Aug 02, 2022
By Max Pilley
For four days this summer (10-13 August), the picturesque Tøyenparken on the East side of Oslo will once again host Øya Festival, Norway’s largest outdoor music event. Some 60,000 people will descend on the park on each day to enjoy artists from across the musical spectrum, from small local acts to major international headliners.
The festival dates back to 1999, when it was held with just 1000 visitors on the small island of Kalvoya (the name Øya means Island in Norwegian). After steadily growing in size over the years, it made the move to the big city in 2014 and has never looked back.
Aside from the music, the central drive of Øya is sustainability, with the festival boasting a number of groundbreaking green initiatives. True to Scandinavian form, organic food and drink is sold across the festival site, they use sustainably sourced electricity and there is also mass on-site recycling.
With just days until Under the Radar will be hopping on a plane to cover the event, we present ten artists beneath the headliners (Gorillaz, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Florence + the Machine and Norwegian pop sensation Aurora) that we think have a chance of stealing the show.
One of the leading lights of the UK hip-hop scene for the last five years, AJ Tracey is more in thrall to UK garage traditions than many of his grime contemporaries. Politically outspoken and comfortable morphing between sonic styles, his tight flow and ear for a radio-friendly hook mean that he is equally lauded by the underground as he is by the mainstream.
With a name meaning ‘Golden Day’ in Turkish, this Amsterdam-based group channel the traditions of Turkish psych music, with their 2019 album Gece having received a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album. Wah-wah pedals, space-age synths and nodding motorik rhythms combine for a heady, groove-laden mix that makes Altın Gün perfect for sunny festival afternoons.
Charlotte Dos Santos
A sultry jazz singer with Brazilian roots who grew up in the Oslo suburb of Bærum, Dos Santos is guaranteed an excited hometown reception. Having studied jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, her credentials are rock solid, and as the preview songs from her upcoming second album Morfo indicate, the depth of her talent is only just becoming clear.
Dublin singer-songwriter Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson released one of the year’s outstanding debut albums in February with If My Wife Knew I’d Be Dead. Her blend of traditional country twang and a brisque pop swagger make her music immediately addictive, pitching her somewhere between Gillian Welch and Self Esteem.
Oslo’s finest neo-soul/funk eight-piece Fieh released their second album In the Sun In the Rain earlier this year, a celebration of their modern interpretation of a classic sound. More than a Sharon Jones-style analog recreation of 1960s R&B, Fieh sprinkle trinkets of contemporary production and electronica to push their music into a new space.
Fresh from a major headline tour around the US, the all-conquering Dublin post-punks will land at Øya as one of the most anticipated artists on the bill. Their third album Skinty Fia hit number one in the UK Albums Chart and number three on the US Heatseekers Albums Chart, a rare level of breakout success for a band so uncompromising with their music. Sure to be an unmissable set.
Recently tipped by Øya headliner Aurora as the most exciting young artist in Norway, Hannah Storm has only a clutch of singles to her name, but they contain the potential for another major international Scandinavian popstar to break out in the coming years. Catch her now to keep ahead of the game.
The master of the Tuareg blues guitar, Niger native Mdou Moctar has long been compared with the rock demigods of the 1960s. His albums Ilana (The Creator) and Afrique Victime more than justify the comparisons, as he tackles issues of post-colonialism, feminism and inequality through raging, soaring desert guitar solos.
An 80s goth-inspired trio from Belarus, Molchat Doma have enjoyed major success across Europe in recent years, earning them a record deal with influential US indie label Sacred Bones. Deceptively catchy guitar lines and low-slung, rumbling bass tones dominate, and when splashes of bright synthpop keys are added, it is easy to see how they are making such strides internationally.
One of the true musical geniuses of our time, Garcia’s Afrofuturist jazz music has become one of the centrepieces of the booming London jazz scene. Her 2020 album Source incorporated elements of cumbia, calypso, reggae and funk into her evergrowing melting pot of influences, while her expansive, soulshifting tenor sax solos continue to provide nourishment for the soul.