Swedish rock mums roll up for riff camp

Peter Vinthagen Simpson
Peter Vinthagen Simpson - [email protected]
Swedish rock mums roll up for riff camp
Photo: Siri Ambjörnsson

If you are a "madame" aged "18 to eternity" and have long harboured dreams of stardom, a new music camp at cities across Sweden may help you hone your rock star poise and hot licks.


"Many women have a secret dream to stand on stage and play in a band but the older you get, the harder it can become to find the time and someone to play with. We hope to encourage women to play in bands," Cecilia Nordlund at Popkollo Madame explained to The Local.

Popkollo is an established summer camp launched by Swedish pop star and singer-songwriter Marit Bergman in 2003 as a feminist equality project. Each summer the group organizes music camps for girls aged 12-18 with the aim of shaking up the music industry.

"The Swedish music industry is still terribly unequal. You only have to look at the awards galas to see that. We hope to change that by encouraging the development of something more than just the ageing rockers currently on offer," Nordlund said.

After pressure from the parents and relatives of young camp-goers, the group decided to give the older generations a chance to get in on the act. Each camp has room for twenty women, who will be split into four groups of potential rock stars.

"It is both a way to encourage women to organize themselves and to have fun - because it is a hell of a lot of fun. It also helps to fund our youth groups," Nordlund explained.

The three-day camp opens with instrument and lyrics workshops and culminates in a concert with the four groups performing.

The original camp was arranged on the site of the Hultsfred music festival in southern Sweden and attracted 19 young girls. Since those humble beginnings Popkollo has expanded to locations across the country and in 2009 involved 341 participants.

Popkollo Madame first glimpsed the spotlights last autumn and this spring will see camps organized in Stockholm, Malmö, Umeå and Hultsfred.

While summer camps have been part of the fabric of Swedish life for more than a century, they are of course not a uniquely Scandinavian phenomenon.

"We were inspired by the 'Rock 'N' Roll Camp for Girls' in the USA and we work actively to establish international partnerships, promote the camps and encourage girls to get involved," Nordlund said.

While summer camps were originally intended for the big-city children of the less well off in need of some rest and rehab in the great outdoors, recent decades have seen them become more specialized.

Popkollo Madame lists among its course leaders some of the most recognized names in Swedish music such as Titiyo, Idde Schultz, Nina Ramsby and Marie Selander, as well as Cecilia Nordlund and Marit Bergman.

"We have a strong network. These women are all very engaged. We want change," Nordlund concluded.


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