Foto: George Stioca

IVVÁR and the state of Sami music

Text: George Stoica

“Sami music is in a new era now” was the first thing that Jon Iver Eira Tellefsen told me, when we finally managed to find a quiet spot to talk after IVVÁR’s first show in Tromsø this year. “There are lots of things happening within all kinds of genres, like electronic, rap, rock, some metal…” at this point we were interrupted for something which devolved into shoutouts to Erik’s mom (I have no idea…). More to the point though was Jon’s poignant enumeration of Sami artists doing great things in music, some of which, to an outsider such as myself, came as a surprise: “We have world class rappers, Slincraze, Amoc and others. The flow, the lyrics they provide is just sick! It’s definitely an exciting time for Sami music!”

Photo: George Stioca
Photo: George Stioca

I have to say it was refreshing to hear such solidarity coming from artists covering divergent genres. Perhaps the common goal of keeping this family of languages alive is what gives them a sense of unity, regardless of whether they rock a mike or a guitar. It is definitely one of IVVÁR’s objectives. “We try to mix English and Sami because we want to get the language out there, to show that it’s alive and to increase awareness regarding the Sami people”. And it seems that the Sami community itself feels very strongly about this, as the Sami Parliament of Norway helped to fund their first album.

As for the concert itself, well it just stood as a proof that music really does step over boundaries like language, or rather is enriched by such differences. The soaring Muse-like vocals made for an excellent arching harmony over the tight musical craftsmanship going on underneath, and didn’t press the point needlessly, instead changing to more cadenced almost folk-like passages which made for a great counterpoint. My inner desert-rocker rejoiced to hear some serious cymbal abuse every now and then, alternating with rapid fire snare grooves. Didn’t really understand why the guy with the tambourine didn’t get a larger role in the whole thing, maybe more intricate percussions, since sticking a tambourine to the hi-hat would have achieved basically the same thing. It would have been nice to see them truly take advantage of a fifth member, but it didn’t detract from the performance by any means. In the end I even had to pause during Moonflower so I could rock my head to the chorus. Hey, if it’s catchy, what choice do I have?

Photo: George Stioca
Photo: George Stioca

I was however disappointed to note that the room was half empty, since a band sounding this tight and putting out such a great message would undoubtedly deserve a larger following. Looking forward to their next show here, hopefully they get the crowd they deserve!

 

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