One of the spearheads of the original Bergen Wave, Ralph Myerz, unveils new music – and provides insider tips about the best concert venues in town.
Published: 7 November 2017
Although Oslo – being the nation’s capital – is a natural centre of Norwegian music, there’s another city usually dominating the conversation when the country’s most fertile grounds for music is discussed.
Throughout the last 20 years, the Western city of Bergen has fostered so many of the greatest Norwegian artists that music journalists have had to invent the phrase “Bergen Wave”, with Röyksopp, Sondre Lerche and Kings of Convenience as the mere tip of the iceberg.
Another central figure during the first Bergen Wave, which hit the world at the turn of the millennium, is Erlend Sellevold. As Ralph Myerz – backed by the explosive live unit The Jack Herren Band – he has enjoyed a great amount of success, internationally as well as back home.
Now he’s back with the single and music video “Midnight Magic”, the first taste from a string of releases scheduled for release next year. Among the contributors are musical luminaries such as rapper Missy Elliott and funk legend George Clinton.
The video for “Midnight Magic” is made at the glacier Folgefonna, showing Norwegian nature from its most visually stunning side. The Northern Lights are dancing across the already picturesque landscape, and the actors seize the opportunity to play a game of basketball (!) under the magnificent sky.
According to Sellevold, the original Bergen Wave was something of a coincidence – a result of Kings of Convenience, Röyksopp and Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren band dropping their internationally acclaimed debut albums at the same time.
Unlike some of the city’s other artists, however, he has no passionate objections to the term Bergen Wave.
"But let me tell you: This is probably the least calculated splash in the maritime musical history. That’s just how it is in Bergen – a number of bands and artists pops up at the same time, making these sorts of 'waves' now and then."
Erlend Sellevold points at two (perhaps slightly surprising) factors as possible explanations for the phenomenon:
"Perhaps the size of the city and the constantly lousy weather – which is perfect studio weather, after all – is an ideal combination?"
Throughout the last 20 years, there’s been a seemingly inexhaustible source of exciting new artists coming from Bergen’s music scene. Kygo and Alan Walker are the biggest names globally, while Lars Vaular, John Olav Nilsen, Store P, Gabrielle and Fjorden Baby! have all shaped Norwegian pop, rock and rap over the last decade.
The Ralph Myerz mastermind is proud of the generation of artists following him.
"It’s very nice to discover new artists unafraid to experiment, while still achieving success in Norway and abroad. My personal favorite among the newcomers is Sigurd Lauritzen, who has produced a lot of music for American rappers such as Rapsody, Little Simz and Tha Dogg Pound, as well as working with Store P and Lars Vaular."
From an outside observer’s perspective, Bergen’s music scene seems like an extraordinarily tightly woven community. Does it ever get claustrophobic? Or is that whole scenario exaggerated? According to Ralph Myerz, the answer to both questions is a resounding “no”.
"When I started making music, the guidance I received from Bjørn Torske was priceless. Additionally, Röyksopp, Annie, Erot, Torske, Kings of Convenience and several other artists rehearsed and worked in the same building. The ambience there was incredible, with everybody helping each other out. My impression is that this unity is still at work."
There’s only one rule among the the city’s musicians, he says:
"Be nice, and work together regardless of genres. Bergen’s music scene is very friendly, and the artists respect each other – whether they make pop music or death metal."
Another important thing characterizing the truly legendary music cities are great live venues. But where to go in Bergen for the life-altering concerts?
We’ll leave it to Ralph Myerz to pick four favorite concert venues from his home town:
– Verftet has become an amazing scene after its refurbishment, with stellar sound and a broad booking profile. A great place! Hanging in Nordnesparken before gig is also nice – on the few days when it doesn’t rain, that is…
– Apollon is not only the city’s best record store, but also a nice place for intimate concerts. Their selection in vinyl is superb, and the same could be said for their beer menu.
– Østre is the venue for innovative electronic music, with consistently solid and courageous bookings. The sound system rocks.
– Victoria Café og Pub is another venue where the ambience typically is warm and welcoming. You can catch a lot of up and coming artists playing here – mainly rock acts, but also rappers. The food is nice as well.
The future of Bergen Wave? These are Ralph’s three favorite rising stars:
Sigurd Lauritzen: Producer extraordinaire. I’m convinced he’ll be a star when his debut album finally drops.
PeeWee: Bergen’s own Madlib/Flying Lotus. Lovely music.
Leca & Kahuun: Their fantastic disco universe will undoubtedly culminate in a killer debut album!
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