How about Ukraine?

It’s winter and it’s cold, but we won’t let the raw Gothenburg chill stop us. It’s time for Make It Loud Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine!

Ukraine and Kyiv during winter. What can we expect? Quite a lot actually! And talking about music – even more. Make It Loud Festival goes off between February 23 and 24, and this year the focus is set on the live industry. There will be plenty of panels and seminars on how to draw attention to your gig, organize a tour and to find a professional booker, to enjoy. It all suits us like a glove, and we’re happy to bring Lisa Wanloo along, and had to ask her some questions about the trip.

You’ll be going to Ukraine and Make It Loud Festival in a couple of weeks. How does it feel?
– It feels great, and very exciting! I’ve never been to Ukraine before, and to get the opportunity to play a festival feels a bit surrealistic. I’ve only done shows in Sweden so far, so it’ll be fun to see how the local crowd receives my music.

What do you look forward to the most?
– To see Kyiv and the festival, the show of course, but also the feeling of being in the city after show!

From Westside Music Sweden, Mr. Robin Havbring will partake in the conference program, together with Thomas Heher (Waves Vienna, AT), Liliya Lazareva (CTS Records, UA), Oskar Strajn (Eurosonic Noorderslag, NL) and many more. Seems this year is off to a good start.

Words: Wolfman Jackson
Photo: Nikos Plegas

No culture without sub-culture

Loud, exciting and crowded to the limit. Once again Eurosonic in Groningen creates an atmosphere of party and complete madness. We checked out the Swedish acts during the festival.

From the outside, Groningen with its 200 000 inhabitants, is like every other city in the Netherlands. You get neat architecture and nice people, it’s like a smaller Amsterdam with canals, houseboats and ”classic” coffee shops. You will find everything you need in a small, flat and walk friendly environment. Eurosonic Noorderslag has been around since 1986 and have ever since made the city an annual destination for thousands of professional music delegates and hundreds of artists. During four days in January the festival occupies the cities clubs, build stages on every open square and creates an atmosphere unlike no other. It’s a shame it doesn’t last longer, but that might be for the best. Groningen takes its toll.

Although Eurosonic is on everyone’s lips, the festival is far from everything happening in Groningen this week. Over the years, the festival has inspired everyone and it seems that every bar and café that earlier would have been on the outside, now also wants a piece of the sweet, sweet cake that is Eurosonic. During later years countless of smaller festivals have been popping up, creating a unique subgenre to the massive main festival. Here you will find the Pleuropsonic Festival, which during Wednesday and Thursday houses in Café de Zolder, a lovely and sweaty bar where the smoking room make up for 90 percent of the area. However, you light a cigarette in the small bar at the entrance and they throw you out head first. Hard and fair. A logic to love.

First night of the festival, Wednesday, The Barn is one of the most visited places. And yes, it’s a venue. In a barn. In the city centre. Groningen is full of surprises and the concept works great. At 8 pm it’s time for the first marked act in the massive Eurosonic schedule. Linn Koch-Emmery takes the stage and does what she does best. The audience is caught from the first time she hits the guitar strings and are kept within her musical atmosphere until the show is over. The raw, melodic indie rock is hard to resist, and her melancholic voice stays with you. If 2019 really is Linn’s year, as many seem to believe, us included, it has started in the best possible way. It’ll be exciting to follow her development.

On Thursday night, when the legal fog lies dense in Café de Zolder, Browsing Collection takes the stage. The band from Skövde (western Sweden) has toured intensively for many years but Groningen is their first stop in the Netherlands. The stage at de Zolder is small, pushed deep in the corner and enlightened enough to allow you to distinguish the band through a smoky atmosphere. The debut is done and dusted without problems and Browsing Collection tear off several classic rock riffs, all to the audience approval. The band is raw and rides on a rock and roll-attitude that characterizes both the songs and the live performance. It’s hard, playful and consists of just the right dose of crowd-pleasing. It’s always a pure pleasure to listen to a distorted guitar in a small venue, and de Zolder and Browsing Collection is perfect match.

During Eurosonic it’s not only clubs that fills up, and even thou it’s minus five degrees outside big amounts of people gather in the streets of Groningen. Eurosonic (and the sub-festivals) create their own world within the city’s canals. This is where it happens and nothing else matters. At the same time the atmosphere is relaxed and undemanding, which must be called a classic Dutch attitude.

On Friday night at 9 pm Sarah Klang takes the stage at Stadsschouwburg, Groningen’s grand theatre and a Dutch national monument dating from the 19th century. The setting is perfect, and a cool, relaxed but also focused Sarah Klang enchants a close to full venue with her big, glittering and as always, sorrowful, country-pop. The applause just keeps on rolling, and you can feel the enthusiasm rise more by each song. The road forward lies straight.

Back to Pleuropsonic and their closing party at ORKZ Bar, Saturday. Located in an old Roman Catholic hospital a few kilometres outside of the city centre the audience is offered intriguing live shows and one of Groningen’s (maybe the country’s?) best venues. Left from the old days is an old autopsy table i steel which works as a merchandise table for evening. The stage is apparently located in the hospital’s old kitchen, however, tonight it’s a steampunk influenced, dark and totally awesome concert hall that shrieks of anarchy. This can’t go wrong. And it won’t.   

Sweden is represented by Browsing Collection and Bottlecap, and the former opens the night in the best possible way. ORKZ Bar is packed from 9.30 pm and the crowd are pleased from the first second, that is – when the lead singer Mimi Brander starts shouting in harmony with Moa Lenngren’s sharp guitar sound. It’s great to finally see the band on a real stage with well mixed sound (by all means – de Zolder is a good venue but shit just got real). Browsing Collection knows how to build a concert from A to B and how to write songs with simple yet catchy melodies and hooks.

Gothenburg based Bottlecap puts in gear five and succeeds in starting the first mosh pit of the evening. Drummer Pontus Robertson hits harder than most and actually looks half dead after just five songs. But his looks and the venue’s lights are deceiving, and he keeps delivering a stable and intense drumming throughout the concert. Bottlecap are filled to the rim with energy and the bass player Johan Reiman takes every opportunity he gets to leave the stage for crowd-pleasing dance together with the audience. The show is intense, loaded with a punk attitude, but at the same time stable and controlled. It’s obvious that the band has gathered a lot of experience from ten years of playing. A new record is on its way and high expectations are well founded.   

Four days in Groningen leaves you with plenty of impressions, a sore body and a slightly light mind. Swedish bands have once again made an impact in the northern Netherlands, performing on both the main Eurosonic and its sub festivals. Groningen comes with laughter, excitement and great live music. See you next year.

Words: Wolfman Jackson
Photos: M. Roth de Fries Lündbergh

Thank you!

Viva Sounds 2018 was just the perfect thing. The weekend came and the weekend went – and we had so much fun living it up! 

Thank you so much, everyone, who made Viva Sounds 2018 such a magical gathering! Big ups to all the bands, artists, our fantastic speakers and guests, people helping us out, the venues and of course our beautiful audience who came out!

When we get time we’ll upload more pics (by Nikos Plegas btw) but for now we need the rest. Let’s get in xmas mode, get some time off and we’ll see you next year!

Revista Marvin in tha house!

We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have artists to Festival Marvin in Mexico City for the last two years – The Bongo Club in 2017 and Linn Koch-Emmery plus Annelie this year. And since Marvin seems to be such a stellar set-up within both music media and live, we dared to invite them to Viva Sounds. Happily they accepted our invitation, so of course we had to do an interview.

This Saturday you’ll have the chance to meet Ceci Velasco and Uili Damage at our conference at Pustervik, and also around town checking our program out. Given their work they do give the most humble impression. Love people like that. Here’s what we talked about.

You’re running quite an impressive platform, all based on music. How did that all come together and what has been your strong points in making it happen?
– It all starts from our magazine Revista Marvin, devoted to music, arts, movies, literature, and now even stand up comedy. Having already taken over www (with the website and social media) it needed a final experience to live music culture in every way possible. The natural step was taken 8 years ago with Festival Marvin, which presents all this approaches to both burgeoning and consolidated music culture.

I know you travel as well, what is the most significant differences you see with music and the life around it looking at Mexico (plus the areas around it) and compared to Europe?
– Mexican modern music and its industry is still younger than its peers and we’ve having a hard time catching up due to economic differences mainly. Nevertheless, Mexico has gained favorite status along common tour destinations because of the ardent audience welcoming not just hip music but also a wide range of acts.

What is similar and what’s the bigger diffrences?
– From several years now, we’ve reached competitive standards for production to make an appealing healthy scene useful to many outputs in the industry.

What is still far apart?
– Economics are still a hassle, not taking in count the transportation fees. You can get to see top notch acts for really affordable prices week-round in many major cities worldwide, but the promoters still insist in elevating their fee rates excessively, just on the idea that the Mexican audience will pay anyway. With the rising number of show opportunities year-round we truly hope to even this scenario in order to have a more healthy circuit.

“Mexico has gained favorite status along common tour destinations”

Since you also run a festival, what makes your festival special – what is so Marvin about it?
– It’s a community gathering. It’s made possible with the participation of the people that lives and works in the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods. It has the high production standards of the main festivals and also works in an intimate, laid-back logistics and spaces where you’re not bounded by the site’s specified grounds. It happens in the heart of the city with the participation of the city.

What do you know about Swedish music?
– For years now we’ve received amazingly high level of several pop music creators (yes, ABBA, but also within this lines of The Knife and Refused) and then enjoyed the most audacious music experimentators. We perceive that the years have brought the most interesting blends along those lines and though today Berlin is an important creators magnet-location for art from all aver Europe, Sweden still have interest in projecting talent from the homeland rather than moving carrying the flag.

Or any other things you’re interested in checking out when over where?
– Of course there is the Marvin axis of interest but also the places and conditions that provoke this to happen as it’s happening today. How you approach it, how it affects you and then how it reflects on anywhere outside Gothenburg, Sweden and abroad. There’s The Swedish Theory of Love movie approach, the Millenium saga approach, some more pop culture to name here and there, but there’s also a number of faces of the Swedish culture to be showed and discussed to create both better understandings and collaborations between our societies.

Awesome, thanks – and welcome to Gothenburg. It will be quite dark, might get cold, please bring some warmth with you.
– Thanks, I’m sure we’ll love it!

Photo credit: Carlos Maycotte
(Linn Koch-Emmery at Festival Marvin 2018).