City spotlight is a new bi-weekly feature where the interns go behind a particular city looking to uncover its musical trends and cool hangs. This week we're taking a trip to the pop kingdom of Stockholm, Sweden.
It's common knowledge that Sweden is a purveyor of all things perfect. Known for ABBA, meatballs and Ikea, predominantly, Sweden and in particular its capital city has become almost a metaphorical pleasantville. Behind the beautiful harbour and historic buildings, there's a music scene that has gone from strength-to-strength in the passed decade. It's trademark genre is undoubtedly pop with artists like Robyn, Fever Ray and Lykke Li all hailing from the country. What's most impressive is that the Swedish mainstream is largely accepting of a more left-of-centre brand of pop. As such, Stockholm is playing host to a number of up and coming pop and electronic artists, with well-curated record labels and interesting venues with more to offer than most cities. Take a trip with us through Stockholm, as we take a look at the most exciting venues, artists and record labels in the city of Stockholm right now.
Click below to explore the various facets of Stockholm's music scene.
A bar under a bridge, Trädgården is the place to spend those long, Scandinavian summer nights. There’s a large outdoor area as well as a club inside with the outdoor area playing host to Daytime Sessions in the Summer. Recently it’s hosted artists like Swedish-Australian duo Say Lou Lou and Danish band Lust For Youth along with sixteen year-old rapper Adam Kanyama.
Under Bron is located in Trädgården under the bridge which can only mean one thing- industrial, sweaty, late-night grooves. Past guests to the club include John Talabot, Ewan Pearson, Mark E and house legend, Jeff Mills. The hipster level is labelled as extreme but by all accounts it’s one of the most forward-thinking clubs in an already forward-thinking city. Time to roll-up those sleeves and get down.
It “opens to the cool kids who want to party after 11pm” is what Guidepal says about this club, so if you’re a cool cat who likes to groove after a reasonable hour, this is the place for you. Open since 2006, its a small club with a white dancefloor that hosts a pretty spectacular array of DJs. Studio Barnhus co-founder Axel Boman is a frequent here, spinning beats in the basement of the extended Berns establishment.
Debasser runs over three levels with dance floors, bars and stages. As a concert-venue it’s booking some of the most interesting artists around. This year it’s played host to the likes of Schoolboy Q and The War on Drugs with upcoming gigs including A$AP Ferg, Acton Bronson and Azealia Banks.
If you manage how to remember this joint, it will become your Summer hang while in Stockholm. Located on the hill looking over the main city, it’s the perfect place for daytime drinking. By night, you can step inside to a hot and sweaty nightclub and emerge in the early hours of the morning atop a hill in the middle of Stockholm, most likely bloated off Rekorderlig.
F12 Terrassen doubles as restaurant Fredsgatan 12. In the summer months, people take to the outdoor stone staircase of the restaurant, which is transformed into a club and gig venue. It’s open every night during Summer and attracts ridiculously good-looking people so legend goes. In 2014 it’s booked the likes of Little Simz and Fatima Al Qadiri to play proving itself as a chaser of eclectic and experimental artists.
If you’re up for something a little different saunter over to Fasching jazz club. While it’s doesn’t host huge acts, it’s a cosy place where you can find yourself millimeters from the stage. Upcoming gigs include inc. and Jesse Boykins III.
Mapei has been around the block and back again. Beginning as a rapper, she worked on her debut album with Justice before deciding the direction she was going in was not right. During that time she lived in New York for four years, working in a Swedish restaurant and rooming with fellow-Swede Lykke Li for a while. At the age of 22 she moved back to Sweden where she headed in a different direction. This year, she’s made a name of herself with her RnB-pop tracks Don’t Wait and Change. For the former she’s even worked with Chance The Rapper on a remix. She’s poised to take her name to a much wider audience with the release of her debut album Hey Hey in September. [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/mapei/dont-wait-remix-mapei-chance[/soundcloud]
Many may already know Tove Lo as the voice behind Stay High, a Habits of her track Habits, which has scaled the Australian charts recently. Like many Swedes, Lo makes deliciously melodic pop that pours out emotion. This year, she released her debut EP Truth Serum- a tortured, yet beautifully polished set that introduced her as a pop-force to be reckoned with. Already she’s worked with huge producers, Xenomania and Swedish hitmaker Max Martin. She’s the perfect example of Stockholm’s love affair with emotional pop music. [soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/tovelo/habits[/soundcloud]
Earlier this year Robyn signed the first artist to her record label Konichiwa records. That artist happened to be Stockholm artist, Zhala who is making dark, distorted electronic music with a twist of pop (like any good Swede). Born and bred in Sweden she’s been compared to both Robyn and The Knife with the Scandinavian influences permeating her debut EP Prophet. She has quoted go-go dancing at Lesbian club, Donna Scam in Stockholm as one of her favourite activities (apart from finishing her debut album).[soundcloud]https://soundcloud.com/zhalazhala/prophet-feat-robyn[/soundcloud]
The pop world in Stockholm is seemingly dominated by females, but lo-fi RnB artist Per Magnusson (Sportsman) is holding up the male side well. He’s a self-named “pop melody whore” with a penchant for sparse beats and melancholic keys. On his debut EP released last year, he worked with Swedish production duo Montauk, creating a project that resonates with the long, dark Swedish winters.
Dumont Dumont is a Stockholm-based record label who have only released two singles as of yet, but are carving up a pretty good track record. The first release was Australian artist, Ry X’s debut single Berlin while the second release is Faux by Cardiff artist Novo Amor and Brighton artist Ed Tullett. While the young label is yet to release anything by a Swedish artist, the two releases undoubtedly have a Scandinavian air about them. Perhaps it’s the subtle combination of nordic folk with subtle tinges of electronica.
INGRD is a record label formed by Swedish royalty, Lykke Li, Miike Snow and Peter Bjorn and John. It was formed in 2012 with the intention of “creating straight from the heart right to the people without any middle hands”. Their current roster boasts artists like The Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow glory and film director cross musician, David Lynch. It’s a well-curated adult contemporary label that showcases some of the best Sweden has to offer, which if you’ve learnt anything from this read, is alot.
Rabid Records was founded by members of Gothenburg band, Honey Is Cool in 1998, however, today the label is run by Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer, better known as Swedish-duo The Knife. Over the past few years the label has released records by Fever Ray, Jenny Wilson, First Aid Kit and of course, The Knife. Rabid Records’ latest release was The Knife’s critically acclaimed Shaking The Habitual. In terms of a cool club of Stockholm’s elite, Rabid Records is the ultimate label.
Studio Barnhus is run by three Swedes, Axel Boman, Kornél Kovács, and Petter Nordkvist, with an intrinsic foot in Swedish electronic music. Petter releases music through the label under the moniker of Pedrodollar while Kovács is a radio presenter for an electronic music radio show, P3 Dans who also DJs and throws parties around Stockholm. Axel Boman is also an artist who released his debut album, the brilliant, Family Vacation last year. While the label is based in Stockholm, Studio Barnhus brings the Scandinavian parties all around the world having played gigs in Paris, London and Barcelona this year. Past releases on the label include HNNY, Baba Stiltz and Ex-Pylon.