Karen Sofie Sørensen manages the music organization Brak in Bergen, Norway. Brak has been an important part of developing the music scene on the west coast of Norway since 1997. It’s a non-profit artist and music business development center helping musicians, bands, venues, promoters and other music businesses through various projects, seminars, workshops and guidance. Brak also organize the conference program of Vill Vill Vest, which takes place in Bergen from 28th to 30th September this year. In addition to Brak, she’s also a board member at Music Norway, Bergen City Event and Norwegian Live Music Association.
What has been your focus lately?
Right now we are putting together the conference program for the Vill Vill Vest festival. We’re really excited about the program this year. So far we have more than 70 international speakers for the day time program, and more than 50 great up and coming Norwegian acts at the night program. Brak daily arrange seminars and give guidance to artists, venues, industry etc. – so we know what they want to learn more about, need input on and get inspiration from. Based on this knowledge we are happy to have the chance to arrange a really high-end conference that we know will fit and benefit the industry. And for us it’s really inspiring to see how many people from the international industry that wants to come to Bergen to hang out with the industry here and hopefully do some new or further cooperations.
The most important piece of advice you have ever received?
I chose media instead of maths and physics at high school after my parents encouraged me to study what I thought would enjoy me the most. If they never gave me that advice, I would probably be a miserable engineer right now.
Your best industry-tip?
Don’t be afraid to write e-mails to people you don’t already know, since most people are really responsive and positive. From personal experience I have got to know some great people just by sending them an e-mail asking to meet up for a coffee or by inviting them to Bergen. An introduction usually works even better if you might know somebody who then again know somebody. Luckily, I have about 15 high quality industry friends that have a great network and can introduce me to almost anyone. (I’m really greatful – and you know who you are).
In addition: be responsive yourself. E-mail is the main form of communication and you should find a way to be on top of your inbox in some way (yes, everybody is really busy, but even the busiest people finds a way to manage their e-mail-flow). If you are thought of as a person who doesn´t respond to e-mails you will loose a lot of business opportunities before they even get to your inbox.
Whats your golden moment to share with the rest of us?
Growing up in Stavanger with no older siblings, it took me a long time to find music which was not a part of the mainstream charts or in my father’s record collection. It wasn’t until I was 16 a friend of mine took me to the music department at the public library where I got my first musical epiphany – and yes, did the illegal act of borrowing records and duplicate my favorites to CDR. (Note: this only happened for a short period until I had enough money to start buying my own.) I will say that public libraries have played a key role in my cultural exploration. I really hope kids growing up today appreciate the online access they have to worldwide music. But also that we find ways to guide them to all the good music, so they don’t get lost in the endless stream.
Why Norway, why now?
We have the talents, the infrastructure, a culture for sharing and a growing music industry doing some really good work. Not to mention the international success of artists that are helping newcomers. We have highlighted Norway (and maybe especially Bergen?) as a place to go for new, great music – and there constantly is more greatness emerging.
Who in the Norwegian music industry deserves a high five?
Who doesn´t? There are so many people doing a great job. The people working behind the scenes and producers that are making good music sound great: Robert Jønnum, Yngve Sætre, Jørgen Træen, Anders Bjelland, Mattias Tellez, Odd Martin Skålnes and many more just in Bergen – and hopefully there will be some more women to put on the list of producers soon. When it comes to DJs I believe that the new initiative Konsept [X] will encourage and promote some new female record spinners. High five also to the organization AKKS which is doing a great job educating young talents, giving them a stage and educating new concert promoters. And loads of high fives to those who are establishing new companies that are inspiring others to do the same, for example Vibbefanger and Little Big Sister that have made an instant impact, and Momentium in Giske/Ålesund showing that you can establish sustainable music industry outside of the bigger cities.
And last I want to thank all the artists contributing to Brak’s 20 year anniversary earlier this year: Watch out for the record being released 29th of September (The concept: Enslaved does a great version of Röyksopp, The Megaphonic Thrift does a song by Kings of Convinience and more.)