American ambassador for Nordic music

Avi Roig – runs website about Nordic music

Avi Roig is 28 years old and lives in Olympia close to Seattle, Washington with one wife, two cats and three dogs – and a rather time-consuming passion. He runs It’s a trap! – a blog about Nordic music – and every day quite a few Nordic people virtually cross the Atlantic to learn what is going on in their own musical environment.

He is not Scandinavian, not married to one, doesn’t speak the language, and has only once visited Sweden. But when Danish bands like The Alpine, Figurines, The First Miles, Kashmir, Blue Foundation and Tina Dickow have news about releases, record contracts, tour dates and reviews – or when they upload new MP3’s, videoes and websites – well, then Avi Roig gets the news before most Danes.

ROSA had a talk with the American ambassador of Nordic music about what motivates him to spend hours every day spreading the word on Nordic music.

It started with metal
The story about It’s a trap! started in the youth of the internet in the mid-nineties where the young metal fan Avi exploited the new potential to keep updated on music on the international metal scene. He was soon fascinated by the notorious Gothenburg scene with names like Entombed and At The Gates and thereby discovered a new array of colours on the Scandinavian music palette.

– It evolved when I started to eyeball the list of credits in the booklet of the CDs, look up names on the web, and check out who took part and what other bands they had played in and together with. Because the Scandinavian scene is so small, it is easy to move from heavy metal to punk, pop and other genres. Everybody performs on each others records, makes side-projects and recordings in the same studios, says Avi, whose focus on metal has shifted slightly since the 90’s onto guitar-based rock and pop. He tries to cover a broad spectre – with the exception of the all-out commercialized music.

Nordic tone and quality
What fascinates Avi about the Nordic music is the ever-present Nordic melancholy, which is to be found even in pop music. At the same time, he emphasizes our tradition of government support for music and musical education as one of the characteristics contributing to enhance the quality of the music.

The interest in metal started it all…

Necessity is the mother………
As his interest in Nordic music increased, the amount of bookmarks in his computer and newsletters arriving in his inbox grew, and he started to spend more and more time looking for information on bands on the internet. He concluded that there must be someone out there sharing his interest who could benefit from his research now that he had done all the work. He decided to establish It’s a trap! to collect all the music news in one place – in English! The lack of English-language information also forced Avi to acquire a Swedish vocabulary that has gradually enabled him to navigate on the Nordic sites.

The market proved its existence, and from the blue came a lot of people with the same interest from all over the world – especially from Scandinavia, Germany, England and USA. In part, there is a crowd that checks in regularly and provides Avi with lots of good tips, and there are a lot of music business reps who keep updated via the site – because there is not one single Scandinavian-language site to be found that deals with Nordic music to the same extent as this one.

Website became label became store became……….
With time, It’s a trap! has become more than a blog with with daily news updates and today it functions as a combined news provider, record company, CD importer and record store. He hopes that in the long run It’s a trap! will make economic sense, because so far he has had a full-time job on the side. One of Avi’s goals for It’s a trap! is to licence and release more records with Nordic bands on the North American market. At the moment he is producing his second compilation in his own ‘Reader’s Companion” series, which solely features Nordic music. It should be ready in two weeks and will be the third release from the It’s a trap! label that started in 2003. He sees the label and the blog as two sides of the same coin. The blog is daily news, and that work keeps him updated with news and future releases. At the same time the site is useful when he needs to promote his releases.

A nerd?
When asked how the Americans see Avi’s slightly niche-driven project, he laughs and says:
– Actually, Scandinavians are the ones who think it is a peculiar hobby for an American to have. Generally, there is great support from Americans because it is an area they don’t know very much about.

SPOT favourites
He has mainly kept informed on Swedish music, however, now he is beginning to gain interest in the Danish scene. He will get acquainted with a small part of Danish live rock at the MXD showcase in Seattle on March 9, where Figurines and Kira and The Kindred Spirits will perform. He is already familiar with the SPOT Festival from his work, but he has never been there. When ROSA presented him with the SPOT programme and asked him to comment on it, he emphasized names like Jenny, Wilson, Powersolo, Campsite, epo-555 and F.U.K.T as his personal favourites. Avi’s recommendations have hereby been passed on.