EurNoVision looks a little like the Eurovision competition—the kind we’ve only seen in our wildest dreams. It’s a selection of underground European bands that are creative and inventive, pushing the boundaries of musical genres. Check out another, better take on the best music being made in Europe with these seventeen songs.
We get a lot of email from musicians and labels announcing their new releases and albums, but few have gotten us as excited as Irish musician Paul Mangan, from the band Clockwork Orchestra. In 2015, he put together the EurNoVision compilation series. His idea? To bring together all of Europe’s obscure musicians, the ones on the margins who are impossible to classify. His 2016 compilation is a musical snapshot of the best of Europe’s current underground scene. On the track list are some of our favorites, like J.G.G. and Logosamphia, as well as plenty of new names to discover.
How and why did you create EurNoVision?
Having toured around Europe with Clockwork Orchestra for several years I came into contact with many diverse artists and bands from all kinds of backgrounds who were playing in similar venues to me. Those who make unique or difficult to define music, particularly those from small countries have little choice but to play abroad to find any kind of scene or appreciative audience so I felt it would be nice to try and bring all of this together in my own small way. Ultimately, t’s a way to showcase music which I think deserves to be heard.
I started talking about the idea to some friends and collaborators and after it gained a bit of momentum we decided to go ahead and launch the project in 2015. The first incarnation featured acts like Felix Kubin, Mary Ocher and DAT Politics and was released on the UK label Soft Bodies Records. This years release almost didn’t happen for a number of reasons but in the end, against all the odds it’s here and just in time for Christmas!
Judging by its name, did you start the project as a reaction to Eurovision?
I would think of it not so much a reaction as an alternative universe version of Eurovision. If Eurovision was held up as a bastion of credibility then maybe EurNoVIsion would be more like an opposition to this but the former is pretty much seen as “fun” at best and vacuous trash at worst so it wouldn’t really be a logical target. That said, of course it’s a great pity that there are so few platforms on television for more interesting or original music.
What’s your opinion on Eurovision?
Being from Ireland, the country which has won the competition more than anyone else I am probably more aware of Eurovision than I would like to be! I enjoyed watching it as a kid more for the parts when they went to each country to find out the point score for the contestants rather than for the music itself. Those moments seemed strangely austere and otherworldly in contrast with the ridiculous music. These days it seems to be mostly a battle for the best gimmick but in the past there were some classy songs by the likes of France Gall and Franco Battiato.
Why did you think there was a need for an alternative to Eurovision?
I think the main aim was to bring some kind of unity to the underground scenes in different countries around Europe. We have plans to expand EurNoVision into a kind of magazine and/or podcast in the near future to further enhance this goal.
How were the bands on the compilation selected?
Bands are selected in a number of ways. I would guess that about 50% of the acts on this years compilation are people that I have met either in person or online whose music me or my friends appreciate. Four of the acts contacted us directly via email and the rest came from internet research and obsessive googling phrases such as “weird music Serbia” or “strange band Belgium”! Several acts on last years compilation were sourced from the Eastern Daze blog for instance and on this years release, we have J.G.G representing Catalonia who I only recently discovered on an Indie Guides article about the underground scene in Barcelona.
Tell us about the bands on this year’s compilation.
There’s a real mixture, some of it could be described as lo-fi pop (Il Culo Di Mario of Italy or The Gathering Doubt from the UK for example) whilst songs by other acts such as R.A.N (Turkey) or Dancing Deadlips (Poland) are more abstract or challenging to fans of more traditional structures. Mr Diagonal’s Midlife Crisis of Belgium channels the eccentricity of The Bonzo Dog band on his track “Glad To Be A Freak @40” whilst Serbia’s EPP supplied a track called “Hologram” which wouldn’t be too far out of place on a Residents album.
On this compilation, you decided to include disputed territories and unofficial countries like Catalonia, Scotland, and the Basque Country. Why?
For last years release Motor Combo suggested that they would prefer to represent Catalonia instead of Spain and we also had Quimper representing Scotland rather than the United Kingdom hot on the heels of the Scottish independence referendum the previous year so the idea to include unrecognized countries like this stemmed from there. The whole notion of a country is fairly fluid when it comes to EurNoVision so it is to some extent a question of where the musicians most identify with.
What song would you like to see win Eurovision 2017?
Tough choice but I’ll go for “If The Internet Got Wet?” by the Irish EurNoVision entry (who are confusingly named French Radio Constellation) because it’s an incredible song title and I want Ireland to continue our inexplicable domination of the competition!
Photo: Il Culo Di Mario
Article translated by Andrea Perdue