The Swedish Police released a statement today that they aren’t going to issue the permit for Emmabodafestivalen this year due to “a rise in drugs at the festival”. I find this deeply saddening, especially consdiering what Emmabodafestivalen aimed to be and how i relate to the festival. The Swedish Police has spent the last few years increasing their hostile stance against the music culture that’s been growing organically over the past few years in Sweden, everything from cracking down on raves to actively spending time on sabotaging festivals and other gatherings celebrating the strong scene that Sweden has.
In 2017 i visited one of the best festivals i’ve ever been to and as a result of my previous work in stage tech i have seen a lot of them. The name was Cult Cosmic and it managed to create an atmospehere that many other festivals lack: spacious, inviting, energetic and mystical at the same time. Around a 1000 people came together to create something that had a lasting impact on the people and the scene. Calle Wersäll describes the result in more detail but in short: the police wanted nothing off it. Pretending to work with the organizer prior to the start, they’ve secretly planned a large raid against the festival which btw had zero hate crimes or sexual harassment crimes any previous year in order to disrupt the festival. Instead of focusing their efforts on other festivals which had real problems (Bråvalla etc), the focus was on this 1000 person gathering because it defied the idea of what a festival is.
You had to be there to believe it. 5 police cars rolling in like this was some sort of crime scene and started interrogating everyone, with them being in uniforms and undercover. Throwing random people in for urine testing and searching everyone they could find at the dancefloor for drugs. A group of two men approached me and my friends and started asking us all these weird questions, doubting the fact that my friend who was visiting from abroad was Brittish, accusing him of lying about his identity? (the accent alone should tell you he spent most of his life in UK) How does this make the festival safe in any shape or form? After 15-20 minutes the undercover police realized that there was virtually nothing they could write us a ticket for and left. Not only did my friend from the UK question what’s wrong with the Swedish Police but it also left me wondering what’s actually wrong. Does a gathering like Cult Cosmic truly warrant interrogation style policework over some techno artists playing vinyl in a forest with a permit? What goal does the police serve in this situation? They didn’t contribute on making the fesival safer, in fact they did the opposite.
So why is the decision to shut down Emmabodafestivalen so sad? Just like Cult Cosmic managed to create something unique, so did Emmabodafestivalen. Where every other Swedish festival shot for growth, compromising on soul and experience in order to drive larger artists and attract larger crowds (in the search for higher profitability), Emmabodafestivalen stayed rather similar in size over the years. Instead of the attempt at hypergrowth performed by now defunct festivals like Peace & Love and Bråvalla, Emmabodafestivalen scaled what they had in a slow way, retaining the unique feeling instead of moving it to a parking lot or airfield. It truly felt like the small festival, just with huge artists.
As the festival pivoted from it’s focus on indie rock around mid 2000s to a stronger focus on the electronic scene around 2007 the crowd also changed. Even with this dramatic shift in visitors, the festival still felt exactly like Emmabodafestivalen, artists still played out of modified barns on carpets instead of the huge portable lifeless stages of large festivals. People still camped inside the festival area, blurring the line of where festival starts and ends. You can see me standing to the right at the stage by the speaker, looking modestly tired after pulling an all day shift, enjoying Infected Mushroom playing in the larger barn.
The police motivates this decision with “the growing culture of drugs” at Emmabodafestivalen, something that comes naturally with the growing influence of electronic music at festivals. After a substansial operation in 2018, the police managed to find 460 people with drugs on them out of the 13000 visitors (about 3%). Would you say that 3% of a festival doing weed and MDMA is a “sanctuary city for drugs”? It’s a completely ridicolous use of a statistic to drive an agenda of a percieved problem. In reality this is just a way of punishing the festival for refusing to change what’s unique about it, the police is complaining over the “lack of light” and “uncontrolled area” which is exactly what the festival is about.
Deciding that it’s worth killing off a great place where the younger generation discover new music and gets exposed to electronic music culture over 3% of the visitors is Swedish stupiditiy at it’s finest. I think this is why it makes me even more angry to hear, the police itself is taking on the role as “political mediators” for what culture should be allowed and decides to destroy the best we have in the process to give way for events that has seen a decline in visitiors and interest over the year.
Now, this would probably be fine if this was an incident in which the police had a clear line or was willing to compromise. However it turns to be a spineless move when the organization itself take a softball approach to actual problems, like gang culture in Malmö. Almost the same day the police announces their program to stop the shootings in Malmö, tougher on crime? No. A program where they will “invite the gang criminals to a meeting” and talk about the issues. I wish i was joking but i am not. This is how the police deals with one of the largest issues in Sweden today but when a festival that’s been running for over 30 years hits a temporary snag: shut it down immediately, no compromises.
The Swedish Police is a public disappointment without coordination or vision. Acknowleding the fact that the people who work in this organization has no idea about how to handle these issues would be a good start. I’m doing my part.
The year is 2006. A younger version of myself is attending a LAN party in my hometown where i happen to meet RAMPKORV, a coincidence that opens a world of new experiences through Geekmeet and HELLÖ RÖMAN. As a part of this, RAMPKORV introduces me to dusthillguy who just had started making music at the time. As HELLÖ RÖMAN dismounts over the years for other reasons, the “MONSQUAZ” part of the group break out, being founded of the name of a internet SWF animation: The Monsquaz Animation. The year turns to 2011 and RAMPKORV and dusthillguy decides to try an idea they’ve had for a while.
What if a group of people made an album together, where everyone worked on everyones song, but noone knew which song they worked on or who had worked on the song before. Would the result be coherent enought to be listenable? Could the mishmash of approaches create something different? What came out of this experiment was the first Monsquaz Swap Album, an album made entirely in OpenMPT by around 10 people. You can sort of say whatever you want about the result but it’s impossible to deny the unique style that comes from this approach. The sound is like nothing else out there with orchestra hits used as keys, screams of pain used as leads etc. I personally couldn’t join in on the first album, but i’ve been a part of the 2nd, 3rd and 8th.
Thinking back on these 7 years of collaboration makes one realize how fast time flies. What’s even better is the improvement the all people behind this project has done in terms of musical skill. I focused on extending track ideas in the early rounds, adding progressions to tracks and for later rounds just went hard on polishing sounds, layering pads and tightening up drum fills.
On top of adding parts to the tracks i decided to also make the album cover the second time around. My inspiration was to build something that represented the chaos that the album is with the visual elements that represents the MONSQUAZ community, this being the up and down arrow of the animation. I created a rather simple model of the arrow, cloned it, added some randomness and rendered it with Octane to get the depth of field effect.
The founders of Instagram left Facebook.
It’s always hard to say if there’s a good reason or not but i am not interested in finding out. Deleting social media accounts is a liberating experience at this point, you let go of something that never mattered in the first place. It’s like shaking an addiction or losing weight, getting over it is hard but it feels really good once you’ve done it.