THE ORIGINAL: NORWEGIAN BLACK METAL

By Kaycee Boe and Rachel Levy

For many people, black metal is as synonymous with Norway as snow and fjords. Imagery of young men with dark painted faces burning down churches and causing trouble in the grey Norwegian winters often comes to mind. The legacy of black metal draws fans from all over the world, who hope to learn more about the history and find out if the music they love still exists in Norway today.

Many are interested to find that black metal only existed in a small community throughout the 1990’s, and may not be as prominent today as they hoped.

Anders Odden, 44, has been around the black metal community since the genre was born. He was drawn into the black metal world when he was only 13. Living on a farm created an isolated universe for him that drove him to create.

“You basically don’t have any friends around so you can turn to music or something else to get busy or get inspired,” Odden said. “That was my case, and the case for many others actually.”

In 1988 Odden formed Cadaver, which he says was the first death metal band in Norway and first band to sign with a label in the U.K. Now, Odden plays guitar and bass in multiple metal bands, including influential and major label black metal band Satyricon. He has watched black metal grow and evolve from its inception.

The black metal community was small throughout the 1990s. According to Grete Joanne Neseblod, co-owner of Norway’s black metal music shop and museum Neseblod, most of the culture was centered around 15-20 key people. Bands such as Odden’s communicated by meeting in each other’s rehearsal rooms and trading tapes.

“I got like 10 letters a day from people everyday at the peak of it – magazines and tapes and demos and contacts around the world,” Odden said. “It was inspiring to be a part of a world movement that was very unique and that nobody knew about.”

As with many extreme music genres, black metal was never meant to blow up. It was born in Norway’s underground, and according to Odden, it wasn’t supposed to leave the underground.

“Back then, nobody cared really,” Odden said. “That’s the thing that people don’t understand, it didn’t get any attention in music magazines. At the time, most people were into grunge or more polished American stuff.”

It was anti-establishment attitudes and authenticity that drove the genre forward.

“These were just young people who were 16 to 17 years old who just wanted to do something really new,” Grete Joanne said. “They had these guts because in the beginning, people thought that it was weird and strange.”

The brutality that is often associated with black metal came later, when Varg Vikernes of fellow black metal band Burzum attracted media attention through what Odden refers to as publicity stunts such as the burning of churches. Odden believes that artists like Vikernes hurt the genre musically.

“People doing this were really looked upon as animals in society for a really long time,” he says.

While black metal may have been known for being filled with tales of arson and murder, that is no longer the case. According to Odden, the legacy of the genre is much more prominent than the scene ever was. This is a common perspective on black metal culture in Norway.

“I think the history of it draws people in,” Kenneth Neseblod, owner of Neseblod records, said. “The murder and all the mystique around it. They want to see how dark and evil it all is, but it was more back then than it is now. It is not so dark and evil anymore.”

Peter Beste, who has been studying black metal for years and published a book on the subject, notes that many artists no longer stand by the aspects of black metal that made it so brutal.

“It’s part of the sensationalistic story of it,” Beste said, “but it isn’t really the essence of it.”

Through exposure and developments in production, black metal has transitioned to a more mainstream genre.

“Black metal is more clean, it’s not so underground now,” Kenneth said. “But you have some of the same people who still play in the bands and are pretty dark.”

Fans and those who have followed black metal notice this as well.

“I think the best Norwegian bands are, like, Mayhem and Emperor,” says Sanvik, a young member of the black metal community.

As for Odden, he is currently touring internationally with Satyricon. However, while they may be touring at a more professional level, Odden notes that there is still an edge to their music. For them, their music has changed, but it still fits their definition of black metal.

“For us, it’s about the vibe and how we think it should be, not how others define it,” Odden said. “We are defining what black metal is to us, and we never care for other people’s definitions.”

As for the fans, most will agree that the black metal and metal communities are very tight knit.

“They like to wear the clothes and the patches to show that they are outside of society,” says Grete Joanne, “but also that they are a part of something.”

For young fans Emilie Sandal and Jone Hoftun, who sit on a hillside at Tons of Rock Festival clothed in band t-shirts and high tops, the metal community in Norway could be described as united and also surprisingly, friendly.

From an onstage perspective, Odden says that black metal fans are generally quite mellow. “Metal fans never approach you like a crazy person,” Odden said. “If they recognize you from a band they approach you very politely. They just want to talk to you about music.”

People still come from all over the world to Norway to see where black metal started even though the genre has moved more towards other countries. Black packers, as they are called, travel to Norway to visit many of the spots where black metal formed.

Up until 2012, Odden conducted a black metal tour during Inferno Festival, a black metal festival held during Easter each year. Black packers would take a bus to Neseblod Records, a record store once owned by Mayhem’s Euronymous, then to Holmekkon to see the church burnt down by Varg Vikernes.

“I think it’s strange for them to come here to realize it’s quite normal people doing this,” Odden said. “I don’t know what they think, that people live in cages or in caves or in castles, people have all kinds of weird expectations, so it says more about them than the reality.”

Kenneth also notes that some black packers may be disappointed to see that the people of Norway aren’t actually walking the streets in corpse paint.

People from all over the world heard about everything black metal bands did in the 1990’s and believe that all black metal bands were alike. According to Odden, the point of the tours were to teach people about the background of black metal and what really went on during that time, how it was not all church burnings and satanism.

“They are really interested in that,” Odden said. “Somehow they were caught up in the myth of it so if you try to tell them how it really was, you can’t really get their heads around it, so I stopped doing it.”

While to outsiders, it may seem that black metal is still an integral part of Norwegian culture, the general consensus is that the genre lives mainly in its legacy.

“The people that are in the original bands are still making new music,” Odden said. “We’re just going to continue on our paths regardless of what’s going on.”

Kenneth Neseblod agrees. “A lot of the music was invented in Norway by black metal bands,” he said. “They were the first to start black metal, but there’s not so many people who are very black metal anymore.”

HPR EXCLUSIVE: A Q&A WITH AURORA

(Originally published in the High Plains Reader on August 2, 2017.)

http://hpr1.com/index.php/feature/hpr-abroad/hpr-exclusive-a-qa-with-aurora/

Norwegian native Aurora has achieved international recognition in her genre and has followings in the United States and Canada. Aurora is relatively new to the music scene, putting out her first studio album in 2016. This interview took place at OverOslo, the annual music festival on a hill overlooking the Oslo harbor.

Her first album: “All my Demons Greeting me as a Friend” (2016)

High Plains Reader: You’re from a pretty small place in Norway, what was that like growing up?

Aurora: I quite liked it. You really get to know the people in your town, and your neighbors, and the guy working at the one shop we had near by — which is 40 minutes if you had to walk. It’s a long walk just to buy some eggs, but it’s really nice. I think it is always going to be a goal for where I live, that I need to be able to walk around my garden naked without anyone noticing. Then you can be completely free. And I like that about my childhood house. It was a place where you could do anything you want, and it was very free.

HPR: How do you think being from Norway has affected your music, both lyrically and the sounds behind the lyrics?

Aurora: I’m very inspired by nature and the forest and especially the wild kind of nature that you can find here. And it’s kind of brutal in a way sometimes. Very steep hills, falling rock, and it’s ice cold and the trees are very dark, and they stand through the winter. It’s quite a brutal nature, if that makes sense. It’s dramatic, which I really like, and most often it can be mysterious and foggy, which is inspiring. It feels like it’s just nothing. It’s grey and it’s empty and it doesn’t affect you to be in any mood, it just lets you be, which I really like. I’m very inspired. Especially by the sound that wraps the soul of a song, the “bodies” around the songs are very inspired by this kind of nature. I think it has affected me a lot.

HPR: Has travelling to places that are different and that are loud and busy changed your music at all?

Aurora: It changes the way I write when I’m in a big city with noise. It’s different sound waves there, with the way sound moves. There’s a different kind of space, and there is no space sometimes. You can feel trapped. Because here, you can always see some kind of mountain far away. You can feel a sense of freedom because you know that you can leave here and walk over there and you can see that it’s an exit, an emergency exit, which calms me down. But in cities there are buildings and it can be hard to see that.

HPR: It can be kind of claustrophobic.

Aurora: Right, and it affects the music. But it’s exciting, and it smells different. It smells like people and not natural smells and food and it’s nice, too. I write quicker songs when I’m on tour, when everything is moving all the time. It demands something of you all the time, a city. You need to be aware of your surroundings, which is the biggest difference from being here.

HPR: Is it different for you performing somewhere in Canada or the U.S. in comparison to here?

Aurora: The best thing about my fans or my listeners is that I get reminded of how people are just people and we need the same things and we feel the same things and most of us experience the same things. I see people from the age of 11 to the age of 80 at my shows which I really like. It’s good to see how different they all look but how similar they all react to each song, which is beautiful. It’s so uniting, which is a really important thing, to see how united we are and can be, especially through music. But at the same time, it is different from place to place. I can’t really explain it. It’s something with the sound, or the volume, or the way people are dancing. It’s very special.

HPR: Is there a reason that you choose to sing in English as opposed to Norwegian?

Aurora: Well, it feels nice pushing the songs a bit further away from my heart. I feel like it is a wall between me and AURORA. Like this Aurora and the AURORA that lets the world know her. I need to have a slight difference between those two so I can keep me, the other Aurora, a bit hidden and grounded. It helps to do that by singing in English, because I sound different when I sing and speak in English, and my voice acts differently, so I feel like it’s a bit more safe. I feel like if people don’t like it then it doesn’t hurt because it’s not completely me.

And of course, English is a really poetic language. It feels nice not keeping it for myself and only people that can speak Norwegian. Music is so needed. You can’t put it in a cage or in a box. It’s a free thing, like the wind, and it deserves to be understood by all of us, at least insofar as I can try to make most people understand. I think it is important that it is for everyone.

HPR: Everyone needs music for something different, and you never know who needs your songs.

Aurora: Yeah, it’s important to have a song that can be a friend when you need it. Sometimes people can’t understand, and sometimes people don’t want to bother people with our issues and our thoughts. It’s nice then to have a song which can help you with an escape, and explain what you are going through without you having to think much about it yourself. It’s nice to just have a friend in a song or in a book. That is what I really like. Becoming friends with a song when I need it, and then to kind of say goodbye, and go to another album, a new artist and to always keep moving. You need different friends all the time in music and books.

HPR: Before I came here, I was told that Norwegian people are quite reserved. Do you find that that is true, or maybe more of a stereotype?

Aurora: It’s kind of a stereotype, and it’s kind of true as well. I guess that’s what happens when it rains so much, and when it’s cold, and when we don’t get a lot of sun. Maybe it’s just the way that mother nature acts around us and the way it has been for a thousand years in this country. But I think we are open, too. We don’t sprinkle things to be prettier and better than they are. It’s a very honest people, which I really like.

HPR: Is it scary putting yourself out there the way you do, with your music being so vulnerable and intimate?

Aurora: Well, I don’t know, I’m not afraid of being intimate and vulnerable with the world. I feel quite comfortable with it and it’s a beautiful thing with humans when I see people around me being vulnerable and intimate with the world. It’s such a sign of trust, if you like. It is a very beautiful thing.

HPR: Do you have anything coming up in the future?

Aurora: Yes. Not soon, but in less than like a year from now. And I will try my best to release like a single or an EP, if I can, before that. I can’t wait to release more music. It’s so weird to have moved on and become not different but maybe better at what you are doing. I’m so excited to share my new music.

I’ve realized what I need even more, and maybe what songs I need now. It’s so frustrating to keep them to myself, because I’ve already written many of them.

SERIAL CROSSOVER ARTIST: SONDRE LERCHE INTERVIEW

(Originally published in the High Plains Reader on August 2, 2017. http://hpr1.com/index.php/feature/hpr-abroad/serial-crossover-artist-sondre-lerche-interview/)

Sondre Lerche was born in Bergen on the west coast, the second largest city in Norway. He has just released his eighth album, “Pleasure” (2017). This interview took place at OverOslo, the annual music festival on a hill overlooking the Oslo harbor.

HPR: How has being from Norway affected your music both when you started and now? 

Sondre Lerche: It’s always hard to say because it’s all I know, but when you are young growing up here, you listen to mainly music from other places, like the big music cities. I listened to a lot of Brazilian music, but it’s always from far away.

Being Norwegian, it’s not your identity to be at the centre of attention. Geographically we are just way up here, you know? We are just a little country with this story to tell. So maybe that affects your view. You have a sort of privilege coming from Norway that you may or may not know you have, but at the same time you see yourself as quite small. Maybe you have a sort of weird view of things…you can sample the best from all cultures and just quietly cultivate your own brand of it. I like that. But I’ve lived in New York for so many years and I try and think about how that affected me, but that is hard too because it’s all I know. New York is full of people coming from all over the world to live and be a part of it for a second.

HPR: Were there any challenges with moving from here to there? 

SL: I think it’s challenging…I did it because I had been touring so much and I was like it’s going to be so fun to move somewhere else, I’m gonna be so inspired and then you do it and you’ve put so much pressure on this experience that you are going to be inspired and the first couple of months I was not inspired at all, I was just tired. And then you think “Oh shit! This was a terrible mistake” and I was still quite young so I didn’t really know how things go. Oh my god I almost had like a little meltdown. You just expect that you are going to move to New York and continue to be brilliant, and I had to start from the bottom, in a sense, and really get to the inspiration.

HPR: Is it different for you performing here than in the US and Canada? 

SL: It is a little different. In Norway everyone knows who I am but they don’t necessarily relate to my music or know my music. In most other places, people don’t know who I am, but the people who do, know all my music. It’s this very bizzaro world. It is very different. The essentials are the same, it’s just making people happy and groovy with music. I’m playing the same music and I’m essentially the same guy. It’s sometimes liberating getting to speak English in between my songs because it appeals to this entertainer side that I have. That is a little harder in Norway with my own people. You don’t have that sort of character to play around with.

HPR: Do you prefer to sing in English? 

SL: I prefer it. I’ve tried sometimes to write in Norwegian. I don’t like it at all. This is going to sound strange, but I find it limiting because there are more words in English and they are more specific, and most of the music I’ve listened to was in English. It feels culturally like it’s where the expression belongs. There are a lot of good artists singing in Norwegian, but I’m not one of them.

HPR: Do you think it distances you from your fans in Norway? 

SL: By now they know what to expect, but there has been a shift now where a lot of pop artists who sing in English have started singing in Norwegian. Of course the feel of a lot of it is that it’s more intimate to sing to your own people in your own language, but I’ve communicated with people outside of Norway since the start, so it seems like this valuable dialogue and I would hate to just end it. It would almost feel rude, like if we were in a conversation right now and I just randomly started speaking Norwegian. I definitely feel better being able to communicate, and that is one of the great things I experienced the first time I went to America to play, was that people actually listen to the words. That was really special. It made me want to work harder to write better.

HPR: When you write, do your words come first or the melodies? 

SL: It varies. Very often the music comes first because the music gives shape and I can realize what i need. I write down words all the time without any thought of the music. So I have two different buckets to draw from. But very often I’ll have a piece of music and I’m just trying to give it life, and the words are the life. That’s what drives it and what motivates me to sing it. It’s only a song if I can give the melody words that motivate me to stand up in front of one person or millions or people and sing it. I have to feel that this is something I have to share, even if nobody wants to hear it.

HPR: You are known for constantly reinventing your sound. How do you go about taking your fan base with you? 

SL: Oh boy, I don’t know. I’ve probably lost a lot of people in different stages of my career because I’m selfish in that sense. When I’m writing and recording I only really care about what I feel and think. If I’m playing it for someone else, it’s just to see how I feel playing it for them, because that reveals a lot. It isn’t necessarily because I want them to say ‘oh cool snare drum sound,’ it’s to see if I play it for them, I’ll hear what bothers me and fix that. So really, I’ve probably alienated a lot of people who maybe like one record and then came to the next and were like “what?” And then maybe some people return. They fall off and then they come back.

HPR: What about new fans? 

SL: All the time! There are so many people who come to me and say they thought I was some new guy. If I’m new to them, I am a new guy, but it’s really fun for me after all these years to put out so much music and still have people discover what I do and think “Pleasure” is the first album of some guy. That idea is so exciting to me. I’ve been blessed with a core fan group of adventurous, tolerant music fans who really want to go on this ride with me, and without them I couldn’t do any of this at this level. If people do fall off, that’s not a big deal. I have that same relationship with many artists where I like this record but maybe couldn’t tune into that one. It’s not necessarily supposed to be for everyone all the time.

HPR: Do your folk roots from the start still reside with you at all? 

SL: Yeah, I feel very connected to just the format of a guy playing guitar and writing songs on a guitar. That’s the core of what I do and I feel like at any moment I could strip everything I do down to that. I’d be happy to perform solo shows almost anywhere and meet the audience that way, and take songs back to where they came from. So I feel connected to that format. I don’t necessarily want to explore that so much in the studio, but I always can in the live format. I like the flexibility where if I write songs that are good enough to be dressed up and dressed down. Then I feel like I’ve done my job, so I like to do that.

HPR: Where do you see your music going in the future? 

SL: I tend to feel like when I’ve done something, it’s like you’ve had a big meal of pasta and you want something else. I’ve recorded a bunch that overlapped with this record but was decidedly something else and are very different. They move very slowly and have a lot of room for thoughts. I don’t necessarily think the next thing is going to be all that similar to “Pleasure.” But it’s going to take a little time, so anything can happen.

Neseblod Records: A black metal Mecca

In the heart of Norway’s black metal culture, there is a small record shop called Neseblod (translation: Nosebleed) Records. Although it appears nondescript from the outside, opening the door reveals a mecca for any black metal fanatic.

Neseblod Records, owned by Kenneth Neseblod (last name as given), is located at the former site of Helvete Records. Infamous black metal rocker Euronymous of Mayhem opened Helvete in the early 1990’s. Helvete closed in 1993, and was revived in 2013 by Kenneth as Neseblod.

“It was kind of a hang out place for people back then,” Kenneth said. “It wasn’t a big business, it was only kids hanging out.” Since then, Neseblod has been transformed into a business that keeps the culture of black metal alive.

Upstairs, the shop is filled with vinyls, CD’s, t-shirts, and other memorabilia. While the shop is mainly known for its vast metal collection, you can find anything from the Rolling Stones to Frank Sinatra.

The collection started as Kenneth’s personal collection, but grew as friends began selling and donating their own items to the shop. Many items even come from outside of Norway.

“We have people from outside of Norway who kind of wanted to trade and sell stuff because we pay more than other record stores,” Kenneth said. “And some want to give away stuff because we put it on the wall.”

What makes it so unique, however, is the amount of rare collectors items that can be found within it, like the old records and demo tapes.

“They like to see the history,” Kenneth said, pointing to Euronymous’ old cross.

Both Kenneth and his wife, Grete Joanne can agree that their favorite thing in the shop is a cross constructed out of six bright pink copies of Mayhem’s album Deathcrush. According to Kenneth, this was the first black metal album in Norway.

“We haven’t had the six for long,” Grete Joanne said. “They are very expensive and we got the last one just a year ago.”

While the main floor of Neseblod is an experience all on its own, the basement is what draws travellers from all over the globe to this little corner of Oslo. After walking down a spiraling black staircase, visitors find themselves in Neseblod’s very own black metal museum.

“How often do you think they let people go down there?” asks Aaron Cottam, an excited young tourist from the UK. He, like many other foreigners has come to experience Neseblod in order to learn more about the history of black metal. In fact, it is people like Cottam who dubbed Neseblod as a black metal museum.

“It was kind of the customers who said it was a museum,” said Kenneth. “We didn’t have any plan to do museum stuff. We collected the stuff because friends gave it to us.”

Of course, the basement is a perfect place for a black metal museum due to its historical connection with the genre. Even the man who was known for burning churches and killing Euronymous has a history with Neseblod Records.

Kenneth Anker Nilsen, owner of the famous Neseblod Record store with his wife. Photo/Kaycee Boe.

“Varg Vikernes lived down there,” Kenneth said. “The basement was more of a place to have photo shoots and parties and stuff. They tagged black metal on the wall just for fun, so it’s not so serious down there. Not back then anyways, they had corpse paint so they painted on the wall and took grim pictures and stuff.”

Now, tons of black metal memorabilia can be found in the brick basement, which Grete Joanne describes as being very raw. This includes Euronymous’ old workout equipment.  An interesting aspect of this room is the collection of art that can be found sitting on the floor next to a coffin (yes, a coffin).

“We let people donate art and we put it down there,” said Grete Joanne. “I think it’s cool because it’s not modern art. It’s a fan who made this. It’s a strange art exhibition.”

As visitors travel into the back room, they find a monument dedicated to black metal. It has become a popular place for fans to visit and take photos, whether it is in front of the black metal painting on the wall, or in the eerie looking chair sitting against the back wall. The room also features a large guest book that has been signed by visitors from all over the world, including the United States and other parts of Europe. Some choose to simply write their names, but others leave messages to the shop, their favorite musicians, or black metal itself.

Neseblod is an integral part of preserving the black metal culture in Norway and for fans globally, which is why so many people visit.

“This is kind of the last thing left of where the places were,” Kenneth said. “If this place doesn’t exist you kind of wipe black metal all out.”

OverOslo

Isn’t it lovely when you have a vision in your mind of a person and they live up to your expectations? Today was a really wonderful day for me. I got the chance to not only see two of my favorite performers live, but also photograph them and interview them.

Aurora and Sondre Lerche are two Norwegian artists who I have been a fan of for quite awhile now. We only got passes to one day of OverOslo and lucky for me, both of these artists were playing! Even luckier, both agreed to sit down with me for an interview. Each interview was beautiful in its own way.

First I met with Aurora. This one I was a little nervous for, but once we started talking I began to feel quite comfortable. I hope she felt the same way! We did the interview sitting in the grass in the forest. This is the most Aurora-y thing that could have possibly happened. We talked about her song writing process, her background and how it influences her music, and life in Norway. She is such an insightful person, and each of her answers to my questions were well thought out and articulated.

Sondre was my second interview. This is an artist that I had been following for quite awhile, and have also seen live in Vancouver. I think he is so interesting because his sound is always drastically changing and evolving. My favorite part of this interview was discussing his fan’s responses to the changes. Sondre basically told me that he really doesn’t care what other people think, he writes the music that feels right to him. That made me respect and appreciate him even more as a musician.

Both of these artists are so authentic, and talking to them was so much easier than I had expected. They were also both incredibly energetic on stage and a blast to watch.

Ethnicity and Immigration in Norway- First Impressions

Before I came here, I was even told by my auntie who often visits that most people here will look just like me (I am of Norwegian descent). I think because of this and other conversations I had, I came to Norway with the notion that most people would look like me: white, blonde hair, blue eyes.

Anywhere you travel, perspectives on immigration differ. It is always a highly debated subject that people seem to have strong opinions about. Norway is no different. In my first week here, my experiences alone have given me interesting insight on the issue.

Unfortunately, it seems that some are opposed to immigration, and view it as a threat to the Norwegian culture. I sat down with someone who holds this view, although I didn’t know he felt this way until he referred to immigrants as “screwballs who don’t care about the culture, the language, or anything else.” He believes that these people come to Norway because they just want something for free. This source was an 80 year old man of Norwegian descent, but born in North Dakota. In my experience, the older generations tend to be less open to change. This was proven during my next significant encounter with immigration, Minioya.

Minioya is a festival in Oslo that is dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for children to experience live music and the culture that goes along with it. Since arriving in Norway, this was the most multicultural event I had been to. It reminded me of Canada, where we have a mix of many different cultures and ethnicities all in one place.

Interestingly, this ties into what our host Guru told us about immigration. She noted that in Norway, they like to start with the children because it is easy to teach them the culture and language. Also, they can grow up in it and then teach it to their children.

While in Norway, I would like to further examine the issue of immigration to gain a more well-rounded perspective.

 

MiniØya!

MiniØya is a two day conglomeration of cuteness. The festival is tailored towards Oslo’s youth -16 years and younger- and gives children a chance to experience live music in a safe and fun environment. It is held outdoors, and there are a variety of activities such as face painting and a make your own sock puppet booth. As for music, children are introduced to every genre of music, from thrash metal to classical.

This festival is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I love that so many musicians who normally perform for adult audiences were happy to join the lineup for MiniØya. Some even changed their regular sets to cater to the children. I think it is so special that children are not only introduced, but immersed in music from such a young age. There is nothing more adorable than watching a dad teach his daughter the proper way to salute a rock band.

I was lucky enough to meet with nine year old Aida Ruud, who was discovered by Norwegian hiphop artist Kristoffer Cezinando just the night before. Aida is a little fireball, and although it was only her first performance, she rocked the MiniØya stage. This just shows again how involved Norway’s children are in music. I am looking forward to potentially sitting down with Aida and her mom again to learn more about the music and children dynamic in Norway.

Below are some screen grabs from video taken at MiniØya.

Kaycee’s Journalism Wish List

Now that we are here and relatively settled into our cozy Oslo apartment, we have had the chance to start thinking about what stories we would like to cover. We have only got a month, so it feels a little overwhelming that we have five stories to finish. In this post, I will share with the internet some of the things I am most excited to dive into during my stay here.

The first obvious story is the history of metal in Norway, how it is a part of the lives of the people here, and where it is headed in the future. As a country known for their black metal, I feel like I have so much to learn about the genre while I am here. It is almost hard to know where to start. I’d like to have the chance to talk to some experts on the subject, some current bands, and some black metal veterans. My biggest question is where did it originate and why. Of course, I’d also like to attend a few shows.

On this upcoming weekend, a fellow reporter and I will be heading to MiniOya, Oslo’s children and family music festival. At first, I wasn’t sure this was something that really excited me. That was until I had the epiphany that Oslo has a children and family music festival… And it is a big deal. The acts range from a heavy metal political band, to puppet acts and contortionists. There are also swimming lessons, games, and face painting. I am so excited to see what this festival will uncover about Norwegian culture, and the role of music in the lives of young people in Norway.

Finally,  as someone with Norwegian ancestry, I am excited by the prospect of hopping on a tour bus with people who are about to meet their families for the first time. I know that for me, I am very proud of my heritage. I would assume anyone who is willing to travel across the world to visit their homeland would have to be! I think this could make for a very powerful story.

 

 

 

The Hills (of Oslo) are Alive with the Sound of Music

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One of the biggest reasons I decided to come to Oslo this summer was to experience the music culture of this city, which I have been told is extremely vibrant. I’m always on the look out for new bands, new songs, and new venues. Lucky for me, our first day on the ground was also Musikkfest in Oslo.

Musikkfest is a one day event that features 400 bands in countless venues across the city. From a pop-up folk venue in the city center to a bar featuring metal, Musikkfest literally has a little bit of everything. Actually, it has a lot of everything. Bands come from all over the country to be apart of the event. It is a lovely day of music and Norwegian culture in a fun (and free) environment. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to experience all of the different scenes that are prominent in Norway.

As we arrived at our third venue of the day, BLA, the comforting sound of shoegazy guitar riffs drifted through my ears. Honestly, it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul. I made my way up to the front of the graffiti covered venue and there was Jannicke Forsgren under the string lights and wooden pillars. Although I only caught the tail end of the performance, it was enough to sell me on this band.

Jannicke Forsgren is from Trondheim, Norway. This was her first time playing Musikkfest, and she was accompanied on stage by her brother on guitar, and two friends on keyboard and drums.

“I just love how happy everyone is,” Forsgren said in regards to Musikkfest. “It feels like a real celebration of music.”

I strongly suggest giving these guys a listen, which you can do here.