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How to Arrive, Scandinavian Style

There’s a Swedish word without an English translation: Lagom. It means “just enough, just right” and speaks of a culture where moderation is key and flashiness is frowned upon. But when Swedish House Mafia arrived in New York for their sold out gigs last weekend, “lagom” is thrown out the window together with all that moderation that never applied to the trio of DJs in question anyway: In the documentary “Take One” from 2010, they refuse to share a limo, opting instead for one each. New York responds by love-bombing the Swedish trio, covering the Empire State Building in blue and yellow lights in their honor like a glamorous, shining version of IKEA  in the middle of Manhattan.

Whatever your opinion on Swedish House Mafia, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that there are many more Nordic musical treasures to be found if you dig a little deeper than the chart success of the aforementioned Mafia.

I see it as a bit of a life mission to champion Nordic Music, so imagine my unadulterated joy when it turns out I have quite a few fellow companions on my musical crusade here in my new hometown of London. Here, music blogs like Ja Ja Ja and The Line of Best Fit and the club nights they put on bring some of the best new Nordic talents to London, making the city a great place for connoisseurs of Scandinavian music, in particular of the Swedish variety.

With trailblazers like Robyn and Lykke Li – not to mention their predecessors ABBA and Roxette – Swedish music has never been in better shape and is one of the country’s most important exports. The most recent example?  Sweden’s Icona Pop as the soundtrack to Hannah Horvath on drugs in season 2 of HBO’s breakout show Girls.

If you, like many others, feel the allure of northern melodies, have a listen to my Sharp Nordic Tunes playlist and see if you can find a new favorite to check out. You know, before they sell out Madison Square Garden.

Sharp Nordic tunes

Published on F# blog : http://www.efsharp.com/

SAS brings families to the sun

The Solgården holiday center caters to people with disabilities, and 28 times a year, a special SAS flight carries happy families to the sun.

Oslo airport. Outside, it’s 15C and overcast. Inside, expectation and excitement are in the air. The families clustered around Gate 38 are on their way to the Solgården resort in Spain, near Alicante.

Solgården is not your average holiday center. Since opening in 1972, it has specialized in catering to people with disabilities. In the winter, their customers are senior citizens. In the summer, they’re families, some with members with disabilities.

The Lærum-Andreassens are at Solgården for the second time. For the next two weeks, they will enjoy the sun and explore the town of Villajoyosa, says Karianne Lærum, a mother of two.
“It’s safe here,” she says. “The kids can’t just wander off. The resort area is big and there are loads of activities, like shopping trips and trips to the beach.”
Everybody joins in the activities, and there’s a lot of time to make new friends.

Family youngster Martin Andreassen, 12 years old – “almost 13” – has got his vacation priorities clear.
“I’m going to swim in the pool and play mini-golf and tennis,” he says proudly.
His older brother, Alexander, 18, is looking forward to checking out the resort’s youth club, as well as some fast-paced action in the form of paintball and go-carts.

For the past 40 years, SAS has collaborated with Solgården, flying there around 28 times a year.

Marina Tunstad is the assistant ­director at Solgården. Today she is standing by the check-in desk, welcoming the families and answering their questions.

“We stress safety, well-being, and joy here,” she says. “For many of the families, this is the big event of the year. SAS contributes to this with their dedicated crew, and has done so since the beginning in 1972.”

Earlier this year, the Solgården SAS crew was awarded the Team Achievement of the Year prize at an SAS internal event.

“The SAS crew does a formidable job, and they really care about Solgården,” Tunstad says. “We really depend on the good service they provide us.”

Captain Stein Gilhuus has been an SAS pilot for 27 years and part of the Solgården crew for seven. “On the family flights, we fly with one extra crew member,” he says. “On the other chartered Solgården flights, we have a doctor and two nurses on board as well. The safety of the passengers and the crew is paramount. We always keep extra oxygen tanks and a defibrillator on board. It’s a challenge and requires you to do that little bit extra. And the passengers are so grateful – many of them have been looking forward to this holiday for months.”

Copilot Lasse Fjærestad recently joined the crew, and he had a special reason to volunteer. He’s the father of a disabled daughter, so he knows how stressful traveling can be – both for the daughter and for her parents.

“This way, everyone gets to relax both on the flight and at the destination,” he says. “There’s less pressure on the parents because they know help is available. Also, they don’t have to worry about disturbing other people vacationing. I’m looking forward to vacationing at Solgården myself with my family.”

Published in Scandinavian Traveler no 9 2015:


Dot to Dot Bristol 2011

When Dot to Dot 2011 kicks off in Bristol, it’s in abominable weather conditions. It’s raining the kind of rain that goes straight up your nose and seems to soak you in seconds.

As any festival-goer knows, the earliest acts run the risk of playing for a meager crowd, but today, Louisiana is packed for one of the first acts of the day, one-man-band Cajita.

The born entertainer, he’s joking freely with the audience between his melancholic songs, only accompanied by the orchestra of loops he builds up before every song.

I hurry along to Thekla to catch Allie Moss, which proves itself hard as this venue, too, is filled to the brim and it’s hard to hear Allies delicate beautiful voice over the noise from the audience. It’s time for some heavier tunes.

At the Fleece, a wall of guitars greet me as I enter and I can’t help but feel at home. Turns out that the Suzukis has been replaced by local Bristol band Parrington Jackson, and they are rather good at the kind of straightforward rock that the Hives are the masters of and that we’ve already established that I have a soft spot for. Oh the joy of festivals: To discover a new band.

Later, I stumble across Danish Veto and can add another discovery to the list – Even harder rock in the uncompromising way of the Danes.

The highlight of the day has been clear all along: It has to be Hurts.
It’s the duo’s third gig in Bristol. From the first gig in the intimate belly of the boat Thekla, not many weeks after their first concert ever in Salford, they’ve grown to become a headlining act who travel all over the world, all in the space of a year and a half.

Their set has grown with them and does now include a guitar player as well as a girl who doubles on saxophone and violin and who immediately becomes my new hero. Luckily, the stone-faced opera man is still there, adding a certain grandiosity. A few songs, like Evelyn and encore number Better Than Love has gotten some proper dance beats added to them, and it works surprisingly well.

Although their music has strong influences, they sound like nobody else. In short? It’s how music is supposed to be; dramatic, hopeful, beautiful and bigger than life.

Published on Music-News: http://music-news.com/showreview.asp?H=Dot-to-Dot-2011&nReviewID=7127