In these ever chilly winter months, we need to find good excuses to experience life outside the confines of our cosy, hygge homes. Fortunately, Copenhagen has got it covered, with FROST Festival. Based around a set of esoteric concerts, which will see artists performing in unlikely spaces. Definite highlights will include Danish neoclassical pianist Nils Frahm performing at the world’s prettiest exhibition space, The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, and electronic pop doyen Dan Deacon performing at the city’s premiere Jazzhouse (equipped with bedazzling glitter ball, no less). I met with festival director Mikael Pass to chat about the history behind FROST, and what international audiences can expect from Scandinavia’s most exciting city festival.
Luke Richardson: What’s the story behind FROST, and what makes it different from the regular music festival experience?
Mikael Pass: The Copenhagen summers are filled with music events and festivals while the winters are dull, grey, depressing and quiet. We wanted to establish a music happening in the winter time that would get people out of their homes and share great music experiences and re-charge their cultural batteries. Apart from the timing, FROST differentiates itself from other festivals by curating shows in alternative spaces and rooms the public does not have access to normally. We try to “match” the performing artists with the space they perform in and this way take the experience to a new and hopefully higher level.
How do you define the contemporary Danish music scene and why do you think there has been such huge international interest in the homegrown talent here?
The past 5-10 years have seen a boom in music collectives, small DIY-labels and alternative festivals. Before bands were competing to get a record deal, today it’s more important to be a part of the right band-community where musicians inspire one another. I think this is one of the key reasons for the development in the music scene. This combined with a a big talent-base, of-course, and a will to take chances artistically.
As a festival programmer, what is the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in the planning process?
To convince international artists to perform in alternative venues. They don’t know the city or the festival and feel more comfortable in regular venues. This is the third edition of FROST and I feel that there is a growing awareness of what we are doing – both here in Denmark and abroad. The festival seems to have a good reputation and we do our best to keep it that way. This also makes it easier for us to do alternative shows with foreign bands, as they seem to trust us. Our opening party at the Museum of Natural History saw the Austrain band Elektro Guzzi perform amongst dinosaur skeletons and stuffed animals. So, yeah, we are getting there…
We are all music lovers with open ears and hearts. All music genres are welcome – as long as the quality is high and the artists make an effort to push the boundries or cross genres one way or the other. “Curiosity” and “Quality” are two of the main curatorial cornerstones. And then of course our mission is to match bands with the spaces. Sometimes we find a beautiful or interesting space and discuss what bands – Danish or international – we would love to see perform in this particular space or which band would contribute to the overall story telling of the event. For example – when we found the diesel engine museum “Dieselhouse” tucked away in the old port of Copenhagen, it was obvious to us that the perfect match for this venue would be Efterklang, who recently travelled to the ghost town of Piramida in nothern Norway to do field recordings in old factory spaces.What event are you most proud of setting up, and what are you most looking forward to?
Indians, Iceage and Baby In Vain.
FROST runs across Copenhagen venues throughout the month of February until March 2nd. Visit the festival website for more information and to snap up some tickets.