The documentary Northern Disco Lights is the story of Norwegian electronica music which has been realized, thanks to a Brit and crowd funding. Read the exciting story about the making of the film with its subtitle The Rise and Rise of Norwegian Dance Music.
It’s no secret that Norway is a phenomenally hot spot when it comes to the creation of electronic music of all kinds. Northern Disco Lights tells the untold story of a group of teenagers in the arctic city of Tromsø, who set off a chain of events that would go on to transform their country.
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Norwegian electronica is exotic
“Norwegian electronica is exotic,” says director Ben Davis of Paper Recordings, who has documented its history. To escape the boredom of growing up in a remote outpost a group of young people created their own music scene, setting up radio stations, parties, building synthesizers and making tunes.
The film offers stunning footage of memorable artist performances alongside insightful interviews and not least, the magnificent surroundings that molded the sound. “Because Norway is on the edge of Europe, I do not think Norwegians have had the need to embrace what is the latest fashion in music. Disco was completely outdated more than ten years ago, but producers like Prins Thomas, Lindstrøm and Todd Terje attached a coolness to it that still resonates,” says Davis.
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Spotlight on Norwegian electronica
When the film was released in 2017, the word spread as like-minded souls recognized the call to arms and inspired a generation of kids who would go on to change dance music and Norway forever. Davis says he think it had been the most under-appreciated music scenes and it seemed like a good time to shine a spotlight on it.
It took over 30 months to produce the film. The team travelled Europe to interview 67 contributors including Bryan Ferry, Bjørn Torske, Prins Thomas, DJ Strangefuit, Nemone, Mental Overdrive, Idjut Boys, Lindstrøm, Annie and Bill Brewster.
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Not a history lesson
The original idea was to tell the story in an engaging way without it becoming a history lesson. The editor Otto Burnham has done a fantastic job pulling more than 100 hours of footage together. The aim was not only to tell about the music, but also the culture, people and landscape.
Together with Pete Jenkinson and Terje Rafaelsen, Davis made the partially crowd-financed documentary film about Norwegian electronica. Over two hundred stills and videos were unearthed including exclusive unseen archives, jaw dropping drone footage and eye-popping animations and graphics.
An almost 30-year story of musical innovation
It took three years to interview key players from Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø. The result is an almost 30-year story of musical innovation that moves beyond the boundaries of music documentary through struggle, tragedy, inspiration, discovery and pure hedonism. The film takes us from teen bedrooms in Norway to dance venues across Europe.
The film has caught the zeitgeist of a globalized world united by music. It was screening at over 40 film and music-festivals during 2016/17 visiting Oslo, London, LA, Jakarta, Tbilisi, Baku, Berlin, Glasgow, Bergen, Trondheim, Manchester, New York, Copenhagen, Hull, Rome, Tromsø, Moscow, Lisbon, Warsaw, Prague, Stavanger, Budapest, Gotheburg, Bucharest, Liverpool, Frankfurt and Paris.
A refreshing lack of irony
Davis says that the highlights for him was being able to travel around Norway and getting to know the people who live there. Plus of course interviewing DJs and producers whom he has a huge admiration for. “It’s been a massive learning curve for us all and we’ve had pretty anxious moments, mainly about funding!”
“There is an extraterrestrial and psychedelic aspect of Norwegian electronica. Its ability to switch between avant-garde, underground and pop makes it very accessible,” he says and adds, “And then there is a refreshing lack of irony.”
The Rise and Rise of Norwegian Dance Music, written by Tor Kjolberg