Sofar hosts secret gigs in Swedish apartments. Photo: Sofar
Stockholm's secret gig scene is so secret we only just found out about it. How does it work?
You sign up to a newsletter and every month you get an email inviting you to a private, secret gig. You don't know where it is or who is playing until the date of the event. In Stockholm we have put on events in people's apartments and also in cosy and lovely art studios and other creative spaces.
How did you come up with the idea?
Sofar is a global movement launched in London about six years ago and we are now in more than 80 cities around the world. It's a not-for-profit community where people mostly play for free. I had been to gigs arranged in London and New York and I loved the concept.
When I moved back to Sweden after quite a few years of living abroad, I found it a bit difficult to socialize and meet new people. Then I went to a friend's birthday where a band was performing in their house and it reminded me of Sofar and what Stockholm was missing. So I decided to try and launch it here.
Stockholm has changed since I left. There is more of an international scene and I just think the city was ready for something like this.
Stockholm certainly has some stylish apartments, but aren't they a bit small for concerts?
Stockholm is different to London, Paris or New York where more people in their twenties live in shared houses or collectives. Here in Sweden we tend to live alone in little apartments and people were a bit scared of the idea at first. But we have held gigs in small spaces, with 45 people in just 45 square metres, so it is workable and yes we are famous for our interiors here.
Most of the bands play electronic music, so they need quite a lot of equipment but as long as we can get that in then it is all workable. We are putting on gigs once a month now.
Swedes are known for being very organized and rather shy. But your concept demands that they take quite a few risks, by arranging to watch a strange band in a strange location, surrounded by strangers. Why do you think you have been successful here?
I guess in a way people are quite regimented in Sweden but they are also very curious. I think people here are organized, so in one way it suits us perfectly to sign up to something in advance and queue in a line outside on the night. Our anniversary gig is a bit larger and so we are charging this time but it still sold out pretty quickly.
Can you give us any clues about where the anniversary event is taking place this weekend?
All I can say is it is taking place in one of the most extravagant lounge rooms in Stockholm. We wanted a bigger venue so that there could be more of a party feel about it all and we are very excited.
Doesn't that take you away from your roots? From small and intimate gigs?
No, it will still feel personal and people will still have that mystery of not knowing where they are going until they are there. I think people have just got fed up of booking to see large acts in the same venues and so it will really appeal to those people. We are thinking of it as more of a mini festival but we will keep putting on small gigs in future. Too many concerts feel the same.
So what is next for Sofar?
We are launching our first gigs in Gothenburg in January 2015 and we are in touch with other cities too. So it is a busy time for us. We want to keep putting on small gigs that are cosy and have a lot of soul.