Young, hot, creative, political and urbane. Malmö’s music scene embodies a passion that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. An underdog that always wins through, and has its own style. Here, club connoisseur and freelance writer Nadia Bhere tells us why music lovers should choose Malmö:
No disrespect to Stockholm and Gothenburg. But it is actually in Sweden’s third largest city that things are really happening. Malmö has long had a reputation as one of Scandinavia’s hottest music cities and it is not without reason that the city has turned into a paradise for the young at heart. More specifically, the city in Sweden that has rejuvenated fastest thanks to the large influx of young people from all over the country.
“If you dream of an limitless music scene in a big city, don’t move to Stockholm, move to Malmö.” That was the advice around the turn of the millennium when entertainment journalist Per Bjurman praised Malmö as a music and club city in a column for Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. That followed a visit to KB, Inkonst and, what he called the world’s best record store, Musik och Konst.
From pop city to trendy city
Around the turn of the millennium, five new city residents from Småland became synonymous with Sweden’s southernmost city. Thanks to pop hits such as Erase/Rewind, Lovefool and My Favourite Game, The Cardigans conquered the world and put Malmö on the international map. The Cardigans also became synonymous with Tambourine Studios, started by members of Eggstone in 1999. Bands such as Dipper and Monkeystrikes also recorded their music there, as did The Ark and Bob Hund,
Malmö being declared “Pop City of the Year” in 2000. The award was presented by Sveriges Radio for a vibrant, inspired and committed music scene.
In retrospect, the award can also be seen as a symbol of the starting point for Malmö’s record-breaking rapid transformation – from a tired, worn and grey industrial city to a young, hip and trendsetting student city. One consequence of the founding of Malmö University and the opening of the Öresund Bridge – two undoubtedly decisive factors in Malmö’s transformation which helped create brand new conditions, demand and inputs to revive public entertainment – even during the week.
Party for all the world
While the nightlife in the university town of Lund continues to be characterised by dusty and high-spirited traditions, the heart of young Skåne’s music and club scene has moved to the old industrial city of Malmö, making it the symbol of something new – a pluralism of cultural expression. In part this is down to Mix Musik’s presence, which has created a platform for folk and world music. By inviting musicians from around the world, the organisers have also highlighted the city’s own population – a natural meeting place that has created dialogue about integrated, culture and diversity. Arts centre Inkonst has also helped to create a venue for Swedish and international writers, filmmakers, musicians and club organisers, with financial support from the City of Malmö. A tradition that Moriska Paviljongen is now also taking further.
It is precisely this political commitment that is so unique and peculiar to Malmö’s entertainment scene. There is an incredibly strong will and commitment to creating fun and change at the same time in the city. Malmö is governed by the forces of idealism, where partying and saving the world go hand in hand. Whether it be, for instance, Kontrapunkt, organisers of an electronic Intifada, a concert in support of Palestine, or the Möllevång Festival, which practises grassroots democracy by creating a festival with 100 local bands and mobilising volunteers from the people for the people. Or Asylgruppen, which organises parties for refugees without documents by collecting money thanks to artists who perform for free.
However, in parallel with the success story, Malmö has continued to suffer from a poor reputation and social problems. It’s right there – at the intersection of the new and the old, between the opportunities and the challenges – that Malmö, paradoxically, is most interesting from an entertainment perspective.
An underdog often described as Sweden’s Berlin, in terms of population, creatively and financially. In Malmö, there is basically something to do every day, no matter how little money you have. Like a global city, it has both breadth and depth, while Malmö’s geographical smallness means that everything can be experienced in one night if you wish. No matter what music you like, Malmö has something to offer: Rock, pop, jazz, soul, hip-hop, house, synth, techno, reggae, salsa, blues, tango, classical, experimental or Balkan rave. Each year, the Malmö Festival, the largest and oldest festival in Sweden is testament to the city’s musical diversity, offering its residents a week of concerts. Broad, narrow, Swedish, foreign, new, old, local and international – for everyone to experience, and for free.
Pop to hip hop
Much has happened since we got a bridge to Copenhagen. Perhaps largely to the surprise of Malmö’s own residents. In this era of globalisation, not only has city landmark the Kockum crane moved to South Korea and been replaced by a Turning Torso. Pop queen Nina Persson has moved to New York and been replaced by a hip hop king from Lund. Timbuktu, or Jason Diakité, is now the city’s leading brand, along with colourful rapper Gnu??i. Malmö’s reputation as a rock and pop city has been expanded to include soul and hip hop, reflecting a new generation of young locals with foreign backgrounds – Advance Patrol, Pauline and Lazee, to name just a few. Arash whose Middle Eastern-influenced radio hits have made him a bigger star overseas than at home, also falls into this category.
A lot has happened in Malmö’s music and club scene in the last ten years, and much more will definitely happen in the next ten years. Especially now we have become one of the most modern concert venues in Europe, with visits from global superstars such as Leonard Cohen, Elton John, Jay-Z and Kanye. Now international music events such as the Eurovision Song Contest are also on the programme.
But as host of legendary radio show P3 Soul and Malmö resident Mats Nileskär said: “It is always the history behind the music that is more important than the music itself.“ That quote can also be applied to Malmö as an entertainment city.
By Nadia Bhere, journalist.
Listen to new and old music from Malmö on Spotify!
Nadia’s favourite clubs:
Kristallen – Malmö’s craziest club concept, combining music, art and performance. Often focused around a theme that inspires the most imaginative and unexpected decorations and fashion choices.
Ode To Joy – Musical meetings, live bands and massive dance joy can be found at the club started and run by former Ark members Martin Axén and Jepson.
Oh Baby I Like It Raw – A ragu of disco, hip-hop, house, reggae tutor and full-blooded Italian rock with two of Malmö’s best DJs.
More music tips:
Music Doc Film Festival started in Malmö five years ago and, as the name suggests, is a festival of music documentaries. The festival is run as a non-profit event and is currently in Gothenburg, Stockholm and New York.
Popkollo Malmö was started in 2007 and is a recurring music camp with the aim of increasing the proportion of young girls and women involved in the country music scene. The project is run on a not-for-profit basis by female music fans in the city
Ladyfest is Malmö’s feminist cultural association that promotes a more equal music scene by organising clubs, concerts and debates with women in mind.
Tomboy is Malmö’s only homonormative rock and pop club. An obvious meeting place for party-minded dykes and sweet pop lads. Homo, bi, queer and straight.
Malmö Sommarscen puts on around 200 productions at over 40 locations in Malmö every summer. Music, theatre, dance and film for children, young people and adults. Free!
Here’s where it’s happening
Moriska Paviljongen http://www.moriskapaviljongen.se/
Belle Epoque http://belle-epoque.se/musik/
Cuba Café http://www.cubacafe.se/