A midsummer night’s beat

Summer solstice.  Birch trees gently whistle, as the evening breeze strokes their leaves. An old transit radio plays tango melodies from a time gone by. The water sizzles on the hot stones of the wooden sauna. Three young ladies giggle away as they head for the nearby meadow, collecting seven different flowers that will make them dream of their future husbands. Accordion music and the murmur of a happy Finnish crowd echo from the other side of the lake, where hundreds of people have gathered for “lavatanssit” – a traditional Finnish open-air dance.

Most people would say the Finnish holiday Midsummer, with all its customs and traditions, ultimately is about the light and the midnight sun.

We claim the Finnish summer is just as much about the sounds. 

We’re a few hours away from Midsummers eve, and a week away from the start of our extensive media and professional visiting programme. As part of our UK initiative, we’ve invited a number of British music industry and media representatives to four major Finnish festivals. We want offer them first-hand encounters with Finnish music and the people behind it, and give them an up to date picture of the Finnish music scene. 

The festival season in Helsinki kicks off with a high-energy metal and rock weekend. The city will be filled with distorted guitars and powerful vocals 26-30 June, when Finland’s largest metal festival Tuska Open Air Festival and festival newcomer Rock the Beach open their festival areas east and west of the city centre. The following weekend the Kuudes Aisti festival hosts a subculture celebration at the industrial 19th century blocks of Sörnäinen, where the sounds will range from indie and punk, to rock and electronic. And in August, a jubilee awaits, as Flow Festival celebrates its 10th festival with a spectacular line-up with both up and coming and established acts from indie-rock and soul, to jazz and contemporary club sounds.

The Finnish summer might be short, but there’s no shortage of interesting opportunities for Finnish music.

During the final months of Music Finland’s UK initiative, Finnish music will be widely featured in a number of different events in London and elsewhere in the UK.  The Ja Ja Ja clubs return in September, presenting monthly shows with the best of new Nordic music. November sees the first Ja Ja Ja Festival, a two-day event celebrating Nordic music and culture at London’s Roundhouse. Echo Chamber, the club night co-organised with Kaiku Studios and Notting Hill Arts Club, is back this autumn with a fresh mix of new Finnish sounds and local British talent. The preparations for this year’s World Music Expo WOMEX held in Cardiff 23-27 October are also in full speed, and details on an exclusive world, folk and jazz music festival with an all-Finnish line-up is to be announced next week.

We are thrilled to be inviting a group of British industry guests to the Music & Media Finland conference, Finland’s most important music industry event with over 150 panelists and speakers, and with an estimated 700 participants. Held in Tampere 17-10 October, the conference also presents the Lost in Music showcase event, featuring 120 fresh artists at 16 venues all over town.

Details on the upcoming events in the UK will be released within a few weeks. Meanwhile, have a great Midsummer!

Written by Jenni Tuovinen, Music Finland's project assistant in the UK.