The Ja Ja Ja Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is touring Austria. For the tenth time, Ink Music, in cooperation with WUK, is gathering a best-of of Scandinavian music. Astrid Exner (WUK) spoke to Anders Meisner from Music Export Denmark (MXD).
Astrid Exner (WUK): The Ja Ja Ja Festival, started as Spot on Denmark, celebrates its 10th anniversary in Vienna in January. What a success story!
Anders Meisner: It’s a huge success. For me, the JA JA JA is an example of how a long-term collaboration on a particular project can pay off in the end. Many tickets are being sold for the festival. That’s because we as a team – Ink Music, MXD, WUK and Ja Ja Ja- have all moved in the right direction. It’s one of our most successful export projects. Mainly because it had the time to grow organically.
To which band from ten years Ja Ja Ja do you remember your favourite anecdote?
Anders Meisner: We once had a ten hours delay coming from Copenhagen. I was on the road with the Danish band Dad Rocks. I called Ink and warned Hannes that we might have to cancel. But the WUK was already filling up and it was too late for a cancellation. Of course the band missed their soundcheck and everything. We took a taxi from the airport, the band tuned their guitars in the taxi and went straight on stage from there. They played a great show. It was nerve-wracking at the time, but in retrospect it’s a funny memory.
How does the Ja Ja Ja Festival contribute to bringing Scandinavian and Nordic culture closer to audiences in other countries?
Anders Meisner: One of the main reasons for the success of the Ja Ja Ja Festival is that the audience is very open-minded. People buy tickets for completely new, unknown acts. They are ready to be surprised. It’s like opening a chocolate egg with music in it. That’s one of the reasons why the festival is so fun: a lot of unexpected things can happen. The bands love to play at WUK. They always want to come back because the audience gives them a good feeling. That’s how great shows happen, because the bands want to return that feeling directly to the audience.
Do you recognise any particular patterns in your work with Danish bands?
Anders Meisner: Of course there are trends, but they come and go. What is clear is that most Scandinavian bands want to tour outside of Denmark right from the start. So they start very early. The Scandinavian music scene is actually very diverse. Lately we have had a lot of strong female acts that have made the breakthrough. That’s very nice.
Among the confirmed acts for the Ja Ja Ja this year are Great News from Norway, Lake Jons from Finland and Iris Gold and Lydmor from Denmark. What can we and what can the audience expect from their music?
Anders Meisner: A good time and some very enthusiastic bands! Word has got around that the Ja Ja Ja festival in Vienna is one of the best shows you can play as a Nordic band, because the audience is friendly and lets itself be carried away. That’s why everyone is looking forward to coming down to Vienna.
To what extent does a venue like WUK contribute to the atmosphere of the festival?
Anders Meisner: WUK has been our partner for many years as an event venue. It is not only a professional venue, but also has soul and a great atmosphere. It seems to me that people in Vienna love the place and that makes it a perfect place to experience music.
WUK is dependent on grants, but also on donations from our committed audience. Would you financially support a socio-cultural centre like WUK if you were a Viennese?
Anders Meisner: Definitely. Culture is the basis for how we deal with each other and with differences of opinion. In times when society seems to drift apart, culture can play a major role in bringing people together again and allowing them to enter into dialogue. I think there will always be phases in which cultural institutions are questioned because some people believe that they are not necessary for society. The only way to counteract this is through dialogue and openness to the arguments of others. In fact, we should immediately put the critics on the guest list so that they can see for themselves how many people benefit from culture. Culture brings the most diverse people together. As long as people can experience concerts or art together, the world will always be a better place.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Ja Ja Ja on tour:
- Jan 24 @ Rockhouse Salzburg
- Jan 25 @ WUK Vienna
- Jan 26 @ Orpheum Graz
- Jan 27 @ A38 Budapest
Astrid Exner – translated from the original interview (WUK) by Dave Dempsey