Folk Spot Denmark is a project created to give folk musicians and industry professionals the opportunity to talk together and create new contacts and collaborations. This year’s edition was no exception, and delegates from near and far made the trip to Tønder to experience Tønder Festival and the selected orchestras for Folk Spot Denmark 2023.
We have spoken to some of the delegates to get a little insight into their work with folk music elsewhere in the world, and their experience with Folk Spot Denmark.
Name: Vilius Arlauskas
Company: VšĮ Saulės muzika
Based in: Vilnius, Lithuania
What was your purpose for participating at Folk Spot 2023?
My purpose was to get more acquainted with the Danish folk music scene as we are organizing a world music festival that has a strong focus on Nordic music. Also, my other aim was to get to know The Folk Spot organization and learn a bit from their long-lasting experience. I hope that we can collaborate in the future by creating new projects together that will help Danish and Lithuanian folk bands visit each other’s countries more often. I had a meeting with Rasmus Wehner where we discussed this topic and we both agreed to start looking for a format that could work to achieve these purposes. I hope our discussions will turn into actions and it will lead to projects.
What trends and tendencies do you see in folk music right now?
If I’m not mistaken there was only one band in the Folk Spot lineup that used electronic music in their live performance. I guess you can’t call it a trend, but I’ve seen folk bands incorporating electronics more often in other countries too. Another thing I notice is that a lot of new bands concentrate only on the music side of the performance. I’m not sure if this is a trend, but I’ve seen a similar situation in the jazz scene too where it looks like the musicians sometimes are playing for themselves. I do not argue that music is the most important thing, but I would like to remind bands about stage presence too. Of course, I believe that some bands could sound and look way different in an indoor venue or a venue with a seated audience. Anyway, it was very nice that all the bands had prepared something they could tell the audience in between the compositions. That was really appreciated.
What is your impression of the Danish folk scene versus folk music in Lithuania? (Differences and similarities)
I got the impression that the Danish folk scene is very professional. All the bands I’ve seen at the festival were very professional and interesting. There is no doubt that the instrumentalist level is very high in Denmark. You are lucky to have a good folk education system. By talking to the musicians I understand that the folk bands in Denmark usually do not have managers or people who could help them. We have a similar situation here in Lithuania. Only a few bands have managers. It is very important that the bands who seek professional careers have someone who not only searches for the gigs but also guides them and looks for opportunities abroad. Maybe this is one of the reasons why neither Lithuanian nor Danish folk bands do not have a strong presence in the festivals abroad. I think that this event really help to change this situation as I’m sure that some bands will get invitations to perform in the international festivals.
Did you make some new contacts relevant for your future work?
I’ve talked with the majority of the delegates during my stay. It was a pleasure to meet them and hear their experience. I hope that this trip will be the start of a long-lasting professional friendship with the delegates. I also hope to keep in touch with your organization and create a project together that could benefit both Danish and Lithuanian folk scenes.
Which were the best musical experiences during Folk Spot Denmark and Tønder Festival?
It is very hard to choose one band or an artist who I like the most. I could tell that most of the Folk Spot presented bands could fit our festival line-up. I guess it’s only a question of time before we will invite a Danish folk band again to our festival.
I want to stress the festival in general which was well organized and I was surprisingly amazed by the diversity of the audience. It’s something you should be very proud of and keep doing. Here in Lithuania festivals are usually attended by only much younger audiences and the organizers either do not concentrate on the older audience or are struggling to reach them.