour is that the EP will be a more contained, focused project, compared to the wild and explosive song writing that was evident on their debut full length album.

The video was shot not in their home city but on a freezing winter’s day in Stockholm.

Klara (Sweden) – Broken

Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) has influenced (and been influenced by) several Nordic artists and bands and he is responsible for the direction Swedish singer/songwriter KLARA has taken since she met him at Glastonbury in 2015, subsequently spending time with him at his Eaux Claires Festival and returning with “a clear vision” for her own musical future. ‘Broken’ was shaped by her journey across America to and following the festival including a trip down the Pacific Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The track was recorded in Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios outside Bath. That weird sound that might be a harmonium is a vintage Roland Jupiter-4 analog synthesiser, a revered machine which was, I believe, used on Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ and Van Halen’s ‘Jump’.

‘Broken’ follows her ‘These Woods (Human Made)’ single, which sound-tracked a Volvo television and cinema campaign and hit number 1 in the iTunes UK Singer/Songwriter chart earlier this year. It is the first track to be released from her next album, which will be available later this year.

Francobollo (Sweden/UK) – We’re Dead 

London based, original and and slightly weird Swedes Francobollo released their new single ‘We’re Dead’ on 15th May. They’d released their debut album, ‘Long Live Life’, in 2017. Something of a disparity there.

It isn’t an original theme, the obsession of this generation with ‘phones and addiction to the online world and the consequential effect on the brain, but it’s a subject that will always attract attention. Front man Simon Nilsson sings: “We do it when we’re bored, we can’t afford to take the time / ‘Cause everybody knows that you’re supposed to be online (all the time) / Staring at the screen, it’s all we need when nothing’s on, pretty little bubbles we create to sing our song.”

He explains further: Maybe I’m just speaking for myself and my surroundings, but it feels like our brains are slowly dying…We need to feed it with good shit, basically.” Quite.

There’s an air of playfulness about this punk-tinged indie rock composition which begs the question, are they serious or not? The closing crescendo ends with Nilsson pleading with the listener to: “Open up your eyes, look to the sky – it never ends”. Which could refer to broader horizons, or to the infinite possibilities of the Internet. Discuss.

Uma E. Fernqvist (Sweden) – For U

‘For U’ is the last track on a four-song EP, ‘Reverse’ from Uma E. Fernqvist via the psuedonym Jubel, which was released on 11th May. She has an interesting back story.

Having been a highly regarded professional dancer for more than 20 years, she brought her love of movement and music together to compose her first EP, which was inspired by the 1990s trip-hop movement, as well as by her own involvement in the cinematic world of dance.

The four tracks are quite different, the second and third ones, ‘Stay’ and ‘Little Star’ for example appearing to be Björk-influenced, but on ‘For U’ she might as well have sailed HMS Bonobo straight up the Bristol Channel to launch a Massive Attack on Portishead. The song is very atmospheric, bringing together an attractive mix of instrumentation and percussion which create rhythms that are at times both haunting and mesmerising.

She says, “The songs have grown out of thoughts about finding (the way) back to something in oneself, in relation to how one gets affected by ‘life’. But I want the texts to be open for interpretation, the lyrics have double, triple meanings … they even changed meaning during the time spent completing the EP”. 

“We investigated and experimented for a long time to find the right sound, and found that the textures were very important and that we wanted a cinematic feel. In the search for the right sound, we also contacted the multiple Grammys winner Mandy Parnell at Black Saloon Studios in London for mastering the songs.”  

She is one of a number of female artists in Sweden who are able to manage dance and song to a very high standard indeed.

https://soundcloud.com/jubeltracks/04-for-u

Esther Vallee (Sweden) – Higher

I had to listen to this track only once before I realised that Esther does a pretty good impersonation of Regina Spektor on it, even down to the glottal stops that become increasingly evident as the song progresses. At least when she stops sounding like Sigrid.

It’s from her EP Things we never talk about’ which is scheduled for release as Nordic Music Scene #4 is published, on 1st June, 2018. Come to think of it that title has Regina stamped all over it, too. An album is expected to follow before the end of the year.

Esther is a Swedish West Coast native, born just outside of Gothenburg. She was discovered by producer Jonas Quant (Hurts, No Doubt, Agnes, Kylie Minogue, Petra Marklund) three years ago and they´ve worked together ever since. Previous songs have been play listed on national radio P3 (and on German radio) and got good local support from Spotify.

Esther says, “’Higher’ is about the urge to feel something for someone – or at least pretend to feel something and that everything is perfect. I’m not that interested in who you are or what you do, what keeps you up at night or how you take your morning coffee, but I just need you next to me unconditionally. It may sound desperate, but why the hell not?” 

Her music has been described as laid-back electronic pop with an underlying melancholy, creating a unique and playful sound. I can agree with most of that, but not “unique”. I hear Regina, but that’s no bad thing.

NONONO (Sweden) – Friends (Hilbom remix)

It’s unusual for Nordic Music Scene to feature a remix but as this one from Hilbom, an aspiring 21-year old from a little village called Järvsö in Northern Sweden comes with the stamp of approval from the song’s originators, the alt-pop dance trio NONONO (singer-songwriter Stina Wäppling and producers Tobias Jimson and Michel Flygare), it got the thumbs-up.

Another factor in the decision is that NONONO was one of the biggest Swedish musical exports in 2013-2014, selling – from the birthplace of streaming – two million singles, with multi-platinum album sales following, and they’ve appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel in the U.S.

‘Friends’ was originally released on March 23rd this year and marked the start of the New Year for the Stockholm trio  with further singles to come, leading up to their second album due this autumn. It follows a break the band took following an intense couple of years, Wäppling seeking inspiration in South and Southeast Asia while Jimson and Flygare went back into the studio to produce songs for artists like Madonna, Maroon 5, Tove Lo and Zara Larsson, picking up a Swedish Grammy along the way for Larsson’s ‘Only You’ .

Hilbom (his real name is not revealed) is, like Northampton-Norway’s Alan Walker, essentially a producer and is also the person behind the upcoming Swedish rapper Casper the Ghost.’

‘Friends’ doesn’t have a particularly auspicious start but stick with it; it gets dramatically better after 40 seconds or so.

Summer Heart (Sweden) – I Got This Thing for You

Summer Heart is a Swedish dream pop act and the solo project of singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist David Alexander, who is best known for a nostalgic lo-fi sound.

Summer Heart was formed in 2011 just after David Alexander returned to Sweden and he has mainly been gaining attention in the blogosphere, though one track ended up on the NBC TV-series Whitney, bringing him a broader fans base.

Although Summer Heart is a solo project, Alexander is frequently seen on-stage performing with friends.

‘I Got This Thing for You’ was recorded shortly after returning from a series of performances at SXSW, one of a collection  entitled ‘12 Songs of Summer’.

The track started as a small loop and the lyrics “I got this thing for you”. Alexander says, “I wasn’t sure where to take the track so I showed it to my friend Joakim Buddee, who asked if he could play around with it. I gave him carte blanche and he came back to me with a version of the track that we both really liked.”

Alexander attempts to capture the soundtrack of an endless summer. I wish we could have one here after that bitch of a winter. Not quite ‘In the Summertime’ – experimental dream pop hadn’t yet surfaced when Mungo Jerry were cruising the streets of North London with women on their mind. But a pleasant enough listen to drive around to all the same.

NOTD ft. Bea Miller (Sweden) – I Wanna Know

In a previous edition of Nordic Music Scene Soundcloud had been responsible for a love affair which led to a marriage as well as a musical duo. Nothing so exotic this time but it was responsible for introducing Tobias Danielsson (19) and Samuel Brandt (17) who met after following each other on Soundcloud, later going on to attend the same high school in Sweden.

The duo, calling themselves NOTD  (presumably Night of the Dead?) honed their skills, ultimately leading to official remixes for some of pop’s heavy hitters like Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, Demi and others. Rihanna in the morning, math and Greek history in the afternoon. If they had to do detention I know which one they’d choose.

The Stockholm duo recently laid down a track featuring Bea Miller called ‘I Wanna Know’, together with a remix bundle which features, inter alia, Syn Cole, Pusher and Mintway (the grooviest one).

In parts of the song Bea makes me think of Hanson and in others of Barbados’ Ms Fenty herself.

Becky and the Birds (Sweden) – Concept Store

Becky and the Birds is a person rather than a band, a Swedish producer and singer. She’s just released a new single ‘Concept Store’. It is the follow-up to her debut single ‘Holding On’ which was well received, particularly by Stockholm’s big-selling grunge-pop queen Tove Lo.

In reality she is 21-year old Thea Gustafsson from Örebro in the west of the country where they hold a very popular annual festival called Live at Heart (see the News section).

The second song from a forthcoming debut EP, Thea describes it as being “about when you find yourself obsessing over what the person you love is thinking. I guess you could say that it’s about some kind of paranoia, you’re stuck with the thought and the feeling that he or she is about to leave, and soon you’ll start over- analysing shit.” I couldn’t have put it better.

It’s a strange song though in that the beat, the mood, even yes, the concept, don’t really suggest obsession about what the boy/girlfriend is thinking about leaving you, it actually sounds like someone who’s happy with their lot. The strength of the track really lies in her soulful vocals.

https://soundcloud.com/user-699382853/concept-store

When ‘Airy Met Fairy (Iceland) – Until your season dries

With a name like that I suppose they had to be Icelandic though one of the duo (Mike Koster) is actually a Luxembourger; the Icelandic connection being Thorunn Egilsdottir, who is the main songwriter, and they are supported by her art director sister, Runa, who, together with French producer Raphael Kindig, made a good job of this video. I can’t understand though why they didn’t film it in the Blue Lagoon; the Tourist Board would have been made up.

It’s a very laid-back, understated , minimalistic, melancholic song and Thorunn’s tender, appealing voice is a coming together of Björk, Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor and Elkie Brooks at their fragile best while also similar to that of Sweden’s Elin Skeppstedt, who featured in NMS #3 (May) 

Until Your Season Dries’ is taken from their debut album ‘Glow,’ released in Europe last year and to be released in the UK on 22nd June.

The band formed in 2015, and were spotted a year later by Icelandic musician Bardi Johannsson, who produced their debut single ‘Intoxicated’, a track which was mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London. Since then the band have been self-producing their music. They return to the UK on 7th June with a one-off show at The Finsbury, London. Personally, I would recommend national exposure here.

STRØM (Sweden) – Teenage Crime (remix)

Another day, another mysterious Swedish producer. This one is STRØM, also a multi-instrumentalist and his cover of hit dance record ‘Teenage Crime’ by Adrian Lux.

STRØM is no stranger to success. Last year two singles had an extended run on Hype Machine, one of which was used to soundtrack a BMW commercial.

STRØM’s ambition is to break away from musical structures, outside of the rigidity of constrictive genre labels. He is influenced by artists such as James Blake, Jai Paul, Oceaán and SBTRKT.

He says, “Teenage Crime has been one of my favourite songs since it was released, and I wanted to give it a custom made STRØM-suit.” Although the melody and lyrics are the same as the original, the joyful tone of that song has been twisted into a dark piece of futuristic pop, complete with lo-fi 90s synths and falsetto vocals.

STRØM has no social media accounts and no online presence. He speaks through his music. This is it.

Kastrup (Sweden, via Denmark) – Joanna

Hmm, a reminder here to record The Bridge when I’m away next week. Kastrup is a Swedish synth-pop duo but is named after the Copenhagen airport, which is in Denmark of course. The PR doesn’t say whether they hail from Malmö or if they spend all their time criss-crossing the Øresund Bridge in an olive green 1970s Porsche Carrera.

What it does say is that they got their name from what I assume is a local saying, “why don’t we just jump out here at Kastrup station and get the first plane away from here?,” which is something that Ingrid Bergman might have said, or perhaps Britt Ekland, I can’t locate it. Whatever, it is “the spirit of escapism” that shapes their music.

The band comprises songwriter Timmie Strandberg and producer Puppe Westberg. Their melancholic pop saw them top the Swedish National radio chart for unsigned artists for over a month with their ballad ‘Thieves’, which also gained a Video Of The Year nomination at the Manifest awards. They also write for other artists in UK, Germany, South Korea and Japan.

Kastrup have just released another melancholic track, ‘Joanne’, taken from their ‘In Search of Us’ EP, which alludes to their journey as songwriters finding their sound, but also tells the story of a young couple that can never seem to understand each other. Quite a pleasant track to accompany a drive across the Øresund, until it erupts into a substantial anthem towards the end.

Frøkedal  (Norway)– Treehouse

Ultra-cool Norwegian Frøkedal will release her second album, ‘How We Made It’ on 31st August. Her first album, 2016’s ‘Hold on Dreamer’ was Norwegian Grammy-nominated. Having released several teasers already, the most recent in the form of ‘I Don’t Care’, she followed up with ‘Treehouse’ (25th May) a song which deviates considerably from her usual style, venturing into the fairy-tale territory associated more with her compatriot Aurora or Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men.

The lyric concerns a mischievous plot to tear down a tree-topped kingdom and was inspired by a six- year old child who tore his older brother’s tree house to pieces without knowing he was being watched.

She says “Even if it seems meaningless and silly, the joyful mischief of it feels strangely familiar. This idea or this way of behaving kind of translates to everyone at some point. Sometimes it just feels better to tear stuff up. Or maybe, tearing stuff down for others feels better than building up your own.”

The forthcoming album is reported to have a more “mature” sound than ‘Hold on Dreamer’ combining a full band with folk-leaning string sections. Conversely, she says it was inspired by recognition of her own un-cool and “immature” personal traits, including “unfiltered, impulsive thoughts and actions fuelled by everything from fear, love and deep passion to red hot anger.” Not a lady to mess with.

Albums

Lykke Li (Sweden) – so sad so sexy (featuring Aminé, Rostam, Malay, and others)

Sample track – deep end

The woman who would be the new Madonna. I never forgot that claim from an interview in 2008 or 2009 after Lykke Li’s debut album ‘Youth Novels’ was released. Ms Ciccone’s star may be waning now but Ms Zachrisson’s hasn’t quite risen to its zenith yet.

There have been high hopes though for her fourth album, ‘so sad so sexy,’ which will be released on 8th June. Like the title, all the tracks are in lower case and several are sexually suggestive, as indeed is this single, ‘deep end’, one of two to have been released so far.

Lykke Li has gone off at a tangent with this album and this track seems to be at odds with much of her previous work as she opts for danceable trap-influenced hip-hop, which is not surprising since it has three producers – Jeff Bhasker, Malay, and T-Minus – all of whom are associated with that genre.

She also gambled by not having the album produced by Björn Yttling, who was responsible for the previous three, and entrusting it to these three guys from a completely different background.

But the one thing she has succeeded in doing is to reintroduce the variety that had gone walkabout on the previous album, ‘I Never Learn’. There’s plenty of hip hop influence in the early tracks though it isn’t pervasive (but the experiment with U.S. rapper Aminé on one of the tracks doesn’t really work). There’s also enough for her purist followers to latch on to, and the odd danceable track, along with some very charming introspective ballads. A compelling mix.

A full track-by-track review will appear shortly in GIITTV. The album is officially released on 8th June.

News

Sweden’s Wild at Heart festival to figure in INES music conference free-to-access videos

Here’s a good idea. The Innovation of European Showcases (INES), a showcase festival network, has started an initiative to make knowledge imparted at music business conferences more sustainable and accessible by providing the filmed content all in one place, online.

The platform will host over 120 recordings from at least eight conference sessions all over Europe to educate music professionals in Europe beyond the borders of showcase festivals conferences, i.e. without having to attend them in person and incur the associated travel, subsistence and any admission costs.

The conferences of MENT Ljubljana in Slovenia are already available online and more videos will join the portfolio over the next weeks and months.

The premise is quite simple, namely that the music business is one of the hardest to start a career in, because high quality music business schools and education programmes are rare to find. (Actually, I’m not sure that is true in the UK, but this is a Europe-wide initiative). Much of the important hands-on knowledge transfer by music professionals is happening at music business conferences throughout Europe. (That part I can agree with, having attended, as an outsider to the industry, several sessions at the Reeperbahn Festival last year; they were excellent).

Established music professionals, as well as artists or starters in the music industry, will be able to use this source for free and benefit from the knowledge, insights and outcomes that are created at the panels, workshops and keynotes all over Europe.

The participating 2018 conferences are listed below. More could be added later.

  • MENT Ljubljana (Slovenia) 31.01- 03.02.
  • Westway LAB (Portugal) 11.04 – 14.04.
  • Enea Spring Break (Poland) 19.04 – 21.04.
  • Liverpool Sound City (UK) 04.05 – 06.05.
  • Live at Heart (Örebro, Sweden) 02.09 – 08.09.
  • Waves Vienna (Austria) 27.09 – 29.09.
  • Sonic Visions (Luxembourg) 16.11 – 17.11.
  • Monkey Week (Spain) 22.11 – 24.11.

Free INES#pro accreditation on ines-festivals.eu/pro.

Website: www.ines-festivals.eu

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inesfestivals

Highasakite release ‘behind the scenes’ video of new recordings 

I would not normally do something like this but hand on heart Highasakite is one of my favourite bands so even though this song featured in the previous edition of NMS, this new video, which portrays a laid-back approach to writing and recording in what can be a frenetic business, caught my attention.

As their fans will know, what was a five-piece sadly broke up last year at the end of the lengthy ‘Camp Echo’ tour – musical differences may have been at the heart of it – and the original writing duo of Ingrid Helene Håvik and Trond Bersu formed out of the split.

Their first single for almost a year – ‘Out of Order’ was released recently. In order to record it, they de-camped to the Swedish woods (presumably Norwegian woods are out of fashion) for a month.  That amount of time suggests that plenty more writing and recording was undertaken – enough for an album.

Part of the reason for going there was “to get away from our lives in Oslo”, a place I can’t imagine is that arduous to live in, hardly The South Bronx (or perhaps I’m missing something), and in order to find fresh inspiration.

Håvik says, “As success grew, I kind of lost sight of it all – of why I was making music, or why people were even listening. I remember writing ‘Lover, Where Do You Live’ in a rehearsal room with Trond [circa 2011]. In that moment, it felt as though the song burnt within me – like I was singing with purpose, and pain that was too heavy to wear. It was important for me to find my way back to that point. I had to get back to the core.”  

The success she mentions is counted in over 100 million Spotify streams, multiple Norwegian Grammy Awards, an appearance at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert (at which ‘Lover’ was performed), and the record for the longest stint in the Norwegian Top 40 by any band, ever (over two years, for the album ‘Silent Treatment’). Yet international success at that level has so far eluded them. Perhaps that was behind the break-up.

But to return to the video, while I usually find these things cloying and corny there’s something appealing about a stripped back, no make-up, hey let’s go for a walk in the woods in the middle of the night production like this, even if it was choreographed. I found it quite endearing. Produced by Jørgen Nordby. 

Swedish band Lula protest about lack of Swedish radio airplay for Indie bands in a novel fashion

The lack of airplay for independent performers appears to be as big a problem in Sweden as it can be in the UK.

The English language band Lula, which is fronted by singer Jake Farrugia from Australia, has released “the world’s first three-dimensional digital single” on its label COMEDIA. Frustrated by their lack of airplay on Swedish National Radio the band celebrated the new single ‘Now in 3D’ with an unannounced gig at the entrance hall of Sveriges Radio in Stockholm. The gig was abruptly terminated by five security guards who seized the crew’s smartphones and erased the filmed documentation.

The single ‘Now in 3D’ features three versions of the band’s hit ‘Bright Eyes’ in three different languages – English, German and Spanish – but with the same backing tracks. When played simultaneously the songs create a three-dimensional experience for the listener.

Their label manager and A&R executive, Claes Olson, said “I can absolutely understand the band’s frustration. There’s a long list of new artists and bands deserving more airplay in Sweden, but at the moment Swedish National Radio is more or less a black hole for independent record labels. When even music anchormen and anchorwomen are complaining about what they can or cannot play, something is seriously wrong.”

Radio airplay or not, after being thrown out of the entrance hall of Sveriges Radio LULA finished their gig outside of the building, gathering an inquisitive crowd. Next month the band tour Sweden together with Richie Ramone, of The Ramones fame and the unexpected publicity will not have done them any harm.

Main image of Lykke Li courtesy of her Facebook page

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