AP Childs went to Estonia’s answer to SXSW. Next year you should go.



Over the weekend, Tallinn Music Week (TMW) experienced a significant rise in music executive types who would normally associate themselves with the larger and more established showcase conferences, like SXSW, CMJ and our own Great Escape. Considering the event’s previous success stories, which include local folk-pop act Ewart & The Two Dragons, who have recently started to make waves in the British music media and across central Europe, it is abundantly clear why UK-based music execs have wised up to the delights the picturesque Estonian capital has to offer. Here are 10 good reasons to make the trip next year.

The President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves
Unlike our wobbly leader, Estonia’s President is a born rock’n’roller who in some way is reminiscent of the late great Czech President Vaclav Havel. Ilves’ opening speech at the conference quoted Ezra Pound and PJ Harvey as well as name checked Jello Biafra and Lord Byron. The President also revealed that his security policy advisor is someone called DJ Drummy. Righteous!

Kino Soprus
Tallinn’s grand old soviet cinema with a Corinthian-columned façade is still in use today and shows both independent films, and, during TMW, hosts showcase nights, one of which this year was a partnership between UK independent label Brainlove Records and Estonian indie promoter Odessa Pop. Sopros is the Estonian word for friendship.

Svjata Vatra
A “fire-folk” band of truly masculine proportions. Live, they do not stop fucking your brain. Trombones, bagpipes, fire breathing and sword eating. It’s all here. Book them for your circus now.

Vana Tallinn
This is the Estonian meaning for old Tallinn. It’s a sweet liqueur, on average about 50% proof, and can be found in every hotel mini-bar across the land. Mix it with ice and freshly squeezed limejuice and sip. Or alternatively mix it with cheap Russian sparkling wine (this is called a “hammer and sickle”) and slam it while listening to Svjata Vatra.

Animal Drama
A weird, skunked out indie guitar combo, who sing mostly in Estonian. Maybe they will be great, or maybe they won’t. But what is for certain is a totemic tune called ‘Kartmartu Urmas’, which is a sublime Buckley-esque prayer at the alter of prog rock.

Candy Empire
Formed only one year ago, this cross-genre quartet are sure to take over the globe with their deep-down, electro-fusion glimmer-pop. They’re a futuristic version of Blondie with Neil Young on guitar.

Tallinn’s nearest Nordic neighbour and Estonia’s main trading partner. For this reason, and coupled with the fact that Estonia’s consumers and businesses are paying lower interest rates, lots of good and sensible business is done between the two nations. And of course this means that TMW is over-run by Finnish delegates, which is no bad thing at all, because just like the Estonians the Finns are very lovely people.

Maximus Musicus
You casually attend a panel discussion at TMW and you come away with the knowledge that a classically trained cartoon mouse from Iceland, Maximus, is waiting in the wings for world domination.

Theatre Von Krahl
An out-there Theatre and bar for students, punks, artists, and lovers of alternative music. With its theatre stage, bar stage and central location, “the Krahl” is a must-attend TMW centrepiece. It also houses the delegate’s special bar.

Holy Esque
A super charged Glasgow four-piece who emerges on stage engulfed in a ready-brek glow of charged atmospheric melodies and a hue of sonic distortion. Imagine Black Rebel Motorcycle Club falling prey to a Glasgow razor gang somewhere along the banks of the Clyde, and you’re pretty close. Messy but decisively musical.

By AP Childs

Exclusively published here at

« Previous Article