Estonia's most exciting festival gets underway today
Cai Trefor
11:43 5th April 2018

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Tallinn is an amazing city, and Tallinn Music Week, is their amazing festival that’s set all around the city, letting you explore the range of different spaces on offer in the amazingly diverse Estonian capital. Buffered right up against the Baltic Sea, and barely an hour from Helsinki, the festival bridges the different trajectories of the Scandinavian outlook.

Programming a blistering array of projects, some more developed than others, and giving new voices, and new ideas an opportunity to thrive. From parties in museums with soviet submarines, to re-interpretations of Radiohead by a classical orchestra, we’ve seen it all in Tallinn. This year we list the best acts to see there:

Elizabete Balcus

Elizabete Balcus is about to go on a UK tour but before she does that the Riga artist will perform her highly-anticipated solo show in Tallin. Of her astounding debut album Gigwise said, “Here are thirteen avant garde dream-snippets that weave bewitchingly between classical chamber music and ultra-modern electronica, a collection suggesting that Elizabete’s standard stress dream involves Bjork chasing Sufjan Stevens, Grimes and Anna Calvi back and forth across a gigantic synthesiser keyboard, occasionally beating them about the head with a blunt flute wrapped in chrysanthemums.” We can’t wait to see how her transcendent sound plays out live with inventive use of loop pedals and synthesisers made of fruit and veg. Read our interview feature with Elizabete Balcus here.

Mart Avi

Mart Avi’s mini-album Rogue Wave is already high in our estimation. He's one of our favourite new artists and of his brilliant debut album we said, “Avi sounds like Benjamin Clementine and a bag of loose change stuck in a washing machine on slow cycle, but in a marvellous way. His drawling, theatrical baritone is stretched and dragged through all manner of manipulated ambient future noise, jazz and easy listening to the point where you feel David Bowie would’ve been begging for a guest spot." On many other international press must-sees such as Drowned In Sound, too, it’ll be amazing to see how Estonia’s own Mart Avi executes his impeccably produced new tracks on the live stage.

Samurai Champs

This rap duo influenced by Drake’s label OVO label weaves modern hip-hop, r&b, and trap very cleverly to create emotional ballads and quick-witted raps you’ll have singing way after the show. Such was the energy of their set at The Great Escape and Sound City last year, we concluded them in our top picks of each festival. They’re still reeling from killing it at SXSW so expect a feverish set. Keep an eye on their co-frontman Marvin Chan whose acrobatic stage presence often sees him climbing the rig or the venue walls. Their wide-reaching references flit between each other brilliantly; it’s a well-honed live set.


Another band we’ve been fortunate to see live on the industry showcase scene before. We were over in Nova Scotia Music Week, and neo psych pop band Walrus slayed with their late night set in The Holiday Inn basement (it was, no joke, the coolest Holiday Inn you’ve ever been in). It was roughly 2am and they had me hooked like a Spectrals set had when they supported Real Estate in Brighton back around 2011. The jangly, puritan way of recording exactly how they play live recalls Pete Astor and Ultimate Painting, too, but live their much fuzzier than on record and manage to get a fairly decent mosh going. They seem to draw a crowd whereby they wish they’d brought a rain cover to protect their pedal boards from beer as the crowd get pretty lively.

Kate NV

Kate NV is in prog, jazz and post-punk band Glintshake and has appeared on Gigwise earlier this year in our highlights of MENT review, and for their album which you can read about here. Glintshake aren’t performing at TMW sadly, but fear not, KATE NV’s solo project is another beast altogether that fits the festival thanks to its neo-classical, ambient and electronic leanings. One to chill out with in parts and be whacked around the head with playful vocal hooks and disco-noir dance moves at others. It’s one we’re new to but expect a vibrant mix of people to be admiring the insane talent of one of Russia’s best pop musicians.

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Photo: Hendrik Osula/Sopa Images/SOPA via ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock