A Korean DJ’s brush with Greenlandic music from iconic Nanook and Sume
Greenland beckons like music to my ears.
An interest in music, culture and nature has taken me many places and given me many adventures. One thing on my bucket list was going to Greenland. Last winter, I could happily cross it off my list and say I’d been to the land of the Greenlanders. That I’d gone dog sledding, sailing and hiking in Greenland. That I’d seen and heard the overwhelming crashing of icebergs. Amazing. And I also got to listen to Greenlandic music, and DJ at Manhattan Nightclub in Nuuk!
When home in South Korea I’m in charge of brand communication for an electronics company. When I’m not working my day job, I’m a pop music journalist and a DJ. Music plays a big part of my life and because of this I also try to travel places that enriches me musically.
Music from Greenland: Sume and Nanook
While chilling in Ilulissat, Greenland, I met some locals who introduced me to Greenlandic culture and recommended some Greenlandic music I could look further into: Nanook and Sume.
Sume was a band from the 70’s who revolutionized the Greenlandic rock genre while Nanook is a recent group starting from 2008 and still going strong.
My experience of Greenlandic music was much different from what we see in South Korea. Kpop has in recent years influenced the international music scene starting mostly from Psy’s Gangnam Style. Many northern European and American producers collaborate with IDOL from a big entertainment group called SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment. This keeps showing Kpop’s growing “visibility” in the rest of the world. But Kpop is not just your regular pop: it’s electronic, hip hop, indie rock, folk, ballad and even traditional music.
Kpop versus Greenlandic music
So how was the Greenlandic music that I heard different from Kpop? The first thing I noticed was the soft expression and personality in the music. Nanook’s album Pissaaneqaqisut, which is their second album, stimulates the imagination of Greenland as if they paint the light reflected by the icebergs. As if their sound gives a feeling of space. This album increases the curiosity about Greenland, this wonderland of mysteries. Frederik Elsker on guitar and vocal sounds like Sigur Ros’ singer Jonsi, but with a brighter colour than him. The songs Pileritooq, Pissusitoqaraat and Nanook impressed me so much with amazing acoustic guitar and beautiful harmonies. And the music plays as a counterpart to the nature in Qimavissanerparput when the warm energy gives a contrast to the cold Greenlandic atmosphere.
Both Nanook and Sume are within the Indie Rock genre. I would warmly recommend Sume’s music video, which is simply awesome! It gives a look into Greenland accompanied with the sounds of Greenland. A quick search on Youtube of Sume can delight anyone interested in experiencing this beautiful harmony. But they have a different expression to Nanook. Their music and performances are like unifying elements in life that shows everyday life and letting spring, summer and fall warm up the long winter nights. Sume’s music is about life in all its simplicity and complexity.
Nanook showed me what the phenomenon of Greenland really is, and Sume showed me Greenland’s everyday life and philosophy.
So now my bucket list is one destination shorter. And I am this experience richer with regards to culture, nature and to music from all over the world…
By:Jeff Jinseop Lee
Journalist, Brand Specialist and DJ morebomb