Photo – Oscar Scott Carl – Visit Nuuk
Sauwestari is playing their first-ever concert at Greenland’s largest music festival: “We’ve thought about every single minute of the concert. There will be surprises, and it will be a big show.”
Not many can boast of closing Greenland’s biggest music festival with their first concert ever. But that’s happening this weekend for the Greenlandic reggae band Sauwestari. They will close the Akisuanerit Festival 2023 night in front of up to 3500 people.
Who is Sauwestari?
In many ways, things have moved quickly since Sauwestari released their debut album in May 2023. The hype has been undeniable. Despite a technical glitch that removed the band from Spotify for a long period, they still have up to 100,000 plays on their most popular songs.
But who is Sauwestari? And why have they become so big so quickly? If you ask them, they answer, among other things:
“We make fresh and different music compared to what we are used to here in Greenland. It’s something new. And because of Paaliit’s powerful voice. When she sings, you’re just like: Wow!” says Pilutaq Lundblad, who is the main rapper in the band.
Drummer Jonas L. Nilsson continues:
“The music is easy to listen to even though parts of it are very complicated. You can listen to it many times in a row.”
Minik Hansen, the lyricist behind most of Sauwestari’s lyrics, adds:
“Our music is fluid, yet tangible.”
A big show
Although things have moved quickly since the album release in May 2023, the Sauwestari project has been in the works for a long time. The band started back in 2018 with Fabrizio Barzanti as the only member. Jonas L. Nilsson joined on drums, and slowly the band evolved into what it is today: a solid core of five people (in addition to Fabrizio and Jonas, the band consists of Paaliit Mølgaard, Pilutaq Lundblad, and Minik Hansen), along with occasional musical guests. For example Rapper Pede B. and two horn players and a keyboardist from Denmark are supporting them when they perform in Nuuk on Saturday night. A night where the band have prepared a big party:
“We’ve thought about every single minute of the concert. There will be surprises, and it will be a big show. Having such a large band together live on stage is also rare to see in Greenland,” says Jonas L. Nilsson.
Pilutaq Lundblad adds: “It’s going to be wild.”
The text universe
In front of the backdrop of flowing reggae rhythms, there are the vocals and lyrics. Paaliit Mølgaard with her powerful voice, Pilutaq Lundblad with his flowing reggae rap, and Minik Hansen as the lyricist and writer of most of the lyrics. The lyrics are indeed a central part of who Sauwestari is.
“It’s at the core of reggae to seek solutions to societal problems. We live in a world with imbalances, both between social classes and in terms of the climate crisis. We want to convey the message of restoring this balance,” says Minik Hansen.
So, the lyrics speak to the classic reggae values of peace and love. But beyond the big themes, there’s another important element in the lyrics: they are in Greenlandic.
“It’s important to show the local community that our language can do so many different things. In Greenland, we also need to develop the language. I want to show that we can play with words and develop our language. Hopefully, it inspires others to be creative in their lyrics,” Minik Hansen emphasizes.
Sauwestari – Rastafari – Roskilde?
S-A-U-W-E-S-T-A-R-I. What’s up with that unique name – where does it come from?
It’s a mix of several things. The fisherman with the yellow hat, featured on the album cover, is called “southwest.” South of Greenland lies Jamaica, the homeland of the reggae genre. Rastafari ends with an “i.” And when these three elements are combined, you get “Sauwestari.” So the name has international appeal. And who knows – maybe we’ll see the band on an even bigger stage at some point. The dream is certainly there:
“Of course, we dream of playing at big festivals like the Roskilde Festival. Additionally, we dream of touring around Greenland,” says Pilutaq Lundblad.
For those interested in exploring more of Nuuk’s music scene and other cultural highlights, check out the Latest Local Tips . If you’re new to the city or looking for more places to explore, our New Places in Nuuk section provides a comprehensive list of the latest hotspots.