March 9, 2021 — Norwegian neofolk legends Wardruna’s upcoming live show First Flight of the White Raven will be unveiled on Friday, March 26. The event is meant as a virtual special-show to celebrate their spectacular fifth record Kvitravn.
The White Raven show will present Wardruna’s newest record in full, alongside choice cuts from the band’s discography. Set within a special setting that promises to take full advantage of Nordic folk’s distinct visual aesthetics.
Intimate Livestreams to be embraced by folk artists?
While live streams have increasingly become the norm in the music industry the medium remains largely untapped on a wider scale. The neofolk scene, in particular, is rarely engaging with the medium (with only a few exceptions) although there is some logic to that since folk music tends to be more grounded and is also one of the most analog genres. But where issues arise in replications of the typical rock/metal live show experience (not least the lack of crowd engagement), an argument could be made that neofolk, more than almost any other genre, benefits from the more impartial, aesthetically driven focus of a live stream.
Folk thrives on atmospherics, particularly in infusing the ambiance of an environment into the music itself. Nordic neofolk progenitor, Einar Selvik, explained in a recent interview with The Guardian,
Few genres take live performances as seriously as the Nordic neofolk movement. Individual artistry has often given over to wider engagement with history and folklore to create an experience closer to a ritual. Coupled with the unique aesthetic of artists like Heilung, Wardruna, and Myrkyr, and potentially also for smaller, grounded acts like Draugablíkk and Hrafngrímr — a direct line can be drawn to establish a unique, intimate experience whether on Facebook. Which fans can enjoy entirely from the comfort of their own homes.
Virtual Shows Are Worldwide
Much of the underground folk scene is based less on the vision of individual auteurs and more around notions of cultural engagement. Making a creative approach to platforming crucial to promoting the music itself. The enormous success of The Wellerman and sea-shanties on TikTok demonstrated how novel concepts can spread like wildfire while inspiring wider cultural shifts in the process. But ultimately, platforms like YouTube have already shown how the right presentation can elevate an artist from the underground into the mainstream.
“You can almost call it method-recording or method-composing, where I am the instrument and the themes are the composer. It subtly promotes this idea that nature is something sacred. Something we are a part of, not the rulers of.” — Einar Selvik
Heilung — one of the scene’s hottest bands – has enjoyed over five million views for the YouTube video (included below) of their debut performance, captured at Castlefest in 2017. In turn, this has helped establish a legend for the band. Something their music might not have achieved on its own. With its stark lighting and cinematic framing, the video feels more akin to a theatre production than anything one would usually associate with a musical performance. Most crucially, it works.
Not only do such performances serve to capture the imagination, but they offer an extra layer of tangibility. Thrusting the viewer into the midst of the performance itself. Wardruna themselves already trialed such events with a showcase event in December 2020 allowing journalists and industry professionals an opportunity to engage with the world of Wardruna directly as they enjoyed a stark solo performance from Selvik himself alongside a Q&A that offered insights into the writing and recording process. Such performances can be seen as a way to directly communicate the themes and ambiance of a given composition and not just another promotional tool.
SUMMING UP THE FUTURE
By perfectly balancing sound and vision, folk artists can better communicate the music itself, and in doing so create a more personalized tie to the emotion of the music. Virtual live shows transcend geographical limitations as it invites fans from around the world to share in incredible, unique performances which will potentially expand engagement with the folk genre further than ever before.
Using Facebook as its primary digital venue, Wardruna’s special live show First Flight of the White Raven is scheduled to premiere at 21:00 CET on Friday, March 26.