Summer 2021 / Summer 2022
It has been over a month since I came back from a trip of a lifetime… A project that demanded everything from me, a project that delivered the highest highs, the lowest lows and tales I will tell my grandchildren one day. But let´s start at the beginning. This is p.1 of 3 (i think) tales of the wild collaborative project
OSLO TO ISTANBUL. How it all started.
In the summer of 2021, three Australian artists (Musketeer, Lucas Laufen, Edward Hughson) asked me to join them on a roadtrip to Romania to be part of a small festival in the mountains of Transilvania. I will at some point write a more detailed piece on the festival but to make a long story short: It was absolutely magical. So many things went wrong at the festival and it was absolutely amazing and beautiful to see what can happen when a bunch of creative minds from all over the world come together to create moments and experiences that touch souls and make beautiful memories.
Inspired by the spirit of collaboration and with the intention to connect more artists with the same mindset across Europe, Joe (Musketeer) and I came up with the idea for a creative road trip that would have us and a bunch of other artists travel across the continent, organize and play concerts with local artists, record a collaborative album and film it all to tell the tale. What started as a silly idea quickly turned into a vision. And that vision brought us from OSLO TO ISTANBUL.
From the beginning, we faced multiple challenges that would maybe lead other groups to split, give up or postpone. But (speaking for myself) this obsessive feeling of I CAN NOT NOT DO THIS kept us going and working.
When we started working on O2I, we were still in the middle of a pandemic. The creative sector, concert- and cultural locations, bookers and everyone involved in the live music industry was insecure, unsure and economically unstable. Trying to book concerts in cities and countries that we haven´t played in yet as small independent artists is quite a task and required a lot of emails, assurances, sacrifices and trust from bookers. It wasn´t until a few weeks before we started the trip that we knew where and how we would play. We even added a show and changed some while being on the road. Joe and Alise, who were the “booking team” were close to mental breakdowns before the tour even started. But all of us coming together we managed to book 11 concerts. And between some shows that were just … ugh, most shows we played ended up being great and magical experiences.
Organizing a project like this in a group of 7-8 people with very different needs, expectations, work ethics and creative minds requires a lot of patience and ideally at least two managers. As most of us are full time artists and disciplined organization is not necessarily in all of our skillsets, we struggled and stumbled through the process. David and I, both coming from full time work backgrounds in an agency (me) and a tech startup (David) took on the responsibility of trying to give structure to the madness. But all of us having our own projects, needing to make a living, spending time with loved ones, we had to accept that things are just going to be a bit chaotic. Personally, I had to come to terms with pushing my artistic self to the side and go full on organization mode for a while. And to be honest, I hated it. I think we all did. But we also knew that we were working on something special.
I hate to say, but money was the biggest challenge in this project. You can do everything when you have money. And you have to make a lot of sacrifices if you don´t. Soon after we started working on the project, we managed to get meetings and calls with potential partners and sponsors that liked our idea and our ambition. A lot of them were willing to (and ended up) giving or lending us important equipment and products for the tour. Which is fantastic in so many ways, because we can still use it to improve our live performances, studios, sleep, outfits and work long after this tour. Sponsors included SHURE, ZOOM, KURZWEIL, AER, BLACKROLL, FC ST. PAULI and more. But the one thing that was missing was money. cash. dinero.
For context: In the meantime, Russian president Putin decided to make some terrible and evil decisions and led his country into a war that left many people and families in the Ukraine with great loss and the rest of the world in shock and the next crisis after Covid.
In the midst of a crisis and after a few failed funding applications, we had to make a tough decision: Can we pull this off without money, potentially even loosing money in the process? The answer was yes. We started a crowdfunding which made around €3.500 that helped a lot and I made the decision to throw all my savings in the ring to make sure that no one on the tour would have a significant financial disadvantage. It was still more than tight. But the knowledge that we would create things that could potentially help us make some of the money back (a record and a documentary) and create a project bigger than all of us, made my decision easier. After all, I cant imagine many other things I would rather go broke for.
On June 07, me and Joe hit the road towards Oslo in my van Flipper to meet the others.