The birth of Nordic by Nature & the beginning of Ja Ja Ja Berlin
Steffi von Kannemann opens up about founding the wonderful Berlin based Nordic by Nature. NBN has grown from a wild idea to become the crucial platform for Scandinavian artists' success in Germany. Taking charge of PR for the Ja Ja Ja Music Night in Berlin, things are hotting up even though the winter chill is setting in....
A lot of people ask me how I got into Scandinavian music. Why I do such a thing like Nordic by Nature.
In the beginning I started to explain it from the earliest memory until everything started to make sense: "When I lived in Barcelona, I hung out with a lot of Swedes. Barcelona appears to be some kind of a diaspora for Swedish people. What Europe is for Australians, this is Barcelona for Swedes, a paradise of booze, parties, beaches and skateboarding. A free space with terrible nightlife. A nightlife for tourists. One day my friend Kajsa, the Swede, and I were sitting at Ambar in the district Raval and talked about how cool it would be to bring some bands into the city. Just bring them here to satisfy our deepest boredom.
We were talking about how to ship all those dudes over with Ryan Air, were wondering how much extra luggage like guitars, drums, etc. would cost. How many young and hot dudes we would have to give shelter to. What shitholes in the Gótico, Born and Raval we could fill up with cool kids. We were dreaming of creating the perfect place. The place where all kinds of sincere Rock'n'Roll could happen. None of this happened. We were too lazy. We kept on drowning our boredom in booze, party, beach and skateboarding.
One year later when I moved back to Berlin, I met Nina, who also just moved here from Stockholm and the idea of doing something with Swedish music came up once again. Only this time, with her, we made things happen, started our first Nordic by Nature Night in Berlin at the glorious and legendary SO36. All the good ones started here once, didn’t they? We thought that at least. The rest is history."
As this version is a very long story to tell, I changed my explanation for "Why I got into Scandinavian music" to a shorter version saying, "Ah I do Nordic by Nature because of Nina, she is Swedish you know", which happens to be enough of a reason for a lot of people. A knowing face would embrace the beautiful simplicity of logic. These days I have changed my perception and feel that the question that has been boring me to death for so long, is actually a legitimate one and deserves a true answer, so back to version one.
So I re-phrase: "I got into Scandinavian music because I lived in Southern Europe...". People seem to think the love for Scandinavia has to begin in Scandinavia. Turns out, it started as a craving for the opposite, for the life and music that wasn't here. I thought I was always more fascinated by the southern and sunny part of things. Wrong! I was longing for the cold while I was lying in the sun. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Starting something like Nordic by Nature was interesting because it was starting up something that has never existed before. There are booking agencies, clubs, PR agencies, promoters, DJs for everything and for everyone, but we wanted to only be Scandinavian for everyone. This concept was so new and different that I was even more surprised when I saw there was something called Ja Ja Ja – A Nordic Affair in London. When I researched, the website looked cool, the bands they booked were right and everything stunk like competition, only that it was in London, where the grass is indeed greener. Interesting it was, but nothing scary.
After a while we found out that Ja Ja Ja is a monthly club night in London, introducing Nordic artists and supported by the Nordic music offices. We were convinced about the D.I.Y. nature of our own little Nordic by Nature universe and wanted to be righteous that everything that's endorsed by the big Music Export Offices is per se corporate and would always be bad and uncool. Also because at that time we were mostly DJing our asses off in basically every little club hole in the city. So the competition wasn't even alive.
Four years later Ja Ja Ja and Nordic by Nature have both become pretty well known and popular “Nordic affairs“ and being considered the most relevant nights and blogs to introduce new artists from the North. Even though each of us started under different circumstances, two Berlin kids with a nice dream vs. The Nordic countries offering their musicians for export, but in the end it what you see that counts. Both of us have possibly taken Nordic music to another level, a recognised level of something that wasn't recognised before. Also festivals like by:larm, Iceland Airwaves, Extreme Chill, Spot Festival, Music & Media, Nordic Delight Festival, magazines like Mr. Wolf or Nordic Playlist have changed everything for Nordic Music and created an interesting and beautiful image. The artists are very thankful for all of this as they are getting tons of platforms to be seen. When we started Nordic by Nature, I had heard about only pop from Sweden. Norway and Finland had metal and maybe Erlend Øye. Now, moderators and journalists are using the term Scandinavian more frequently since it has become a seal of approval. There is pop music in Norway and Finland, haven't you heard? Denmark is spitting out bands faster than flames from the dragon in Game of Thrones. There is still pop music in Sweden produced by the richest producers in the universe, but not only there and that's the point.
And last but not least riding along the shiny development of the Nordic bush, Ja Ja Ja has finally decided to take the step over the little pond and start a monthly night in Berlin. We were kindly asked by project leader Jonas Vebner to be part of it. So now we are taking care of the PR and sitting our asses in the booking group deciding like champs what's next to come with the rest of the group members: FluxFM, NBHAP, Selective Artists, Karsten Jahnke, Schoneberg and Verstärker. “together and forever“ we decide who will play on each night. Who are the most promising talents these days? Who should be seen and heard? Who has potential to be the new Lykke Li, Sigur Ros, Björk? Not that they could be ever replaced.
For the Ja Ja Ja Opening Party in Berlin on 9th of October we picked Naomi Pilgrim from Sweden, Blaue Blume from Denmark and Alfred Hall from Norway. All of them have power potential and I personally find them necessary to introduce. It is cool to be able to bring more bands to Berlin now, next to our regular Nordic by Nature nights.
Six years ago I would have not even wasted a thought about Scandinavia. Today my life is determined by this word and somehow I feel comfortable with it.
Ja Ja Ja is the sound of laughter in the Spanish language. Maybe Barcelona will be the next city after Berlin. And when this happens, all those dreams that were dreamed six years ago, will finally become true.