Scandinavia’s number one musical showcase and industry convention aligns with its name and emerges as a locus not just of music but as a venture turning music and youth culture into tools for urban rethinking and development. “City clamour,” which is how by:Larm translates, is now invoking the material sound of the city itself along with all that fantastic music.
2007 marks the ten-year-anniversary for the by:Larm concept. The objective back in the late nineties was to give some chiropractic treatment to a Norwegian music industry and scene that was ailed by arthritic calcification. And, as the organizers never fail to mention, since then unforeseeable things have happened to Norwegian music, which is currently among the most vibrant and closely watched national scenes of all. A steady flow of new artists are continuously emerging with freshness and resolve, and many of them are being picked up by international labels, or other parts of the global entertainment industry. Norway has come to symbolize cutting-edge freshness and the musical zeitgeist; to a degree hugely disproportionate with population. The days of being Sweden’s musical little brother are over.
Returning to Trondheim after ten years is symbolic in more ways than one: The festival has developed immensely and its evolution manifests both artistically and physically. First of all by:Larm 2007 is a more international event than ever before, now including a number of artists form throughout the Nordic region. An example is the daily presentation of an Icelandic act by the Iceland Airwaves Festival. Although primarily still a forum for budding talent the growth and internationalization of the event has also resulted in a growing number of established, Norwegian acts performing. This is important in order to display the big names that have already broken through to foreigners, and it is also a fine point of reference when established artists who have played at by:Larm before, maybe years ago, come back. It underscores the twin face of the event as a launching pad as well as a vibrant set of venues for bigger names.
Another big deal about this year’s event and its return to Trondheim is the way it is now moving into the greater potential and repercussions of such a gathering by merging it with ideas of urban development. For the first time a whole new part of the host city will be specially developed and turned into a campus of venues for the festival. This is an audacious and exiting project that of course involves a number of bodies; the city and its politicians and planners, architects, engineers, businesses etc. By this scheme by:Larm will supply the spark and the (initial) content to a pilot project of urban development. Entitled bygg:Larm, which translates into either “build: clamour” or “building: clamour,” the line is drawn from music to the notion of construction, thus embodying the merger of art and the physical city.
bygg:Larm and the focus on culturally propelled urban development makes up the first part of by:Larm’s extensive seminar program. With the opening of the festival proper, focus is shifted towards music and the industry: Norwegian music as a brand, reaching out internationally, opportunities and challenges of the future, etc. Some exceptionally clear-minded people –with past or future merits of vision- will share their thoughts. Among them the eminent German Gerd Leonard; author, entrepreneur and music and media futurist, who will give the talk: “The end of control and why that’s good news for the future of music.”
Other prominent names are Afrika Bambaataa, speaking on hip hop’s evolution into big business, Arturo Vega on “designing” the Ramones, and advertisement guru Gerald V. Casale who will discuss avant-garde band Devo’s “master plan” of merging independent art with commercialism 25 years ago, thus anticipating today’s importance of the extra-musical commercial sphere. (As evidenced by so many Norwegian acts’ presence there)
Another important part of the program will be the so called “speed meetings” that are set up between Norwegian and international industry people. A novelty at last year’s event these speed meetings proved a big success and one of the items the international representatives really remarked. There will also be seminars on purely technological issues, such as Platinum Blue’s (a musical consultancy) pop hit analysis soft-ware.
As for the musical program itself it contains a blend of novel or still up-and-coming domestic acts such as e.g. Christel Alsos and Grand Island, currently peaking ones such as 120 Day’s, Pleasure and Hanne Hukkelberg, more established Norwegian names like Bigbang, Sondre Lerche and Tungtvann, and also, as mentioned before, a wide selection of Nordic names, some of which are big in their home markets but which are still looking for foothold abroad. Names in this category are Swedish Laleh and Anna Ternheim.
The venues are all located in Østbyen, “East-town,” and they are opening up fully for the first time with this event and the bygg:Larm initiative. The main venue is the old German submarine bunker/base Dora: Thus the mood of rethinking industrial gloom and letting art transform urban wastes is pointedly expressed.