OSLO PRIDE MARCHES ON

Oslo Pride 2016 marches on in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, with a message of solidarity and a determination to celebrate acceptance and equality.

“It’s been a couple of very intense days,” Petter Ruud-Johansen, information officer for Oslo Pride 2016, said about the effect the shooting has had on the festival starting this Friday. “It does something to our pride.”

Oslo Pride, running June 17 through June 26, takes place across the Norwegian capital and boasts a diverse array of over 200 events, free of charge, that include art exhibits, musical guests, debates and drag queen makeup classes — a line-up of politics, parades, parties and performances. Many of the events are self-produced by volunteers, which makes Oslo Pride, according to Ruud-Johanson, the largest free Pride festival in Europe.

The police are making their own efforts to keep the 10-day festival safe, with increased visibility and increased invisible operations. There are reportedly no threats to be concerned with and the organizers are also encouraging attendees not to be fearful.

“We are hoping for the opposite effect,” Ruud-Johansen said. “Now is the time to stand up, to show support.” He expressed a hope that this year’s crowd will break records from previous years, to help promote acceptance.

Businesses or organizations can buy a booth at Pride Park where more than 60,000 visitors will wander into the heart of Pride and the center of Oslo. There is also a percentage of beer and food profits that contributes to the Oslo Pride fund. Ticket sales to major events at the Rockefeller Music Hall go into the fund as well. Many performers also volunteer their performances or cut their prices for Oslo Pride. The combination of contributions and public funding from the city of Oslo go to organize a festival that doesn’t put pressure on the pocketbook.

The festival begins with a political debate at club Elsker, which translates to “lover” in English. Before the Orlando event even happened, Oslo Pride planned to feature a panel discussion on current topics including religion and violence. The panel includes two Muslim people, one a Norwegian citizen and one a politician. There has been long-existing support between the LGBT community and the Muslim community in Oslo, something that Ruud-Johansen expects to remain.

A main debate topic this year will be about intersex people, or those born with male and female reproductive organs or chromosomes. Non-consensual surgical procedures have been practiced for many years, but are now coming under scrutiny. People can expect to hear more about the choice being taken away from intersex individuals.

Last week, the LGBT community celebrated the passage of a Norwegian national law that will allow transgender individuals to legally declare their gender without surgery, psychiatric evaluations or forced sterilization. Even so, transgender rights and acceptance will be a hot topic at the debates.

The Norwegian Armed Forces will be represented in the parade, as they have been in previous years, which might be an unfamiliar sight for many Americans. The army is also expected to have an information booth in Pride Park.

The Norwegian Church will take a more visible role in pride this year. Sunday mass will be hosted there, celebrating equality and faith.

The Church voted this year to allow same-sex religious marriages, even though marriage equality for gay couples has been legally recognized since 2009 in Norway. The parade will celebrate such equality victories by marrying three gay couples on floats in the parade procession. The couples were chosen from thousands of applicants. The floats are sponsored by the corporation 7/11, which has 8,600 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and 47,800 more stores spanning the globe.

The parade march takes place on Saturday, June 25 and begins in Grønland, a diverse neighborhood near the center of Oslo. The parade came under some media fire when the parade was moved from the west of Oslo to Grønland in 2010, a move that Ruud-Johansen insists is not a political one.

“When we decided that the parade would start there, some politicians tried to make a political point out of it,” he said. “But it’s not a reaction to anything. The reason we start at Grønland is simple: many LGBTI people live there and work there – our community thrives there.”

Ruud-Johansen said Oslo Pride 2016 is a celebration of equality, solidarity and acceptance. In a time where a global tragedy has shaken the LGBT community to its core, Oslo Pride is showing no signs of slowing down.

The whole festival can be followed on social media: #OsloPride.

PRIDE COMES TO A CLOSE

 

By Amy Venn

The Oslo Pride Parade broke its own record Saturday with 104 organizations, an increase of 34 from the previous record. 30,000-plus individuals participated in the march, and another 30,000-plus lined the streets of downtown Oslo, according to the newspaper Dagbladat. The 2016 Oslo Pride Festival theme was solidarity, and organizers recognized the pain Americans have been feeling since Orlando across Norwegian media.

The 10-day festival celebrating the LGBT communities of the world ended on Sunday after hosting nearly 200 individual events. An evening ‘Rainbow Mass’ closed the ceremony on Sunday and was held at the Oslo Cathedral, which belongs to the Lutheran denomination Church of Norway.

The main attraction, the parade, included floats by all Norwegian political parties, the military, the police, labor and trade unions, advocacy organizations, religious organizations, and corporate sponsors. Three gay couples were married on a float sponsored by 7/11 and the Oslo Fagottkor entertained the crowd in their pink sailor costumes. Black armbands were worn in honor of the Orlando victims. It was a day full of love and acceptance as the parade marched two kilometers from the largely immigrant community of Gronland to the ad hoc Pride Park built in the shadows of the Royal Palace.

Important political topics were discussed by panels at Pride House, the Eldorado Book Store, in front of crowds eager for progress and change, both in and outside the LGBT community. Robert Biedron, the first openly gay elected politician from Eastern Europe, drew an energetic audience early on in the Pride festivities as he discussed his transition from gay activist to elected official.

Pride Park hosted free events from Tuesday through Sunday, including cook-outs, concerts like Swedish rapper Silvana Imam, and drag shows. The park was equipped with over 100 informational booths, shops, bars and food vendors. The park was completely built and torn down by volunteers.

WASN’T IT GOOD, NORWEGIAN WOOD

BY LOGAN HARLE AND ANGIE PEREZ

The festival market in Norway has increased tremendously in the past 20 years, so much that 40 percent of the population attended a festival in 2014, according to the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Cultural Industries.

One of those festivals is the annual and iconic Norwegian Wood Festival, which is usually a three-day-long festival that’s had an estimated eight to nine thousand people in attendance per day last year, according to one of the original founders, Joergen Roll. This year, however, Norwegian Wood shrunk to one day with three acts including Israel Nash, BIGBANG, and Wilco.

The downgrade in size is said to be due to competition with new and upcoming festivals and limited dates in Norway’s prime festival season in June. Every festival tries to avoid dates in July because that is the time of the year everyone goes on vacation. Festivals try to book in June as that is when people are in town and are willing to spend money on festivals.

Roll said Norwegian Wood missed out on a possible 25 headliners because of competition with other festivals. But Roll believes that this year’s reduction in artists is due to “bad luck”.

“Every year you have bad luck with some but not like 20 different artists,” Roll said. “So it’s been a very special year.”

According to the Cultural Editor of Dagsavisen, Oslo’s daily newspaper, Mode Steinjker, the festival market in Oslo has been collapsing more or less because of the big festivals that have been in Oslo for a long time and up and coming festivals that more exciting than the older ones.

“It won’t be the same this year because it’s not a progressive festival like how it use to be,” Steinkjer said.

Film Institution blaaa and former press officer of Norwegian Wood, Jacob Berg, said the problem with Norwegian Wood is that the festival has a broad profile, where they try to reach all types of audience members. In today’s market newer festivals try to reach a specific audience, booking artist according to genre. This is the reason why the festival ended up with only three artists, because of issues booking bands needed to fit their profile, according to Berg.

“It’s due to competition and the lack of relevant artists,” Berg said. “It doesn’t have the same profile. It used to have a niche that is gone now.”

In past years Norwegian Wood has always been capable of booking so many great artists, although they didn’t manage to do that early enough this year, according to Berg.

Even though the festival didn’t live up to their standards of previous years, Israel Nash Gripka, the lead vocalist and guitarist from American band Israel Nash, said he is proud to be a part of Norwegian Wood.

“I think we’re honored to be a part of this festival, despite how massive Norwegian Wood was last year and the years before,” said Gripka. “The fact that it’s paired down to three people and we’re a part of that, when there could’ve been so many other artists to do it, is great.”

According to Steinkjer, the lack of performances, attendance and ticket sales, could lead to Norwegian Wood’s last year.

“I want to see what is left of Norwegian Wood,” said Steinkjer. “I think I will be surprised if they manage to raise money for next year’s festival.”

Despite what critics say, Roll said that next year’s 25th anniversary of Norwegian Wood will be back to three days. Roll said that they will be starting to book artists earlier, the day after Norwegian wood this year, to be exact.

“Why shouldn’t we have high hopes for next year? We’ve had almost a million people for shows before,” Roll said.

2016 Festival Overview

BY LOGAN HARLE

Norway is home to a myriad of music festivals covering all genres, from Norway’s notorious black metal scene, to pop, folk, electronic, jazz, hip hop and many more.

Norway has one of the highest amounts of attendance of music festivals in the world, with over 1.8 million people who attended a festival in 2014, which accounts for nearly 40% of the population, according to musicnorway.no

The report also showed that a total of 4,470 concerts and events drew an audience of more than 2.2 million, which equaled to residents attending 2.5 shows per day. As well as over 200,000 artists held concerts or took part in a performance, with 31% of those concerts being of the rock/pop genre.

During the month of June, the Ieimedia Oslo Rocks’ group covered six music festivals, including Musikkfest Oslo, Miniøya, Norwegian Wood, Bergen Fest, Over Oslo and Tons of Rock. Each festival covered a wide variety of genres of music for all age groups.

Musikkfest Oslo is held on Norway’s national music day and according MusikkFest press contact, Astrid Fuglevaag, this year it held over 450 artists perform across forty venues and drew in an estimated 100,000 patrons for its 25th anniversary. Musikkfest Oslo is a way for patrons to listen to new artists of any genre.

“We have a lot of subcultures in the city,” Tage Bratud, a long-time festival-goer and Oslo resident, said. “So it is good to have a day to showcase all of the bands that are around. You can find hip-hop, rock, metal, basically everything.”

There’s even a music festival for children, Miniøya, which is a “mini” version of one of Oslo’s biggest music festivals, Øya Fest. Miniøya is held for families to enjoy the music and arts culture with their kids.

Oslo’s second-largest music festival is Norwegian Wood, which is usually held over three days in June at Frogner Park. This year was an exception (see Norwegian Wood story).

On the west coast of Norway, is Norway’s second largest city to Oslo, Bergen, which host’s Bergen Fest which average’s in attendance between 35,000 to 40,000 per year, according to BergenFest.no.

Located at a venue looking over the city of Oslo, OverOslo, which is a five day music festival, featured international acts like Tom Jones and Travis, and many other international and Norwegian folk artists.

Unlike the majority of music festivals that hold a variety of genres, Tons of Rock is three days of straight rock n’ roll. Tons Of Rock is a camping festival held at Fredriksten Fortress and on just it’s second year, the festival hosted popular artists such as Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper.

“I like a real metal festival because it is not a festival filled with so many people to see different genres of music,” two-time festival-goer Glenn Gabrielsen said. “Here, it is all metal people and that is what is fantastic about Tons of Rock.

If you are looking for an international adventure in music, Oslo and southern-Norway is filled with non-stop music for all tastes.

INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVALS REACT TO MANCHESTER ATTACK

As music festivals in Norway grow, the danger of attending a concert also rises. The Manchester bomb attack following an Ariana Grande concert killed 23 attendees and wounded many more. Festival and concert organizers in the U.K., the U.S., and Norway, which has one of the highest per capita music event attendance rates in the world, are keenly aware of security concerns.

The repercussions of the UK attack can be seen in the U.S. as additional security precautions are adopted. Several major concert venues have already heightened their security measures, including Madison Square Garden in New York City. MSG sent out a memo on May 23 detailing the venue’s commitment to “increased diligence in screening” and “greater on-site police presence.” Many other American venue managers have taken similar actions.

Norwegian venue organizers have also taken precautions in the wake of Manchester.

Oslo Musikkfest, held on June 3, 2017, is the largest annual one-day music festival in the country with venues spread throughout the Norwegian capital. This year saw 50 venues hosting over 450 bands, which is an increase from 2016, which had 38 stages and about 300 bands. All performances were free of charge and nearly all music genres were represented.

The free festival draws in tens of thousands of attendees every year. “It’s absolutely possible that it was about 50,000 to 100,000 attendees,” Mina Evenrud, director of Musikkfest, said.

A report by the National Knowledge Center for Cultural Industries showed that over 1.8 million people attended a festival in Norway in 2014, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the country’s population.

With such a high level of festival attendance, threats toward the crowd’s well-being are a key concern for organizers.

“We have good and ongoing communication with the Oslo police,” Evenrud said. “We want people to feel safe at Musikkfest.”

After the Manchester attack, the Norwegian Police Security Service determined that the threat level in Norway had not risen.

The level of security at each of the given stages was left up to the venue promoter. Evenrud encouraged both the audience and local promoters to call the police if they noticed any suspicious activity.

With an event that is outdoors, without closed-off areas and open to the public, it is difficult to implement any comprehensive security precautions. When asked about implementing security precautions, Evenrud was intent on remaining strong and steadfast against any threat that may arise.

However, applying too many security measures may not be the best solution. “But then we give in to what the terrorists want,” Evenrud said, “to scare people from living normal lives. And is that what we want, to have armed police on every corner. Will you then feel safe or would you feel monitored?”

Evenrud continued to say that it is a very complex situation. The issue of security will continue to be an ongoing topic of discussion for future years of Musikkfest as well as other festivals and concert venues around the world.

Similar conversations regarding security were also held by BergenFest organizers, the largest festival on Norway’s west coast and one of the leading music festivals in Norway. BergenFest was held June 14 to 17, 2017, at Bergenhus Castle in Bergen, Norway.

“We spend a lot of time planning for our events to be safe,” Ole Morten Algerøy, BergenFest press manager, said. “We feel that we have taken precautions.”

Prior to the beginning Bergenfest, a post on its website explained the venue ensures the audience is as safe as can be. The post detailed how to best move around the venue, how to pack and what security measures have been put in place.

“In times like this, it is even more important to make people come together and appreciate each other and appreciate the music,” Algerøy said.

As music festival culture continues to grow and expand, an ongoing topic of conversation will detail what actions need to be taken in order to provide a secure environment for people to enjoy art and music.

NORWEGIAN CONCERT PLANNING ORGANIZATION GIVES KIDS POWER

Rockslo, a concert association in Norway’s capital city of Oslo, introduces youth to music by immersing them in the process of planning and executing concerts.

Since 2013, Rockslo has been a place for young people to work behind the scenes in the music industry. From booking to marketing to technical work to production, youth under the age of 20 learn the ins and outs of what goes into planning shows, by fully planning concerts with the guidance of adult volunteers.

Erik Fosland said the process begins with the youth coming together to select and book popular artists. Right now, the organization books Norwegian acts, but it is Fosland’s dream to be able to afford international acts.

Fosland’s role with Rockslo translates to CEO, though he said that title is too formal and prefers to be referred to as a leader of the organization.

The youth also book the venues for the concerts, ensure the bands have all equipment they need, promote the shows and decorate the venues.

“Primarily, Rockslo wants them [youth] to do everything because they want them to learn everything from the beginning to the end,” Sahil Singh said.

Singh, 18, has been with the organization for two years. He usually takes photos and videos at Rockslo-produced events, though he has helped with booking when needed.

“We’re allowed to do anything if we really want to. If I say I want to be responsible for this band when they come to the concert, I’m allowed to do that,” he said. Because of the work experience he gained through Rockslo, Singh recently got a paid job with another festival.

Rockslo typically hosts four to six shows a year. Two years ago, the organization hosted its own music festival, a weekend event that Fosland would like to be hosted every other year.

Fosland said that the shows include a well-known act, an up-and-coming act and an unknown smaller act to give those artists the chance to play and learn from other musicians while talking to members they may have grown up listening to.

He believes it’s important that the youth involved in the organization, as well as the bands brought in, are able to learn.

While “rock” is in the name, the organization hosts events with whatever music young people are listening to at the time. Many of the events last year featured hip-hop artists, while this year has been focused more on rock and pop.

“It’s just music, what the kids want to hear,” Fosland said.

The volunteer-based organization receives funding support from the government to help pay for the events hosted. Since venues won’t usually make money from events that don’t serve alcohol, Fosland said venues will often donate space for shows or charge a small fee.

In addition to planning concerts, Rockslo hosts social events and collaborates with other festivals and events, including Miniøya, a music festival focused on children that Rockslo members did the booking for this summer.

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.

Oslo’s bright colors reflect Pride

By Jenna Herrick

Oslo PrideFest crowd, June 27, 2018. Photo by Jenna Herrick
Enthusiastic participants at Oslo Pride on June 27, 2018. Photo by Jenna Herrick

Cities all over the world spend the month of June celebrating the LGBTQ community and Oslo is showing its Pride this week.

According to the Visit Norway website, Oslo’s first gay pride celebration – called “Gay Days” – was held in 1982; the name was changed to Oslo Pride in 2014. The Oslo Pride website boasts that its event is the largest pride celebration in Norway and says its goal is  “to make gay culture visible and contribute to increased acceptance and respect for the gay part of the capital’s diverse population.”

The festivities, which run from June 21 to July 1, feature dozens of events, including concerts, lectures, debates, art shows, parties and the parade. Individual event venues are scattered throughout Oslo and are anchored by Pride House, the event headquarters at Youngstorget, and Pride Park, known the rest of the year as Studenterlunden Park.

Pride participant Karine Jager talked about the event’s importance for her. “Just within the few years that I’ve been coming to Pride, it’s gotten so much bigger. I think that shows that the word is getting out that this is a place where you can be yourself and everyone is accepted for who they are.”

The iconic Pride rainbow can be seen everywhere in Oslo from restaurants and hotels sporting pride flags, banners or balloons to retail shops selling rainbow-themed merchandise to a local microbewery’s specially-crafted glitter beer. Pedestrians and passers-by wear tee shirts with Pride slogans, brightly-colored hair, and rainbow everything.

 

 

Radio pros at Bergenfest

By Billy Ray Malone

NRK P1 music reporter Hilde Zahl scanned the crowd at Bergenfest – the annual music festival in Bergen, Norway – and spotted a woman wearing a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds tee shirt. Zahl walked right up to the woman, crossed her ankles, dipped into a curtsy and, without skipping a beat, extended her phone to record the interview and began to ask questions

young man stands in front of a tent filled with radio equipment and reporters
Billy Ray Malone poses in front of the press tent NRK P1 set up at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway. The radio station produced a two-and-a-half-hour show at the five-day festival. Photo by Tom Grant.

Watching this, I whispered my thanks to the universe for leading me to the NRK P1 press tent and talking my way into shadowing Zahl for the day. NRK is Norway’s government run public broadcasting company. P1 is one of several radio stations, each with its own focus. The U.S. has nothing comparable: our National Public Radio (NPR) is funded through listener donations and commercial radio is funded by advertising. When you flip through the channels of Norwegian digital radio, you’ll find that there aren’t any commercials because it is funded through a special tax on televisions.

During the first week of a journalism study abroad program in Norway, I took a Norwegian language class. The instructor cautioned the American students in the class that walking up to Norwegians and talking to them can be awkward. The American tendency to smile at strangers on the streets makes Norwegians uncomfortable. I recalled my instructor’s words when Zahl asked that I stand away from the interviews so I wouldn’t scare people away.

Zahl’s trademark pre-interview curtsy and bubbly personality helped break the ice and disarm her interview subjects. She said using a phone bothers people less than a microphone in their face.

NRK P1 covers Bergenfest and similar festivals to expose listeners to acts such as Sparks and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Zahl said 40% of the country tunes in for their 6:30 to 9 p.m. show every night.

Nick Cave refused doing any interviews with press, as he has been known to do in the past. “If the musician won’t talk to me, I will build my story by talking to the fans,” Zahl said. After a dozen interviews with Nick Cave fans,  Zahl had everything she needed to prepare her four-minute package. She went back to the press tent and quickly prepared the package.

Before heading out for more interviews, Zahl prepared for an upcoming interview with the band Sparks, whose frontmen Ron and Russel Mael are happy to talk with reporters.

Sparks manager Sue Harris had warned Zahl that reporters in the past have frustrated the Mael brothers by having little to no knowledge about their band. With extra zeal, she plunged into her research, listening to Sparks albums and becoming something of an expert about the band in less than two hours.

Due to my lack of a backstage press pass I couldn’t sit in on Zahl’s interview. But I watched when she returned to the tent and efficiently pieced together the package in time to air on the show.

NRK P1 team takes a group photo underneath the sign at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Tom Grant
As the reporter photographed the NRK P1 team with their camera, another Oslo Rocks! staffer got a shot of the group gathered under the Bergenfest entrance in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Tom Grant

At the end of the two-hour show, the P1 team smiled as they packed up their gear.  They huddled together under the Bergenfest sign for a group photo. One of the producers handed me a Canon 35mm camera, a camera with which I am not familiar and asked me to take their picture. The pressure was intense as I aimed the lens at six professional journalists/photographers who, I was convinced, were silently judging my skills. Perhaps because I am still a journalism student and rookie photographer, they politely suggested I take more than one shot. I didn’t capture the full sign in my second picture, so I was sent back to try again.  After successfully taking their picture with the full sign in the background, one of the reporters said, “the third time is the charm!”

The Most Important Part of Music Festivals May Be the Food

By Shannon Kehoe

A chicken quesadilla from 4Gringos Taco food truck. Photo by Shannon Kehoe
A chicken quesadilla from 4Gringos Taco food truck. Photo by Shannon Kehoe

A roar of music hit the stage on a cool Saturday afternoon at Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway. Piknik i Parken or Pipfest was in full swing. Picnic tables covered with food ranging from tacos and burgers to fish and grilled cheese were surrounded by happily munching adults and running children with ice cream-stained faces.

Summer in Oslo brings a new way to eat: food trucks. In the five years since they were first introduced, the food trucks have made an impact on the way food is consumed within the city.

During PiPfest, 4 Gringos Tacos serves up Mexican food from their moderately-sized truck at an alarming rate, a clear indication of the quality of their nachos, burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. The Gringos’ award-winning tacos are available year-round, as one truck stays open through the winter.

Anna Seliga, the 4 Gringos office manager, called orders for the rest of her crew while they were parked near Vigeland Stage during PiPfest. With three festivals to cover she says even the bosses are working.

Little Boys Mafia owns 4 Gringos Tacos. The company’s three bosses hail from Poland, Ireland, and Kenya, proving that a love of food knows no boundaries. Little Boys Mafia owns four taco trucks, in addition to The Sausage Factory, another food truck that was set up at Vigeland Stage.

Concert-goer Elin feeds her daughter, Julie, ice cream as they enjoy music from Vigeland stage during PiPfest on a summer afternoon in Oslo. Photo by Shannon Kehoe
Concert-goer Elin feeds her daughter, Julie, ice cream as they enjoy music from Vigeland stage during PiPfest on a summer afternoon in Oslo. Photo by Shannon Kehoe

Seliga moved from London to Norway looking for a job change but said it was hard for her to find work because she isn’t fluent in Norwegian – until Little Boys Mafia gave her a chance. Actually, the entire staff represents a wide array of cultural backgrounds: the fish and chips are served up by Bernard from Croatia.

A little way down was Matteo Stornaiuolo from Italy.  He and his two coffee carts and ice cream cart were at PiPfest and guests loved them. It seemed as if everyone held an ice cream as they relaxed on their blankets to watch performers on stage.

As the evening cooled, the coffee cart line was backed up as patrons waited for lattes and cappuccinos. Stornaiuolo said that, although the food truck culture isn’t as popular as it is in Denmark or Italy, Norwegian food trucks provide opportunities for young people and have gained in popularity.

Food trucks provide a reasonably priced alternative to a restaurant meal and are easily accessible for pedestrians. As the possibility of a “car-free Oslo” nears, Stornaiuolo sees this as a way to fill up former parking lots with something good­­­­­­ – food trucks!

4 Gringos Tacos, owned by Little Boys Mafia of Oslo, serves up a variety of Mexican entrees from their traveling truck. Photo by Shannon Kehoe