Magnificent concert experience at this year's festival: The New North

Det nye nord, med premiere under Festspillene i Nord-Norge 2024. Foto: Øivind Arvola

What happens when seven songwriters take the pulse of the new Northern Norway, let the clichés rest, and instead find new words and stories about life and development in the north?

During the Festival of North Norway, artists Moddi, Lars Bremnes, Ingvild Austgulen, Frode Larsen, Risten Anine Gaup, Emil Karlsen, and Jon-Are Masternes (KLISH) will present new songs from the new north across genres such as rap, ballad, joik, and reggae - about the present and the future.

Field Work

"Northern Norway has changed," says Moddi. "When I started writing songs using the fieldwork method, I discovered that the songs I used to sing no longer matched reality. I sang about rowing in the twilight, while outside my living room window, salmon trailers thundered past on potholed roads. That made me think that more people should see this, and the idea of the project 'the new north' emerged."

New Stories

He has now involved other artists from the region to do as he has. Individually, they have visited different parts of the region to gather impressions, expressions, and inspiration for new music – music that could not have been written from a desk at home.

Time is a Privilege

He believes one reason the artists immediately said yes was that they could work on something long-term.
- "Normally, we chase hit after hit, to put it bluntly. And even though we are Northerners, we are seldom in the same place for more than seven hours. Those involved are happy to spend time – and get to know new places – and not just see backstages and stage edges. It has been fieldwork, where everyone could choose their location based on their own wishes, and stay in places they had not been before, experiencing our region up close: the smelters, the salmon cages, the landmarks, and the peripheries."


- It's the most ambitious project I've ever started. It has become a part of my life, and has resulted in me moving back to the region," says Moddi, who is in awe of what he has embarked on.
- The art of balladry has given me so much belonging, and a home – and now it desperately needs renewal – so that those growing up today can also feel at home. I owe that to the art of balladry," he says.


At the same time, he does not hide that he sometimes regrets what he has set out to do.
- "It's so bold – so arrogant, so I sometimes regret this. But then, the best thing in the whole world is to look back at songs that have arisen from nothing – and know that it's going to happen again. So, it's just to keep going, because there's so much interesting to write about."

Looking Forward

Moddi is looking forward to the concert in Harstad.
- "I've always had something new to present in Harstad, and this is still so fresh that I'm excited myself," he says. The project will have a concert in Bodø this March, before coming to Harstad on June 24.
- "Just this meeting between the artists is something you get only these two times – it's here you get to hear this in context," he says.

Role of the Festival

The Festival has been a central supporter of the project, with a songwriter camp and work display of new song material during the Festival in 2023. Moddi also gave a lecture on the project at the industry meeting "Nordaførr," and six of the artists performed new music.

Capturing the New North

- "On the occasion of the Festival's 60th anniversary, I'm pleased that we can present this project that tries to capture the new north," says festival director Ragnheiður Skúladóttir.
- "It is a profound, artistic, exploratory work aimed at tearing down worn stereotypes and painting a new and more nuanced picture of Northern Norway," she adds.
With its contribution to "The New North," the Festival of North Norway also aims to highlight the importance of art and music as mediums for societal debate and reflection.
- "'The New North' is more than just a music project; it's an attempt to engage with and understand modern Northern Norway in a deeper and more meaningful way. We hope that the audience, through these artistic expressions, will gain a richer and more varied insight into life and culture in our part of the world," says Skúladóttir.

On stage: Moddi, Ingvild Austgulen, Lars Bremnes, Risten Anine Gaup, Emil Karlsen, Frode Larsen, Jon-Are Masternes
Musicians: Joakim Kristiansen (bass), Mikael Pedersen Jacobsen (percussion), Øystein Čalbmigeađgi Myrvoll (keyboards / band leader)
Producer: Eirin Hammari /