Explore: Oslo's Urban Music Scene
In November, myself and The Wrap Up’s UK Rap Columnist Shireen Fenner were invited to Oslo, the capital of Norway for a Norwegian music tour. Honestly, we were a tad sceptical of the trip; the main reason being that we couldn’t understand the language; we were unsure of how their music would translate and become relatable. Arriving at the dark and beautiful Grims Grenka hotel, I was given a smart HTC Windows 8X phone to record my trip…
Once rested, we woke up bright and early to walk to the Xpress Comfort Hotel – a clean but very quirky music hangout – a music lover’s dream hotel. We were introduced to Trude, a mentor to young Norwegian musicians. We then saw rappers Phats The Physician and 17-year-old Cezinando take to their graffiti-covered makeshift stage. Although a large portion of the rapping was not English, we were blown away by the sophisticated self-produced beats and their flow – I was surprised that something pretty incomprehensible to me could sound so exciting.
We then headed off the Oslo Opera House, an overwhelmingly large white marble-looking building surrounded by water. We were given an in-depth tour before we were allowed to climb up to the roof to experience the view – an exciting if not terrifying experience, given the wet and windy Norwegian weather.
Next up, we went to an urban music venue called Café Mono – walking in, I was sure I had been transported to Shoreditch or Camden. It was the kind of bar I loved – dim yet colourful, friendly and bursting with character. I fought the urge to indulge in a rum as I watched a mobile orchestra perform for us. When I say mobile orchestra, I mean it literally – these guys put on a bizarrely fascinating show with their HTC phones. Confused? Check out their app.
The following stop was one that touched my heart. We travelled to the Urban Sound Music Studio to visit the artists who ran the ‘MusicalFieldsForever’ project; they have been working on art installations using music and light that stimulate individuals with disabilities. I was then nominated to demonstrate how one piece worked, which saw me take up the slightly humiliating task of playing with a large stuffed whale. (By the end of it, I actually found it so entertaining I didn’t want to put it down.)
For our final destination, we rolled up to the Jaeger Club where DJ Abstract gave us a quick tutorial on the decks, spinning bass-filled house music. The club had two floors consisting of a cosy bar upstairs and a dancefloor downstairs; the pink flashing lights on the ceiling giving it a retro vibe. We spent the rest of our night there, dancing to alternative beats, ranging from b-boy sounds to house.
Although the journey to the airport was a tad painful given our late night, I wasn’t quite ready to leave. The music scene in Oslo surpassed my expectations – I felt the city was distinctly ahead of its time in comparison to other European destinations, such as Paris, and reminded me of music in London – (mainly) unpretentious, full of character, unafraid of the unusual and rich in diversity.
Words: Maz Khan (@MazHalima)