McGee To Speak In Noise Town

Alan McGee, arguably the most controversial and successful UK independent record company chief during the late ’80s and ’90s, will be interviewed at the By:Larm conference in Norway Feb. 18.

The former head of Creation Records made UK headlines a couple of weeks ago by suggesting the industry ditch the Brit Awards, or at least get rid of the “bunch of self-interested record company people” who just vote for their own acts.

“They should start again with 20 music journalists who actually care about music,” he said in an interview with Scotland’s Daily Record.

Less controversial but also a successful UK indie label chief, Rough Trade Records’ Geoff Travis will also be appearing in a similar interview slot. KLF founder Bill Drummond and former Kraftwerk electronic percussionist Karl Bartos are among the artists who’ll be airing their views.

The annual conference and festival – with a name that roughly translates as “noise town” – has doubled in size, certainly in terms of the number of international visitors, since moving to Oslo in 2008.

Last year’s international attendance was more than 300, two-thirds of which came from outside the Nordic region. In the last two years, the number of paying delegates has risen from about 700 to 1,400.

“We aim to remain the biggest and best in the Nordic region,” says Vegard Waske of event organiser Bureau Storm, conscious of the increasing number of conference and showcase festivals springing up all over Europe.

Prior to 2008 By:Larm had been held in major provincial cities including Tromsø, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Trondheim.
The idea was to attract the industry away from the capital and show what other Norwegian cities have to offer, but the need for more venues and making the trip easier for international visitors has resulted in settling in Oslo.

Rob Berends – head of Holland’s Paperclip Agency and the Live Music Network organisation – and Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival managing director Alexander Schulz are regularly among the talent bookers trawling for emerging Scandinavian acts. As many as 400 of them may be on view.

This year, Norway and By:Larm, which is at Oslo’s Royal Christiania Hotel Feb. 18-20, has enjoyed the extra boost of being subject of the “Country Focus” at Eurosonic-Noorderslag in The Netherlands, arguably the music industry’s most popular European gathering.