The spirit of this year’s PopKomm festival in Cologne was summed up in one night of Norwegian mayhem that hammered home the idea of one musical community.
Surferosa lead the Norwegian Underground Invasion at Zoom's Pop Komm gig on Thursday.
For most Europeans, the idea of borders is a fading memory. For the Zoom Tour, boundaries and nation have long been redundant concepts as the best of Norway’s unsigned bands have roamed the continent unhindered since its inception six years ago.
Circulating European talent in a continental roadshow
Supported by the Norwegian National Tour Support Board and sponsored by Levi's amongst others, Zoom has taken the cream of the burgeoning Nordic underground scene and showcased bands all over Europe, spreading its musical message of collaboration.
Vegard Stromsodd, promoter, at PopKomm 2002 in Köln, August 2002.
The brainchild of Vegard Strømsodd and Claes Olsen, the Zoom concept began life as a nation wide search for new talent back in 1996.
27 venues across Norway played host to the hopefuls who were filtered through the selection process, resulting in three finalists fighting it out in Olsen's Oslo club, 'So What..!', for the prize of a recording contract.
Zoom winners from past competitions have gone on to have number one hits in their home country and radio play success across Europe.
Championed by local and national radio stations, Strømsodd gathered his first touring bill together on a no frills jaunt through the North West of England and London.
Touring costs limit Zoom to selected shows in Europe
The concept rapidly took on a life of its own and mutated over time into a cultural exchange programme that took Norwegian bands and artists around Europe. Now, due to the expensive touring costs, Zoom now showcases bands at selected festivals and events.
Cultural exchange brings European acts to Norway
The partnership of Strømsodd's Chateau Productions and Olsen's So What also repay the favour by touring and promoting European and international artists at the Oslo club and at festivals the duo support across Norway.
The Jessica Fletchers, part of the Zoom line up at PopKomm 2002.
In between ear splitting performances by this year's winners: turbo-powered rockers, Camaros; 80's revivalists Surferosa and the very British punk pop of the Jessica Fletchers, Strømsodd gave his views on the Pop Komm festival while outlining his hopes for Zoom’s future expansion.
Talking to DW-WORLD at the show in Cologne’s sweaty Underground 2 venue on Thursday night, Strømsodd said, "We always get a really good reception in Germany and Pop Komm is a great opportunity to give the Germans a taste of Zoom."
"Our philosophy is to take bands when they're rough and then smooth them out. Each showcase plots the progress they make into tight bands. In the future, we want to concentrate on special events rather than the big tours. It keeps things fresh."
Money is tight but the rewards are high
Strømsodd describes life in the Zoom bubble as 'happy but not rich'. "I'm doing a lot of stuff for free but the reward I get from it is more than enough."
The spirit of musical collaboration is alive and well in the hands of the devoted and underpaid. In an industry famed for its ego and selfishness, Zoom aims to bring more than just music to the masses. From Norway to the continent, it delivers the spirit of European co-operation.