Robyn’s Tekla Festival along with Swedish artists visited New York on December 16 and 17, 2019 for Sweden Makes Music. The event included STEM and music production workshops for young girls, a panel discussion on women in the music industry and live performances from Swedish artists. Sweden Makes Music is an annual event sponsored by the Swedish Consulate, Export Music Sweden, Luger and with support from the Swedish Institute.
Having made its global debut in 2015, the Tekla Festival was created by Robyn of “Dancing On My Own“, and “Show Me Love“, in conjunction with KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The Tekla Festival’s daytime program in New York is aimed at introducing girls to programming, science, and music.
Brenda El Rayes and Barbara Chamoun from Popkollo, a music camp for girls and transgender youth, instructed girls between the ages of 11 and 15 in two New York City schools in techniques involving music production. This event was created to provide an environment for girls to bolster self-confidence in technology and music. The Tekla Festival was founded four years ago and has had a global impact as it tours the world and brings technology and music to populations that are often marginalized.
Additionally, the Tekla Festival included a Dialogue Panel held at the Consulate General of Sweden in New York. The panel discussion was aimed at looking at women in the music industry and focused on gender roles, women as role models, and what can be done to improve opportunities for women in the music industry. Included in the panel were Yamilée Toussaint Beach, Founder and CEO of STEM From Dance, Phi Pham, Founder and Executive Director at Building Beats, Barbara Chamoun, Co-Founder of Oda Studios and Workshop Leader at Tekla/Popkollo, recording artist Mapei, and Vanessa Hill, the founder of Brain Craft Studios.
Sweden Makes Music featured Swedish artists with diverse backgrounds and music genres on the second day of the event. The first artist to take the stage was Elias who is best described as a Rhythm and Blues sensation. Elias’s style made me fall in love with him, and his lyrical skills made me want to surrender to his charms. Already a veteran with an album released last year and another on the way, it was hard not to feel the love in Elias’s voice. As he poured out sentiment and genuine feelings with his deep and soulful vocals, I was moved by his performance and held on to every note he sang. Debuting in New York for the first time, Elias held nothing back. Performing “Focus“, Elias took us into another place of desperation as “he leaves you now” and focuses on other things reluctantly. His new unreleased work “Need You Now” was an expression of solace that acknowledged how much it meant to him and I’m sure everyone in the room felt the power of this need in his voice. In the end, I was impressed with how much beauty there was in his work.
Having recently released her new album Sensory Overload, Mapei began her performance with candid lyrics which revealed her soul and instantly uplifted the crowd. Her direct and insightful phrases were mesmerizing as she enchanted all of us. At some point, Mapei came off the stage and went down into the crowd. While we (the crowd), were assigned to be a human beatbox, Mapei did some improvisational Rap lines which made the attendees part of the performance. Her sultry performance drew me in in more ways than one and I felt in tune with her vibes.
LE SINNER‘s sense of romance and seduction in his music and performances made me see that there was so much to like in this romantic Rap artist. Truly a groundbreaker and committed to this craft, LE SINNER was the perfect balance of lyrical magic and the excitement of feeling love. His talent is limitless and his passion for the work was clear. His performance reaffirmed the potential that Rap music has that has been untapped and unexplored.
DJ Clea closed out the show with an impressive set that kept the dance floor rocking for several hours. This dynamic woman played with ease and she took us on a journey I didn’t want to end. As she played selections of Melodic and Progressive House, the crowd jammed to the beats and didn’t miss a step. It was truly a perfect end to an extraordinary event celebrating music from Sweden.
*Featured Image of Popkollo Instructors with Students Via Consulate General of Sweden in New York FB*