“Enough creative space for absolutely everyone” is a pretty good ethos for any festival to have, but it seems that Tallinn Music Week is leading the way not just for what showcase events can achieve, but for any form of cultural celebration. Celebrating it’s 10th anniversary, the week-long gathering covers so much more than just music; film, a design market, public talks, a contemporary arts programme, and a creative impact conference – focusing on gender politics, civic initiatives, and better cities – are all given as prominent a platform as the 259 artists scheduled to play.
And unlike similar events in the UK, Tallinn Music Week benefits from full backing, economic and otherwise, from the government. Estonia wowed the world a few years ago with the introduction of an “e-Residency” – “a new digital nation for global citizens” runs the blurb – an initiative that signaled the country’s desire to be at the forefront of change and a modern Europe. The President, Kersti Kaljuaid, is continuing this drive, and is heavily involved in the promotion and execution of the festival, giving the opening address and lending her weight to several campaigns such as Keychange, of which Tallinn Music Week is an Official Partner.
The scope and ambition of the event is truly something to behold and, just like last year, DiS will be there to soak it all in. But in between talks by Harvard Professors on urban planning, economic activists, and socially responsible entrepreneurs, there is the small matter of some of the finest up and coming European artists to watch, from mental to jazz to classical and techno – and everything in between. The “death of genre” has been much discussed during previous editions, and the festival has a healthy appetite for musical democracy; as we noted last year, all types of music “are given equal recognition and everyone is encouraged to step outside their genre comfort zone.”
So, who to see? Well, we could play the great Name Game and let our curiosity for bizarre monikers guide us. That would lead us to the blitzkrieg insanity metal of Rotten Sperm, the stark electronica of Pocket Knife Army, the indie-pop of Intergalactic Lovers, and the ambient electro of the unpronounceable ckh9dh44. Or we could follow critical acclaim and see the ice-cold electro-pop of Maria Minerva, the indie-punk of Suzi Wu, the “femme-powered horror rap” of Fever Dream, and the contemporary classical of experimental pianist Francesco Tristano.
And then there’s Mart Avi, Estonian pop wunderkind and the type of artist whose music inspires scholarly research as much as manic dancing. “Conceptronica,” said prominent music writer Simon Reynolds, “music for trans-humanist wavelengths,” says the festival’s website. Performing in trainers and trenchcoat – and, frequently, under an open umbrella – Avi looks and sounds like someone who’s spent an equal amount of time in 1980’s East Berlin and the dystopian vision of LA in Blade Runner; “avant-garde” doesn’t quite do him justice. But his futuristic, neo-noir pop has earned him lashings of acclaim and music prizes, and international recognition surely awaits. He’s precisely the type of artist that an event like Tallinn Music Week excels at uncovering and promoting; here’s hoping our own journey of musical discovery uncovers a few more.
Tallinn Music Week takes place in Tallinn, Estonia from the 2 to 8 April. For more information, and to purchase conference and festival passes, please visit the festival’s official website.
Photo Credit: Patrik Tamm