Indiefjord 2023: A Special Interview.
As some of you will be aware, our favourite Nordic music festival is the brilliant Indiefjord, which takes place every year amongst the fjords in Bjørke. Inspired by the legendary Indietracks festival it first took place as a one off event in 2014, and one of the co-organisers Silja, has taken the time to speak to us and give some massive hints on who might be playing this year.
NMR: Hey Silja, thanks for talking to us, so this years Indiefjord festival is taking place in Bjørke on 8th and 9th July, how are the preparations going?
Silja: Hey Andy, nice to hear from you! The preparations are going very well. I am currently listening my way through band applications while other family members are working on transport, accommodation, sponsorship and food stalls. We've got an extra special mode of transportation from the local airport this year, let's just say "we're gonna need a bigger boat". Do Google "Hjørundfjord" and you'll get the gist of it.
NMR: Now I promise not to try and push you into giving any spoilers about who’s going to play this year, but it’s going to be ‘I Was A King’ isn’t it? Or Bo Milli? Insomniac Bears? Oh Mammoth Penguins would be good. Ok, give us a clue….
Silja: Oh! You know what... I would love to get I Was A King to play! They are friends with some of the American bands that have played Indiefjord in the past – maybe we should get them to put in a good word for us? I love Mammoth Penguins, too, so that certainly wouldn't be out of the question. We're only at the beginning stages of the booking so anything could happen! We are announcing four artists this week, though – and we'll give you some clues. After all, you're one of our Twitter followers that have always guessed really well when we are hinting about which bands we're about to announce (and you've even given us brilliant recommendations of bands to book – like The Wit). So I'll give you hints for two of the four bands (but all four bands are from the same country and are in some way connected).
Band 1) This solo artist is known from the band "somewhere young people would go to eat". Band 2) Said musician and one of the guys from the band "scared, especially when trapped in headlights".
NMR: Somewhere young people go to eat? Nando's? Actually I think I've partly worked this out.... but I won't say, no spoilers...
...anyway you’ve already announced The Chesterfields and Andy Strickland, they went to extraordinary lengths to be considered by writing an actual song about going to Norway. Surely this must be the best application you’ve ever had?
Silja: Oh, it definitely is! Saying that, Sjur from The Little Hands of Asphalt wrote a wonderful song about Indiefjord, too – which you actually wrote about. Sjur had played Indiefjord 2018 and he was set to play Indiefjord 2020, too – we made that lyric video as part of the announcement. But then that pesky old virus happened. Back to The Chesterfields! The song and video are both so wonderful – of course we wanted to book them. We first found out about the song when some locals sent us the video, actually! I really can't wait to see them live – they seem like really nice people, too, which is always important to us. I'll have you know, though, that we've had applications through handwritten letters, Tinder and LinkedIn – life as a band booker is... interesting.
NMR: The Tinder application reminds me of my favourite story of how a band formed, which you can read in our interview with Tromsø based Gypsy Chicken here. Actually they're fab and the loveliest of people, is it too late for them and other bands to put their name forward to play?
Silja: Our official deadline is 10 February, but I am so busy in my dayjob and I want to listen carefully to all songs so it will definitely take some time to book the complete line-up. If a band applies after the deadline and I'm really won over by the music they will be added to the line-up. We very often book bands as last minute additions, too – if say, someone in the audience turns out to be in a band we really like. We have a free-entry "Indiefjord presents" acoustic stage down by the pop-up pub for the bands that are not on the official line-up, but whose members are attending the festival anyway.
NMR: What’s your best advice for any UK people interested in making the trip. The key is to get to Ålesund Airport right?
Silja: Yes! There is usually Hovden Airport, too, but they announced a couple of weeks ago that they're closing down for four weeks over the summer. My best advice is for people to get to Ålesund Airport or central Ålesund by 5.05pm on Friday 7 July in order to go with the boat straight to the welcome party (via the supermarket!). If anyone has questions about travel they can get in touch with us. Some people even choose to go to other places in Norway on vacation first and then drive or take the bus to our area. Oh – and bring both swimwear and a wooly jumper. The west-coast of Norway has a lot of... "weather"!
NMR: You’ve brought so much happiness to so many people through Indiefjord, so thank you on behalf of everyone, but can you tell us a couple of personal highlights?
Silja: Awww, thanks so much! Organising the festival brings me and my family immense joy, too. It's really all about the people – the way bands, guests and the locals become a community for the weekend (and it feels like everyone who's ever been remains an Indiefjorder and part of our extended family, too). There are so many highlights to mention that one day I might have to write a book about it – but let's try to find a couple.Last year Kip Berman played a set of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart songs outside at the old farm Bakketunet with the fjord and the mountains as a backdrop – and he played as The Natvral at the evening gig. I am probably one of Pains' biggest fans – I was always at the front when they played in London and Oslo, and they were on my bucket list to book ever since 2010 or so. I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined that one day Kip would play in Bjørke – and that the morning after he would have breakfast with my family like he had always been part of it. I think my parents want to adopt him as they keep talking about him, he's one of the warmest, friendliest people we have met. Oh – and when Kip played the Dylan song Girl from the North Country I was a weeping wreck (happy tears, mainly – with hints of regret). It has always been "my song" .
"Another highlight was last year, too, when Nick Garrie played a church concert with Ulstein Mannskor. Bjørke Church is the most beautiful church I know, a small wooden church with stunning colours and paintings – so it's become a welcome tradition at Indiefjord to do a Sunday concert there. This time, however, it was extra special. Nick Garrie is a true legend, he's one of those people who writes only good songs and perfect albums. If you haven't listened to The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas you need to! The most magical thing about the concert, though, was Nick collaborating with Ulstein Mannskor. My grandfather Johan used to sing in this choir, and I was their no. 1 fangirl – always attending their gigs. Even after my grandfather left the choir due to not being able to stand up to sing anymore we used to go to see them – and whenever he picked me up from the airport or boat when I lived in London we listened to the choir's CD.
My beloved grandfather sadly slipped into a coma as Indiefjord 2016 was about to start. I cannot even describe that festival weekend and how we got through it – he passed away as the bands stepped onto the ferry to go home from the festival... As you can probably understand, the choir means a lot to me! And I think it was my dad that got the idea that we should book them – it felt like a way to honour my grandfather, too. The sun was shining through the multi-coloured church windows after a terribly rainy day and night before (there was even a rainbow!). The choir and Nick met for the first time about an hour and a half before the concert was about to begin. They started singing, having never practiced together before. Me, my dad and the sound engineer were in tears (again!) – it was the most beautiful thing. Needless to say, the concert was a success, too! Maybe they should go on tour together? Or maybe this concert being a one-off is what makes it so magical. Luckily my director friend Sarah caught it all on camera so I hope we can make a "mini documentary".
Amazing memories, thanks for sharing in so much detail Silja.
Early bird tickets have sold out, but you can buy tickets here. Any questions about travel and accommodation please check out their website, although they’re all lovely and won’t mind you asking them directly for guidance. Also don't forget our Nordic Indie Playlist, which contains some of the latest Nordic Indie releases, The Chesterfields plus a couple of tracks at the end which might even add extra Indiefjord clues....
A big thank you to Eline Viddal Rød and Andrea Hustad for letting us use their photos, and of course to Silja for taking the time to speak to us.