Spot on Denmark

Posted in alphabeat, boom boom magazine, danish music scene, danske uafhængige pladeselskaber, dup, mxd with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by boomboommag

Marketing music to promote a particular nation? All you have to do is produce some glitzy material, hire   trendy nightclub in the capital city of the country you want to make it in, and then just spoil a mob of party-animal industry types with live music hors d’oeuvres and lots of free drinks. Right?!

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Erase and rewind. If they even remember anything the next day when the hangover kicks in it’ll probably be a blurred mixture of coloured cocktails and a band that was called, err, ‘something or other’. No, a completely different strategy is called for, according to Music Export Denmark (MXD). The organisation has staged successful “Spot on Denmark” events in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany  and France in recent years in collaboration with ROSA — the Danish Rock Council — and DUP (Danish Independent Records Labels).

Instead of trying to force feed industry people with Danish music, MXD tries to engage record company people, managers, venue staff and journalists in choosing what music they’d like to get to know better.

“What’s unique about Spot on Denmark is that we build on a ‘pull’ strategy. It’s the local industry people who decide what we promote in their regions. For example, we invite them to the Danish SPOT festival in Aarhus, where they help decide which bands should take part in Spot on Denmark events in their countries. It stops MXD acting like some kind of omniscient arbiter of taste. Greater involvement helps push the music,” says Thomas Rohde, the head of MXD .

The strategy pays good dividends. Following a promotion in Brussels in 2007, melancholy dreamrockers Murder played several gigs around Belgium, and ended up selling more records there than at home.

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The 2008 promotion in the three Benelux countries also generated a great deal of media coverage for the groups Slaraffenland, Tone and Said the Shark, who have since had contracts waved under their noses for record deals and/or live gigs. “SPOT on Denmark is a good method of building Danish music as a brand. It’s all about drawing the links between the big hits – like Trentemøller and Alphabeat – and Danish music as a whole. It helps up-and-coming Danish bands on their way. In the autumn, when SPOT on Denmark came to Utrecht in the Netherlands, a lot of people told us the hype about Danish music right now is on a par with the buzz that surrounds Icelandic music. Names like Saybia, Mew and Under Byen are well-known among music fans in the Netherlands. The whole of the Danish scene is skyrocketing because the music is associated with quality, excitement and innovation,” says Thomas Rohde, who plans to roll out the SPOT on Denmark concept in several other countries.

Photography: Raw Format
Text: Anders Houmøller Thomsen

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Your Record Company, Your Neighbour, interview with Nicolaj Hyltén-Cavallius, DUP & Artiscope

Posted in artiscope music, boom boom magazine, danish music scene, danske uafhængige pladeselskaber, dup, mxd, nicolaj hyltén-cavallius with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by boomboommag

Nicolaj Hyltén-Cavallius – chairman of DUP / Danish Independent Record Labels – is a man with a mission. He wants to modernize the record industry and kill off the myth that it is dominated by greedy, brain-dead speculators.

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“These days, record companies are very much populated by energetic enthusiasts, and we have to get that message across better. I hope we will be able to convince music consumers to think of record companies as a kind of neighbour – something close to their everyday lives – rather than as remote multinationals and  speculators who fritter away fortunes on the high life.” So says Nicolaj Hyltén-Cavallius, record company director – or, in his own words, “music company director”. His label, Artiscope Music, is small and the primary driving force is sheer enthusiasm. Artiscope is one of Denmark’s many indie companies, and Nicolaj also chairs DUP (Danske Uafhængige Pladeselskaber/Danish Independent Record Labels).

OLD MACDONALD’S RECORD COMPANY
Hyltén-Cavallius believes that the myth of the greedy and cynical record company is so tenacious that a lot of music fans download music illegally without any qualms. “But in reality that’s a bit like chancing upon a  roadside fruit stall on a drive in the countryside. You fancy some strawberries and a sign asks you to put money in a tin. Who’d take a couple of punnets and not pay?! Surely everybody agrees that it’d be dishonest, and definitely not cool. And yet a lot of people think they can cheat record companies by downloading illegally because they think labels are ‘cynical multinational companies’ run by greedy misers. It’s a load of rubbish, of course. It’s exactly the same as cheating the farmer – so many labels are run by enthusiasts, hard-working everyday folks with bills to pay. We need to change attitudes.”

SPOILED BY SUCCESS
Hyltén-Cavallius also has other ambitions in his role as chair of DUP. “We need a greater degree of professionalisation in the music industry. In the past, people who sold a lot of records had a tendency to be a little bit spoiled by their success. Many of the folk who worked in the industry didn’t have much specialist knowledge about what they were dealing with. These days, with CDs selling less well, we need more properly trained people in the industry. We need people who know about market mechanisms – law, money, marketing, human resources – before they throw themselves into publishing and promoting music. In the past, it was common for musicians to move from playing gigs to sitting on the other side of the record company desk – and some of them turned out to be extremely good at the business side. But I think it would be a positive thing if there were more properly qualified people in the industry, people who also have academic theory and practical tools from higher education to draw upon. It has already started to happen in Denmark.”

PARTNERSHIP IS THE KEY
“I think the music industry still has a long way to go,” says Hyltén-Cavallius. “If you compare it with agriculture, for example, they’ve got the Danish Agricultural Council to look after the interests of their industry and to lobby opinion formers, politicians and the public. The music industry should stand up for itself more, and work harder to find common ground. Those of us who work in publishing and promoting music are very different from each other, but deep down we want the same things. We want Danish music to be heard and sold, and we want exports  to increase. MXD [Music Export Denmark, ed.] is a good initiative that’s progressing positively and harmoniously. DUP also works closely with IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), an organisation that we think understands our situation. We must focus more on overarching objectives, and not think in terms of narrow self-interest and our own names. It’s all about branding Danish music as a whole, and in that context I think that MXD’s ‘SPOT on Denmark’ campaign is really good. We should all support it and listen to our partners abroad – who do they think are exciting? Involving the French music industry, for example, in deciding which Danish acts they think that we should support makes for a pleasant change in strategy.”

From Boom Boom Magazine #03.

Text: Anders Houmøller Thomsen
Photography: RAW Format

Pharfar — Danish Reggae Producer

Posted in boom boom magazine, pharfar, producers, reggae with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2009 by boomboommag

(Natasja, Djosos Krost, Cornstick, Karen Mukupa, etc.)

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With more than a decade’s experience as a reggae producer, Pharfar is considered one of the very  best in his field. One highprofile artist he worked with was the late rapper and singer Natasja – most recently on the song “Better Than Dem”, which also features a guest appearance by Jamaican star Beenie Man. “A good producer gives the song the right packaging,” says Pharfar. “It’s all about letting the tune come into its own, about bringing out the strongest qualities in the music.” For several years, Pharfar has been the prime mover behind Rub A Dub, the popular Copenhagen dub and reggae Sunday club. Also a  capable drummer, Pharfar lives and works in his studio, the Food Palace, whose mixing desk has tackled  big names such as Horace Andy. He is currently working on a riddim series with international artists like Turbulens, Michael Rose (Black Uhuru) and Sizzla.

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Danish Producers — Artistic Midwives

Posted in boom boom magazine, danish music scene, frederik thaae, midem - cannes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2009 by boomboommag

The Danish underground is seething and bubbling with talent and resourcefulness. The creative boom is personified by the new generation of inventive PRODUCERS who fiddle about with, screw together, play with and respond to the music, endowing it with that final, crucial and dynamic impact. BOOM BOOM zooms in on some of the most prominent musical midwives on the Danish scene. We asked this diverse bunch, whose sole common denominator is their individuality, what they feel are the most important features of a producer as an artistic facilitator.

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FREDERIK THAAE

(Murder, I Am Bones, The Late Parade, Lise Westzynthius, Prins Nitram etc.) Thaae is a graduate of the Academy of Music and plays in – and produces for, naturally – the manic, hard-hitting rock band A Kid Hereafter. “A producer’s main task is to make every job a project special,” he says. “It’s about having a profile and setting an aesthetic agenda.” He thinks the fact that many of the producers are also musicians is to their advantage when working behind the mixing desk: “It provides a shared perspective.” Thaae is currently in dialogue with Jesper ‘Junior’ Mortensen (ex-Junior Senior), the DJ known as Turkman, and Jacob Bellens (Murder) about new partnerships.
Text: Thomas borre
Photography: Raw Format

China in her Hand — Sinne Eeg

Posted in boom boom magazine, danish music scene, jazz, sinne eeg with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by boomboommag

Jazz has gone from lobby to hobby in China, which is good news for songstress Sinne Eeg. Asia has  served as her springboard to the rest of the world.

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Sinne Eeg has taken both Danish and international jazz audiences by storm in recent years. Whether singing her own songs or interpreting classics, she has been widely praised for her soft, elegant phrasing with just a hint of danger.

Early on in her career, Eeg realized that if she was ever going to get anywhere she’d have to make it happen herself. “You have to take it from the bottom up,” says Eeg. “You get nothing from sitting and waiting for Blue Note Records to call, or waiting to be asked to plays tadium gigs. I’ve learned that you have to take the less lucrative jobs first if you want to forge the right contacts. I paid for my first recordings myself and did most of the practical work associated with the releases. I made sure that jazz clubs and the media knew all about my music by making lots of phone calls and sending lots of e-mails.  It has been a long, slow process to reach the stage I’m at now. It takes patience.”

Big in Japan
Eeg’s journey began back in 2003 with the release of her self-titled debut album, which was to take her, somewhat by chance, to Japan  and China. She found herself in Japan as the conductor of an amateur  choir, which enabled her to meet new people and led to a tour of the country with the Martin Schack Trio. Pianist Martin Schack’s brother was living in Shanghai at the time, which opened the gateway to China. “We punted my CD around various clubs in Shanghai,” she recalls. “One owner wanted to hire us  for three months. That was a bit unusual, but of course we said yes. It was in Shanghai’s oldest jazz club, which is owned by a famous Chinese actor who is also a jazz enthusiast. It was a great job.”

Wild response

Eeg has learned that there are big  differences between Japanese and Chinese jazz audiences. “The Japanese have a long tradition of being into jazz and listening to the music in clubs,” she says. “The first time I played a gig there, I was a bit taken aback by the enthusiastic response. The audiences are definitely not as shy and polite as you might think. They holler and join in, and a lot of them have an almost nerdy interest in Scandinavian jazz. Jazz is a bit more of a recent phenomenon in China, but a lot has changed since our first visit. A few years ago, jazz was mainly confined to expensive hotel lobbies –  s little more than background music. Now, you can tell that a lot of Chinese listeners have acquired a  deeper interest in the music and its artistic dimensions, which is nice.”

Eeg’s music is also starting to win over audiences beyond China, Japan and her home country. Sweden, Norway and Germany are showing interest, and her most recent Danish-language album – “Kun en drøm” (“Only a Dream”) – has just been reissued in English as “Remembering You”. Curiously enough, she first met the album’s Danish producer, Chris Minh Doky, in Tokyo. “I often meet Danish colleagues abroad, which says something about the impression that Danish jazz has made,” Eeg explains. “I met Chris Minh Doky via Diana Krall’s manager Mary-Ann Topper, who had heard us play a club in Tokyo. Later, she met Chris, who was also touring Japan, and encouraged him to go to one of my gigs. He did  so, and a few months later we were recording “Kun en drøm” together, which includes interpretations  of old Danish film and stage classics.”

Made in Europe — Caroline Henderson

Posted in boom boom magazine, caroline henderson, danish music scene, midem - cannes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2009 by boomboommag

From jazz to trip-hop and back again. Caroline Henderson is a smooth operator across a broad spectrum of genres.

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Jazz singer, pop beauty, actor, TV presenter and much more – Caroline Henderson has been nothing if not versatile since she started singing in jazz bands as a teenager. In 1989, she made it big in Denmark as the alluring frontwoman in the pop group Ray Dee Ohh, and then broke through again in 1995 with the seductive and genrebending album “Cinemataztic”, whose trip-hop finesse was a hit with both music fans and critics. After a brief attempt as a disco queen, Henderson has once again returned to jazz.

Her most recent album “No. 8” was lauded by critics – and even though jazz albums seldom make the charts in Denmark, this one climbed even higher than the number of its title. It has since gone gold. The impeccable “No. 8” also helped to cement Henderson’s position as an international jazz diva who performs all over the world. Surprises in store

Surprises in store
“I never take anything for granted, but my last four jazz albums have all been extremely well received and sold really well, both in Denmark and abroad. I do have to focus a lot on particular countries though. Right now it’s Germany, France and Scandinavia,” says Henderson. She also finds that life on the road sometimes brings its surprises. “My records have been released in 10–15 countries, and from time to time I find out that audiences in certain places are far more enthusiastic about my music than I xpected. For example, it was fun in Thailand last year when I discovered that I was the main attraction at a festival for 25,000 people. But things like that don’t happen overnight. Success is usually the result of a lot of hard work.”
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The well-travelled, cosmopolitan singer doesn’t think her audiences vary that much around the world. Actually, I think the differences are surprisingly small considering the geographic distances. Whether it’s Japan, Norway, a village community centre in the Danish provinces or a sweaty nightclub in Paris, people are far less different that you might think.”

More drama
Henderson is well known as an actor in Spain for her role in the film “Tuya siempre”, which won three prizes at the Malaga Film Festival. In Denmark she has appeared in films and on stage and hosted a series of jazz programmes on TV. She believes that it’s all about thinking creatively in order to get your style out there, something Danish jazz musicians have traditionally been very good at. “All musicians – irrespective of genre – dream of an international career, and it’s great if you can expand your horizons. The live scene is in the best of health right now, probably more so than ever. You have to fight for it.

Text: Anders Houmøller Thomsen
Photography: Stephen Freiheit

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Mike Sheridan — Technoboy Wonder

Posted in boom boom magazine, danish electronica, danish music scene, electronica, mike sheridan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2009 by boomboommag

He [Mike Sheridan] may be just 17 years old, but he’s already a well-known figure and very much in demand on the Danish electronica scene.

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Talented composer and producer Mike Sheridan may well end up following in the footsteps of colleague Trentemøller and achieve major electronic success – and not just within the confines of nightclubs. But he’s in no rush. He has a bright future ahead of him – not to mention his 18th birthday!

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Inspirational Christmas present
Sheridan first started to appear in Copenhagen nightclubs at the age of 15 – not as a guest, but as a DJ, behind decks he could barely see over.  “I wasn’t even old enough to get into the clubs, so at first my parents had to come with me when I was playing,” explains Mike, who gets his English-sounding name from his Irish father. “They’ve been a great source of support, even when I decided to drop out of  chool.” Sheridan’s interest in music was sparked in 1999 at the age of 10, when his dad, an IT innovator, gave him the music-editing programme Acid for his Christmas. These days, Sheridan calls his computer his right hand.

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In Danish — Læs mere om Mike Sheridan.

International ambitions
So far, Sheridan’s musical reportage is primarily known in Denmark, although on several  occasions – including in the company of Trentemøller – he has guest DJed at Berlin nightclubs, most recently during PopKomm 2008. “Of course, I’d like to get my music out into the world, and I am focusing right now on Germany and the UK,” says Sheridan, who is releasing his music on his own label, in collaboration with the Scandinavian distributors Playground Music.

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Electronic boom: long live diversity!
Mike Sheridan and Trentemøller are just two examples of the qualitative boom in the Danish electronic scene. Among those making the biggest splash in 2008 are the duo Lulu Rouge, also known as DJ Buda and T.O.M. These two gents have long  been part of the Copenhagen club scene, as both DJs and  producers. Their CV includes single tracks and remixes for the likes of Telepopmusic, Kasper Bjørke, Tina Dickow, Filur, Djosos Krost, Morten Varano, Luke, Booty Cologne, Nephew, Laid Back, Veto and People  Press Play. Their debut album, “Bless You”, on the label Music for Dreams, has attracted enormous attention from  large parts of Europe.

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]Denmark also has a strong tradition of compilations: Stella Polaris (Stella Polaris Music/Playground) has  spent more than a decade as a chillout-event-organiser and CD publisher; VUF Records releases free download compilations via vuf-empire.dk; and the Luftkastellet albums (Music for Dreams) profiled  Danish artists on an  international stage. Most recently, the radio DJs Le Gammeltoft and Keld Tolstrup released the club compilation “The Sound of Copenhagen” on Copenhagen Records. To mark its second anniversary, Elektroniske Tirsdage (Electronic Tuesdays) will release a double compilation albums  designed to convey the breadth and the depth of the Danish scene.

Text: Thomas Borre
Photography: RAW Format

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