NEWS blog

05 April 2012

theartsdesk: Estonia achieves musical escape velocity, although reminders of the KGB aren't far away

Galvanic Elephants at Rock Cafe, 30.03.12

Words by


It began with a warning. Opening the fourth Tallinn Music Week, Estonia’s President Toomas Hendrik Ilves cautioned, “In a free society, it’s risk-free. In an un-free society, it’s not risk-free. It’s not all fun.” From behind a hotel conference room lectern, he then began rolling a video of Russia’s Pussy Riot being arrested in Moscow a few days earlier. Not everyone can make their point, make their music, choose how they want to get it across.

The contrast between Pussy Riot’s fate and a festival that celebrates new music in all its forms, held in a country bordering Russia, was marked by more than the 21 years between 2012 and Estonia’s independence. President Ilves was speaking in Tallinn’s Nordic Hotel Forum. Directly opposite is the Hotel Viru, constructed for the Soviet regime by Finnish builders in 1972. Back then, its 23rd floor was closed off, supposedly to house plant. Below, on the 22nd floor, was a restaurant with panoramic views. It was Tallinn’s first skyscraper.

Diners in the restaurant didn’t realise the KGB operated from the floor above, monitoring everything going on in the hotel. Staff were forbidden to speak to guests. Each lift had an old woman seated beside it, registering all comings and goings. The past might seem distant, but events in neighbouring Russia and remnants of Estonia’s recent history – tours of the Hotel Viru’s KGB museum are bookable – ram home how far Estonia has come since 1991.

Last year’s Tallinn Music Week was amazing, a genuinely surprising experience which revealed that a generation on from independence Estonia was about much more than Arvo Pärt, Skype and the massive local boy Baruto Kaito, now amongst Japan’s top echelon Sumo wrestlers. Things are moving fast. Since 2011 – when Tallinn was European City of Culture – the poppy singer-songwriter Iiris has signed with EMI. Indie outfit Ewert and Two Dragons played Toronto and New York the week of Tallinn Music Week. The neighbouring Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania have noted the dividends of playing Tallinn Music Week and are showcasing acts at the festival.

The buzz has spread further. Masses of Finns – Helsinki is only a two-hour ferry ride from Tallinn – and lesser numbers of Danes, Swedes and Norwegians were playing, too. There’s two-way traffic through Tallinn: out into Scandinavia and in, into the Baltic countries and, by proxy, Russia.

Estonia though, whatever its history, has retained a particular identity. Although a trading port existed beforehand, Tallinn took off in 1219 with the arrival of the Danish King Valdemar II. The city was sold by the Danes to the Livonian Order of German Knights in 1345. In 1561 they passed it to Sweden. Peter the Great bagged it for Russia in 1710. Independence finally came in 1918, but the Soviets claimed it in 1939 and occupied it in 1945. True and final independence came in 1991. Membership of the EU followed in 2004.

The pass-the-parcel nature of Estonia’s history didn’t rub out its identifying characteristics. In print, Estonian looks like Finnish. Spoken, its rise and fall is more mellifluous. Words shared between the languages have different meanings. Just how much its culture relates to Scandinavia rather than the Baltics or Russia is demonstrated by a visit to the fabulous Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design. Pottery, glass, furniture, metal and leather work and textiles are more familiarly and organically Scandinavian than Soviet. Glass vessels are sinuous, furniture has clean Nordic lines. Designs on textiles are abstract, yet draw from nature and the landscape. It becomes impossible to escape the idea that Tallinn – to steer clear of further generalisations about Estonia as a whole – shares more with Scandinavia than its western and eastern neighbours.

All this means Tallinn Music Week is a musical melting pot. It’s bubbling over. Estonia obviously has the edge, but elbows from elsewhere are nudging in. Over this year's three days, 183 acts played. The festival is also set apart by the range of music on offer: classical showcases, the Estonia Voices choir, jazz and folk complement all the pop-rock-metal-indie-dance variants expected at any showcase festival. The shows bleed out into the city, with bands playing hotel rooms, shopping centres, book stores, record shops, Skype’s offices and galleries. It’s possible to get a pretty good, stress-free sample of the festival by sidestepping traditional venues. And, of course, by this necessarily selective snapshot.

Tickets have to be sold, so traditional venues will always be needed. And some scattered around Tallinn’s medieval city centre are delightful. Kodu Baar is in a basement and has two vaulted-ceiling rooms separated by a bar which serves a treacly-looking, opaque, locally brewed beer. It tasted OK. Playing there was Lithuania’s Markas Palubenka, who leans towards the John Martyn but makes too much use of his laptop and what appears to be a fascination with Thom Yorke. As he flails at his acoustic guitar it becomes clear the songs would be enough. The folk-slanted Finnish trio Sepia also colour in too much with guitar treatments and have the added distraction of an am-dram singer. Again, the pretty songs would suffice.

More straightforward were the angular St Etienne-isms of Estonia’s charming Mimicry, who also felt the need to distract by mucking about with laptops. The Finnish/Swedish trio Husky Rescue operated in a similar territory, but more surefootedly, evoking lost Eighties French band Antena. Making a stand for rock were the Boy’s Brigade U2, Galvanic Elephants who, if they stick at it, would have no problem developing into a stadium filler. Finland’s New Tigers also wore their influences: mid-Eighties UK indie with some fabulous out-of-tune Stephen Pastel singing. Estonia’s ÖÄK was more out there. Apparently a legendary Estonian duo from the early Nineties, they’re now in Aphex Twin territory, sounding like the soundtrack to a German Expressionist film.

Apt, as ÖÄK were playing Kino Söprus, a Soviet-era cinema. The two shows there which stood out were Estonia’s (still) stellar folk artist Mari Kalkun who shone at last year's Tallinn Music Week, and Lithuania’s extraordinary Alina Orlova. She has some profile in France, but this was her first show in Estonia. She got a standing ovation. Although her curly hair and hammering piano style nods towards Tori Amos, her rolling songs are more middle European, making her a Laura Nyro with gypsy roots.

As well as looking forward by showcasing the up and coming and flavours little known beyond the region, Tallinn Music Week was also celebrating the success of Estonia’s own Iiris, whose quirky pop has found an outlet with EMI. Her album release show at the converted industrial shed Rock Café was assured, melodic and charismatic. Even so, some of the audience happily talked through the more reflective songs she played solo at a piano. As the first success bred by Tallinn Music Week, a lot is on her shoulders.

But the buzz, the quantity and quality of what’s on offer demonstrate that Iiris won’t be on her own for long. What’s along next could be from Estonia. It might come from a nearby country. Wherever it is, they are going to reach the outside world via Tallinn Music Week.

04 April 2012

Billboard: Estonia's Fast-Rising Music Scene Gets Its Shine at Tallinn Music Week

Words by: Kieron Tyler

Photo by: Hanna Samoson


As the home of Skype, Estonia already has its place on the world stage. A vital country, Estonia is historically and culturally connected to the nearby Scandinavian countries and is also a conduit into its neighbours Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash it continued to experience growth in GDP.

Musically, it is still emerging - but Tallinn Music Week, held here last weekend, is changing that. In its fourth year, the event has established its position as one of Europe's leading showcase festivals and conferences.

The importance of the event was underlined by the new NOMEX organisation - Nordic Music Export - giving their first presentation on the integrated strategy for Scandinavia's music. Delegates from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were joined by attendees from nearby Finland, the other Scandinavian countries, Austria, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, the UK and USA. The Estonian performers, amongst the 183 playing, accompanied acts from across the Baltics, Scandinavia, Russia, the UK and even Canada.

Tallinn Music Week was opened by Estonia's President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who grew up in and was educated in America. He was a regular at CBGB and The Mudd Club and later worked with Radio Free Europe, before Estonia's 1991 independence from the USSR. He told conference goers that "talking about rock 'n' roll at 10 a.m. is about as comfortable as going to the bar at CBGB and asking for glass of milk," but then detailed some of the conference's selling points. "People come to play: you like or you don't like, it's a democratic way of doing things. No one will charge you 29.99 for Wi-Fi coverage -- it's here, everywhere and it's free. Being a small country is not an obstacle, it's an opportunity to do things quickly and get creative people together."

However, he did add, looking back to Estonia's past and the previous week's arrest of Russian band Pussy Riot in Moscow, that "in a free society it's risk free. In an un-free society it's not risk free. It's not all fun."

The speed at which Estonia is moving musically was underlined by the conference program, which included panels on defining the roles of managers, agents, promoters, labels and publishers: Ed Bicknell, the manger of Dire Straits, Scott Walker and Bryan Ferry was interviewed; the theme overall was "Introduction to Music Entrepreneurship."

This was placed in context, business-wise and geographically, by NOMEX choosing to outline its strategy for the first time in Tallinn. Acting as an umbrella for the music export organisations of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden allows trends to be identified across the region and the definition of export goals. In her presentation NOMEX's Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdottir emphasised that gathering statistics was key, especially when identifying how the creative industries affect individual economies. She said "without an understanding of the political system, we do not have growth in this area, the support for the production element. Once the statistics are done, we discovered that the creative industries have the same turnover as the aluminium industries in Iceland. " She said that NOMEX's goal, in common with the individual country's export organisations, is to "help people help themselves."

The creation of NOMEX came after a 2010 report titled Strength Through Unity. The organisation aims to strengthen the intra-Nordic markets, to collaborate internationally (regular Nordic music nights are now being held in Japan, the UK and Spain) and build capacity.

Estonia is keenly watching: Tallinn is a short two-hour ferry journey from the Finnish capital of Helsinki. The ties between the two countries are close (and between Estonia and Scandinavia as a whole), and were before independence too.

Further evidence for Estonia achieving musical escape velocity was provided by local artist Iiris, who recently signed with EMI Finland and released her debut LP the week of the conference, and local pop band Ewert and Two Dragons, who just played Canada Music Week before dates in New York concurrent with Tallinn Music Week. Both Iris and Ewert and Two Dragons are managed by Toomas Olljum of Made In Baltics.

 "The event, because of organiser Helen Sildna, has established a credibility for Estonian music and myself as a professional," Olljum said. "I used to watch MTV and always thought that, one day, Estonian bands will break out. There was nothing going on before Tallinn Music Week. It helped me focus on Latvia and Lithuania, but also to approach Finnish music business players -- then the rest of the world. The main reason for the success of Ewert and Two Dragons and Iiris is Tallinn Music Week."

04 April 2012

Tänavusest Tallinn Music Weekist võttis osa 183 esinejat, 11 200 kontserdikülastajat ja 589 konverentsidelegaati

Neljandat korda toimunud Tallinn Music Week festivalil esines 183 esinejat 11 200 muusikasõbrale ning 306 väliskülalisele. Konverentsi avasid president Toomas Hendrik Ilves ja kultuuriminister Rein Lang.

Kontserdid toimusid linna olulisemates muusikaklubides ja kontserdisaalides, esimest korda leidis aset ka linnalavade programm, mille raames astusid 52 festivaliartisti üles ootamatutes paikades nagu Skype’i kontor ja LHV pangakontor, Nordic Hotel Forumi sviit, plaadipood Biit, raamatupood Apollo, Viru Keskus, Must Puudel, Disaini- ja Arhitektuurigalerii ja Mia-Milla-Manda muuseum.

TMW konverentsi raames arutleti autoriõiguse ja muusikaekspordi teemasid, räägiti muusikaettevõtluse eri vormidest ja mänedžeri rollist, arutleti klassikaartistide karjäärivõimaluste üle ning esitleti Garage48 Tallinn Music muusikaprojekte. Lisaks toimusid avalikud intervjuud kahe  muusikatööstuse legendiga nagu Edward Bicknell ja Artemyi "Artjom" Troitsky.

Konverentsidelegaatidena võttis sündmusest osa 589 muusikaettevõtjat ja muusikaorganisatsioonide esindajat, kellest 306 olid välisriikidest ning 283 Eestist. Välisfestivalidest olid esindatud näiteks Glastonbury, Primavera Sound, Sziget, Provinssirock ja Ilosaarirock, EuroSonic, Spot ja Positivus festivalid, delegaate saabus ka mitmelt jazzi- ja klassikafestivalilt. Plaadifirmadest olid Eesti muusikaga tutvumas FatCat, PIAS, Playground, EMI, Warner, Friendly Fire, Astralwerks jne. Pressist Quietus, the Guardian, the Wire, Deutche Welle, Reuters, St. Petersburg Times, Gaffa, Soundi, Helsingin Sanomat, Clash Magazine, Filter ja mitmed veel. Lähipäevil valivad nii TMW delegaadid kui publik välja tänavuse Skype’i auhinna võitja, kellele saab osaks 3500 EUR oma karjääri arendamiseks.

“TMW on väga lühikese aja jooksul jõudnud väga kaugele, olles tõusnud vaieldamatult meie regioonis tipptegijate hulka. Viimase paari aasta jooksul on Eesti muusikud ja kollektiivid jõudnud Euroopa ja maailma muusikaareenile, kuid nüüd peame hea seisma selle eest, et tekkinud kontakte oskuslikult kasutada. TMW’il on võtmeroll Eesti muusikaekspordi strateegia kujunemisel ja festival on oluliseks partneriks valitsusele parimate toetusmeetmete väljatöötamisel, mis aitaksid muusikuid välisturgudele jõuda,” kommenteerib kultuuriministeeriumi kaunite kunstide valdkonna asekantsler Ragnar Siil.

Jonas Holst, A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Scandinavia: “Ilma TMW panuseta ei naudiks Eesti muusika tänast tähelepanu, just tänu TMW-le on Eesti artistidel võimalus ühtäkki rahvusvaheliselt nähtavaks saada. Rahvusvahelise muusikatööstuse jaoks on äärmiselt oluline saada hõlpsalt ülevaadet artistidest-bändidest-plaadifirmadest-mänedžeridest. TMW-l on võimalik saada ülevaade peaaegu kõigest ja kõigist Eestis – Eesti muusikavaldkonnal on selles osas väga vedanud. Tulemused ei tule loomulikult üle öö, kuid tänu TMW loodud platvormile ja võimalustele on võimalik luua kontakte ja nendega pikaajaliselt töötada.”

Adam Harper, the Wire Magazine: “Tallinn Music Week tõestas, et oma pindala kohta on Eestis tohutult muusikalist talenti. Tehniline tase ning lihvitus olid muljetavaldavad, seda mitmes žanris ja nii kontserdil kui plaadil. Kohalik muusikakogukond on soe, avatud, teadlik ja entusiastlik. President Ilvese kõne konverentsi avamisel oli muljetavaldav ja veelgi muljetavaldavam oli järgnevate päevade jooksul kogeda, et see kirg ja asjatundlikkus olid läbivaks jooneks ka kohaliku muusikavaldkonnaga suheldes – selline innukas ja detailne muusika, kultuuri ja poliitika suhete tajumine on äärmiselt harukordne nii UK parlamendis kui kultuuriga tegelevates institutsioonides. TMW pakkus tugevalt mõtteainet mitte vaid Eesti-spetsiifiliselt vaid kõige laiemas tähenduses.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilvese tervitus TMW konverentsi avamisel:

Tallinn Music Week tänab oma partnereid ja toetajaid:
Nordic Hotel Forum, Skype, LHV pank, Kultuurikatel, Tuborg Music, VW Beetle, Estonian Air, Tallink, Hansabuss, Eventech, RGB, 360 Event Service, ERR, Postimees, Anne & Stiil, Viru Keskus, Apollo raamatupood, Rada7, Garage48, Velvet, Kultuuriministeerium, Kultuurkapital, Tallinna Kultuuriväärtuste Amet, Tallinna Ettevõtlusamet, EAS, Ameerika Saatkond, Briti Nõukogu, EAÜ ja Eesti Muusika Eksport. TMW konverents toimus koostöös Eesti Muusika Arenduskeskusega, TMW disainid teostas AKU Collective.

TMW statistika:

2012 aasta:
27 lava
183 artisti 13 riigist
150 artisti Eestist
11 200 festivalikülastajat
589 delegaati, kellest 283 Eestist
306 välisdelegaati
61 549 unikaalset kodulehekülastust 110 riigist

2011. aasta:
16 lava
147 artisti 10st riigist
123 artisti Eestist
7600 festivalikülastajat
423 delegaati, kellest 229 Eestist
194 välisdelegaati
52 483 unikaalset kodulehekülastust 88 riigist

04 April 2012

The St Petersburg Times: The Baltics’ largest music industry forum and festival showed solidarity with imprisoned Russian musicians.

Published: April 4, 2012 (Issue # 1702)



Pussy Riot unexpectedly occupied the spotlight at the Tallinn Music Week, as Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who addressed the Baltics’ largest music industry forum at the Estonian capital’s Nordic Hotel Forum on Friday, spoke in support of the musicians. Alleged members of the Moscow feminist punk band were imprisoned last month after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a church.

The statement in defense of the women came at the end of a speech given by Ilves devoted to the link between rock and roll and freedom.

Speaking to the delegates, Ilves showed extensive knowledge of rock music, citing Neil Young, the Sex Pistols and PJ Harvey, and referring to MC5 and Jello Biafra as well as to the Czech underground art-rock band Plastic People of the Universe, whose members were put in prison on charges of “an organized disturbance of the peace” after an unsanctioned rock festival in 1976.

“There’s a band right now in Moscow who staged a protest against the prime minister,” Ilves said.

“Four women, they are called Pussy Riot, and as a result of doing this protest, set in a church, they were arrested. They’re being held without bail for two months and they’re being charged with seven years in prison. Very young women in their 20s, they have young children. So you see, rock and roll — with all these clichés about being subversive — well, it is subversive, but in some places this subversion is taken seriously. And just to show you what can get you seven years in a Russian jail, I’ll put [a video of the protest] on. Keep in mind it’s not all fun.”

As Pussy Riot’s performance video of “Holy Madonna, Drive Putin Away” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral was shown on the screen, Ilves sat down in the front row, between defiant Moscow music journalist and promoter Artemy Troitsky and Estonian culture minister — once an underground rock concert promoter Rein Lang.

The subject of Pussy Riot and freedom in Russia was picked up by Troitsky, who was interviewed in front of the delegates by Tapio Korjus of the Finnish independent record label Rockadillo Records.

During a conversation covering his diverse music activities and the history of Russian rock music, Troitsky, who started out as a music writer and underground promoter under the Soviets in the 1970s, played Peter Gabriel’s video address to protesters in Russia. The British musician made the video in the wake of protests against electoral fraud and ahead of the March 4 presidential elections. Troitsky also announced a concert in defense of Pussy Riot to be held in Tallinn on Sunday.

Tallinn Music Week is the biggest music industry event in the Baltics and a large-scale indoor festival with performances by dozens acts from Estonia and abroad taking place in many different venues across the city. This year, it drew more than 400 music professionals as delegates, while the music program featured 183 acts from 13 countries.

The Estonian program opened with a performance by the talented young Estonian singer Iiris, who presented her debut album “The Magic Gift Box” with a full-fledged, full-band concert at Rock Cafe, a large two-hall music venue just outside the center.

Russia was represented by indie rock band Motorama, whose concert at Rock Stars bar was a success with the event’s delegates and concert-going public. Alongside Motorama, who come from Rostov and sing in English, Russia was represented by electronic music artist Dza, who performed at Kultuurikatel (“culture boiler”) — a huge venue in a defunct power plant near the sea.

With Helsinki just two hours away from Tallinn by ferry, Finnish music acts had a high profile in the event’s program, which was prepared in cooperation with the Music Export Finland and the Music & Media music industry event in Tampere, Finland. The Finnish program included a live event at Rock Stars organized by the Helsinki-based label Stupido Records’, which ended with its head Joose Berglund spinning discs until the small hours.

Helen Sildna, the Tallinn Music Week’s director, founded the event to promote Estonian music and creative industries and export in 2009 after visiting similar music industry festivals like Eurosonic in Holland and Music & Media in Finland.

“It was pretty clear that a festival like this would really help the Estonian music scene,” Sildna said in Tallinn on Sunday.

“I have always believed that there is enormous talent here in Estonia, but it was obvious that the weakness of the music scene is just weak links to the international music market and the entrepreneurial structure, so there are no managers, labels or agents. It seemed to be a great way of getting in contact with international partners and raising the prestige and quality of Estonian music.”

According to Sildna, it was a fortuitous coincidence that the project was launched in the year when preparations for the year of Tallinn as European Capital of Culture were already underway, which helped to fund Tallinn Music Week at the beginning.

“The great thing — and this is what we also heard from international delegates and the press — was that they were impressed by the variety and the uniqueness of Estonian music,” Sildna said.

“I mean the whole music scene in a way was a well kept secret for years, so all the artists have always basically done it from their own inner motivation; they have never been forced to think ‘What sells?’ or ‘What is the market?’

“In that sense, everybody is just doing kind of uncompromising art that they feel they should be doing, and this has created quite a unique scene, so there’s a lot going on in the folk scene, in the contemporary classic scene, and a lot of exciting stuff in indie, electronic and kind of leftfield music as well. I don’t think anybody expects a proper pop format artist from a small country like Estonia, and I think everybody comes here in search of something unique and original.

“If you think about the case of Bjork, for example, from a tiny country like Iceland — they have something unique that can become really big if the team is right, if the timing is right, if the band gets the right contacts, I think it can really work well.”

There were plenty of talented and diverse Estonian artists — from modern classical to indie and folk — at Tallinn Music Week this year.

The band Väljasoit Rohelisse, which performed at the restored old Soviet film theater Kino Soprus, received a lot of critical success during Tallinn Music Week, drawing comparisons to acts from the Velvet Underground to Joy Division to The Cramps. The band’s music is described as “one-chord psychedelia with swamp blues, surf and Krautrock tinges and Estonian echoes.”

From the town of Viljandi comes the “fire-folk” band Svjata Vatra, fronted by singer Ruslan Trochynskyi who moved from Ukraine in 2005 and formed the band with Estonian musicians. The band, whose name means “sacred fire” in Ukrainian, is famous for using naked flames in its shows and for its rendition of the Ukrainian folk song “Kalina-Malina,” which has become a massive hit in Estonia. At a concert at Tallinn’s Teater NO99, fans sang along with the band.

Experimental improvised music band Kreatiivmootor, which performed at Von Krahl — a theater and bar in Tallinn’s Old Town — will be seen in St. Petersburg soon, as it has been scheduled to perform at the SKIF International Festival in May.

“By mixing all the styles, we want to give out the message that music is a universal thing and it’s great to be open about it,” Sildna said.

In addition to the Night Venue program, this year’s festival included the City Stage program — a series of free performances held in unusual places across the city, from shopping malls to the offices of Skype, a technology created in Estonia, which is proud to be on the cutting edge of programming and is almost entirely covered by free Wi-Fi Internet.

Orelipoiss, a one-man band created by classically trained singer and poet Jaan Pehk, was one of the acts performing from a bed in a Nordic Hotel Forum suite with the audience listening to them from the other room of the suite. Those unable to cram in could enjoy an Internet video broadcast from anywhere else.

According to Sildna, one of the motivations behind the City Stage program was to make music available to broader audiences, including people under 18 who are not allowed to go to nightclubs, and older people who simply do not like going to nightclubs.

On Sunday, President Ilves attended a concert in support of Pussy Riot — featuring Estonian punk legend Peeter Volkonski and Propeller — organized by Estonian parliamentary deputy Juku-Kalle Raid, who drew on his experience of being a punk concert promoter in the past.

Inside the packed Von Krahl theater and bar, Raid read aloud an open letter to the Russian government and state duma from nine Estonian MPs who protested the use of the courts to achieve political goals and demanded the release of the arrested women.

“These women were arrested on hooliganism charges, but it is clear to all that they protested against the elections, against Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism and against the lack of freedom of speech in Russia,” they wrote.

“We stand in solidarity with those people, the citizens of Russia, who are aware of the situation in Russia and see the arrested punk musicians as prisoners of conscience, who are being persecuted for expressing their views.”



03 April 2012 Tallinn Music Week / Estonia relishing its creative freedom

Kreatiivmootor at TMW 2012, HUH presents showcase, March 30. Photo by Birgit Pauklin

Words by Amy Liptrot


When the President of Estonia opens Tallinn Music Week with a speech quoting Jello Biafra and PJ Harvey, you know you are in a cool country. He also shows a video of punk band Pussy Riot playing a guerrilla gig in a Russian Orthodox Church, one of the acts leading to members being held in custody in neighbouring Russia. Not only is the President offering support to the activists, he is also providing a contrast to Estonia which is rightly proud of its liberty and where musicians would not be arrested for speaking out against the government.

This is a city relishing its creative freedom, which during the course of the fourth Tallinn Music Week is showcased by hundreds of diverse musical acts, both from Estonia and other (mainly north European) countries. Estonia is a small country and capital Tallinn only has a population of 416,000, yet it was European Capital of Culture in 2011: there is a lot going on.

Opening the festival in big, jubilant style are Finns Rubik, freaking out with brass instruments and knitwear. Next up, Tallinn’s own pixie star, twenty-year-old Iiris, represents a generation of young Europeans who have grown up with Björk, and is confident enough to mix pop ambition with mystic oddness, in front of enthusiastic local fans.

The shows are in venues around the city, hidden in courtyards and theatres in the cobbled Old Town, or in buildings symbolising the new Tallinn such as the Skype headquarters. An experimental electronic violinist, Tiit Kikas, plays in a mall bookshop, while the Estonian Male Voice Choir perform a new composition in a guild hall belonging to the Tallinn Brotherhood of Blackheads.

Some UK acts are taken to a new level in the surroundings of a grand Soviet cinema - the smart Britpop of Tall Stories and Napoleon III’s irresistible celebratory layerings both finding new, receptive ears.

Although it is one of the Baltic States, Tallinn is just a short ferry journey from Helsinki and Nordic influences are apparent in the unreformed doom rock of Talbot – complete with impressive metal roars – and Hanoi Rocks-influenced Rockcrime. Meanwhile, the hip detachment of Zebra Island and Several Symptoms, both of whom would be at home in a Shoreditch bar, seem under-developed compared to acts more confident in their Estonian identity - the best example of which is the astounding, perplexing Kreatiivmootor, whose constantly-moving frontman is like a glamorous toddler singing in an invented language, a rock ‘n’ roll tongues.

There is also an impressive classical programme – Estonia is the home of renowned contemporary composer Arvo Pärt associated with the style of “holy minimalism” influenced by sacred music – and music by Ardo Ran Varres is performed using a circular saw and bike wheel alongside an accordion, taken way beyond the tropes of folk.

On the 22nd floor of an austere Soviet hotel, Clash visits a “KGB room” where a hidden network of microphones was used to listen in on foreign tourists. Although those days are long gone, it is thrilling to imagine what the KGB would make of listening in on the chaotic, lively and free sounds of Tallinn today.

30 March 2012

Tallinn Music Week konverentsi avasid president Toomas Hendrik Ilves ja kultuuriminister Rein Lang

Täna hommikul algas Tallinn Music Weeki konverents. Avamisel ütlesid tervitussõnad vabariigi president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, kultuuriminister Rein Lang ning festivali peakorraldaja Helen Sildna.

Avades Tallinn Music Weeki rõhutas president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, et rock’n’roll on otseselt seotud vabadusega. Ta tõi näiteid poeetidest ja muusikutest, kes on olnud omas ajas mässajad, alustades lord Byronist kuni bändideni Tshehhoslovakkias ja Nõukogude Eestis, nagu Propeller, keda võimud nende loomingu tõttu represseerisid. Maades, mis austavad vabadust, saavad kunstnikud ka oma kriitilisi mõtteid vabalt väljendada kartmata riigivõimu karistust. See ei ole aga ka tänases maailmas veel kõikjal enesestmõistetav. President Ilves viitas vene punkbändile Pussy Riot, mille liikmeid hoitakse nende esinemise eest Moskvas vahi all ja keda võib oodata kuni 7 aastane vangistus. Ilves rääkis ka Eesti ja Tallinna tugevast potentsiaalist paigana, kus võib sündida uut muusikat. „Uus muusika võib sündida kõige ebatõenäolisemates kohtades – mõelge Liverpoolile, Seattle’ile, Athens’ile (Georgia osariigis). Ka Tallinn Music Week on koht, kus uus talent võib hoo sisse saada.“

Kultuuriminister Rein Lang arutles oma kõnes loomemajanduse olukorra üle ning viitas, et loomemajandus on olnud viimastel aastatel Eestis üks kiiremini arenevaid majandusharusid.

Alanud konverentsiprogramm sisaldab intervjuusid kahe muusikatööstuse legendiga nagu Edward Bicknell ja Artemyi "Artjom" Troitsky, kajastab autoriõiguse ja muusikaekspordi teemasid, räägib muusikaettevõtluse eri vormidest ja lähemalt mänedžeri rollist, arutleb klassikaartistide karjäärivõimaluste üle ning toob rahvusvahelise publiku ette Garage48 Tallinn Music tehnoloogiainnovatsiooni.

Music Week on neljandat aastat toimuv muusikatööstuse konverents ja Eesti talendiesitlusfestival, millest võtab igal aastal osa ligi 250 rahvusvahelise profiiliga muusikaettevõtjat ja -organisatsiooni, et luua siin sidemeid Eesti ja meie lähiregiooni muusikafirmade ja artistiesindajatega. Tänavune sündmus leiab aset 29-31. märtsil Nordic Hotel Forumis ning muusikaklubides ja kontserdisaalides üle Tallinna linna. Festivalipassid ja üksikpiletid õhtustele kontsertidele on saadaval


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