Outside of Eurovision trivia fodder, which fables Tanel Padar and Dave Benton’s 2001 winning song ‘Everybody’ Estonia’s music could barely be heard being whispered about.
After all it’s a small Northern European country of around 1.3 million people. However inside the capital city that whisper of the country’s music scene is starting to grow louder.
You could put that partially down to the fact Tallinn is one of the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city has impressive wireless internet technology and offers free public Wi-Fi. The home of Skype is in an enviable position when it comes to launching talent via the web.
Although with the city being named as the European Capital of Culture alongside Finland’s Turku in 2011 by the European Union, that exposure is seen as a catalyst for cultural development.
Perhaps though the rising success of Tallinn Music Week (which you can read about below) has finally given local acts a viable platform for international exposure.
We’ll put it down to a combination of all three factors. One thing we know for sure though is that Tallinn is home to healthy scene of innovative musicians and producers.
While the city’s music history is dominated by rock and metal acts after the Estonian rock scene was born in the 60s Tallinn’s music scene has become a far more diversified beast in the 21st Century.
However you can’t deny that the city’s love of metal hasn’t waned that much over the years. After all they’re only a stones throw away from the metal-loving Fins.
Regardless this small country has emerged as a surprisingly exciting player from the shadow of some of the larger countries in the Baltic region.
Tallinn might remain has an underdog when it comes to music cities at the present, but there’s the potential here for a thriving music scene to be uncovered.
Read on to find out our 11 picks of things every music fan should do in the Estonian capital.
Experience the City’s Emerging Music Scene At Tallinn Music Week
If the crown of Estonia’s music scene is Tallinn than this conference is undoubtedly responsible for giving it polish and shine. That is to say that since Tallinn Music Week emerged in 2009 it has helped unearth a scene rich of creative music makers. With around 800 music players, more than 200 local acts and an audience of nearly 20,000 people this event has quickly become the biggest indoor festival in the Baltic-Nordic region. While three days of the event is dedicated to exposing local and international acts, the international music conference runs for two days focusing on all the important music industry topics and trends.
Depeche Mode Fans Will Find A Haven at DM Baar
Opened in 1999 by a crazed Depeche Mode fan this establishment’s interior is typically decked out in red and black colours, while the walls are adorned with memorabilia. But the venue didn’t become famous until 2001 when the band partied there before their gig (there are pictures on the wall as proof). The band returned in 2006 and furthered DM Baar’s reputation. The walls in the years since have become a place for signings, with celebrities and commoners alike etching their presence into the bricks and mortar. They may have moved to a bigger location in 2009 but the soundtrack and atmosphere remains the same. Depeche Mode fans we’ve found a new home for you.
Catch Promising Producer Sander Mölder at His Next Gig In The Estonian Capital
This up and coming producer mastered in cello for thirteen years before moving onto his current genre bending project. The producer may blend a significant number of music textures but there is an undeniable soul influence to what he does. Having been picked up by Gilles Peterson of BBC Radio One and earning spots on European festivals Positivus and Satta Outisde amongst others Sander Mölder has a bright international career ahead.
Shop For Vinyl in the Old Town at Raamatukoi Grammofon
Voorimehe 9 Old Town
Is there any better way to shop for vinyl than in a UNESCO World Heritage site? We seriously doubt that there is and this Old Town located record haven allows you to find out for yourself when you experience the cobbled paved streets and iconic medieval district and drop some cash on vinyl in the same go. Raamatukoi Grammofon used to be the music section of a popular antique book store. In its new address you’ll find an Estonian only section, Western records, jazz, blues, funk and everything in between.
Catch Some Local Gigs At Rock Cafe
Tartu maantee 80
It may not be open all the time but when this music venue is booked you can expect vintage rock acts and international stars to fill the stage. It may sound like it runs exclusively for an older crowd, but Rock Café is a great place to see how much Estonia’s music scene has changed in the past 20 years.
Witness the Local’s National Pride At Estonian Song Festival
In writing experiencing one of the largest amateur choral events in the world to foreigners may not sound particularly thrilling, but this event is a quintessential Estonian experience. Held every five years after it was born in the period where Estonians first begun to consider themselves a nation outside of the Russian Empire there is no other event that will give you proper insight into the Estonian culture like this. The festival is held at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, an incredible venue which has hosted Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Green Day, Elton John and Metallica amongst others over the years.
Spend Up Big On Vinyl at Biit
Considered by locals as one of the best record stores in Tallinn Biit is known for helping unearth local talents and internationals alike, the store sells a wide variety of vinyl from several different genres. It opens from 1-7pm Tuesday to Fridays. However internationals can head over to their website and blog to check out their online store to see what they have in stock and to also see their very own recommendations.
See One Of Estonia’s Best Emerging Electronic Acts I Wear* Experiment Live
Experimental electronic music with a cinematic twist this three-piece have been making waves locally with their visually entrancing and sonically impressive live show. They’re taking big strides internationally as well. Making it into Positivus Festival’s ‘Top 5 Must-See Artists’ was a well-earned boost that could be the start of something for the trio. For now, enjoy their single, ‘Time’.
Head to Von Krahl Bar For an Alternative Music Lovers Paradise
Attached to a theatre that you should visit before you head here for a drink this bar is home to a low-key friendly atmosphere. Known by locals as the place to catch alternative bands with ‘alternative’ punters in attendance the stage generally caters for a large variety of genres. There’s a great vantage point from the wooden-railed balcony above the stage as well. There is a small door charge, but it’s more than worth it to see some great local acts.
See Faun Racket Perform Live In Their Hometown
After launching in 2012 local producers Andres Lõo and Talis Paide displayed their extensive music credentials through Faun Racket’s epic synth infused bass tunes. They describe their sound as “bass music with heart ache vocals, for cherries on the cake” and to a certain extent they’re right. There are some heart clutching vocals here, we’re not quite so sure about the cake analogy though…