It’s no secret that we’re all a little obsessed with Scandinavian music here. And Ja Ja Ja are partly responsible for this. Ja Ja Ja is the definitive Nordic website and club night celebrating the very best new music emerging from the Scandinavian region.
We refresh their site approximately three times a day and borrow (read steal) most of the artists they feature. There is just something so special about Nordic music. Whether it’s the soaring soundscapes of Sigur Ros, the utterly unique pop sounds from Labrador Records or the alternative and incomparable style of Bjork, all of us, at some point, have fallen in love with Scandinavian musician. And the new music being exported is currently the most inspiring in the world.
This Thursday, Ja Ja Ja‘s monthly club night returns to The Lexington in London with three of the most exciting new artists including Battlekat playing their first ever UK gig. Also on the line-up is electro-popster Karin Park and Rock duo, Johnossi. In all the excitement, we featured both as Your New Favourite Band in the last two days.
We could probably talk about it all day, but the guys at Ja Ja Ja do it better so we’ll hand over to the founders. We spoke to Rich Thane (Founder of The Line of Best Fit and the new Ja Ja Ja blog) and Jonas Vebner who is Founder/Project Manager of Ja Ja Ja and Publisher of the website.
What is it about Nordic music that’s so exciting? It seems like everything coming out of the region at the moment is incredible…
Rich: We get asked this question so much and it never gets any easier to answer…. For me, I feel that – for some unknown reason – the Nordics tend to push boundaries when it comes to production and delivery. From the subdued artists to the ones full of energy – there is always a certain gusto, cockiness and sheer bloodymindedness to everything they deliver. Yet, having said that – there is also a real innocence to a lot of the pop music too that kind of welcomes you in. If that makes sense…. One day I’ll have a proper answer.
Of all the Nordic exports, The Radio Dept. have had the biggest impact on me; is there one band/artist that you think has been most important in establishing Nordic music internationally or someone that is particularly special to you?
Jonas: I believe artists like Sigor Ros, Röyksopp, The Knife and Efterklang have all contributed to associating Nordic music with innovative production and soundscapes. They add something new that sounds fresh and interesting. There seems to be melancholic feel to the music that some people mean stems from our folk music which has been kept in modern songwriting. In lack of a better description, it sounds Nordic if you like.
There are also some amazing labels in the region; Efterklang’s label Rumraket and the Danish Tambourhinoceros the Finnish label Fonal, Norwegian Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon, Swedish Service. I could go on for a while… On an even more commercial level, don’t forget the army of Nordic producers that are shaping international chart music, the likes of Stargate, RedOne etc.
Rich: I’d certainly agree on The Radio Dept. for the level of impact. They’re an incredibly important band to me on so many levels. In terms of an act that have had a knock on impact when it comes to the success of Nordic music over the years, I think Studio are up there for sure… and The Tough Alliance. Certainly for the more underground stuff anyway.
See, Service signed them both many years ago (I guess around a decade now) and they released a few bits and pieces but soon broke away from the label. Studio went on to form ‘Information‘ and Tough Alliance went on to form ‘Sincerely Yours‘ (the name of the label, interestingly, lifted from another influential Service act The Embassy). Sincerely Yours have gone on to become one of the most well known Swedish labels around – their roster is just incredible: Air France, jj, ceo (which is actually Eric from The Tough Alliance‘s solo material), Joel Alme, Team Rokit, The Honeydrips (RIP) to name just a handful…
Information continued to release the hugely acclaimed Studio debut album West Coast, not to mention the hugely underated Fontan record. It’s with these acts that other artists – not just from the Nordic regions – have been inspired by. A perfect example being Chad Valley from Oxford…. The original Service ‘sound’ is all over his music and he’d be the first to admit it.
In terms of new music, who is the most exciting band/artist to come out of the region this year?
Rich / Jonas: Iceage, I Break Horses, Team Me, Deathcrush, Niki & the Dove, Icona Pop, French Films, Razika, Battlekat, Korallreven, Kvelertak, Me and My Army, Sleep Party People.
Is there a genre bias on the blog?
Rich: No bias. We purposely handpicked contributors that not only had expertise within the Nordic field, but who also had varying tastes. If it’s good, we’ll write about it. It’s really that simple. But we’ll try and deliver it in a concise and attractive way in the hope that, even if it may not be your ‘usual type of music’ you’ll still be inclined to press play and (hopefully) discover something that you’ll love.
What can we expect from October’s club night?
Rich: We have been waiting and waiting and waiting to be able to book Battlekat, so are obviously super excited about having them over. I was at their first show at SPOT Festival in Aarhus back in May of this year when they were still known as ‘Just A Number 05272011‘ and honestly, for a debut performance, they completely blew me away on so many levels. We haven’t had a Swedish act play the night since Niki and The Dove came over for their first London show back in November of last year, so we’re thrilled to welcome Johnossi and Karin Park – both of which are producing incredible work right now. It’ll be fun – as always – and we’ll have our in-house DJs Project Fresh Socks playing some of the finest new Nordic tunes.
Where are you planning to take the blog and live events over the next year?
Jonas: We want to make the site the main destination for lovers of Nordic music. Expanding on editorial and rich content. For the clubnight we are currently looking at taking the brand overseas to other cities. We’re also playing with the thought of setting up a small JJJ festival and have some potentially very exciting new collaborations coming up. All in all, we’re just really happy to see us still here after almost two years and so pleased about how it all has developed. Very greateful to the fantastic team that makes it all happen, both on the night and the website. We owe a lot to all our past curators and of course, the fans the make it all possible.
Get yourself down to the Ja Ja Ja club night at The Lexington tomorrow night to catch Battlekat, Johnossi and Karin Park.