We've mentioned a few times on here in recent months just how important blogs and independent music sites are too a little label like ours so we really wanted to try and repay some of the love they've shown us in the last few months by doing a few interviews with them over here on the blog. In this - the first installment, we have a chat with the lovely Peter, who runs the awesome All Scandinavian blog. Id definitely suggest you check out his site asap!
Hello Peter how are you?
Not too bad, thanks for asking.
Your website is called All Scandinavian - which of these lovely scandinavian countries do you call home?Denmark. That’s the twig and berries right above Germany for any geographically challenged readers.
How did you fall into blogging in the first place? Were you writing elsewhere already or was it more a case of just being compelled to write about some brilliant music?I’m a journalist and have been writing about music for six years, freelance and back in the days as editor at a Danish music website for a couple of years. The whole blogging thing came out of me writing about music, a desire to build my own corner of the www, and finally wanting to make people aware of some of the amazing music being made in the Scandinavian countries. When I got the idea for the blog it struck me that the major blogs in English about Scandi music I was of aware of were all written by outsiders, e.g. It’s A Trap, I Love Icelandic Music and Swedesplease. It seemed appropriate with a Scandinavian based supplement to these great sites.
What is about Sweden that creates such effortlessly wonderful pop music?
In my opinion a major part of it is because Swedish bands have never been afraid to be pop, very much thanks to the success of ABBA. Speaking from a Danish point of view, pop has always been frowned upon by musicians and tastemakers. Really the worst thing you could be labeled as a band was mainstream pop. It has changed the past years with more bands admitting to like it and be it, but I would say it’s still not comme il faut in certain circles, and even though Aqua is the biggest selling Danish band ever, it’s not something we generally take pride in. Actually, we kinda feel a need to apologize to the world.
How important is that heritage to young up and coming bands do you think? Are bands keen to take their place in line with these amazing acts or are they more interested do you think in forging their own way?I think ABBA have played a pivotal role in Swedish music. Apart from selling an awesome number of records, they have been part in installing a great confidence in own abilities in the Swedish music industry as a whole, bands included, and made it natural for Swedish bands to aim internationally from the get-go. That said, I think all bands are and should be more interested in forging their own way - while of course aiming for glory.
There seems to be a much lower regard (speaking from an outsiders point of view) for British and American cultures with young scandinavian bands - as if they’re more comfortable being "themselves" than emulating the yanks... Would you agree with that or am I being blinkered?I’m too polite to call you blinkered, but I think it is a fairly new development. Traditionally the Scandinavian countries, not least Denmark, have always needed bigger and stronger allies like the UK and US, which means we’ve always been looking out and been willing to incorporate elements of other cultures in our own. British and American pop culture has been and still is a major influence, but for instance in Denmark these years there definitely seems to be a newfound confidence to “be yourself”, something I think a band like Efterklang has played a part in developing.
Give us your opinions on a couple of Scandinavian music cliches - are these occasionally appropriate or hugely misguided:
Sweden = pop genius
Norway = heavy metal
To some extend misguided. Norway is definitely a rock nation and they do like their black metal, but there’s also a very vibrant electronica scene and everything in between. And then there’s A-Ha of course. The heavy metal cliché is traditionally more appropriate on Finland, but as with any other country in the region so much more is going on.
Iceland = floaty ethereal whale music
A lot of that going around, definitely, but again: There’s more to it than meets the cliché.
Who are your favourite scando acts at the moment - who have you been really enjoying (aside from the wonderful norwegian bands of Lazy Acre obviously :) !!!)Well, apart from those obvious ones... There are so many, but off the top of my head I will have to mention Kellermensch, Delay Trees, This Is Head, Jonathan Johansson, Kråkesølv and Hjaltalín. All acts I’ve come to know through my work with All Scandinavian. Finally I must add Faroese rock outfit Gestir to the list, who has been a favorite since the very first spin of their 2006 debut ‘Burtur Frá Toftunum’. I’ve been waiting impatiently for more from them ever since.
How important do you think bloggers are to these young up and coming acts that might not necessarily fit straight into BBC radio or NRK? Do you feel like you do make a difference? Or is that not really your intention are you more interested in just giving a bit of a spotlight to music you love?Starting with the last bit, I would say it’s a combination of the two. I think it’s every blogger’s dream to be able to make a difference in terms of breaking a band etc., but we all start with a desire to spotlight music we love and think everybody else should love. And taking it down a notch we do make a difference for the bands and artists simply by writing about them and presenting their music to our readers. Also, blogs cover a much broader spectra of music as we’re not governed by rigid and unambitious concepts like fixed playlists. So I think bloggers are important, especially to up and coming acts.
What’s the best demo track you’ve ever been sent by a completely unknown band? Did they go onto bigger and better things?
One that really hit me in that very special, “instant connection” type way was a track I received last year by Finnish indiepop quartet Delay Trees titled ‘Tarantula/Holding On’ from their self-released ‘Soft Construction EP’. I won’t claim to be responsible, but this year they signed a record deal and come September 29 they release their debut album. I’ve had a chance to hear it and it’s great.
And could you pick a worst?Since I’m raised to be a nice guy I won’t name any by name, but I will say this: A little self critique never hurt anyone. On the contrary.
And finally if you could sum up scandinavian music in 5 words / cliches what would they be?!Melancholy. Curiosity. Inventiveness. Great. Music.