Talk all you like about Cool Japan — the Nordic countries have been exporting their sound for years, and it’s positively freezing. From the sweetly kitsch pop sound of The Cardigans to the otherworldly soundscapes of Sigur Ros to the black metal of Bathory, the region has a habit of throwing up acts that are as extreme as its weather.
The Nordic region has long realized the export potential of its music, and nowadays it regularly sends battalions of bands to perform at industry festivals such as South by Southwest in the United States and The Great Escape in Britain, with financial support coming from government coffers.
Hokuo Music Night 2012 is a case in point. The second in a series, it’s the fruit of a collaboration between Music Export Finland, Export Music Sweden, Music Export Norway, Music Export Denmark and Iceland Music Export. Together as NOMEX, and working with Japanese tour agency Creativeman, they will on May 25 present downbeat electro-pop trio Husky Rescue (Finland), hushed experimentalist Kira Kira (Iceland), quirky indie band Lars and the Hands of Light (Denmark) and groove-riding synth-pop duo Lo-Fi-Fnk (Sweden; there’s no Norwegian act this year) at Tokyo’s Daikanyama Unit.
If you like your music a little blacker, Finland Fest 2012: Metal Attack will tear Ebisu Liquidroom a new back door on May 26. Japanese band Anthem will join Finnish monster-baiters Amoral, Insomnium, Profane Omen and Swallow the Sun.
Japan would do well to learn from NOMEX’s approach — while the Cool Japan campaign pays lip service to spreading Japanese pop culture abroad, the government spends a relative pittance on supporting the (potentially lucrative) export of young rising artists. The combined population of the five NOMEX member countries is equal to roughly one-fifth of Japan’s 128 million, and yet the rate of success of its musicians abroad is considerably higher. Let’s hope NOMEX manages to drag along a Japanese government official or two to show them how it’s done.
Hokuo Music Night 2012 takes place May 26 at Unit in Daikanyama, Tokyo (5 p.m.; ¥5,300 plus one drink;  3499-6669). Tokyo Indie hosts an after-party featuring Lo-Fi-Fnk at Shibuya’s Trump Room the same night (11 p.m.; ¥2,000-¥3,000, ¥500 for Hokuo Music Night ticket holders; www.tokyoindie.com). Finland Fest 2012: Metal Attack takes place May 26 at Liquidroom in Ebisu, Tokyo (4 p.m.; ¥6,300 plus 1 drink;  3499-6669).