Ja Ja Ja Nordic Festival 2013


If I’m going to be honest, I was slightly apprehensive about attending the Nordic Festival at Camden Roundhouse last Saturday. I had a nasty image of getting crushed in the crowd by a lot of Nordics rocking out to the latest Scandinavian heavy metal band. I reassured myself that the likes of Bjork and MØ have come out of the Nordic countries and figured that the music would probably be more along those lines. Thankfully I was correct!

I was unable to attend the festival on the Friday but from what I saw on the Saturday the Brits and Americans have got serious competition looming in terms of original and cutting edge indie-pop.

The first act I saw was Truls, from Norway. Whilst I was purchasing myself an overpriced pint of cider I had my back turned towards the stage and admittedly, when the singing started I did think he was a woman. On turning around I realised how wrong I was. Nevertheless, I was impressed throughout his performance. His music is a strange mix of electro pop, R&B and a hint of an Ibiza club anthem in there as well. Somehow, this slightly bizarre combination works really well and is well worth a listen…

After Truls set I decided to go and explore the cavernous Roundhouse and see what else this festival had on. I found myself in the lobby by the smoking terrace where there were numerous stands selling vinyls, CDs and cassettes of the various artists playing. There was also a little stand where you could get yourself the finest Nordic tea and cakes. Although this was a lovely idea, I can’t imagine they sold a huge amount of tea. It was a music festival.

After a quick fag break on the unbelievably cold and dark smoking terrace, I got myself another drink and went back inside just in time to catch NONONO. The Swedish trio is made up of Stina Wappling on vocals and production duo Astma & Rocwell. The music that they make, from what I witnessed, can only be described as powerful, with forceful lyrics and a thumping sound that makes you want to turn it up and immerse yourself in the full force of it. Listen to their new single ‘Pumin Blood’ in an iTunes near you early in 2014.

Next up was the indie-pop group Kid Astray from Oslo, Norway. As all 6 of them crammed onto the stage with an array of keyboards, tambourines and ukulele, amongst a fair few other instruments, I developed an increasingly optimistic feeling about the band. I had a quick listen to them the day before and had high expectations. They were fulfilled! They’re the best band to watch if you’re having a bad day. The entire set was upbeat from the music to their stage presence. As I watched from the balcony above I was faced with a sea of smiling faces and many heads bobbing around as the guys did their funky thing. The only bad thing I have to say about them is that I felt a few of their songs were quite hard to distinguish from one another. Have a big listen.

So now, sadly, we get onto the lowest part of my evening… By this point I was feeling pretty hungry, so thought I would go and test out the burger stand they had outside. An hour! Yes, an hour later, I finally got a fairly average cheeseburger and chips for £9. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve had quite a lot of experience with burger stands at festivals and on a bad day you will only wait for about 15 minutes max. This is something for them to sort out for next year…

So, after about an hour and a half of waiting for a burger and then consuming the burger I was able to catch the headline act! Due to illness the original headliner, The Raveonettes, were unable to play, so instead we had the Stockholm 5-piece Shout Out Louds who did a cracking job of taking over the headline slot. Although there is clear indie-pop influence in their music, it was nice to listen to something that had a bit more of a rocky feel to it. The group have obviously got their set to point that they can basically do it with their eyes shut, but this would be expected from a band that has previously toured with the like of The Strokes and The Magic Numbers. With huge stage presence, everyone in the crowd was thoroughly enjoying themselves, especially when the lead singer, Adam Olenius, climbed onto the drum kit and started jamming with the drummer. Out of all the acts I saw, these guys were my favourites.

All in all it was a great evening full of great music that I may have never found if I hadn’t gone, and for that reason only I would recommend it to anyone who is vaguely interested in music. And on that note I will leave you with one of Shout Out Louds more recent music videos.

By Emma Boyle