Festival Preview: Tallinn Music Week 2019 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, February 25th, 2024  

Festival Preview: Tallinn Music Week 2019

Six Artists to See This Year

Mar 20, 2019 Maarja Nuut
Bookmark and Share

The Estonian capital is braced. For the eleventh straight spring, it will surrender control of its cultural centers to the all-conquering international festival that is Tallinn Music Week. Spanning the week of March 25-31, its music program will sit alongside an arts conference and a plethora of assorted fringe events, showcasing the near future of the music industry.

The near future is Tallinn’s speciality. The city, a recent European Capital of Culture, lies at the geographical meeting point of East and West, and is a reliable model of where civilization is about to be. It is a major hub of digital invention that has given the world, amongst other things, Skype. Where better then to sample music’s incoming innovations? We’ve perused the line-up and have the skinny on the likely buzzmakers.

Sado Opera

The queer electro-funk hedonists Sado Opera got their start in St. Petersburg, but have for the last five years chosen Berlin as the city that they most want to leave in ruin. Led by the agent provocateur known only as The Colonel, they symbolise one of Tallinn Music Week’s key founding principles: inclusivity. Guaranteed to bring the midnight hour to blaze on the festival’s closing night, Sado Opera will, mark our words, be the name on revellers’ lips as they leave Tallinn.


Berlin techno mastermind Phillip Sollmann (aka Efdemin) is as adept in the world of ambient as he is in the late nightclub environment. A producer with a penchant for the darkness, his music evokes tone and texture in favour of hooks or drops, a cerebral take on the modern minimal electronic movement. Most recent album New Atlantis has seen him reach new levels of popularity, and his set in Tallinn is assuredly one of the most coveted of the week.

Maarja Nuut & Ruum

Winners of many of 2018’s national music prizes in Estonia, singer/violinist Maarja Nuut and producer Ruum take on no less a task than to tell the entire history of their homeland with their music. Ruum’s electronic designs range from the gentle hum of the ancient to the menacing, wartime pound of the modern. Nuut’s playing and singing draw on local folk traditions, gliding forward and back in time with some ease. Along with avant-garde guru Mart Avi, nobody in Estonia is making more important music right now.


Finnish quartet Trees are as submerged in the history of U.S. folk-rock as they are with their own country’s traditions. Their easy, windows-down vocal harmonies will call to mind the Laurel Canyon legends of the past, but this is not retro-fetishism. There is a frayed, lo-fi quality to their recorded output too, as well as a certain spacious remoteness; a sense that the band have been lost in the woods for slightly too long and their psyches are just starting to creak. The short hop across the Baltic Sea might just do them good.

Cätlin Mägi

A modern classical composer from Estonia, Cätlin Mägi is ploughing her own furrow. Determined to bring her music to the outside world, her vision is somewhat unique: by almost exclusively working with the Jew’s harp-up to 50 of them-she is acoustically and electronically manipulating a very specific historical thread, spinning it into new shapes and forms for the 21st century. Her spirit of experimentation is in no way difficult or obtuse, but rather an immediately enchanting and accessible concoction and is sure to make some waves in Tallinn.


Japanese thrash psych rockers Moja make more noise than it makes sense for two people to be able to do. Their supercharged, high-speed, wiry punk is tailor-made for festival appearances, an unignorable bloody nose of impact and passion. The duo are travelling from as far away as anybody on the bill, and they certainly intend on making every second of their appearance shred. If you take the plunge into either of their sets in Tallinn, you are assured of an experience your eardrums won’t soon forget.


Support Under the Radar on Patreon.


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.