Chilly Friday

In 1999, a group of young men in Nuuk formed a band. It consisted of Malik Kleist on vocal, Angunnguaq Larsen on guitar and Alex Andersen on drums. These three had formerly played together in a rock band called Affray, inspired by international acts like Metallica and Pantera. They had also shared the experience of attending the same music college in Denmark from 1996-1997. But after returning to Nuuk, they had not rehearsed together for years. Meanwhile, this period of maturing and receiving musical education, had expanded these young men’s musical taste, and made them receptive towards other genres. “We had outgrown the type of music, in which we were angry young men”, Angunnguaq Larsen has explained in an interview. In 1999 they teamed up with bass player Henrik Møller Jensen and formed Chilly Friday. The name was chosen, because Greenland is often chill, and because the band members liked Fridays.

Chilly Friday quickly proved to be an energetic and productive band. They wrote a new song at each rehearsal and quickly got around to recording the demo “Sialuit” (“Raindrops”). They send this demo to two record companies in Greenland. One of these companies, Arctic Boomhouse, a company connected to Sisimiut Local Radio, quickly offered Chilly Friday a contract. The other company was the relatively newly started record company Atlantic Music, who also joined in with an offer. Since Atlantic Music had just hired Mik S. Christensen for their studio, and since he had experience with hard rock music, Chilly Friday’s choice fell on Atlantic Music. Thus in July 2000, Chilly Friday travelled to Nanortalik in Southern Greenland, where Atlantic Music had their studio back then, and recorded the album “Inuiaat 2000” (“People in the year 2000”).

Citizens in Nanortalik were the first to hear the album, and some of them commented, that it sounded quite differently from other releases in Greenland. This was, however, exactly what Chilly Friday was aiming for, an international distorted sound with shrieking vocal. They wanted to avoid the usual way of producing Greenlandic music, which was, back then, dominated by the record company ULO in Sisimiut.

“Inuiaat 2000” was released in late November 2000. The album sold more than 1.000 copies during the first week. In December, the band held their first concert in the village hall in Nuuk. Twice as many people showed up, as the legal authorities allowed for the venue.

The album “Inuiaat 2000” consisted of six songs with English lyrics and four songs with Greenlandic lyrics. The lyrics were concerned with themes such as love, sex, parties and loneliness. While the music was dominated by the sound of distorted guitar, the keyboard player Jan de Vroede also participated on the album. He is originally from Belgium, but is a significant figure in the Greenlandic music scene, lately as part of the band Nive Nielsen and the Deer Children.

“Inuiaat 2000” was well received by the Greenlandic media. The newspaper Sermitsiaq’s reviewer wrote, “Cool Friday Rock” and welcomed the band as, “… a breath of fresh air for the Greenlandic music life”. The album was also warmly welcomed among the audience, and the track “Iggo” (“Sweetie”) became a major hit. When the band went on tour in Greenland, reports on how they were received, described the situation as “… on the edge of Beatles hysteria”.

In 2001, Chilly Friday recorded their second album. At this time, Atlantic Music was gaining influence as a record company, partly due to the success of Chilly Friday, and had just moved their activities to Nuuk. The capital thus formed the setting, in which the album “Saamimmiit Talerpianut” (“From left to right”) was recorded, once again by Mik S. Christensen. The album was released the same year, and once again the band’s material was well received. The newspaper Sermitsiaq even wrote, that they expected the band to have potential on the international music scene.

“Saamimmiit Talerpianut” consisted of songs with both English and Greenlandic lyrics. The themes brought up in the lyrics had become more serious since the debut and now concerned both suicide and neglect of children. Angunnguaq Larsen has explained about this, that Chilly Friday wanted more important messages in their songs, now that they knew, that people were paying them attention.

Even before the album had gone into press, “Saamimmiit Talerpianut” had sold more than 3.000 copies to shops on Greenland. And after the release, Chilly Friday went touring in Greenland again. Furthermore, the band was invited to perform at the Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Iqaluit, Canada in 2002. This ceremony was transmitted to 8 million viewers in Canada. Afterwards, Chilly Friday was invited to Alaska to perform at an association for American native peoples.

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In the years following the release of “Saamimmiit Talerpianut”, Chilly Friday also performed at an ICC (Inuit Circumpolar Council) conference in Canada, at Riddu Riđđu Festival in Norway and twice on the Faroe Islands. The band also participated in the show “Cross Road” that was organized by NAPA. The show included musicians from around the world, and Chilly Friday participated with tracks from their repertoire. “Cross Road” went on tour to the Faroe Islands, Sweden and Norway.

The first two albums from Chilly Friday had allowed the band to perform at many venues across the Northern Hemisphere. But at the same time, the members of the band sensed, that the band was no longer the new thing. Furthermore, the cooperation with Atlantic Music had ended. Thus the members of Chilly Friday speculated in, what the band’s next move should be. People were expecting something new from Chilly Friday, but the band did not have material for a new album, and the productiveness that used to characterize the band was gone. Consequently, the band’s drummer Alex Andersen suggested, that Chilly Friday should record an album, where the band covered classics from the Greenlandic popular music history. Thus the band recorded tracks by Sume, Naneruaq, HEJ, Zikaza, Piitsukkut, G-60, Ulf Fleischer and Rasmus Lyberth, along with a single new original Chilly Friday track. This album was named “Tribute”, because it was meant as a tribute to the best bands in Greenlandic history. It was recorded in Alex Andersen’s own studio Ding Dong Studio, and released on his label Beat! Production. The album was distributed by Atlantic Music. Since the band members had been very unruly about tampering with some of the most beloved songs in Greenland, they did not make major changes in their versions of them.

“Tribute” was released in 2004 as part of the 25th anniversary of the Greenlandic home rule. Chilly Friday received their third silver record for the album. But this time, the media was more critical than they had previously been. The tracks from “Tribute” were however well suited for live concert settings, and for getting a festive mood going for the audience. After the release, Chilly Friday performed a few concerts on the coast, but they did not tour with “Tirbute”, to the extent that they had done after the previous two albums. However, because they had released the album on their own label, the band gained a significant profit from the album, and they wanted to use this profit to chase their big dream. At this point, Chilly Friday presented itself as, “the most famous rock band in Greenland”. But now the band wanted to see, how far they could get outside of Greenland.

In august 2005, Chilly Friday left for Denmark. Except for bringing the profit from “Tribute”, the band members had also received funding from the Greenlandic Home Rule. The purpose of their stay in Denmark was to explore the opportunities for permanently moving to Denmark to create an international career for the band. They considered a move to Denmark necessary, as plain ticket prices to and from Nuuk were so costly, that it was unrealistic for the band to get gigs outside of Greenland.

The first concert Chilly Friday performed in Denmark took place at Herstedvester Prison, for some of the hardest criminals in Denmark. All in all, Chilly Friday performed a few concerts before returning to Nuuk in December 2005. Among these were one at Loppen in Christiania, where Angu also performed. After this concert, Chilly Friday received praise from a reviewer.

Alex Andersen had brought his recording equipment with him to Denmark, and during Chilly Friday’s stay at a rented house in Solrød Strand, the band wrote and recorded material for a new album. This was the first time that the band wrote and recorded outside of Greenland, and also the first time all the lyrics were in Greenlandic. As on the album “Saamimmiit Talerpianut”, serious themes were brought up in the song lyrics. While band lived in Denmark, they subscribed to the Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq, in which they could read about all the problems the country faced such as social problems and corrupt politicians. From their view at Solrød Strand, the members of Chilly Friday thought that the future looked dark for Greenland, and thus their new album became concerned with neglected children and suicide. They named it “M/S Kalaallit Nunaat” (“M/S Greenland”). The band used the title as a metaphor between Greenland and a ship heading for disaster. Their suggestion was, to let the ship sink and start over. On the album cover, this was illustrated with a picture of the band members stumbling to safety on a beach, while the ship “M/S Kalaallit Nunaat” is sinking in the background. The album ends with the sound of a baby and the track “Singit” (“Now Sleep”), to signal a new beginning.

“M/S Kalaallit Nunaat” was released in 2005, once again on the label Beat! Production with Atlantic Music as distributor. The album got mixed reviews in the Greenlandic media. Brian A. Johansen, who reviewed for AG back then, noted that the band seemed to be missing direction. The reviewer for Sermitsiaq was on the other hand positive, but noted that the production of the album could have been better.

When “M/S Kalaallit Nunaat” was out in stores, the audience were hesitant, and the album did not reach the commercial success of the former albums. “I believe that people connected us with something youthful, happy and boyish, and then we became too serious”, Angunnguaq Larsen has speculated.

With no profit from their new album, Chilly Friday did not have the same opportunity to move to Denmark, that they had hoped for. The band played their last concert in 2007, after which Henrik Møller moved to Denmark for education.

In 2015, the full band had a reunion concert in Katuaq, the Cultural Venue of Greenland.

Chilly Friday has performed more than 80 concerts in the Arctic and Nordic countries.

This article is based on an interview with Angunnguaq Larsen in 2009.