Activity was hectic at the Norway Now stand last week as the music trade fair Popkomm kicked off on Thursday. The Norwegian representation was centrally located at the “Scandinavian Quarter” alongside the Finnish, Swedish and Danish stands. 28 Norwegian companies, a sizeable portion of active representatives and competent Music Export Norway staff made for a visibly energetic and eager Norwegian delegation. In fact, the Norwegian stand would see more traffic than its Scandinavian counterparts during the Popkomm 2003.

In addition to the delegates’ active networking at the trade fair, no less than 12 live-acts were scheduled to perform at Cologne’s club scenes. X.lover, Silver, Ricochets, Helldorado, Slowpho, St.Thomas, Xploding Plastix, Thomas Dybdahl, Sternklang, Lorraine, Frost and Salvatore delivered proof to the notion that Norwegian music is causing an increasing impact abroad.

Says Claes Olsen of central indie label Racing Junior and vital Oslo club So What: “We get far more interest from abroad now than we used to get in the past. The delegates that seek us out know a lot more about Norwegian music and industry infrastructure now and they are much more specific on what they’re after. It used to be that we had to work for months to get an appointment with the sought-after representatives – now the same ones are coming to us, eager to see what we have to offer! The young and independent Norwegian labels also learn more from one year to another – they extend their networks and improve their understanding of the industry’s mechanisms.

Thursday saw the Zoom promo-tour concept invading Cologne’s Underground Club for the second consecutive time. X.lover, Helldorado, Ricochets and Silver presented wildly varied sets and appearances, ranging from X.lover’s electro-punk/clash antics to Silver’s glam hysteria. In between these two bands, Ricochets and Helldorado conjured up images of everything from desolate Texan highways to desperate relationship break-ups. The turnout grew steadily from x.lover’s opening set, and by the time Silver had pulled off the last stage dives, the Underground was completely packed. Zoom-promoter Vegard Strømsodd was visibly satisfied with the showcase: “The audience was bigger this year and there was a much better attendance from international industry representatives.”

Atomic Agency - key Norwegian concert agency and booking company were the hosts of Friday’s Way out North showcase at the MTC club. Genre-breaking and cutting edge electronica was the event’s focus which included such acts as Frost, Slowpho, Sternklang and Salvatore. Again, the audience turnout grew healthily throughout Frost’s emotional, seductive and lyrical set. By the time Slowpho entered the stage for a vocal-rich nu-jazz workout, the club was nearly packed. Sternklang initiated the instrumental part of the event that was brought to a monumental conclusion by a massive and powerful closing set by post-rockers Salvatore. Not only was the audience turnout good, several key industry representatives had also found their way to the sweaty club. MIC’s representative spotted several satisfied band-members in close conversation with EMI Publishing UK’s representative and elsewhere throughout the locale, business cards were rapidly distributed from interested parties.

In addition to the Zoom and Way out North bands, acts Xploding Plastix, Lorraine, Thomas Dybdahl and St. Thomas played successful showcases throughout Cologne. According to reports, the showcases were very well attended by Popkomm delegates and local audience. In total, the Norwegian presence at Popkomm’s live-stages was the strongest ever, and the bands experienced stronger turnout and better attendance by international industry representatives.

The activity at the Norway Now stand was hectic, nearly frantic at times, and delegates reports are mostly very positive. Despite a general decline in attendance and extent of the fair, the Norwegian delegation experienced no drop in visitors or interested parties. A visit to the stand on the very busy Friday would provide ample proof to the notion that’s being repeated frequently these days: Norwegian music’s impact is continuously growing and international attention is increasing. sd
 
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