The ultimate live and online destination for new Nordic music discovery, Ja Ja Ja is set to celebrate some big birthdays this year! Founded by the Nordic Music Export (NOMEX) in 2009, 2019 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Ja Ja Ja club nights in London, and 5 years since the Berlin edition was launched in 2014.
Since then, more than 250 artists have performed at Ja Ja Ja’s club nights and festivals, with over 100 shows taking place in London, Berlin, Brighton, Hamburg, Vienna, Tokyo, Salzburg, Graz and Budapest. More than 2,500 attendees came to Ja Ja Ja’s shows in 2018 alone, making the platform the premier destination for the music industry and the public alike to discover the best emerging Nordic music.
As 2019 gets underway, Ja Ja Ja will be hosting a series of special events in London, Berlin and beyond to highlight these landmark anniversaries, and we’re thrilled to be teaming up with Roskilde Festival to present a showcase of rising Nordic talent at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas.
Roskilde Festival is the largest music and arts festival in Northern Europe, playing host to more than 100,000 attendees and well over 100 artists on an annual basis. Dating back to 1971, Roskilde Festival has grown to become an unmissable fixture in the festival calendar and presents a host of brand new Nordic artists alongside the world’s most prominent headliners, year in year out.
Join us there
Join Ja Ja Ja and Roskilde Festival on Monday 11th March at the House of Scandinavia in Austin for a chance to mingle with the teams and our friends from the Nordics at our Meet The Nordics drinks session (4pm), before a specially curated host of artists take to the stage from 5pm, with performances in store from Lowly (DK), Death By Unga Bunga (NO, Shitkid (SE) and the UK’s Black Midi.
Want to come along? Then RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Lowly make lush, confident pop, layering traditional textures over less orthodox sounds, topped off with crystalline vocals.” Uncut – 8/10
“If you stick to just what you know, your music, your art or whatever your situation is becomes stagnant”, say Denmark’s Lowly. “And we wouldn’t like to miss out on anything, just because we felt too comfortable.”
A band unafraid to reach beyond their comfort zone, Lowly thrive on the embrace of doubt and curiosity. An inquisitive spirit drives the quintet’s second album, which evolved from an open-ended process in large spaces, from lost factory halls to water towers. Released via Bella Union in April, Hifalutin brims with suggestive discoveries from its title onwards. Dictionary definitions include “pompous” and “larger than life”; the word is also antonymic with the word Lowly. However you take it, the result is the work of five people expressing themselves freely as a tight collective: focused, yet fertile with possibility.
A willingness to turn their backs on accepted frames of practise, for both recordings and performances, has characterized Lowly since their formation in 2014 at the music academy in Aarhus, Denmark, where they studied different subjects but forged a unique chemistry out of contrast. Last autumn, they played a concert in Brønshøj Water Tower, in the suburbs of Copenhagen, where the reverb was long and pronounced. The band had to carefully reconsider which notes and chords they could play; too many tones would muddy the sound. Pieces from this concert would find their way to Hifalutin.
As synthesizer player Kasper Staub reflects, “We want to give doubt, and curiosity, a voice. It is needed in a world characterized by obsession and goal-orientated living. You don’t need to know the answer in advance to express yourself. If we don’t allow ourselves to forget the goal, we risk missing all that we did not already know.”
Fittingly, Hifalutin is an album of many entrance points. After the glistening come-hither to wandering minds of ‘Go for a Walk’, ‘Stephen’ reflects on death, inspired by the loss of Professor Stephen Hawking. The warm trip-hop currents of ‘Baglaens’ (or “backwards”) contrast sharply with the buoyant beats cluster of ‘Staples’. ‘i’ resembles a hymnal Stina Nordenstam, constantly seeking new ways into a song, while the alt-R&B-ish ‘In the Hearts’ offers an unguarded paean to connectivity: as Lowly put it: “It’s about the magnificent power of love that transcends everything and connects us all.”
These diverse songs find hidden connections to each other through the chemistry between the sounds and Boll’s productions. And, of course, through the literate, abstract lyrics, which include references to works by experimental poet Inger Christensen and Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. “Our lyrics consist of images and scenes that briefly glide into one’s field of view, and then disappear again,” co-lead singer Soffie Viemose explains. “We’d rather show something than say something quite literally.” An invitation sent from and to curious minds, Hifalutin is luminous modern pop at its most delicate and robust, assertive and open-ended. You wouldn’t want to miss out.
Death By Unga Bunga [NOR]
Death By Unga Bunga (DBUB) are five guys from Moss, the garage rock capital of Norway, and just like in fairytales formed with lead singer Sebastian Ulstad Olsen holding auditions in his own garage. Since then DBUB have restlessly visited town after town, village after village spreading their energetic mix of garage, psychedelia and power pop to an increasingly bigger audience. Seeing them live an experience you•ll never forget, an experience that•s best described as being hit by a rock’n’roll tornado.
With their fourth album in five years, Pineapple Pizza, DBUB have created an effortless and infectious continuation of the group•s love for quality music from the 60s, 70s and 00s. Artists like 13th Floor Elevators, The Mummies (who named them), Cheap Trick, Twin Peaks, Sheer Mag, Iron Maiden, Ramones and The Byrds at their most colourful. Death by Unga Bunga are combining the best from our musical heritage, adding a timeless energy, and mixing it into a strong contemporary form of expression.
What people say:
“an infectious blast of crunchy riffage that culminates in a pleasure-center bullseye of a guitar solo. Listen.” – Stereogum
“Greatest Song in The World“ – Little Steven’s Underground Garage
“Their sound is uncomplicated and infectious” – NPR MUSIC ALL SONGS CONSIDERED
“Guitar riffs. Stunning and notable from the very beginning, as the punk vocals set in. Double en-tendres abound, this song is an absolute party song.” – Impose Magazine
ShitKid are going back to school. It’s not because they need to; what began as a solo project for Åsa Söderqvist in 2015 became one of the Sweden’s biggest underground success stories of recent years, with her thrilling lack of regard for traditional genre boundaries or song structure leading to plaudits from around the world. When Bandcamp suggested she might be “the weirdest musician in Sweden” in 2017, they meant it in the best way possible. Red Bull, meanwhile, called her “the unstoppable punk”, and i-D, London in Stereo and Beat Magazine all ran profiles that lauded her distaste for convention – as the latter put it, “it’s fully possible that no one has ever sounded like they give less fucks than ShitKid”.
Instead, Söderqvist and new bandmate Lina Molarin Ericsson are winding the clock back to their school days not to hit the books or turn their backs on rock and roll but instead to mine material for their remarkable second album. [DETENTION] is a scintillating eight-track pop-punk blast of teen angst that pays tribute to the bands Söderqvist loved in her formative years, whilst also resurrecting a very specific wave of emo that’s died a death in the years since. “I started listening to the bands that I loved in school again, and I felt inspired by it,” she explains. “It’s a genre that’s quite embarrassing to go back to, and I knew that would make it really fun. I used to be emo in 2008, and now nobody plays that music any more! There’s nothing about being kids and nobody understanding you. It felt like time to bring it back.”
[DETENTION] forms just one part of ambitious future plans for ShitKid. The duo want to continue turning their hand to a different genre with each new release, marking a major shift away from the borderless stylistic breadth of their early releases, like the critically-acclaimed 2017 debut full-length Fish or Söderqvist’s 2016 ShitKid EP. “We’ll definitely do a pop album next,” she says, her mind already racing, “and we want to make a screamo record too!” For now, though, they are firmly rooted in the kind of pop-emo crossover that captured their imaginations in high school. [DETENTION] is defined by its earworm choruses, scuzzy guitars and, most crucially, its irresistibly bratty lyrics, from the precocious wit of the young-love chronicles ‘RoMaNcE and ‘Last Mistake’ to the brilliantly simple ‘Grown-ups are KiDS!!!’ and ‘Home Wondering (I don’t wanna go to prom)’, which noisily capture Söderqvist’s first flirtations with raging against authority.
“When we were writing, we pulled up a playlist on Spotify that was full of the kind of artists we were trying to emulate,” she recalls. “So there was a lot of stuff like Weezer and The Offspring, but what we really focused on were the bands who talked about these kinds of high-school experiences – Green Day, Simple Plan, Sum 41, Good Charlotte.” Recorded at Stockholm’s Country Girl Studios with producer Lovina Isaksson (“she used to be emo too!”) and cut almost entirely live by an expanded four-piece lineup including Söderqvist, Ericsson, guitarist Arvid Sjöö and drummer Josefin Ahlqvist Lyzwinski, [DETENTION] aims to evoke a rebellious, youthful spirit that everybody can relate to; young love, alienation and a surefire belief that the adults are out to get you. That ShitKid have pulled it off with so much energy, and have made the teenage rollercoaster of emotions such a joy to ride again, only confirms what we already knew about them – they’re fearless, they’re fun, and they can do anything they put their mind to. Now for that screamo album.
Photo by Moa Romanova
Black Midi 
Black Midi (Selhurst) are the enigmatic new London 4-piece that are quickly becoming one of the hottest new underground bands in the UK. Having formed only a year ago – and making their name (as a lot of the great new up and coming bands are) at The Windmill in Brixton – they feature Geordie Greep (vocals/guitar), Cameron Picton (bass/vocals), Matt Kelvin(lead guitar) and the incredible drumming of Morgan Simpson.