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Bergen - The Picturesque Norwegian Town with a Rising Music Scene

Nauuda at Vill Vill Vest
Nauuda at Vill Vill Vest | © Sverre Breivik
Sigrid, Kygo, Röyksopp – these are just a sampling of the musical masterminds hailing from the beautiful country of Norway. While the nation is known for hosting the Oslo-based annual music festival Øyafestivalen, there’s another festival on the horizon that’s proven to be a refreshing oasis of rising talent: Vill Vill Vest.

Vill Vill Vest

Vill Vill Vest (Wild Wild West) is a Bergen-based conference and festival whose popularity has grown since it was first introduced in 2016. The two-day music event, which is similar to the world-renowned SXSW festival held in Austin, Texas, is filled with intriguing panels and discussions plus vibrant live performances from some of the best musical acts from Bergen.

This year marked the third edition of VVV, which was celebrated in a big way featuring over 60 artists across multiple genres at some of Bergen’s most alluring venues. There was also the added edge of the conference, which featured a rare conversation with the crème de la crème among the electronic music front, Röyksopp.

Röyksopp at Vill Vill Vest © Helge Brekke

The event also included a chat with DFA Records co-founder Johnathan Galkin, famous for LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, Hot Chip, plus a bevy of other outstanding artists. Not to go without mention was the collaboration with Bergen International Film Festival in featuring the Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary about rapper-singer M.I.A. entitled MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A.

Nauuda at Vill Vill Vest © Sverre Breivik

Nauuda

We sat down with one of Norway’s most promising DJ-producer acts and VVV performers, Nauuda, consisting of Jakob Eines and Alex-André Aanonsen. Signed to Bergen-based record label Brilliance, the duo brought a hint of bass-thumping hip-hop and mellow house music to the upstairs of Østre. Considering this was their second-ever live performance, the guys’ confident poise behind the decks gives off an air of experience that’s well beyond their four-year tenure. “I think the Norwegian scene has a lot to offer, especially in the kind of indie house and electronic genre. I feel like there are a lot of Norwegian producers that really dare to not just follow the highway and just go into different ways to express themselves outside of what people usually do,” Jakob says of the uniqueness of Norwegian DJ-producers.

Orions Belte at Vill Vill Vest © August Kraft Fossmark

At a sit-down with Simen Korneliussen, head of the music portion of VVV, he stated that though Vill Vill Vest is an amateur scene, the level is really high. “When I was programming the festival, we [had] a couple of black metal bands, and some of the musicians play in several bands. It was hard to place the bands around because the drummer from this heavy black metal band [was] also playing in a pop band. It kind of develops new sounds.”

TØFL at Vill Vill Vest © Adrian Birkeland

The distinctive crossovers have resulted in a music culture exclusive to Bergen. From indie rockers TØFL to the sultry R&B crooning of Sofie Hamre, it has proven to be a special something-something for every music lover. The multi-genre outfit that truly stole our hearts and compelled our slick dance moves were GURLS (quite literally). The trio delivered an energetic set that drew a massive crowd and left some festival-goers waiting in an outside line just to get a taste of the soulful, jazzy pop confections the talented dames were dishing.

GURLS at Vill Vill Vest © Otilie Brubæk Stokseth

Korneliussen says, “As I mentioned, there are so many people that express themselves in different ways. I’d like to see that get pushed internationally and blow up more than with just the Soundcloud culture.” Alex-André adds, “I’d also like to see some people try to get more out of their comfort zone. Some of the most recent artists from Norway are producers, like Alan Walker and Kygo, but it’s so easy for younger people to just kind of follow that pattern. It’s really fun when people break out of that curve and try to express themselves in ways other than what they’ve heard.”

Margrete at Vill Vill Vest © Adrian Birkeland

No doubt the conference component of VVV would not have come to fruition without the cosign from Brak, an artist and business development organisation that has covered the west coast of Norway for 21 years. Triple-threat Vegard Moberg operates as a board member and head of the music conference for VVV, but also works as the managing director of Brak. Moberg says, “When I started out in pre-Internet era, it was only me and my friends. It was very, very difficult to make a living out of music and to basically shift from being a passionate person interested in music to becoming a professional was close to impossible. So, our main aim with the festival and the conference is to educate young people in how to make a living from music and also to make the connection between being young talent in both national and international music business.” Along with his colleague, Moberg was responsible for curating approximately 40 different talks, panels and seminars held across two days.

Amalie Holt Kleive at Vill Vill Vest © Helge Brekke