Strangers in your city

Underground Festival in Gothenburg - Clandestino 2013

Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri © Lotta Andersson/Clandestino Festival

A wild mix of colors, music, cultures, languages, and dancing: That's what describes the Clandestino Festival in Göteborg. Clandestino in English means ‘undercover’ or ‘underground’. In the vocabulary of the ethnic music fans around the world it is translated into an alternative festival of global music and rhythms. Michail and Miryam from K103 had the chance to be in Stora Teatern, in the very center of Gothenburg, to listen, see, and feel the vibe of this year’s Clandestino.

The first thing that struck us was that the festival was inside the Stora Teatern as it seemed odd to have a Swedish summer festival inside. However, Markus Görsch, the press contact of the festival, explained that this was one of the changes from last year. “You never know what to expect with the weather in Gothenburg’, he said, explaining the organisers' decision to move the festival to the traditional building on Avenyn. Another big difference to the previous year is the concept of the 5 seasons, namely that the festival runs on 5 different weekends throughout the year in various locations. In the spring, artists such the Meridian Brothers and Dj Masaya came to Gothenburg. The headliners of the summer season were the 'Original Queen of Cumbia' Totó La Momposina and sitar player Anoushka Shankar. As Markus described, this year there was a slight shift from African music to sounds from Latin America because “this had been missing in the scene”. However, Afro-influenced music was in no way forgotten: One of the most exciting acts was Batida, who gave a fascinating performance playing their music whilst showing political and/or artistic videos in the background and dance offs in the front of the stage.

DJ and pregnant – no problem

Dancing was also a great part of Mata Hari's act, an incredibly energetic female DJ who was dancing harder behind her mixing desk than anyone in the audience – despite the fact that she was 3 months pregant. She explained: “My doctor said that this doesn't affect the baby. With my last child I deejayed until the 8th month!” She told us that the dancing was her way to fill the dance floor, especially if the audience was too shy to get properly started. Her motto: “If you want people to start dancing, you should set an example”. Mata Hari, a Copenhagen-based DJ, was born and raised in Barcelona. The music she plays is characterized as Global Bass, and is mostly influenced by bass, dubstep, latin and balkan sounds. She is a multi-talented person, considering that she runs a record label, manages artists, deejays herself, and is a mother of three.

A political dimension

However, Clandestino is not only a music but also a political festival. In fact, this festival partly came into being due to the incorrect deportation of a refugee who had been refused asylum in Sweden in 2003. Thus, every year, relevant issues of racism and discrimination are discussed. This year, it focuses on some of the burning issues of Swedish society, such as the riots in the suburbs of Stockholm. In special forums, citisens, politicians, journalists, and artists are invited to express their opinions and engage in debates. “We always invite important politicians, but naturally they mostly find excuses to not show up”, explained organiser Markus rolling his eyes.

Blurring boundaries

What really attracted us about Clandestino this year was the friendly environment, the diversity, and the connectiveness between the audience and artists. Rather than dissapearing backstage and going to some exclusive party, the artists always mingled with the crowd after their respective act, drank beers with their fans, and listened to the other musicians. The crowd was a pleasant mix of different nationalities, students, hippies, and people in their 40s. We left the festival at 3 am, exhausted from dancing, happy, and desperate for some fresh air. It is an original idea to have a music festival in a theatre, but there is no denying that having the summer editions outdoors would have been better. However: It was nice to get home from a festival dry and without a ton of mosquito bites.

The next season will be Clandestino Botnik on the 27-28th of July.
For more information visit

Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri © Lotta Andersson/Clandestino Festival

A Radio Show for the International students in Gothenburg. Music, news, events and everything you need to know for the City! Tune in every Saturday at 16:00 on K103 Göteborgs Studentradio.


Michail Mavromatis (Mike), Steffen Göths, Laura Saxer, Andy Soderberg-Rivkin och Duncan Watt.

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