Jesse Markin. Photo: Elis Jaansoo
Friday, 04 September 2020 19:00
Estonian Life No. 35 2020 - Elis Jaansoo and Vincent Teetsov
From Thursday August 27th to Sunday August 30th, the streets of Estonia’s capital were astir with the movement of musicians, industry professionals, and live music lovers attending the 11th Tallinn Music Week. It’s a distinctive festival in the way audiences see many brief concerts, from a vast range of genres, in unorthodox venues across the city.
With Elis Jaansoo there reporting on behalf of Eesti Elu and Estonian Music Week, we could just about reach out from the front row, see the swirling stage lights, and feel the resonant rhythms.
On opening day, I Wear* Experiment rolled out energetic electronic soundscapes. To follow, rapper and singer-songwriter Jesse Markin came over with his band from Finland, to engulf the audience with cavernous synth pads and guitar. His lyrics and vocal delivery had many stories to tell. The evening finished strong with Anna Kaneelina and her raw, vulnerable set of ethereal pop.
On the TIKS Records stage on day two, jonas.f.k (Jonas Kaarnamets), who founded Frankie Animal and who also plays guitar with NOËP and Erki Pärnoja, started things up with songs from his swaggering new solo EP buda.01. His songs weave neatly between alternative dance music and elements of sophisti-pop.
Vera Vice opened the IDA Radio night at the new Kai Art Centre, which felt so fitting for the duo’s poetic ambient sounds and hypnotic vocals.
Right after, Jarek Kasar, also known as Chalice, brought a presence to the stage that can only be described as muhe in Estonian. His special DJ set “Põhjad” took the audience on a journey of instrumentals that made us smile, head bob, and of course laugh, as Kasar does in every live show—even without much talking!
Viljandi Folk Music Festival was whisked up to the Viljandi Folk Stage at Telliskivi Square on Saturday. Mari Kalkun opened the evening with her sentimental, powerful vocals and Southern Estonia-inspired songs. Arno Tamm and Tintura dedicated their concert to the music of Siberian Estonians—remembering their traditions and moving forward with them through their contemporary vision.
From the jazz stage, you could hear the entire spectrum of the genre. At one point, Pillikud’s three singers lifted spirits with their bright and exuberant voices. But then, the Nordic tornado that is free jazz trio The Meat blew through with bold piano, drums, and double bass.
Even from afar, there was a comprehensive program of broadcasted videos from the festival’s conference, accessible through the DigiPro pass that was on offer. All manner of topics were discussed in relation to the ecosystem of live music and three key themes: Music Industry 2.0, Sustainable Development Goals, and Neighbours.
Thinking about the current state of the music industry, music supervisor Nis Bøgvad said “Nowadays we know the price of everything, but we don't know the price of music.” File sharing and online streaming of music has made it difficult for recording artists to make a living. However, there is hope in the production of films and TV series. Bøgvad spoke about the system in which music is found by music supervisors so that it can be licensed for use in movies and popular shows.
Later, Giacomo Bottà and Harri Homi gave some Finnish perspectives on the gentrification process and the ways urban planning can take into consideration the desires of multiple stakeholders across a city. The panel talked about Tallinn’s neighbourhood of Telliskivi, as a local counterpoint.
In another talk, photography, fonts, fashion, parlance, and colour schemes were scrutinized as identity defining features for musicians, by Effi Summers. People like David Bowie come to mind when you think of artists who have capitalized on visual “eras” to create a story surrounding their music, but it was engaging to see so many other contemporary examples that you might overlook otherwise.
2020 has been a rough year so far for anyone in the performing arts sector, performers and venues alike, but the biggest take-away from these dialogues was the genuine desire to persist and respond intelligently to long-standing music industry dilemmas that need solutions. Watch out for potential lengthier discussions of these conference topics in the coming weeks.
We hope you were able to enjoy highlights of this festival online. Tallinn Music Week was a refreshing few days and reminder of what we can all enjoy next June, here in Toronto, at Estonian Music Week.
Written by Elis Jaansoo
and Vincent Teetsov
DJ Heidy Purga with young attendees of the festival conference. Photo: TMW