Eurosonic Noorderslag & European Talent Exchange Programme / An interview with Ruud Berends

Ask me again after the event ;-)


Zulu Zulu will perform as part of Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018

Each January the European festival and media circus travels to the Dutch city of Groningen to experience the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival for three days, an intense overview of what to expect in the upcoming music season. An integral part of Eurosonic is the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP) which helps unknown bands to find open ears from both festivals and media.

We talked to Ruud Berends, the Coordinator Conference, ETEP, Sales & International Marketing of the festival.


Ruud Berends (Photo by Guido Karp)

Ruud, thanks so much for taking your time to talk with us in this busy last weeks before the 2018 edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag. The European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP) is an important part of the festival which helps unknown bands to find open ears from both, festivals and media. Each year you aggregate lists of the most booked artists from the season as well as of the festivals who picked the most bands from the Eurosonic lineup. Looking at the numbers for 2017 one finds the remarkable amount of 422 shows by 164 acts from 24 countries. Are you sometimes surprised how much of an impact the festivals has?
Ruud Berends: Yes we are, it is pretty amazing and we are very proud that the results for the European acts are so good and the cooperation between the ETEP festivals, the EBU radio stations, the participating European export offices, Sena performers and the European Festival organization Yourope work out so well.

Do some of those bands write you at the end of a year to say thank you?
Yes, they do and we actually ask them to send us their results (all, not only the ETEP festival bookings) from ESNS.

Looking closer into the details of the list, I was surprised to find this time three bands from England at the top: Shame, Idles and The Amazons. In my eyes Eurosonic is all but explicitly not the typical playground for only british bands. What´s your explanation that last year the brits were so successful?
It is different each year, so I would call it incidental.

Is it the Brexit pity effect?
Who knows?


Coals will perform as part of Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018

Would you say that, coming from the European leitmotif of Eurosonic and ETEP, politics matter more at your festival than it does at others?
We are a non for profit foundation and our main mission statement are results for the performing acts. We only book European acts. EU politics is an important elelement in all we do and we work closely together with Brussels. Next to running the EU funded ETEP program we also do the EU funded EBBA’s.

Last year I talked deep into EU politics with Peter Smidt from Buma Cultuur, the foundation for Dutch music. We both agreed on the huge integrational impact Eursonic / ETEP has – why does it need an institution like yours to get people to open their eyes and ears and recognize the cultural variety in Europe? Why are we all so concentrated on the US and UK acts?
Mainly because of the history: the old pipelines (USA>UK>continental Europe). USA and UK acts where and still are more prominent offered and promoted. But this is and has slowly changed.

Ruud, how much of a festival person are you? Are you visiting lots of festival every season?
Yes I do, it is great fun and important to be out there.

What was your personal highlight in 2017 and why?
The Cologne show of the Norwegian band Motorpsycho, on November 8. A mind blowing show.

Looking at the roster for the 2018 edition of Eurosonic – which bands are you looking forward to see the most?
Ask me again after the event 😉

And is there one (or several) you put your hands in the fire that it will be big by the end of the next year? if so: why?
You better ask Robbert, our booker that question.

Last question: What is your favorite record of 2017 and why?
“The Tower” by Motorpsycho.

Nice one, let´s listen to it now: 


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