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The Sound of the North route takes you through the different eras of popular music in Oulu

15.4.2024 | GENERAL, NEWS

“The Sound of the North – tracing the origins of popular music” is a digital story route that can be experienced throughout Oulu using your own mobile device. The permanent route, which will be published on 10 April, is part of the Oulu region’s journey towards becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2026.

Kuusrock Festival in the beginning the 1970’s. (Photo: archive of Kaleva newspaper)

Ten nostalgic short stories tell about the phenomena, waves, places and people of popular music in Oulu. The stories were written and are narrated by musician Esa “Katz” Nissi from the band Radiopuhelimet. On the route’s map, the stories are placed close to their actual locations and can either be read or listened to.

“Rattori Club was no more, and the rock folk dispersed all over town”

The vivid stories of the Sound of the North route take you from Kuusrock to Air Guitar World Championships and from Rauhala to NuKu’s discos. Rattori-Lupi, Metal City, Leipätehdas, 45 Special, the Madetoja Music High School and the paska kaupunni (“shitty city”, misspelled) graffiti each also have their own stories.

Many of the places and phenomena in the stories were already familiar to their writer, Esa Nissi. Nissi describes his work as very interesting, but also challenging due to the scope of the topic.

“Of course, I was aware of how multidimensional popular music is in Oulu. The theme could easily warrant a more extensive review, but we wanted to keep the stories concise. A lot of interesting things had to be left out. This part was the biggest challenge in the writing,” says Nissi.

In addition to Nissi’s stories, the route also includes interviews that take the listener even deeper into the world of northern popular music. Views and memories are shared by Kuusrock’s founder Markku Hänninen, Vesa Ranta from the band Sentenced, doorman legend Jorma Karhumaa, Jarno Mällinen from Radiopuhelimet, Petri Sirviö from Mieskuoro Huutajat, event expert Taina Ronkainen, youth work veteran Paula Kariniemi, 45 Special’s Ilpo and Roope Sulkala, student Ella Huttunen from Madetoja music school and Marlene Hyyppä, expert in Oulu’s underground culture.

The route map is published on the Northern Stories – Oulu2026 website. You can also find the route and stories by scanning the QR code on tiles found in the centre of Oulu. Each story is independent and they can be experienced in any order. The stories can also be found on the above-mentioned website.

The stories on the Sound of the North route are available in Finnish, English, Swedish and easy Finnish. The in-depth interviews are available in Finnish and dubbed in English.

The route will remain on the streets for people to experience and is part of Oulu’s journey towards becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2026.

Northern Stories

“The Sound of the North – tracing the origins of popular music” is the second pilot of the Northern Stories project. The content is produced by Filmbutik Oulu.

The first pilot of the project, The Tales of Tar route, was launched in November 2023 and additional stories have been added recently. The project is being implemented by Oulu Culture Foundation. The aim is to develop new ways of creating several themed routes with user-friendly mobile technology in the Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture area.

Highlighting the region’s cultural heritage and offering experiences free of charge strengthens the local identity of residents in their everyday environments and creates tourist attractions. The stories have been mapped and collected together with experts and local residents. The routes will be developed further on the basis of observations and feedback.

The project will end in April 2024, but the routes will remain active. The final report of the project will be published in spring 2024.

Implementer of the project: Oulu Culture Foundation, main financier: Council of Oulu Region

Project implementation period: 1 March 2023–30 April 2024

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