New Noise to the Nordic Countries: Finland Opens to China’s Sounds

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2015 has been a relatively big year for music export. We’ve got Birdstriking currently hitting up the U.S., and Chui Wan also recently wrapped a tour their which culminated in a set at Austin Psych Fest. Now, Helsinki Festival is set to celebrate the nation’s burgeoning cultural industries with “Focus: China”, a key theme for this year’s edition, which is to be held of course, in Finland.

Taking place from the 14-30th of August, the festival will present the best of modern and classical culture, showcasing 800+ artists over the event’s duration. Modern Sky once again leads the charge to new soil with a ‘festival within a festival’ named Modern Sky Helsinki (in step with their 2014 NY edition). This component of the wider Helsinki Festival will be held at the Hietalahti shipyard, and will feature acts including DJ Wordy & Soulspeak, Hedgehog (who just celebrated their 10-year anniversary), Nova Heart (a staple of the festival circuit here) and Re-TROS.

Tickets range from €42.5 – €79 for standard passes, and €87.5 – €153.5 for backstage passes. The festival contains three stages spread out over the shipyard with an after party inside the legendary Nosturi bar.

According to somewhat dated sources, as of 2010 around 20% of the persons born abroad who are now living in Finland originate from Asia. China ranked second as the most common point of origin for foreign students – as of 2013-14 there were 2147 Chinese students in Finland. These numbers perhaps add a little context to the artist selection for the festival. Rather than attempting to tap into a diaspora of Chinese nationals, Modern Sky’s showcase is arguably attempting to build a local fanbase for the chosen artists, which are particularly appealing to foreign audiences. Given the number of festival properties in Europe and willingness (or perhaps even desperation) of some European governments to leverage any means of building warm ties with the territory, it wouldn’t surprise us to see further government-subsidized editions of the festival roll out in the coming years. The wider “China Focus” initiative (which provides a context for Modern Sky Helsinki), is being supported by the City of Helsinki, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland, and the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China).

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