Greenlandic Music – Nanook

By Verified Expert

If you’ve never listened to music from Greenland, you are missing out!  Greenland is home to many amazing musicians, but my favourite by far is the band Nanook. 

Back in the days of cassette tapes, I remember rewinding over my favourite songs so many times that the tape would stretch and warp the music.  Well, if the same is possible in these days of digital 1s and 0s, I have certainly reached that point on the sections of hard drive that store my Nanook playlist on both my laptop and my phone.

Formed in 2008 by brothers Christian and Frederik Elsner, Nanook is currently one of the most popular bands in Greenland.  A rock band with an acoustic heart and Greenlandic voice (though they also speak fluent English and Danish), their songs are primarily about nature, love, and their home country.  That I still have no idea what the lyrics are after listening to them on continuous repeat over the past 9 months hardly matters, their music transcends words and language and directly touches my soul.

To get a taste of what I’m talking about, have a listen to Aarnuaq (The Talisman) – one of the singles from their 10-year anniversary album Ataasiusutut Misigissuseq.

They released this single while I was temporarily home in Australia visiting mum and dad, and although I lead a nomadic lifestyle and have no use for a physical CD (I rely on Spotify and iTunes for my music), I immediately put in my pre-order for the album through Atlantic Music Shop in Nuuk. 

The band did a live Facebook signing of all the pre-ordered CDs on the release date (yes, I may have been up at 1 am watching…) and less than 2 weeks later, look what showed up in the mail in regional Australia!

Ataasiusutut Misigissuseq is a little different from most of their earlier work and so took me a while to get into, especially since I’d been listening to their previous albums continuously for 6 months.  However, it is now the starting point of my Nanook playlist and, I think, contains some of their best songs.

If you are curious to hear more of their music, I recommend checking out their “Best Of” album on Spotify (start with #3 Inuinnaagavit, the first two songs are good but the rest are better).  This is where I first found them and fell in love with their music.

And if you like what you hear, you can support the band by buying their albums through Atlantic Music Shop (the music shop in Greenland) or iTunes.  It’s not easy being a musician and being a musician in Greenland (the largest island in the world that is not a continent) is even more difficult given the cost of touring in a land that has no roads and less than 60,000 people distributed in small towns around the coast.  They also play internationally, primarily in Denmark, Iceland, Faroe Islands, and arctic Canada, which is even more expensive.

I like writing haikus about things that have a deep emotional impact on me and this one is for the Elsner brothers.  You guys are incredible songwriters and musicians!

Greenlandic voices
Sing to my heart and my soul
As few others have

I thank you Nanook

p.s. I just spent an awesome 9 days in Sisimiut (lots of blog posts coming) and was really, really bummed to miss Nanook play at the Taseralik Cultural Centre by a mere 12 hours ☹ 

Next year guys! Takuliiv!

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