Club Preview: Ja Ja Ja- a Nordic affair

Originally published on Londonist September 27, 2011

Scandinavian and Nordic music receives a unique London showcase with the re-launch of Ja Ja Ja, a monthly club night dedicated to introducing the most beguiling and exciting of the region’s bands to the city.

As autumn leaves settle across London and woolly cardigans become a winter wardrobe mainstay it’s tempting to contemplate hibernation. So to shake away the winter gloom Ja Ja Ja shows the city how Northern Europe deals with really dark cold winter nights. Turns out it’s by creating sublime and breezy pop music.
Each month, Ja Ja Ja will bring exciting and innovative Nordic bands to the UK, in partnership with NOMEX, an organisation exporting and promoting the region’s music, with the aim of bringing like-minded music fans together.
Taking place at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen on Thursday 29 September, Ja Ja Ja features live performances from Norway’s Razika – four 19-year-old girls playing ska-pop, Finnish electro-pop sister duo LCMDF and Icelandic electro trio Sykur, as well as Ja Ja Ja DJs. From October, the event settles into its regular home at Islington’s’ Lexington.
Londonist spoke to Ja Ja Ja editor-in-chief and promoter Rich Thane to discuss London’s importance to Scandinavian and Nordic bands, and the audience they can expect.
What is Ja Ja Ja’s philosophy?
Many of the bands we feature have never played a show in the UK before so it has become really special for both artist and fan. See, over in Scandinavia – Sweden especially – bands are used to being paid 1000 Euro for, say, a small club show. There’s not that kind of money on offer over here, and any promoter that says different is lying. So if we can help a handful of bands to play in one of the world’s most musically rich cities and give them exposure to the industry and fans who might not have the chance to see them. It can only be a good thing.
What’s special about Nordic and Scandinavian music?
Each Nordic country is very different musically and of course that comes down to many different reasons – from environment, climate, politics, population – but one common thread that runs through the five regions is a pure and honest love for pop music, and I’m talking pop in any form. Each country has their own special way of writing melodies and hooks, their use of the English language perhaps – it has a certain naivety, playfulness. But ultimately it just clicks with me. There’s something about that part of the world that just resonates.
Why is London such a good city for Scandinavian bands and is it a key city for them to play?
Musically, it’s one of the most important cities in the world. An aim for these bands is to be able to showcase their music in front of the industry – you can argue all you like but the fact remains that the majority of the UK industry is in London. That’s just the way it is. Of course, they may already have success in their home country but our aim is to be a little helping hand in a, hopefully, fruitful international career.
If you could hold Ja Ja Ja anywhere in London where would it be?
If we were to do a special one-off show I’d love to host one at the Union Chapel in Islington. It’s just a glorious setting – some of the best shows I’ve ever seen have been there. This month’s is at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, though, and you know what – I am really psyched about it….
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