In the following double-feature we want to introduce you to two music-blogs serving a similar mission with different local backgrounds: Nordic by Nature (interview in black) and The Baltic Scene (interview in blue).
SCANDINAVIAN MUSIC? VERY COOL AND DARING!
It is not a secret any longer, that bands and musicians from Scandinavia have had huge successes in playing around Europe and also across the European borders. From poppy Robyn to the electronic combo Slagsmålsklubben as well as Lykke Li, Who made Who or the folk singers First Aid Kit – they are not only filling concert houses, but they are also really good at branding themselves and setting trends for the rest of the continent. Beyond those mentioned bands there is a lot more going on in Scandinavian music. Berlin-based Nordic by Nature has ascribed itself to present this variety of Scandinavian acts. Nina and Steffi channel recently released Scandinavian music that they love on their blog and do a lot more. Nina, who is from Göteborg and Steffi met in Berlin, where Nina moved for three years ago.
Hey Nina and Steffi, how do you describe what Nordic by Nature does to people who don’t know about NBN yet?
Nina: We are a promotion agency for Scandinavian music in Germany, and we see it as a whole idea of bringing Scandinavian music to Germany and we do that through parties, concerts and also by working with artists in terms of album promotion.
Steffi: We also dj a lot in Berlin, Germany and also outside of Germany. We’re always mixing new Scandinavian music and depending on the party also classics. And we have a radio show on BLN.FM.
When did you start your adventures?
Nina: We started as a Club Night where we brought a Scandinavian band every time in February 2010 and then it grew into a concept.
Where does your interest in Scandinavian music come from?
Steffi: Well, I lived in Barcelona for two years and was hanging out with a lot of Swedish people. I enjoyed the company a lot and when I came back to Berlin I kept in mind that I wanted to do something with Swedish and Scandinavian culture and then I met Nina and it was time to do something.
Nina: We also found out that it was the right time to get started, because there was a lot of interest in Scandinavian things. Media, embassies and cultural institutions were waiting for somebody to start something like our venture.
What do you think, where the interest in Scandinavia comes from?
Steffi: People worldwide are really fascinated by Scandinavians, not only because of the music, but also because of the way how they are, the way how they look and dress, how they think, the design, the forwardness – it’s exotic to be Scandinavian, but still very similar and reachable. Scandinavians are always the first ones and that’s what makes it so easy for us to introduce people to new stuff.
How do you choose what you feature on your blog? Are there any criteria?
Steffi: Yes, there is one main criteria – it has to be new! And exciting! We have our certain taste and there’s stuff we love like this electronic, poppy sound. We don’t like Heavy Metal. That is something we don’t promote, but there can naturally be exceptions. Like Ice Age or the Norwegian girls from Death Crush. Yeah, it is simple, we just have to like it and there’s no certain genre.
Nina & Steffi, Nordic by Nature. Photo: Christian Fries
Can you describe Scandinavian music in few words? What is it that is special about it?
Steffi: What’s special about Scandinavian music is, that it’s not only the music that matters, but also the way they present it. And there are so many new artists coming up and it always sounds so professional. It seems like they have been releasing albums for ages, but it’s not and still it seems great. I don’t think there’s a special Scandinavian sound, but there are certain waves, like the Dream Wave for example, which has been a big thing coming from Sweden being over already. And now it will probably come to Germany.
That basically means, that Scandinavian music is cool?
Steffi: Yes, it’s very cool and daring!
Nina: It’s more conceptual than elsewhere and it’s about the whole idea of being positioned somewhere as a popstar for example. Finland has been behind in this issue for some time, and people were just playing music. Now they’ve realized that they have to have clothes, and artwork and an idea about who they are, so that people get attracted to what they do.
What can you say about the status of music in Scandinavia? Is it easy to find supporters for your work as an artist?
Nina: It is quite easy in the Scandinavian cities to be heard, as there are so many small concert venues and events going on. The chances to be heard are good, but the bar for success is also set quite high.
Where should people go to experience the stuff that you like?
Steffi: People should definitely come to our events. Parties in Berlin mostly in Flamingo or Prince Charles. We are also at many festivals in Germany and Scandinavia.
Are there any big events coming up?
Steffi: Yes, we are part of the Berlin Music Week the third time in a row, this time three events.
Nina: The big event for us is the NBN showcase with Turboweekend, Sandra Kolstad, LCMDF and others.
And what do you recommend people to listen to? What’s really hot right now?
Nina:Iberia from Sweden and they are going to release an album soon and Sandra Kolstad from Norway is really cool. Electro Pop Style! Steffi?
Steffi: Definitely Sandra Kolstad, she is doing great live shows. Such a mean question, because there are so many! I can’t name more – it must be Sandra Kolstad.
Thanks a lot and enjoy the Music Week!
HELLO WORLD, HERE WE COME!
You’ve heard of Ewert and the two Dragons, Tallinn Music Week and Positivus Festival? Well, you better keep your ears open, because the team behind The Baltic Scene has a lot more for you to offer from the vibrant music scene of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The project that aims at marketing new musical talent from the Baltics and establishing its music as an equal partner in the international music-market, has a very distinct and professional working procedure, as the Estonian Natalie Mets, 21, tells us: “During daytime it is a blog attracting wider audience to get knowledge about the music we cover and during night time the back office works as an agent between the artists and the international music market”.
Natalie Mets and Lauras Luciunas, the organiser of the Vilnius Music Week
Hello Natalie, the first thing I’d like to known: Who stands behind The Baltic Scene?
Natalie Mets for The Baltic Scene: The blog was started in 2011 by two brilliant Latvian guys – Rolands Mesters and Andrejs Dubrovskis. The idea to give it a political touch and meaning on an international industry level came from me, who now runs and develops the whole activity with the projectmanagers. Additionally we have several writers from each country and our team welcomes everyone who feels connected enough with the Baltic music to collaborate.
How did you meet? What’s the story behind the people of The Baltic Scene?
NM: While Rolands and Andreijs entered the first posts to the blog, I had already had the idea of an united Baltic music network in my head for quite some time. It was love at the first sight when I saw the name “The Baltic Scene”. About one year later very fatefully I went to Stockholm School of Economics in Riga as an exchange student where Rolands was finishing his bachelors. It didn´t take a very long time from that moment until the name and idea were presented as one whole.
What about you, how come that you are so much into the music business? And how is it like to work in a Baltic/International team?
NM: Personally I have been involved in the music and entertainment sector for about five years and also in the organization of an event-series, other concerts, and festivals. I have also been working as a manager, consultant, booking-agent and PR consultant for several young Estonian acts. What concerns the international team and nationalities, I really do believe, that it does not matter as long as people understand things similarly.
On your blog you can read, that you present music that sounds right to you. Why do you think your taste sounds right to others as well?
NM: We aren’t narrowed down to only one or few genres, but cover the most recent and spectacular acts from experimental music to beat and pop. We have collaborators from each genre and so we can assure that the picks are always appropriate. There isn´t any written down criteria, but it is not that hard to distinguish quality music from crap.
What is it, that makes music from the Baltics special and worthwhile listening to? Is there a common character in music through all three countries?
NM: It feels that the creative influences of local musicians and composers aren’t always obvious or are well hidden and therefore the musical approach stays surprising, honest and interesting. The common denominators through all three countries I could point out are will to work and brave enthusiasm meaning that true artists are willing to put some time and effort into experimenting, rehearsing, development etc.
What can you say about the status of music in the region you cover? Does music play an important role in society and thus can exist on its own or is it dependent on people’s hard work and conviction, that what they’re doing is great and should be heard?
NM: Good music is highly respected and followed by audiences – popular, contemporary and classical music equally. The issue gets more complicated when it comes to industry and politics – there are crown jewels like the showcase festival Tallinn Music Week, hard work from Lithuanian Music Export, internationally beloved Positivus festival and some remarkable labels and artists like I Love You Records and Ewert and The Two Dragons, but the overall structure is rather unsystematic – the reason for this is our extremely short history in this field of business. The future can be bright with some hard work, clever minds and enough patience.
Where should somebody completely clueless go to experience music live that sounds right to you?
NM: Whenever visiting Baltics one should better go to: Von Krahl, Sõprus and Hoov in Tallinn and Genialistide Klubi, Kink Konk and Nälg in Tartu in Estonia. In Latvia one should be sure to visit I Love You Bar and Piens in Riga and Fontaine Palace in Liepaja. The hottest venues in Vilnius Lithuania are Loftas, Tamsta Club and Studio 9.
What’s coming up next? What do you want to achieve?
NM: In the beginning of September The Baltic Scene is going to be presented at an industry showcase festival for the first time, and this is what we are aiming for the future – collaborating with showcase festivals and other events, labels, media etc. We will do everything for getting the sound of Baltics more viral.
What’s the hottest stuff you would advise people to listen to?
NM: We opened a poll on our Facebook fanpage for this question and regarding to the votes of our audience the hottest new acts are indie-blues group Odd Hugo aka Prägnantne Brigaad (EST), dream pop/shoegaze band Audience Killers (LV), and an intelligent/romantic looper/songwriter Markas Palubenka (LT).