On Weserstraβe in Berlin, in the heart of the borough of Neukölln, you’ll find an office that exemplifies the trend word “boutique”. The working space has big windows facing the street and seems to comfortably fit the five employees and the two interns tapping away on their laptops. This is the office and heart of Nordic by Nature. In the back there’s a little kitchen, where we sit down with Nina Legnehed and Steffi von Kanneman, founders of Nordic by Nature, to have a chat about the company that accumulates Nordic talent and injects it into the Berlin scene.
The story begins sometime around 2009, when Steffi and Nina both settled down in Berlin. Nina, originally from Gothenburg, came down from Stockholm and Steffi had just finished several years of traveling in Europe and North America. Pretty soon they decided to bring down artists from Scandinavia and arrange shows, something Steffi had been doing years earlier (although with local talent). Quickly people started to ask them if they couldn’t do promotion and PR as well, and the two entrepreneurs couldn’t really come up with a good reason why not. By that time, the blog was already up and running. Nordic by Nature was born and became an “event and PR-agency”. At least that’s what Steffi and Nina calls it themselves, when asked.
“It’s hard to explain with only three words though, because we’re doing so many different things” says Steffi. The emphasis lies on radio and online promotion. “It’s not like we wouldn’t be able to do press, it’s just that it’s expensive, and the outcome is very uncertain. It rarely makes any sense for our artists.” In addition to PR and events like the Berlin Midsommar Festival and various showcases (like the co-operation with Ja Ja Ja), Nordic by Nature also produce their own content, like the blog and the Amazing Sweden-playlist on Spotify. According to themselves, it has its perks.
“Nordic by Nature is more than just a PR-agency that arranges events on the side” says Nina. “We have different collaborations with every artist and then we combine that with all the content we put out ourselves. That makes it kind of a quality check for other media and people in the business – if an artist is working with us, people know it’s good stuff.”
The statement may sound cocky, but Nordic by Nature has been working with artists such as Night Sports, Dinner and Asbjørn, who are all building up ever more successful careers.
“Basically, we can take on anyone – but we have to see potential in the artist and he or she has to fit our profile” says Nina. “The artist doesn’t have to be big – you don’t even have to have a label – but we need to see that it could be going somewhere. The Nordic by Nature brand is also built on the bands we work with. That’s how you get a good relationship; both parties have to benefit from it somehow – in more than just a financial way.”
“We have to say no to bands all the time, simply because they don’t fit us” Steffi continues. So when is actually the right time to get in touch? “Call us when you love us!” Steffi laughs. But that’s really the only rule, it seems. “You can be a small artist; size doesn’t really matter, as long as you want to go into the German market. If you’re small we’ll try things out and Nordic by Nature can work as a great first step and starting platform. That’s our specialty!”
For artist wanting to introduce themselves to the German market, Steffi offers a few pieces of advice. “Get a manager of sorts. Look for someone you know – someone you know is smart and can take care of your stuff. This person doesn’t necessarily have to have any experience from the music industry, but you need someone who can talk to people while you’re fooling around on stage.” When talking about touring and releasing records she says: “If there’s only one single out, or an EP, I would just do an online PR campaign – just blogs and such, trying to get the buzz going and see how people react. If you’ve got a whole album you want to launch, a successful PR campaign needs a tour! And make sure to bring CD’s, t-shirts, merch… stuff! Germans love it!”
In a week both Nina and Steffi will head to Lapland in Finland, where Nordic by Nature’s Lapp Dance club event will take place in Levi, with a whole host of DJ’s, including Jaakko Eino Kalevi and Linnea Palmestål. A bit further down the road, a recently agreed co-operation with Melt!Booking can be spotted, where Nordic by Nature takes over the promotion of all events and tours. Despite the well made plans, Nina and Steffi confess to not planning a lot. “We actually don’t even have a business plan or anything!” says Nina. “But we’re talking things through all the time and come up with ideas and directions, and then we actually go through with it. As a result, the business has grown slowly, but steadily.”
Steffi says she’d be perfectly happy with being in somewhat the same position as now in five years, but she also has other visions. “I want to do charity! But still stick to music, and in a different way than people do it now. I want to revolutionize the charity scene and do culture for people who doesn’t usually expose themselves to culture.”
We finish off with talking about playlists, and how well the streaming format translates in the German market. “Not as many percent of the population uses streaming here as in Scandinavia” says Nina, “but then again there’s a lot more people.” “We’re a bit slow in Germany,” Steffi fills in, “we want to ‘make sure it works’ first. So in that sense Nordic by Nature is a little ahead of the curve. The rest of Germany will get there in a few years – but by then we’ll already be somewhere else.”