- Tuesday 14th March @ Old Blue Last w/ Average Sex + Missing Mäce
- Tuesday 11th April @ The Victoria
Ok so not my normal ‘thang’. Usually this would be an hyperbolic wander through a shimmering, iridescent, heartachingly beautiful or mesmeric piece of sonic wonderment. Instead, I treat you to, er, the facts behind the Nordic northwind that is DervSwerve.
A cohort of blogger-pals have been challenging each other to answer a series of random personal questions. Always one to rise to the
bait challenge, I’ve answered the call of one Angela Stratta, she of Cappuccino and Brioche fame, found the postcard and answered the q’s.
So voila, here it is … a blog about, er,
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I would love to say it’s this …
but it’s this
Who are you named after?
I was named after the daughter of the much revered Tom O’Higgins, former Irish Government Minister, Presidential candidate and Chief Justice of the Irish Supreme Court and European Court of Justice!
My parents were both living and working in London at the time and Mum, who was in a constant state of homesickness from the day she emigrated to the day she finally returned home for good, used, when she could, to buy a copy of the Irish Independent. In one pre-natal edition, she saw a photograph of the then Minister O’Higgins accompanied by his daughter Derval, and thought it was such a lovely name that she bestowed it upon moi! Which was lucky for me given that my Dad wanted to name me Brenda! Brenda? Do I look like a Brenda?
Do you like your handwriting? Do you?
Both my mother and her sister have beautiful handwriting. I obvs inherited the paternal gene – dab hand with a paintbrush but with a pen, not so good!
What’s your favorite lunch meat? Why only lunch I wonder?
We-ell, I guess it would have to be baked ham. I’m not a huge lover or eater of meat having more of a predilection for game, poultry and fish, but ham is easy isn’t it. And if freshly cooked onsite by a decent deli like Fallon & Byrne, it is usually super flavoursome, succulent and moreish. Ham is also extremely versatile and complementary to many other foods! (Sounds like a line from a Food Board promo don’t it!).
Longest relationship? With myself, or possibly my mother, depending on where you stand on foetal status.
Do you still have your tonsils? I believe so. Like I don’t go looking for them or anything, but every now and a misty cold day, they make their presence felt a la very sore golf balls. Like Alice, I lived next door to severe tonsillitis every year for twenty four years. Then one Winter … pffzt zzzp … they just cut out and gave up the ghost. Intermittent annoying golf-ballitis recurs, but not very often and it’s more bothersome than painful.
Would you bungee jump? You might as well ask me if I’d walk out in front of a car! I hate heights, I hate flying, I don’t jump, the wind makes my hair flap into my face and the cold makes me wanna pee. So, no, no, no, no, no.
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? I don’t even untie them putting them on never mind taking them off! Life’s too short!
Favorite ice-cream? Don’t eat a lot of the stuff but I distinctly remember as a child, developing a long-distance, unrequited love affair with Pistachio ice-cream courtesy of a plethora of American TV shows. When I did finally make it across the Atlantic at the tender age of 12, that was one of the first things I asked for … and oh boy! OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY! Long distance love became love at close quarters.
While it goes without saying that my mid-Summer go-to is everyone’s favourite, golden-oldie HB’s Maxi Twist, I have recently developed a penchant for some of the newbies like Nobó’s Salted Caramel or Chocolate & Toasted Almond. However, my ice-cream heart will always belong to Pistachio!
What’s the first thing you notice about people? Call me superficial but their general appearance, the overall package. After that it has to be their eyes and what they say to me or not, about the internal workings.
I’m not looking for labels or shoes with such a shine that one can see their reflection, but the way someone dresses, how they carry themselves, their gait, their handshake and whether or not and how they look me in the eye, will sway my initial judgement of them.
Football or baseball? Er, neither. I’m Irish so don’t know the first thing about baseball and much to the annoyance of most of ‘footie’ fans, I call it (looks furtively around) – SOCCER! Tbh the only reason I call it that is to differentiate it from Irish GAA football, which is of course, ten times more entertaining, especially as the players can ‘elbow’ each other, which invariably leads to a few on-field fracas!
My favourite sport is Hurling – the fastest field game in the world – which if you’ve never heard of it, never mind seen it, then feast your eyes on this esp from 44.10 to 44.37 … All Ireland Hurling Final 2014, Kilkenny v Tipperary
What color pants are you wearing? Cripes, a policemen wouldn’t ask me that. If you’re talking in terms of ‘lingerie’, let’s just say that I’m more a Bridget Jones than Victoria’s Angel kinda gal. If you’re just plain ole’ asking me if I’m wearing strides today and if so, what kind, then the answer is yes, and they’re dark blue fine cords of the vintage College professor type!
Last thing you ate? Lunch, consisting of one small tin of tuna in sunflower oil, served with half a tub of M&S cottage cheese w/pineapple and a Pink Lady apple, chopped. All washed down with two glasses of very cold filtered water. On an eat healthy buzz!
If you were a crayon what color would you be? Purple.
Favorite smell? Ooh, now that’s a tough one. I love the smell of grass – freshly cut, or late at night after dewfall, especially during the heart of the Summer. I also love the smell of incense, peonies, vanilla and cinnamon. Foodwise, it’s got to be toast, coffee and oranges!
But, I think the smell I adore the most is that of the sea … especially during the changing tide when everything from seabed to seaweed and salt is at its rawest and most intense.
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? A colleague with whom I’ve worked for many years but from whom I’ve been recently separated by reason of our being relocated into two different buildings. She phoned me to compliment me on my recently published interview with Irish music star Imelda May for the UK online publication, The Monitors.
Hair color? Bit of an enigma my hair. I had fair chestnut hair until I was around 18 at which point it crossed over to the dark side and I became what’s known as a ‘brunette’, the then by-word for ‘boring’. Not what you need when you’re already hormonal, insecure and bespectacled. This led to several and often hilarious experiments with washes, tints, Glints, Henna and the like until at the ripe old age of 22 I discovered the world of ‘highlights’! (Cue, lots of woo-ing).
Since then I’ve gone from brown with copper highlights, to brown with an aurora of highlights to full on red, a phase which saw me dabble with every shade from Boleyn-esque strawberry blonde to Cluedo-esque Miss Scarlet.
Then around 2009, after several ‘lively debates’ with my then hairdresser (long story), I began the blonde experience. The transformation took well over a year and an even greater financial investment, but to this day, despite the odd deep dive into a mad as a hatter variation on the theme, I remain a ‘having more fun’ Blonde.
Bet you’re sorry you asked!
Eye color? Also something of an enigma … Grey/green colour, which varies depending on mood & environment, with yellow flecks inherited from my grandfather.
Favorite food to eat? White fish – Hake, Turbot, Sea bass, John Dory; French Cheese – Comte, Reblochon and Pont l’Eveque; Stuffing, preferably home made.
Oh and jellies – of any description!
Scary movies or happy endings? Neither, don’t really do movies!. When I do, they tend to be quite idiotic like ‘Ice Age’ or ‘Despicable Me’. Do books though, if you’re interested? Any takers?
Last movie you watched? ‘Malificent’, ‘cos I’m a total child.
Favorite holiday? The most memorable place to which I’ve ever travelled was Vevey (home of Nestle chocolate) in Switzerland. That first nocturnal view of the Alps from a moonlit balcony combined with the feeling of shrinking like Alice, into inane insignificance, will stay with me forever.
My overall favourite place though is Rosscarbery, West Cork; nothing will ever compare. It can’t. When it comes to natural beauty, a treasure-chest of memories, and a complete feeling of being ‘at peace’, no other place on earth can compete with my spiritual and familial home.
Beer or wine? Wine if I must, Sancerre for preference or if the only way is red, then a Barolo or Rioja. Gin is my go-to, the default being Bombay Sapphire with Schweppes Bitter Lemon or Fever-Tree Light Tonic and a slice of lime. Lots of ice is a must – even in -7 Norway!
Night owl or early bird? With the little sleep I get, night owl for sure. Usually still trying to get to sleep when the early birds are scrabbling for worms.
Favorite day of the week? Never gave it much thought. Definitely not Monday. Probably Friday …
Three or (four) favorite bloggers you want to learn more about?
The admirable Tanya Tonks Mawer who has shown such resilience and strength of character by handling all life throws at her with a few pinches of salt and a bucket of humour.
Stephanie Gaunt, cos I believe there’s a lot more to her than being a Battleaxe!
Shelley Wilson, whose blogging is just inspirational.
& get her before she’s so famous that interview requests will be considered only via PR Catherine Curzon
Who were the last three people to follow your blog? No idea. I still don’t know how to figure out the people behind the ‘handles’ and avatars.
There is something about Cork man Eoin French‘s voice that reminds me a little of the wonderful late Christy Hennessy, albeit in a more latterday incarnation. French sings with the same animated falsetto and idiosyncratic preciseness that set his fellow Munster native apart from his peers.
But that’s not where the comparison ends. Dyed in the wool songwriters, both men have produced meticulously crafted songs of a deeply personal nature; songs so perfectly in tune, intertwined even, with their close society and immediate surroundings that they will forever remain timeless.
French is chief architect and project manager of a solo project that started life in 2013 after the creative well of his former band Hush War Cry ran dry. After a collaboration with Young Wonder‘s Ian Ring, he felt upskilled enough in the art of writing and production to go it alone and thus, Talos was born. Far from operating in splendid isolation, Eoin French enlisted the help of several musicians including Sam Mc Nicholl (percussion) and Alex Sampson (guitar) to fresh out Talos’ instrumental sound.
Born of sparse electronica, Talos’ atmospheric sound is architected using an holistic approach, with layers of airy, ambient Hollis-esque nodes, samples, and spaces joisted by perfectly nuanced guitar, percussion and synths of diverse tonality and dimensions. Since signing to the Feel Good Lost label, Talos has released two singles and two EPs, all of which have been more than enthusiastically received. Latest release, ‘Odyssey‘, is their third single and timely precursor to his debut album due out on 21st April 2017.
An ‘indietronica’ amuse bouche to the main course of ‘Wild Alee‘, this song is a beautifully proportioned quenelle replete with honest emotion and intimate, self-reflective lyrical poetry.
Opening with a gently gusting breeze of synths, the song then falters into a simplistic ambience imbued with a sense of hesitation brought about by French’s rather tremulous vocal. It’s not long before the wind rises, and the submarinal fx are swept through rippling percussive tidal currents and a synth-rich maelstrom, up into a high-altitude instrumental airstream of disorder and uncertainty, edged with a flash of elation.
Talos has announced a ‘Wild Alee’ tour kicking off in Connolly’s of Leap (of which I could regale you with vintage tales of laughter, but won’t!) moving onto Dublin through Galway and Belfast, before winding up in Dundalk on 22nd June. Given the April to June timeframe, don’t be surprised if more dates are added. One week into the tour, on the same date Talos plays Dublin’s Button Factory, his debut album, ‘Wild Alee’ will have its release.
Ludvig Moon, Live at Trondheim Calling
Photo Austin Muirhead
Of all the Norwegian music festivals held every year, Trondheim Calling is possibly the most important. Sure, it doesn’t feature international stars in its line-up like it’s sister fest Øyafestivalen or former ‘ones to watch’ who have cracked their respective national music glass-ceilings as seen at by:Larm, but what it does, it does exceedingly well. More importantly, what it sets out to achieve – showcase upcoming Norwegian musical talent to a wide and diverse audience – it nails, with aplomb.
While Klubb-Øya features emerging artists for a pre-festival one night only, and Off:Larm sees newbies playing venues on the the periphery of the main festival campus, Trondheim Calling gives the rising stars of Norway’s music scene its complete attention. They are the cogs on which its ever growing wheel turns, central to its very being, not accessories to the fact.
No other music festival in Norway invests as much time, energy and money in importing international delegates to help export indigenous talent. With the assistance of industry bigwigs like Music Norway, NRK P3 and a plethora of press, bookers, agents and PR folks, as well as a horde of volunteers, the festival organising committee brings together a crack team of international industry heavies to mentor, advise, critique and encourage.
Central to the festival is a three day conference programme put together with complete interactivity in mind. It includes workshops, Q&A, presentations, interviews (this year saw mega-watt Talk Talk producer Phill Brown in conversation with Gary Bromham), as well as interactive studio, networking and pitching sessions.
Over the course of three days, a carefully selected expert delegation impart cold hard industry facts, deliver priceless advice and recount a variety of personal and business anecdotes, often with hilarious results. A little levity is always good to soften a professional environ, which for inexperienced ‘just wanna make music’ musicians, can be more than a little daunting. Daytime TC is a well oiled, professionally run, conference machine.
This year’s festival saw a new addition to its programme in the form of a pitch/mentoring experimental concept which the organisers hoped would better connect the conference and concert programmes. Entitled ‘Norway Calling’ it centred around seven acts presenting and playing to an international listening panel who subsequently offered feedback on the artist’s live performance, chosen song(s) and promo-pitching techniques. The aim was to help give “export ready” artists a bit of an edge, to add a little bit of polish to diamonds still in the rough!
The seven acts featured in the inaugural session were Ludvig Moon, Henrik the Artist, Frøder, Dreamarcher, AGY, Elsa & Emilie and Hajk. Each act had to make a three minute presentation to all of the festival delegation – national and international – which was then followed up with a series of pre-arranged speed-networking sessions with mentors of the artist’s choice.
The seven presentations of mixed quality, were very diverse indeed, ranging from heartfelt ad lib to Michael Moore style docu-films. What quickly became apparent were the varying levels of preparedness, assuredness and nous with which each act approached and handled their pitch. What was also evident was the level to which the acts had had their presenting skills honed by their label/management/pr teams, or not.
This is why festivals like Trondheim Calling are so, so important to indigenous emerging artists. In 2017, it’s no longer just about the music, the PA system or even the lyrics. These days music artists need to be semi-professional sales people on top of being highly skilled creatives. They need to know how, when and where to sell themselves and their music. How to grab the attention of bookers and press suffering from indie overload and electronic ennui.
Like all ‘aspiring’ brands, and ultimately branding is an integral piece of the holy grail jigsaw, bands need an USP. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child” no longer cuts it in a world spliced open by social media apps giving endless platforms to anyone and everyone from wannabe vlogger to gottabe fashion stylist. Today’s music artists don’t just need a new, unique sound, they also need a well honed elevator pitch!!
The TC conference programme aims to take musicians out of their comfort zones, opening them up to facts and figures to which they might not normally have access. With self-promotion, marketing and quality music writing focal points of the conference programme, the organising committee has ensured that Trondheim Calling stands apart from its festival peers.
By corralling delegates in a single festival space, TC affords Norway’s rising star musicians an unparalleled opportunity to speed-date their way around industry connoisseurs and aficionados, networking and connecting with people who in either the immediate or long terms, may be able to help them get onto the next rung of the music ladder.
Nocturnal TC is “all about the bass” and 2017’s line-up showcased the best of the latest crop of musicians who remain just under the parapet. Wall to wall music in every shape and shade performed by more than 70 artists, belts out from 10+ cross-Trondheim venues. With the bars and clubs in close quarters, it’s easy to hop from one venue to the next as one zig zags their way through jam packed, spoilt for choice nightly schedules.
With all tickets sold out, gaining entry to some of the smaller venues proved impossible, as anyone who turned up to bijou Moskus to see Pom Poko found out. However, in the main, queues moved quickly and gaining access to the majority of live performances was relatively easy. Strong, energised performances and hyped up, super enthusiastic audiences were the order of the festival. Yes, there were a few sound issues, but Albert Hall aside, aren’t there always!
What the artists playing TC lack in major league experience and slickly polished production they make up for in unbridled passion, raw undiluted talent and an energy of a wattage second only to that of the national grid. Audience after audience radiated excitement, danced exuberantly and sing-screamed appreciation. And at the end of a live set, no artist can ask for better than that.
In the world of emerging talent the unparalleled role played by Trondheim Calling is pivotal. This mid-Winter festival fulfils its brief and more. A three day support and networking hub for musical ingenues by day, stellar sonic showcase of rising stars that more than entertains cross-cultural, cross-generational audiences by night. It’s the perfect destination-fest for lovers of both music and travel alike.
Details of Trondheim Calling 2018 can be found here. Norwegian Airlines and SAS fly direct to Trondheim from multiple UK locations, or via Oslo or Stockholm from Dublin. The Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim is the festival’s HQ; rates and details can be found on their website.
Introducing Sigrid Raabe, the Norwegian challenger to the Larsson throne!
One year ago this month, I stood in Trondheim’s Dokkhuset watching headliner Tellef Raabe close the Trondheim Calling music festival. Last week, in that very same city, I sat on a sofa in the Clarion Congress hotel with the head of another music festival. We were discussing the Norwegian music artists we felt were going to go #gold in 2017. Top of that list came the afore-mentioned Tellef’s baby sister, Sigrid.
Coming from a family who immersed themselves in music and culture, all of whom are musically talented, Sigrid Raabe who began her career as her brother’s backing singer, has finally stepped out of the shadow of her older siblings. And with a GIANT step at that!
Recently signed to the Island Records division of Universal Music, Sigrid, who goes by her first name a la Kylie & Adele, has just released her debut single, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe‘, and it’s 100% electrocket-pop.
With a big and bold voice scuffed by a grungy, gravelly texture that is the antithesis of the her ice-tipped Norwegian peers, Sigrid doesn’t just sing, she punches out a formidable yet mellifluous vocal with a plucky confidence and ease honed by years of on-stage experience, that belie her young age.
Opening with modulated vocals and sombre piano chords the song quickly perks up with the addition of rapid synth sequences, underground basslines, bombastic percussion and Sigrid’s feisty vocal. A vocal that picks up and rugby tackles the 2-fingered gutsy attitude of the track’s lyrics.
“You’re acting like you hurt me but I’m not even listening …
You think you’re so important to me don’t you, but I wanted you to know that you don’t belong here”
‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is a pop song in the mould of Zara Larsson, another Nordic singer who isn’t afraid to sound off about how she feels. Similarly to the Swede’s street style, the track builds from the ground upwards on a foundation inlaid with the #hiphop beats that give it a refreshing newness and raw energy lacking in many of today’s ‘same old’ churn.
Swede Zara Larsson is to glam-meets-street pop as Norwegian Sigrid is to dance-pop with a feisty urban twist, and while Ms Zara has been one of the top Scandinavian exports of the past few years, the Queen of the Nordic territories just might be about to lose her golden crown to a formidable new challenger!! Time will tell, but for my money, I don’t see why not! Likewise, I can also see a world in which both Scandi sirens can ‘do’ dual world domination! #girlpower
Sigrid’s single, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is out now on Island Records with an accompanying video due to be released shortly. Listen to her ‘packs a punch’ pop track here,
Sigrid is set to play by:Larm in March and TGE (UK) in May – if you’re anywhere near Oslo or Brighton on either occasion you know what to do! Follow Sigrid on Facebook and Twitter – and you’ll find me likewise @ #DervSwerve
‘Anaesthesia’, the 2015 single from Norwegian band The Fjords, has racked up an impressive 1 million + streams on Spotify as well as taking its well deserved place on myriad playlists. Released in June ’15, a video capturing a live performance in the Harbakhula caves followed in the Autumn, but it has taken until now, for the live audio to make its way onto the ‘online shelves’ of Spotify.
The Indie quartet who hail from the mid-Norwegian city of Trondheim, have, in between dipping in and out of studios both in London and nearer home, also found time to play an eight-date tour of China! And in news most welcome, were awarded the Audience Music Video Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival for the Helmet produced mini-drama accompaniment for their haunting single ‘All In‘. Watch it here.
“Knuckles all white from carrying that dream around”
Veering somewhere between the devastating mellowness of fellow Norwegians Apothek and the soulful ambience of the more thought-provoking Jeff Buckley (think ‘You & I’), The Fjords place sensitive and poetic lyrics in expansive, atmospheric soundscapes replete with bowed guitar and intergalactic synths.
Right now The Fjords are back in-studio noodling, sketching and recording. With new music releases in the 2017 offing, the online release of the stunning ‘Anaesthesia – Live’ provides a welcome amuse-bouche ahead of what promises to be one of the most anticipated albums of the year.
The Fjords are Petter Vågan (vox/guitar), Erlend Elvesveen (synth, vox), Bárður Reinert Poulsen (bass, synth, vox) and Kim Christer Hylland (drums, electronics, vox). ‘Anaesthesia – Live’ is available to stream/download on Spotify now.
The dozen nominees for the 2016 Phonofile Nordic Music Prize have been announced; they make for quite the eclectic list!
The nominees, whose music crosses the broadest of spectrums, hail from all five countries that make up the Nordic region, with each country getting equal weighting. Established in 2010, the prize is awarded annually for that album which the judging panel deems best of year. Previous winners include Mirel Wagner (FI), First Aid Kit (SE) and most recently Band of Gold (No).
The Nordic jury responsible for selecting the shortlist is made up of a cohort of industry heavyweights whilst the overall winner and commendations are chosen by an international panel including the BBC’s Stuart Maconie and Welsh journalist and Guardian music critic Jude Rodgers.
The artists nominated for the Phonofile Nordic Music Prize are:-
Denmark – CTM, Bisse, Værket
Iceland – Jóhann Jóhannsson, Skúli Sverrisson
Finland – Oranssi Pazuzu, The Hearing, Mikko Joensuu
Norway – Jenny Hval, Nosizwe
Sweden – Kornél Kovács, Cherrie
The shortlist is something of a spaghetti Bolognese the main ingredient of which appears to be diversity. Encompassing shots of midnight metal and blasts of underground garage beats, the nominated albums run the gamut of musical taste.
From Jóhannsson’s cinematic widescreen soundscapes which could so easily have been recorded at the bottom of the coldest, darkest oceans, to Pazuzu’s compelling drone through Nosizwe’s idiosyncratic soul-style on the raw and unorthodox, ‘In Fragments’, to any newcomer to Nordic music, this multi-cultural medley is quite the Pandora’s box. A box whose treasures once released, should be slowly savoured and enjoyed.
For this reviewer, my money is on either Iceland or Denmark to take this year’s prize – one isn’t prepared to take that any further; some impartiality is required.
And while one might have individual grievances about those Nordic albums not included, it must be said that all of the albums nominated are more than worthy of their place on this list.
An award ceremony to announce the winner of the Phonofile Nordic Music Prize, run in association with By:Larm, Music Norway and GramArtist Organisasjonen, will be held in Oslo on Thursday 2nd March, 2017, during the By:Larm festival. You’ll find a full Spotify playlist featuring chosen tracks from the nominated albums below.