Get Swedish
or Why the Pipettes should live in Sweden
Set about three hours away from Malmo, Sweden, the Emmaboda festival ( happened recently and us Pipettes were lucky enough to play. Set in a sizeable (but not too large) field, the weather wasn’t great, but thanks to the music, it seemed as though the Sun always shined.

Now I have a Swedish mother so I consider myself no stranger to Swedish music, though admittedly my experiences had been with clog clopping music, drinking tunes, Magnus Uggla, Eurobeat (which I love) and the inescapably majestic Bob Hund. Armed with this prior knowledge then, I felt I could pull off ‘cool’; I’d know all the right bands to cite in witty banter and charm the nation. But I was very wrong. And not only was I wrong in the most glorious way, never has being so wrong come as such a welcome revelation.

As we found out throughout the course of the weekend, Sweden is easily half a decade ahead of us Brits on the music front, storming away with no consideration for our supposedly kudos stuffed Goliath’s, stuck with rock structures and new wave vibrations whilst over to the North and East there’s a Pop solstice going on 24/7. For example take cool point no. 1: Dungen can’t get a gig for toffees over in Sweden. Whereas here they’re admired for their rock peddling from yesteryear, in Sweden that’s the biggest offence going. How cool is that?

As we’re greeted by the friendly promoters and organisers of the festival, we’re told we’re one of the bigger acts playing. This unsettles us before we learn cool fact no.2: Promoters in Sweden don’t generally book acts that they know will ‘get the numbers in’, but rather they build up their audiences by promoting bands they like, and think their audience will like. Simple and non-discriminatory, a meritocracy of sorts. So this weekend there will be bands at the festival no one’s ever heard of, and probably don’t have releases out. But that’s the point. And it’s great.

So we settle down to watch Junip, and the ‘Swedish scene’ starts to unfurl before us. Gentle melodies unfurl, soft organs, even bongos ­ but this ain’t Jason Meraz ­ this is more a down-tempo Notwist, chilled and refreshing.
It kind of seems silly just to cite all the bands in a “Sweden’s better than England” way, though, so here’s cool point no 3: There’s a guy at the festival who’s writing his dissertation on C86 and indiepop. (And you can check out some of the answers to this chap’s questions to myself and Everett True on our blogs, here and here respectively ­ Editor).

Certain bands have to be mentioned though, Spring Factory rule the world with wonderful harmonies, amazing melodies and an intense, funky sound that’s doesn’t take itself too seriously and so remains joyous. Meanwhile CDOASS bring the trouble funk, computer guitars and spazz-out vocals to new levels of melody, part A Certain Ratio, Part Roxy Music, and as Rose Pipette said “if all those crappy NME-hyped Eighties-tribute bands had done it right, they’d be as good as CDOASS.” Right on Rose.

Then there’s Slagsmalsklubben which translates literally as ‘Fightclub’. Six king nerds behind a wall of equipment making Ninetendo music you can rave to, they dance, smoke and drink on stage, look intense for a bit and are generally 100% entertainment. Even better though are Billie the Vision and the Dancers. As we stuffed ham and cheese rolls into our mouths, ginger locked Billie and his wedding band of comrades played the most enchanting music I’ve heard for so long. Knowingly and unrepentantly Twee, they return repeatedly to themes such as investing in the casino industry, dancing naked, falling in love with Lily and giving ‘left cheek kisses’. Imagine a rainbow of harmonies tied in kooky bow and presented on a platter. It was perfect.

There were, of course, too many amazing acts to mention, but what can you do? Well we generally sat around, spent all our money on pear cider and CDrs made by the bands themselves, marvelled at sanitary portaloos and got fully involved in all the music around us; we even made the front page of the local paper after our performance on the Thursday, so we couldn’t really ask for more. What a wonderful weekend.

© 2005 Jonathan Falcone