Two of Europe’s most diverse music and arts clubs come together to do a cross-channel session – all in the name of celebrating Norway’s centenary of independence.
Vibrant Oslo club Blå’s contribution to the Centenary Anniversary of Norwegian independence is a vital cultural exchange programme that entails clubs in Berlin, Moscow, London, Chicago, Gothenburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen swapping facilities with Blå in Oslo. Entire club crews, DJs, bands, bouncers, sound techs, interior, etc. are swapped with the partner club abroad, bringing a taste of Oslo to such clubs as Berlin’s Maria am Ostbahnhof, Moscow’s Kitaisky Leotchik Jao Da and Chicago’s Empty Bottle. The clubs abroad will also pay return visits to Blå’s Oslo facilities, taking over the idyllic riverside venue with their own music and local club culture. Next up on the exchange program is London’s Notting Hill Arts Club.
On the 22nd of October the Notting Hill Arts Club will take over the 300 capacity venue Blå in Oslo. Club goers will be treated to a live set by the Alan McGee signed Soho Dolls, followed by YoYo’s Seb Chew and Leo Greenslade and Beachclub's Lars Hinnerskov. In addition to the acts, the booking, bar, light and door staff will be from the Notting Hill venue.
To reciprocate, Blå comes to London the following weekend, Saturday 29th October. And, for one night only, the Notting Hill Arts Club will be transformed into one of the best venues in Scandinavia. They carry with them a customarily diverse package including the Smalltown Supersound signed Toy (live), Maja Ratke and Hild Sofie Tafjord’s (both of Spunk fame) new project Fe-Mail (live) plus Blå residents Fredro Fontana and Sunkissed’s Olanskii. And as in Oslo, Blå will bring their own people to London to give their own distinct touches to the artsclub space and transform it into Blå in London.
Says Blå’s project manager Sigurd Reinton: “We see ourselves as an international venue and we’ve had a far-reaching perspective for a long time now. For us, this project represents a great opportunity to expand our network. It’s not important to earn lots of cash, it’s much more important to act as an integrator. It’s important to create a lasting effect through this collaboration and we wish to establish an informal network of clubs throughout the world. The club exchange program will be a question of establishing contacts between clubs, artists, booking agents, promoters and audiences. We do not want to establish branches of our own club and we do not want fo focus only on Norwegian artists. It is as important to get the foreign clubs with their artists to us, we want exchange both ways.”
Blå is renowned as one of the Jazzwise listed top 100 clubs in the world and it also packs a serious punch as a pioneer in electronica and club music. Many of Norway’s finest jazz and electronica artist regard this venue as their spiritual home, including Jaga Jazzist, Atomic, Wibutee, Supersilent and labels such as Smalltown Supersound and Jazzland. Similarly, Blå has an impressive host of international acts to its merit, considering its 300 capacity, including Matthew Herbert Big Band, Tortoise, Chicks on Speed, LCD Soundsystem and beyond. All this whilst at the same time hosting kids concerts, book readings and club nights such as Sunkissed, who recently had Richie Hawtin, Magda, Craig Richards and Headman mingling with local heroes Lindstøm and Prins Thomas in one weekend.
Blå’s club-exchange project is supported by Hundreårsmarkeringen Norge 2005 as (the official organisational body for the Centennial Anniversary for Norwegian independence) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The acts on Blå’s London roster are:
Toy is an electronic duo formed by UK composer Alisdair Stirling and producer Jørgen Træen from Bergen, Norway. Toy's playful tunes mix kids TV (Pingu, Radiophonic Workshop) and Japanese style electronica (YMO and Cornelius) with a touch of Scandinavian electro weirdness. They also manage to combine a flavour of incidental/elevator music with beats and grooves to create infectious pop. Stirling is behind the Bergen pop workshop/collective 'House of Hiss', working with Bergen producers The Sensible Twins (Hans Petter Gundersen and Kato Adland) which released 'Holland Park/Sugar Shoop' seven inch vinyl on New Records last year. Træen is a well know producer who among others has produced Sondre Lerche, Magnet and Jaga Jazzist. He also has his own solo project Sir Dupermann on Smalltown Supersound. The band released 'Rabbit Pushing Mower/Valley Cars' as a vinyl seven inch on Telle Records described by the BBC as “an amusing cream puff of a tune”. Their second vinyl single 'Sedan Through Tunnel/Decorama' is about to be released on Smalltown Supersound.
Fe-mail is a electronics/noise duo consisting of Maja Ratkje and Hilde Sofie Tafjord, both known from the anarchistic quartet SPUNK. The girls have played together for 10 years, but had their debut concert as a duo in Tokyo 2000. Since then they have spread their sonic inferno around the world. Fe-mail's music is electronic music based on improvisation with live sampling as well as recordings of their own generated sounds and field recordings. Their music is characterised by the use of old-fashioned, analogue electronic and acoustic sound sources such as pan pipes, harmonica and other underestimated instruments.
Fredro Fontana is managing daily operations for many of Scandinavia's hip hop artists. He is also responsible for bringing highly regarded artists such as Common, Talib Kweli and Mobb Deep amongst others to Norway. His DJing skills has landed him gigs throughout Norway and selected cities in the US. Fredro spins the kind of grooves that makes you dance, moving between genres such as hip hop, funk, soul and reggae.
The London based purveyor of Scandomentalism has been running Sunkissed at Blå the last five years. In that time Sunkissed has established itself as both the most diverse, underground and similarly most popular house club in the Norwegian capital. Drawing in guests from Ricardo Villalobos to The Glimmer Twins and spanning a similar scope within its resident sound, the club has been the essence of the terms Skrangle House and Scandomentalism. Sunkissed has also set its mark on London on previous occasions at the Notting Hill Arts Club, The Key and Fabric.