A Scandinavian Winter Playlist to Create Your Own Hygge

Winter isn’t coming. It’s here. In Scandinavia at least. Today in Copenhagen, it is cold and dark and damp. To me this is the worst. I’d rather have snow. But the Danes have an answer to combat these shortening days and less than desirable weather. It’s called hygge. You know it. You do. I have talked about it before. More than candles and cookies and cool Danish design, hygge is about creating a space that your community can well, commune in. It’s about moments. A feeling. For me, music helps creating that feeling. Every year I create an alternative Christmas playlist. I love the classics and a carol sung by a choir or two, but music evolves and how I listen to it equally evolves. I like seeing where winter music can take me. And since I now live in Scandinavia – it makes sense that my musical tastes have been swayed by the locals. Let me sway you. Or rather – feel the sway of this beautiful music. I have created a playlist to help UP your Scandinavian winter hygge. I hope you enjoy.

Scandinavian Winter Hygge Playlist

Tokka | Agnes Obel | Copenhagen, DK & Berlin, DE

Agnes Obel is a classically trained pianist and her music for me is an updated and modern version of George Winston’s December. I know – super dating myself there. But to be honest, I have not played George Winston since my sorority sisterhood nights in college. Don’t ask. It’s cringy, but sentimental at the same time. Not Agnes’ music though. Pure and gorgeous. Put this on your Scandi winter mixtape, bust out some candles. Light them all. Enjoy. With someone preferably. Now you’ve got hygge.

WHEN YOU TOLD ME IT WAS CHRISTMAS | BODEBrIXEN | Aarhus, DK

Something about this duo from Aarhus conjures the hours and hours and hours I used to listen to my Jesus & Mary Chain cassette on loop. In case you were wondering… YES. Yes it was a yellow Sony Sports Walkman. I’ve already dated myself. See above. Don’t judge. I love this song.

Dear Santa | Mr Little Jeans | Grimstad, NO & Compton, CA

Mr Little Jeans, which might be my new favorite band name ever, is the lovechild of Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes, who now calls LA home. Kicky, swingy and beautifully sung – try not to move to this one. I can feel the Norway AND the California is this fun holiday song.

Det’Cember | Sys Bjerre | Vanlose, DK

Listening to Sys Bjerre sing about julefrokosts and brunkager in Danish is amusing and fun. The way she interjects English into the song is much like riding on the train with Danes. All of a sudden you are like, “HEY! I understood what they said!” Oh. Because that was English. Yep. I do understand though (a little too well) her sharing that her underwear don’t fit anymore from enjoying too many marcipan treats. Hahaha!

It’s Christmas | Cody | Copenhagen, DK

CODY – which stands for Come On Die Young are based right here in Copenhagen. Known for their own brand of Nordic gloom, this year’s julesang, Christmas song, is all about the angst that coming home for Christmas can bring. Reminiscent of Blitzen Trapper’s Christmas is Coming Soon! and Fleet Foxes’ White Winter Hymnal, I love CODY’s vibe and will probably be shouting their refrain all season – “It’s Christmas!” Check out the video to for a traditional Danish Christmas dinner too!

Be mine | Alice boman | Malmö, SE

I do love a beautiful Swedish voice and local Alice hits us with hers. You know Malmö is like a suburb of Copenhagen right? (Shhh.. don’t tell the Swedes that!) Lilting and lovely, Be Mine will definitely notch up the hygge this winter. Snuggle in, but be ready to tap your toes.

Winter song | Caesars | STockholm, SE

Do you remember this Apple iPod ad?

Then you already know the Swedish group Caesars. Winter Song is from 2005, but it still holds a rich and full sound that is perfect for creating that Scandi hygge – and I find it means more for me now living here – “… running down the icy streets, trying to catch the last sun beam.” I know it will hold a space on my indie Christmas list for a long time.

Dreams today | EFTERKLANG | Copenhagen, DK & BERLIN, DE

In Danish, Efterklang means echo or reverberation. Try to listen to this song and not feel it. Viscerally. I also love their song Modern Drift where the piano and drums push the music, pulling you along in slow and steady rhythm full of a sorrowful sweetness. Creative and evolving, Efterklang is Danish design put to sound.

Suppegjok | Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas | Oslo, NO

No Scandi mixtape would be complete without some indielectric syntho pop. I love this one – a collab between long-time Norwegian friends and music producers Hans-Peter Lindstrøm and Thomas Moen Hermansen. When grey days call for hygge socks and warm drinks, add this to your mix.

WATER FLOW | Klyne | EINDHOVEN, NL

Ok, ok. So Klyne is not officially Scandinavian. But I have been asked if I speak Dutch after living here in Denmark. (I know, I was just as embarrassed as you!) Because of this, I offer you the tongue-in-cheek inclusion of this Dutch band Klyne. Once you listen – you’ll understand why. Warm energy, delicious beats and yummy vocals. Insta-hygge. The Dutch may call it “gezelligheid,” but it is similar in sentiment.

New Year’s Eve | First Aid Kit | StockhOLM, SE

If you don’t know Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit – stop everything and look them up. Now. The soundtrack to my life across borders here in Denmark includes lots of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderbergs’ gorgeous harmonies and elegant lyrics. I adore My Silver Lining and Wolf. New Year’s Eve is no different. Written in 2012 – it seems especially pertinent for 2016.

Well it’s a new year, with it comes more than new fears.
Met a young man who was in tears, he asked me,
“What induces us to stay here?”
I said, “I don’t know much and I’m not lying,
But I think you just have to keep on trying.”

And I know I am naive, but if anything
That’s what’s going to save me
That’s what’s going to save me

Took a stroll around the neighborhood where the trees are swaying.
People passed in cars with their windows down, with a pop song playing.
A man walked by, walking back and forth the street with a drunken smile to go along.
He stopped to look at me and say, “Child, don’t fear doing things wrong.”

Yet I am still afraid but if anything
That’s what’s going to save me
That’s what’s going to save me

Now I have a lot to learn and I’m starting tonight,
Got to stop looking at things like they’re black and they’re white.
Got to write more songs of a little more, treat my friends better.
Got to stop worrying about everything to the letter.
And sometimes when it’s too hard to get up,
It just might be a little call apart.

But I find it hard to believe, but if anything
That’s what’s going to save me
That’s what’s going to save me

Tell me, tell me
Oh, what’s going to save me?

-First Aid Kit, New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve | Mø | Ubberud, DK & Copenhagen, DK

You may know Mø from her hit Final Song, she is crazy popular here. (And it is not pronounced Mo – see here for the artist pronouncing it herself. Try taking the oo’s in pool and add it’s closer to that.) This year, she has her own version of a New Year’s song – take a listen – her unique voice offers an honest message.

Thanks Erin – but what if I don’t want to click on every song by itself and make my own playlist. NO WORRIES. I already did that. You knew that right? I work in Spotify because I think it is awesomesauce and we got the no-ads version with our Danish phone contracts and when you connect with with Sonos you can play it all over your entire house. WHAT? I know. That was not a plug and I get no kinds of kick-back for saying any of that. But I LOVE it.

I don’t have Spotify though. It ok. Spotify offers a free version. Just after a few songs, you may have to listen to an ad. You can create playlists, share songs and connect with friends. Check it out.

Here’s my list – includes songs shared in this post along with other classic Danish juletunes. Did I miss one of your favorites? Or have another indie Scandi band favorite you need to share – PLEASE – I always am looking for new music. Cheers from Copenhagen and happy listening. Get your hygge on. Erin

Know someone who might enjoy these tunes? Share it!

Suitcases and Sandcastles

Norway by Rail

Summer break is almost here and maybe Norway is on your list. If you haven’t taken the overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo – that is a trip in and of itself. But Norway really shines outside the capital. Ride along as I revisit our train trip from Oslo to fjord country… this is Norway by rail.

Wending along in the eighth of ten cars, feeling the pull and sway along the tracks. Remarkably insulated from the bracing sound of metal wheels upon steel rails. Infrequent is the clickety clacking one most associates with this mode of travel. I love riding the train.

Continue reading “Norway by Rail”

By Bus to Bergen – Onsdag Wanderlust – Volume V

It’s Wednesday peeps. That’s Onsdag in Danish. And while my morning excursion to join the morgen sing along with the Copenhagen Opera Festival potentially exposed my gross lack of appropriate Danish pronunciation – and may have quickly led to lip synching – I do know what Onsdag means. It means – it’s the middle of the week. And this week in Copenhagen – the weather is abysmal. Seriously. Rain. Not rain. RAIN. More Rain. Oh – blue skies! Let’s do something! RAIN. I need an escape. How about you? Travel with me, virtually. Here and now.

Today I will take you on the last leg of our recent Norway in a Nutshell tour at the end of June. My story began back in Oslo and wound us through Norway by track and through fjord. (Missed those posts? Check them here and here.) Continuing on this Wednesday, let’s leave the gorgeous Nærøyfjord as we disembark our vessel at tiny Gudvangen. Shrouded in rain, (oh you thought I was going to take you somewhere sunny? Just wait…the weather does turn) we hurriedly make our way past the gift shop full of trolls and viking horned caps and Norsk flags and fur trimmed hats and expensive, if charming, Dale of Norway sweaters. Let the other tourists nab their souvenirs – we’ve got a bus to catch. There is no one ushering us along either. No. You have to locate that ride yourself. Ensure with the driver that you are in fact on the correct bus that will carry you on to Voss. Ja takk, in fact we are. Continue reading “By Bus to Bergen – Onsdag Wanderlust – Volume V”