Harbour culture festival at sea

Harbour culture festival at sea
Essay | Written by: Rasmus Møller Madsen | Translated by: Laura Malahovska | Wednesday, June 6, 2018

It has become a tradition that my siblings, our common friends and I, sail our ship to Odense during the Harbour Culture Festival (Havnekulturfestival). This year's trip in through the canal was quite a ride through the narrow inlet which ended in 20 minutes of circling in front of Odin's Bridge, while dancing salsa to an awesome MØ remix. We docked at the Byens Ø, sent snaps and group text messages, and the evening tired around quickly. The boat filled up with lots of happy people in no time. With about a ton of guests on board, the sonar was reading 0.4m and the Danish flag was licking the tips of the murky harbour water. But the captain is not worried, nor is the crew. Thousand robbery stories, kisses and hugs later we all fall asleep, arm in arm, wrapped in wooly blankets and kapok pillows.

When we wake up in the morning, the festival has already begun. It smells of barbecue and samosas. A steady stream of paddle-boarders, canoes and yellow water-bikes pass by during our morning status meeting, while we fix a broken guitar string, eat cheese bread and smear factor 30 on each other's backs. The harbour master also drops by for a chat, a cup of coffee and a MobilePay. He is not so busy, because even though there is a harbour festival, the docks are not close to being fully booked. Someone went out and found a festival program and we were surprised at how much there was to experience. And then the days go by. Too fast. Concerts, skateboards, scrapes and bumps guarantees a boat filled with snores every night. It is quite amazing to have a small base in the midst of the harbour, just as permanent residents of the big flat buildings all over the harbour, but something special happens when boarding the boat. All food and drink was shared, new people greeted and stories exchanged of what has been unavoidably missed around the harbour.

We raise our glass to the Harbour Culture Festival. And now back on the rough sea, rocking gently and reading a little more by Troels Kløvedal, this summer's cheesy guilty pleasure.


The Odense of my dead ones

The Odense of my dead ones
Guide | Written by: My Rasmussen | Translated by: Irina Antonescu | Wednesday, August 30, 2017

WHEN YOU'VE Lived in a city for a long time, YOU see both what the city was and is

You walk past buildings that once housed the ones you loved.
Places where you lived your prehistoric self.
And you fall into nostalgia. Because the walls and the roads stay there and look like themselves, even though the people who filled the air with perfume and the staircase with footsteps are long gone.

In the Ansgargade apartment, at my refined grandmother's place, there were embroidered slippers in the warm cabinet and marmalade spread on the whitest wheat bread. But now others live there. No longer my grandmother, who always required to taste her watermelon before buying it at Føtex, while I hid behind the tea shelf with blushing cheeks.

I imagine that my grandmother's home - with noise- and dust- absorbing carpets, the Bornholm clock and the black plastic telephone with rotary dial; the dark hallway, the fringed armchairs and the kitchen, where the doors were closed with a small metal hasp making a crisp sound, has now become all whitened and brightened and streamlined.

I don't think THERE'S STILL SOMEONE HERE holding pastel-colored water balls in a glass JAR in the bathroom.

Odense shouldn't have been my city, and strictly speaking I shouldn't have been here at all, as the two halves of my gene pool had planned to settle on different continents. But Australia did not want Argentinian emigrants.

And the bad health of my youngest uncle made the stopover on Ternevej permanent. Here, my grandfather mangaged to skillfully hide his shame of having survived far too much behind a big smile and an abundant appetite.

Where my aunt Anna lived, I don't know. I'm afraid to find out. I'm afraid to concretize the magic out of the memory where lemonade and lavender and my aunt, with hysterical big glasses and long, flowered garments made of crackling artificial materials, live forever.

In 1996, a man whom I see as a mythical character sat himself into a truck and drove over the red light at the cross between Søndre Boulevard and Kløvermosevej, where he hit my father and his silver-gray Toyota, which tumbled like a piece of silver paper against a steadfast light pole. And so life became divided into the one before and the one after.

I remember the laughter. WhiCH was not AT ALL laughing, but A crying that toppled uncontrolled FROM the throat. I remember the awkward sideways GLANCE OF THE POLICEMAN.

I remember him on the hospital bed, with bandages around his beloved forehead and the broken teeth. I remember we were eating food from the takeaway grill-bar in the evening, while watching television. Because we could not cry any more. I can not drive by that intersection without imagining the crash.

They all died in 1996. Grandma on the passenger seat of the silver-gray Toyota Corolla, in a puddle of newly purchased red wine. Aunt Anna with raised legs and no grounding. Grandpa dwindled by the cancer that bit him to the stomach. Rebel enough to live until the last moments as trans-fat-acid-saturated as possible.

When Christmas came, we sat close to each other and watched movies on the couch. A beaten flock, craving for sparkling lights and vaseline on the lens.

we did not cover THE TABLE, AS those we should eat with wERE gone.

The city is rich in stories. Some important for generations. Others only important to me. And I carry them with me. They are part of that lens that gives colour to the city.


Odenses Rock'n'Roll Resurrection

Odenses Rock'n'Roll Resurrection
Story | Written by: Jakob Cæsius Krohn | Translated by: Laura Malahovska | Friday, July 14, 2017

”The day the music died …”

On July 14th six years ago, I became aware that Buster Krogsgaard Svendsen from Odensensian shoegaze band Dorias Barracca had died. All of his young friends had probably already heard it on the day he died - June 16th, when an avalanche of “Buster is dead" text messages started circulating. He left this world a couple of weeks after he turned 19. But I went on living in happy ignorance of this fact for a whole month until one morning I went on his Facebook profile and got shocked and overwhelmed by reading all the condolences and memories. The song ”Åh, Buster” had an almost prophetic sound to it. But what moved me the most were the words Buster's girlfriend wrote; words that turned out to come from one of Buster's own lyrics. His last lyrics, in fact, in the sense that the song was released posthumously as the only one from the album that should have marked Dorias' breakthrough. The song is called "Shaky Dreams”:


”… turn out the lights”

Being a hopeless romantic, I interpreted the message as a form of liebestod, but I will let producer Jonas Munk's entire dazzling, cold-as-a-winter’s-day Odense compilation speak for itself. Newspapers published a fairly vague story about alcohol and medicine as the cause of death late that night. I do not know about that, nor the circumstances, nor am I interested to hear more about it. It is enough for me to know that Buster had a happy private party with his girlfriend that night to mark that they were moving to Copenhagen a few days later, and that Stine was by his side at his last moment. Reality is too unbearable, so I feel better off if Buster’s death is surrounded by a certain mystery a la the Dionysian rock icons, Morrison, Thunders etc., and the substance that (shaky) dreams are made of.

Buster and Stine

”I never thought that it would end like this”

To make matters worse, I had of course missed the funeral by then. I would have loved to shake the hand of the man who served as a mentor of sorts to young Buster while he lived in Vordingborg, namely the priest who also led the service. Maybe not one of God’s best children - or that was what I had accidentally heard from a lifeguard at DGI-byen. As the daughter of a high-ranking policeman, she could tell me that the pastor was just barely on the right side of the law. At a private music night at Buster’s place, Buster had told me that his plan was to study religion. On that same evening he showed me the LP sleeve for ‘Loveless’ by My Bloody Valentine, onto which he had glued a photo of Stine. And he said the words that stuck in my memory: “Jakob, make no mistake about it; all my songs are about love."

Jonatan, first meeting

”We’re going down in the history, we’re going dooown”

Let’s go back to 2009-11 when Odense’s underground scene peaked: Golem and Phono both in the pioneering phase, Urban Art Project, the acting school's privately owned stage Karsten Fasan, Off the Hook, BobZ and hashc ... , I mean, studios like Grow and Roots. And then there was Momentum, where Peter from Ecletic Moniker was in charge of the music. It was here Buster introduced me to Jonatan K. Magnussen. It is lucky that I always carried a camera in those days, because I do not really remember the night. But my buddy, Stoffer - with his back to the camera in the photo - told me that the conversation was about NOT "becoming anything". About being or not being fully dedicated to the music, or in other words - being ALL in when it comes to the art. It clearly was something I, with my former punk ideals, could talk about, although being too punk or sloppy to think about career plans that day!

Buster, first meeting

”You spit on those under 21 …”

When I first met Buster, he was only 16. I met him and bassist Simon at Kizzers Klub alias Grow, where we talked about shoegaze and where a couple of weeks later I attended the pre-release of Dorias' debut EP ”Handsome Melting Point”. After that I sought out the band's concerts every time I could get away from home, being a single father. It's with great pleasure I cite Lou Reed’s, or rather his teacher, Delmore Schwarz’s, wise words above, however I make an exception in the case of this band (and my children!). Dorias Baracca were extraordinarily talented. Their EP was released by an English record company, they played abroad, got a fair share of airtime and were featured on Karrierekanonen. And they also made this video from an Odense that no longer exists, featuring lots of teenage kicks, but also winterly melancholy:


”Wash me in the blood of rock’n’roll”

Buster and Jonatan were classmates. I've also heard that they both performed at Minival in Dalum, and -according to the organizer - hey Joe! - who had lent them their equipment - left blood on the drum kit. But even at their young age they had grown apart from each other musically, I heard. At that time, Jonatan and his band, Balloon Magic, represented a more polished sound that to novices might sound like The Smiths and The Cure, but was actually inspired by Scottish and Australian groups. Today, after a few replacements, the band embodies the crazy American tradition of The Gun Club and beyond. Under the new name The Love Coffin, however, all possible genres are at play. Just like it was some years ago when an Odense band of a grammatically similar-sounding name, The Live Museum, wanted to revitalize the best of rock history.

Record cover: ”Handsome Melting Point”

”You get older – not me”

The reason why I to clicked onto Buster’s profile on that summer day in 2011 was most likely that my girlfriend and I were on our way to Aarhus, where I would introduce her to the band that my youngest friend in all his youthful enthusiasm has proclaimed nothing less than ‘world’s best’ - Balloon Magic. Through a rainstorm accompanied by window wipers’ constant clatter, we listened to Dorias' Melting Point EP ’s spherically dreamy and thunderous loud rock while listening to Buster's ill-boding words like the ones cited above. This particular trip will always be in my memory, also due to the fact that, just before the Balloon Magic concert, I visited another musician Jakob for the last time before he died in a similarly sudden and meaningless way. In his last Facebook post, my namesake, the son of a priest, like me, wrote: "Why is happiness so unreliable?"

From the cemetery, 17/7 2011

”… a burning ring of fire”

But the Aarhus odyssey also marked a new beginning. It was here that I not only heard the phenomenal Balloon Magic, who released their debut EP "Mornings" through an American record company later that year, but also got to know the singer of the band: the evening ended with my girlfriend and I letting Jonatan sleep at our hostel (maybe because I remembered having run into Buster sporting the world's biggest black circles under his eyes - or was it eyeliner?! - heading home after a Dorias concert in Aarhus, where he had slept at the train station). During the drive to Odense the next day, Jonatan and I found out that despite the age difference, we had a common weakness for many of the bands I had heard at Rytmeposten concerts in the 90's organized by Jan Aaskov and his best friend, my third dead rock-friend, Gert V. Andersen from the earlier mentioned band The Live Museum. Another full circle.

Record cover: ”Mornings”

”Something better change, change, change …”

You might think that both Buster and Jonatan had been schooled by a father, uncle, or music teacher with the same taste as me, but no. Their primary inspiration came through peers and was a reaction to the fact that there was nothing for the youth to do out there, and in response they stayed at home and listened to music until sunrise (see my old TIO article "It's alive”). Here I think the young Nikolaj Bruus must have played a major role on the scene as an awesome rock professor. On his list of the 150 best records in 2015 year, no. 19 is "Veranda", the debut EP by The Love Coffin! Nikolaj is also the main man behind these short YouTube documentaries with clips of Dorias and Balloon Magic, where the son of the aforementioned Gert, Tim, speaks of better times as a counterweight to the impression of Odense as a weird time pocket filled with freezing eighties gloom.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz0J9SnICdI (youth music culture of Odenses (part 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E18n4CDe9VQ (part 2)

”I stumbled into town …”

But then the sudden wake-up call came. And I should state plainly that Buster's rock'n'roll lifestyle, like Baudelaire’s famous "to the bottom of the unknown to find the new" belief, was a double-edged sword. Our first meeting (exempting Kizzers Klub), for example, took place in the summer of 2009 where I bumped into him at Smagløse: he was headed home around midnight, because his teacher had threatened to throw him out of school unless he handed in an assignment the next day. I also saw him a couple of time in the morning on his way home from 'a hard days night’ out. I could tell many similar stories, but it is not really funny anymore. Buster was thrown out of gymnasium, and production school was the next step. "It's a kindergarten," he said to me one day at Flakhaven; he needed an adult conversation.

From Studenterhuset

”Things always seem to end before they start”

At the Phono festival, Simon pulled me aside and told me that the band had a massive problem and after a concert at the old student house, Buster confided in me that they were struggling to geth through the sophmore slump and that he was afraid he was going to be the last man standing. At this point he was back in school, but after I had promised to help him out with a music assignment, but was unable to reach him for hours and then found him at The Smagløse once again, my relationship with him soured a bit. For what turned out to be the remaining months of his life, we did not have much contact. The last words I remember from him were uttered during a concert, where Buster came over and stood next to me in the back row, while the band played their last song. I stood with crossed arms and my face turned toward the stage, and Buster said something like: "Well, I'm gonna go have a beer with the others.”

Havnekulturfestivalen 2011, with Dorias Baracca and an unidentified policeman (You're looking for the wrong guys!) 

”Happy birthday – not for me”

Fortunately there was one last meeting. It was at the Havnekulturfestivalen in 2011, when Buster turned 19 and the city's underground culture peaked, never since reaching the same dizzy heights. In the old, pitch-dark, graffiti-framed industrial halls, the music collective Off the Hook was on the program, resulting in concerts with both Buster and Jonatan. Dorias' last ever cacophonic concert, immortalized on YouTube, ended with the members throwing themselves onto each other in a giant, chaotic - but also loving - mosh pit, while Jonatan joined the sound wizard Jens Aagaard in his solo project The Dove Is Dead, alongside guitarists Kristian and Lasse, who are the other two front figures in The Love Coffin today. As you can see in my strangely ghostlike picture, there seems to have been a spark between them already:

The Dove is Dead and Jonas Munk from Havnekulturfestivalen 2011.

”New morning light”

In the latest video by The Love Coffin, we're back at the scene of the crime: The Memcorn warehouse where Dorias performed has been levelled to the ground, but Odense harbour still stands. And I am sure I am not reading too much into it when I say that there is resurrection symbolism here. But also an urge to put the ghosts of the past (and pink elephants!) behind and move on - over the bridge, over the rainbow, to Copenhagen, where The Love Coffin has a solid base today and from which the band has toured though Europe to a dedicated audience. The band has also been hyped by the underground-guru Lorenzo Woodrose, as well as received great reviews, for example in Information, for their two EPs and finally for a fantastic concert at the Roskilde Festival. It is time to open your eyes and realise that if not the world’ s then Denmark’s best band is from Odense!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1N6UuOov9g (”New Morning Light”)

”… a worthy epitaph”    

It has been six years since my dark day; it took quite a while before I could write this article. I could be accused of being pathetic and morbid, indeed. But someone should pay tribute to Buster K. Svendsen, and when his mother tragically died of cancer last year, I felt the calling. And actually, I can, after all, offer you a very happy ending. I’ve just heard from Stine, who had spoken with Jonas Munk, that a record label is about to publish the follow-up to Dorias Baracca’s debut, from which we’ve so far only heard "Shaky Dreams", and that it may already be out later this year. This means that a lasting testimony to one of Odense's most uncompromising artists finally sees the light of day.  
Let us in the meantime remember Buster with this strong portrait by the famous French photographer and fashion designer Hedi Slimane:



Essay | Written by: Jakob Cæsius Krohn | Translated by: Pil Lindgreen | Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The party is over. It's the day after. It's doomsday now. It's Ole Jastrau looking at his pallid face in the mirror on the wall there, citing Pilate's words to the thorn-crowned: "Ecce Homo!". Behold the man! It's Alex Chilton waking up from the euphoria to the sight of a dead parent: ”You’re a wasted face/ You’re a sad eyed lie/ You’re a Holocaust”. It's straight-to-the-point with Iggy Pop's "I Got Nothin": ”Out of the cradle – straight into the HOLE”. It's the second icy winter in a row, and it feels endless. You are on the brink of the abyss, on the edge of the precipice. In other words, you're on Nyborgvej.

Let's rewind a bit.

The eternal Terp and I are at "Restaurant" Østerport. Right away a lady asks him for a dance. She goes by the name of Tina Turner. Everything else is quiet. I go to the bar and carefully choose a seat next to the apparently most normal individual in that waxworks. The completely petrified bartender has no name. I learn that he once, in the beginning of times, had a nasty story with drugs and since then has kept a low profile. Right after a regular comes in and whispers warningly in my ear that the woman I'm talking to is totally nuts.

Fakta has the biggest choice of jarred potatoes in the whole city, as my landlord told me. At the junk dealer I've never found something I can use, that is, except for Mark Twain's weird apocalyptic novel "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". The kebab-goop wasn't even attractive for my son. When the children's mother came along with a broken vacuum-cleaner at "Nalle", she was told that it would've been cheaper to buy a new one somewhere else. It's a combination of a laundromat and a solarium. From the houses' asbestos trap to Aldi's eastern German misery. Nyborgvej is just a HOLE or ...

And you philosophize about the neighborhood's name: Korsløkke. "The Crucified" and "Dionysus", as Nietzche, author to "Ecce Homo", signed his name on the edge of the precipice. With a noose around his neck? And this despite Claus Deleuran, one of the funniest men in Denmark's history, grew up here. Yes, the street has housed uncountable generations, which since the Middle Ages have been able to see the Cathedral dominate in the distance. Sorrow and joy go hand in hand. And your sweet child is walking beside you. And despite that, the sun warms a bit from the merciless March sky. And just around the corner, your new partner is waiting. In other words, you're on Nyborgvej.


The Essence of Odense - or how to meet an unicorn

The Essence of Odense - or how to meet an unicorn
Story | Written by: Brian Lindskov Larsen | Translated by: Fabio Trecca | Monday, January 18, 2016

By now you’re aware that This Is Odense is trying to give Odense a better rep, trying to the point where you – as local, prospective new arrival, quitter or whatever - really uderstand the essence, the singularity, the totally special and very very amazing thing that separates Odense from other, less cool cities, such as Copenhagen, Berlin and Los Angeles. In many ways we think things are moving in the right direction; the majority of the population is aware that should they find themselves, slumped over a bar, one late evening, muttering ‘nothing ever happens in Odense’, a TIO reader will appear out of nowhere and head-butt you to the floor and start lecturing you on next week’s outstanding events within the fields of performing arts or the use of seaweed in installation art. So far, so good, but no matter how far we extend ourselves in our praises of local concerts and art, the thriving gastro scene and the almost modern building projects shooting up all over town, every single thing I just mentioned can also be found in any other cool city. Except for the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. ...And we don’t talk about Hans Christian Andersen in This Is Odense.

Fortunately, there’s also something else. Something you can only get in Odense, for a limited time only, something unique, magical and which will change your life forever if you’re lucky enough to chance upon it. Almost like meeting a unicorn, if unicorns were real. You might even say that you’re not a true Odense citizen if this hasn’t happened to you. It reminds me of a convention in the TV show How I Met You Mother, where it is agreed that you can’t call yourself a newyorker if you haven’t seen Woody Allen on the street at least once (and cried on the subway, strangled a rat with your bare hands and stolen a taxi right in front of someone else).

In Odense we don’t have Woody, but we have Kim, and a lot of you may not think about it on a daily basis, but Kim is probably the single Danish artist alive today whose music has touched the broadest spectrum of people across the generations – young and old, pop guys and metal dudes, boys and girls, staunch liberals and stauncher leftists, one and all. Not a word against Bowie – I also shed a tear last week – but when Kim in what I hope is many years from now leaves our green earth, facebook will run AMOK, the entire district around Grønttørvet will be declared a national sanctuary and every street name in Odense will be changed to Jutlandiagade, Havajestræde and KøbBananervej, and I already can picture (with a shudder) the amusement park LarsenLand a few kilometers from Solrødsvinget. Mark my words.

Sure, you might say, I have met Kim lots of times. And I’m sure you have. Mr. Larsen likes to go for a beer after dark and he has his regular watering holes, so you’ll know where to find him. But even though mr. Larsen is up for a chat when the mood strikes him, it isn’t very magical or unicorn-like to pass by him as he’s enjoying a beer and a smoke at Kickoff, even if it may be a little bit great. No. You have to come across him on his bicycle, and he must be whistling, and it isn’t something you can seek out. It either happens or it doesn’t.

Here’s an example:

Many, many years ago, 20 or so, I – an otherwise staunch Copenhagen boy – moved to Odense, to be with my girlfriend and to get away from fast girls, drugs, beer and Istedgade in November. Back then, Odense was really ugly and really small; it mainly consisted of Boogies and Odense University (now University of Southern Denmark) and as Boogies was closed on Mondays, I started taking classes at the university. I used to bike back and forth, wearing my stylish comp. lit. glasses, missing the big city, and thinking what the hell am I doing in this dump, this mockery against architecture, this bog of provinsial self-hatred? Until one Monday morning (I don’t remember what day it was, but it was one of those pointless, grey-ish Mondays, you know?). A nice gent on his gentleman’s bicycle overtakes me on the street. Slowly and with his Kim cap askew. And he begins to whistle. And he is whistling ’Det er i dag et vejr’ because the sun was shining and you have to whistlet that song, the whole song, and when it was over, he turned down another street and disappeared.

I cried like a baby all the way out to Niels Bohrs Allé and when I opened the door to Text Analysis 2 it felt like I had just closed the door to something I couldn’t remember but something important. I can’t explain it any other way. It is like that almost-pleasureable lumpy feeling you get in your stomach on a summer’s night when the blackbird is singing and the summer isn’t endless, again, but multiplied by 100.

Three times in the past twenty years have I been on my bicycle behind Kim, accidentally, and every time he has whistled a song for me, and the other day I passed him, I only heard a few notes, I didn’t even see him, but trust me; no one else whistles like that. I had to stop and close my eyes for a second and then I said to my girlfriend: ”No one can tell a curse and a blessing apart until at the very end”.


This Is Odense