Stockholm’s independent music scene has always been pretty healthy, with large numbers of artists and labels operating and doing exciting things outside the major label system. And it might be about to get a boost. Fool’s Gold Stockholm is a new festival and market, set to open for the first time at Tantolunden on August 18 with vinyl on sale from labels including PNKSLM Recordings, Lazy Octopus Records, Rama Lama Records, Adrian Recordings, Birds Records, Hybris, Strangers Candy, Welfare Sounds, Novoton, Rundgång Rekords, Startracks, Maternal Voice and Youth Recordings, and performances from artists including Mira Aasma and Kluster. Axel Franzén and Sixten Engqvist of Rama Lama records are running the event, so we caught up with them for a few words about what they had planned.
So where did the idea for the festival come from?
The idea came from Independent Label Market in London, Berlin and more, where independent labels are brought together to form one big market. We liked that idea and event but also wanted to give the live music and artists more attention and make it less stiff. So, we thought: why not combine a big market with a one day festival? The independent labels in Sweden are doing a great job right now promoting new artists and putting on shows and we want more people to discover that part of the music scene in Sweden, as well as giving the already engaged a fantastic day in the park. To make it a free event, outside in a park and suitable for all ages was also important since almost everything the indie scene does is in 18+ bars or clubs, costs money and engages a relatively small but passionate audience. Through making it more accessible and easier to just pop by, we’re giving everyone in Stockholm a chance to discover the indie scene and for the indie scene to discover and open the doors to a new audience.
What’s the exact plan for the festival? It’s a music market mixed with live shows, right? How did you go about recruiting the participating labels?
Exactly, at the festival area there will be a stage where bands are playing and a market with records, t-shirts and all the other weird stuff the labels are selling, but no weird old shit or wolf print clothes as at every other market. We know a lot of indie labels since we started writing about music and running Rama Lama, so we e-mailed the labels we thought would be a good fit and instantly got a positive response from most of them. When the festival was announced some of the labels who didn’t reply to our first mail seemed to regret not signing up directly but they will be very welcome to participate next year! We don’t want to act as gatekeepers, all suitable labels are welcome to join in the future.
Do you think the Stockholm independent label scene doesn’t get enough support from the music community here? And do you hope that events like Fool’s Gold can help change that?
We think the independent label scene in Stockholm is the strongest it has been in a long time but it can always get better. Many labels have a strong following and the goal of Fool’s Gold is both to help people familiar with one or a couple of labels find new ones, and to introduce brand new people to the growing scene. As we said the labels’ regular events are often held in bars or nightclubs with an entrance fee and are a bit inaccessible. This is a way of making the scene available to everyone which also makes it more exciting and is vital in order to have a continuous regrowth. In some ways, the indie scene doesn’t get enough support and we’re primarily speaking about public funds that heavily overlook ‘pop music’. Many public funds take the ‘popular’ bit of the term a bit too seriously and see all pop music as very commercial and self-funding, and therefore we’re not receiving as much funds as, for example, the good ol’ jazz or opera. What we love about the independent label scene in both Stockholm and other parts of Sweden is that we’re not waiting for anyone in the established business to ‘discover’ or ‘have interest’ in us. No one is ever going to ‘give us’ a festival and market like Fool’s Gold or a venue like Plan B in Malmö. There is an ambitious and hardworking DIY atmosphere that we think makes it both more personal and very special. The audience is great and always very supportive and friendly, everyone who goes to concerts, buys records or listens to independent music is as big a part as promoters and labels. With events like Fool’s Gold we hope to develop and bring the community closer to each other in order for the scene to grow.
What are some of the biggest challenges indie labels face today and what are the conditions that need to change for it to get better?
The economic part is by far the biggest challenge. Many people involved in the scene, including ourselves, are working an extra part-time job without earning any money from it [the labels]. We do it because we love it but sometimes it’s hard to find time to do everything as good as we want to. Getting more people engaged in the scene, buying records and going to gigs is essential, as well as getting the people in charge of the public funds to value pop music, if we want to grow the scene even more. It is also hard to find suitable venues for medium sized(200-500 people) live shows in Stockholm right now, something we hope we will be able to change in the future.
You’ve already announced two artists, Mira Aasma and Kluster. Who else is on the list and what are you hoping to showcase with the artists you’ve booked to play?
We’re announcing two bands a day this week from the labels participating in the live part of the festival. We would like the line up to show the variety of music that can be found on the independent labels, and we think it worked out great, it’s quite a nice mix that you will be able to see in Tanto. We don’t book the bands ourselves, the labels participating choose what band they want to play from their roster. That’s something we want to continue with forever with Fool’s Gold. After all, it’s a project where all the labels are included and valued and not what we as ‘organisers’ happen to like.
What kind of atmosphere should your visitors expect in Tantolunden on August 18?
Warm, familiar and inviting. Those three words might mean kind of the same thing but describe what the indie scene in Sweden is about these days and what we want Fool’s Gold to be. Come to Tanto, flick through some records, watch some bands you might love or never have heard of, hang out and don’t be afraid to talk with the labels if you want to do something similar yourself, it’s a very helpful environment and the indie scene always need more engaged people with big ambitions and a love for music.
And finally, how do you hope to develop Fools Gold festival in future?
We’re very excited to see how Fools Gold could develop in the future. Hopefully it can become more than just a festival and market. A platform for independent music creating possibilities to work together in order to continue developing the Swedish indie scene. Regarding the festival of course we want it to grow bigger, meaning more stages and labels for the Stockholm one but also throwing the same thing in Malmö and Gothenburg. We would also love to see some international exchange with primarily other Nordic labels, for example build Øresund bridge for indie music so to say since we both have an almost strangely big love for Danish indie music in Danish at the moment (check it out). First and foremost, we’re working our asses off in order to make August 18 the best possible experience for everyone and then take it from there. The budget is honestly a bit too tiny for this year, but mixing small budgets with big ambitions is something you’re used to when it comes to working with independent labels and learn from every time. If you’re reading this, have some spare kronor, and want to support Fools Gold you’re very welcome to donate via Swish to 123 073 26 77 and together we’ll make the festival and market the best possible. See you in Tanto!
Aug 18, 12:00-21:00, Fool’s Gold Stockholm, Tantolunden