The seventh edition of the Tallinn Music week hosted 199 bands, featuring a wide range of different styles across the city during the 25th to the 28th of March. Among the rich program many events related with music were offered including conferences, talks with experts, heaps of concerts everywhere, special menus in restaurants as well as art exhibitions. In spite of the troubles that some of the participants had to get Tallinn, like Felix de Luca, a songwriter from Denmark which missed the flight in Helsinki, leading to a journey by boat, or even having your car break down on the way from Moscow (as it was for some delegates), nothing could put a damper of the festival’s kick off on Thursday.
The first of many difficult decisions began with Thursday’s opening parties; Danish party at Von Krahl and Fenno-Ugria Party at Kloostri Ait. The latter celebrates the traditions and culture of Obinitsa, a village in the South of Estonia. The opening event celebrates the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture, and as a result the venue was full of folklore and handmade food and handcraft beer from Setomaa. Suitable for people with all kinds of tastes, the party combined traditional music with local food such as Sõir (cheese), Haugikotlett koduleival (fish in black bread), Sibulapirukas (seto pie with onions and cabbage) and Peediamps (beetroot pies with cheese). On the other side of the Old Town The Sexicans opened Von Krahl’s Danish party, after their show some fresh Copenhagen air was brought to Estonia with the hushed voices of Lowly. After the Jazz music of Rune Funch Picture Music and Emil De Waal + Spejderrobot, the performance of the hurricanes Slowolf and Felix De Luca gave a boost to the party before the end.
After the amazing parties, it was quite difficult for some delegates and press wake up early the next day, and between many sips of coffee the conferences began at Nordic Hotel Forum on Friday. Speeches by the President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who was half joking half seriously promoting Rock & Roll music, as well as Estonian Head of Nordea Petri Nikkilä, who claimed to thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to cooperate with the program and contribute Estonia’s cultural scene. Concluding the opening speeches was Helen Sildna, Director of Tallinn Music Week, who expressed her thanks to all of this year’s participants.
The speakers’ words were accompanied with sparkling wine, creating smiles and laughs despite the hot and sometimes controversial topics covered throughout the day from music piracy to the role of women in the music industry. There’s no better example of how a woman has to fight to get to the top in the music industry than the singer and songwriter Viv Albertine, whose inspiring speech discussed her experience as a musician in 70s all-girl punk band “The Slits”. Despite growing up in a time where being a lady did not include mastering an instrument, as well as being constantly scrutinized by the public, Viv valiantly overcame all obstacles throughout her career adding in her speech, “What matters is the passion you have, but you have to be good enough mentally”.
Continuing on the topic of women in the music industry, in another live discussion five women spoke about their experience from different top positions in the business: Anna Sjölund (Head Promoter at LiveNation Sweden), Eva Palm (Head Promoter at Live Nation Baltics), Anne Erm (founder and head of Jazzkaar Festival), Paulina Ahokas (Director of Tampere Hall Congress and Concert Centre) and Maarja Nuut (musician and songwriter). Showing that great management did not exclude businesswomen, the best example was Anne Erm, who has been running the Jazzkaar Festival for 26 years since 1990; a time when the saxophone was almost forbidden.
Among the powerful women were equally successful men including Estonian Michael Pärt who talked about his experience composing for Peter Jackson’s film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. He has been editing soundtracks for films for a while, but one of his most remarkable accomplishments was his work as a music editor for a film directed by the Prince of Thailand, Chatrichalerm Yukol. The project resulted in an extra-long movie depicting the country’s rich history despite many financial problems which were eventually solved by the nation’s wealthiest in support of the endeavor of portraying their rich history through film. “It was incredible how the Prince was all the time with the book of History, following it word by word and correcting everybody when it was needed” His latest work in cinema has been Cinderella, which is already on the big screen.
Saturday began with a delightful taste of a traditional Vienna morning as the audience relished various croissants while enjoying talks on Austrian music. In addition to the country’s support of music and the Wave Vienna music festival, the country hosts fantastic artists such as “Moonlight breakfast” and “Polkov” who have made the journey to Tallinn for TMW. Despite many bands searching for success through emigrating to countries such as England or Germany, Franz Hergovich and Tatjana Domany (both part of the Austrian Music Export movement) insist that Austria is an equally supportive environment. According to the two Austrians their country has been supportive of music for ages and they want to encourage musicians to come to Austria to develop their craft. According to Wolfgang Grob “An example of the compromise of Austria between their own musicians and international bands is the Waves Festival”. All of them invited the audience to come to the Tyrolean country to enjoy the richly varied music environment.
However, not everything in this week was just concerts and talks, people need to eat and drink as well in between. Consiering this, there’s nothing better than beer to go with a great music event and thankfully Põhjala Brewery organized the first International craft beer event in Estonia called Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend. With brews from Italy, Spain, U.K., Norway, Denmark and many more, beer lovers could savor 4 different beers from 16 big breweries and 2 different ones from 8 smaller breweries each day. Starting at 17:00 you had three hours and a half to have a sip of 100ml from all the different breweries before they changed their beers, then you were ready again to try the new selection. Between Ibus (bitterness scale) and bubbles the owners were explaining everything about the process of making this beverage, its properties and any questions the beer tasters had. Serving cheese, bagels with English beef and mustard, and burgers from Burger Box the event was so good that nobody wanted to leave.
Rubbing shoulders with musicians was possible for everyone while taking advantage of the great discounts of this year’s featured restaurants. Not only the bands, but also delegates and press got a chance to mingle throughout the week at Pegasus, Sfäär, Leib resto ja Aed or Kaerajaan, where the Polish band Jazzpospolita and Russian group On-the-Go enjoyed the special menu. These hotspots did not want to miss the opportunity to show off their tasty and affordable Estonian cuisine as international clients took them by storm. Starters ranged from creamy Parsnips, Baltic herring salad to lens tomato soup and led up to delicious entrees such as braised lamb and rabbit legs with potato mash & black currant wine.
Despite the rich music and food, TMW catered to those on a tight budget with their free city stage programme. No location in the city was safe as unique venues and shows were created from a hip hop showcase at bike shop, Kimomo at Jooks, to an Estonian concert at lifestyle shop Homeart.
Four intense days where the music was the main course served with the best sides of the capital are the best way to describe this year’s TMW. With a multisensory approach to enjoying music, this year’s Tallinn Music Week whetted the spectators’ appetite for years to come. Art galleries, cafeterias, factories, music stores, and even the living rooms of local Estonians were among the original stages this year, demonstrating that music performances can be profound in any location.