Schneeweiss und Rosenrot + Strobes
(21st January 2013. Vortex.)
Dan Nicholls writes:
Whilst studying in Denmark I was humbled by the sense of community evident between musicians (and artists in general) from all over Europe. Each country has its own musical scene, but there is an over-arching cohesion brought about by artistic similarities and by the 'borderless' mentality and infrastructure which characterises much of the continent.
Not only was the university that I attended (the Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium or 'RMC') home to a near majority of non-Danish students, but Copenhagen itself – and indeed many other European cities that I've encountered – was brimming with expatriate musicians and promoters who are open to booking bands from throughout Europe.
The reasons for the UK being often excluded from this open European scene are complex: the relative lack of funding in the UK for the arts (and more specifically for projects that feature non-UK artists), a little too much of the characteristic island mentality and not enough exposure for UK musicians and venues in Europe. However, not everyone is oblivious to this issue, and recently many connections have started to spring up between our proponents and those of other nationalities. I often hear of UK-based musicians and even promoters travelling around Europe to network, or moving over to other countries to be part of another scene and to study abroad.
Also, the ease with which we can travel and set up gigs between countries is becoming apparent, with many musicians even doing so without funding – simply for the experience or the establishing of new artistic connections.
This brings me (rather conveniently) to a gig which takes place on the 21st of this month at the Vortex. A double-bill featuring a group which perfectly represents this ideology of the European scene: Schneeweiss und Rosenrot – who's four members all hail from different countries but who came together in Copenhagen; and Strobes, a group of mine which boasts the same attribute. Both bands feature Swedish bassist Petter Eldh, who has already graced UK stages with Django Bates' Beloved Bird trio, and Luxembourgish drummer Marc Lohr, who recently performed at the Roundhouse in Camden with Norwegian vocalist Sandra Kolstadt.
In the process of arranging this concert I've found that everyone involved has shown a great deal of receptivity and willingness to make it work despite the lack of any financial security. It seems that, partly out of necessity, a faith in the value of sharing our music whatever the cost is driving musicians to make sacrifices in order to get their music heard. Though one may not feel that the situation is ideal, this kind of attitude is a start in further establishing the UK as a desirable as well as an influential location on the international contemporary music scene. Hopefully if enough of us continue to recognise the importance of this connection with the wider European community, these kinds of events and collaborations will be more easily facilitated in the future.