When I first thought hey I might do an article on Norway and its music scene I had a very narrow mind and figured it would just be bands like Emperor, Darkthrone, Immortal, Mayhem and various other bands of the metal discipline. That was until I came across an online zine called Nö Music; a Norweigan based zine that promotes all music from across all genres from Norway. I was excited to hear all this new music that I had no idea was out there, it was a definite learning Experience. I had to get in contact with them and find out more, and fortunately I got a reply from one of the writers of the zine and they were able to give me a comprehensive introduction to the Norwegian scene in particular the Oslo scene from which Anne Lee writer of Nö Music is based.
By: Nathan Hankinson
Ann Lee's introduction to the Oslo scene came as a touring band “I used to play in a Japanese-English punk band from London, and we frequently toured in Norway. I fell in love with Norway from the first time there, and started making connections with Norwegian bands, often trying to book and promote them in the UK. I also worked as a "guitar tech" slash roadie for a Norwegian band Serena Maneesh in the UK, and after awhile, when the keyboardist left, they asked me to join the band. I toured with them for over a year and was based in Oslo. Later, I started my own management company and started promoting other Norwegian acts.”
So how does Norway manage to produce so many bands being such an isolated country? Norway is an incredibly small country- 4.5 million- and to have such a large and well-supported music scene (supported heavily by the state) is something quite unique. I see friends from the States and UK pass through more then if I myself regularly went to travel. The booking in Norway is a fierce and diverse competition, but we also get the best concerts and acts as a result. In other words: we're spoiled! Small venues in Oslo still struggle though..many of the best underground or "cool" venues have or are near closing down because it is incredibly expensive to maintain a healthy booking budget and the beer prices are through the roof, not by choice.
Five bands that you would say best describe the Norwegian scene? This is a difficult question. I could name 5 pretty popular acts...describing the state of Norwegian mainstream pop/rock. All the music from Norway on the other hand, is probably too diverse to summarize with just 5 bands. You of course have indie bands on tour now which are quite successful internationally-- Datarock, Kings of Convenience, Jaga Jazzist for example. You have to mention the Bergen-scene if you wanna talk about what's "popular" or "pop" music right now, though I personally think most of it is shit. But then there are "cult classics"-- black metal legends Darkthrone for example or Motorpsycho from Trondheim. Turbonegro I guess you already know, who aren't really doing anything anymore these days. A-ha just played their "last" concert. My favorites are probably much more obscure, old school metal or noisy-- Next Life, White Tiger Prepade (in this issue!), Nekromantheon, Obliteration, Hellhammer, Noxagt.
I guess when most people outside of Europe think of Norway and music, several different varieties of metal comes to mind. However once I had researched I was amazed to see the diversity and talent that Norway has to offer. What would you say would be the main contribution as to why Bands from Norway struggle to get heard outside of Scandinavia, what do you see as the future of Norway and music?
When compared to other European countries, what we think in Norway as a "scene" really doesn't compare. It's tiny. Shitty acts, especially those with a schtick, like "girl power" solo female acts, get way too much cultural funding. Ingrid Olava or Ida Maria for example. On the other hand, Norway has birthed some of the greatest cult bands, who oppose "mainstream" and are of their own accord, musically and aesthetically--- that stuff of legends.