Through education I learned the music business – through Interreg I met it

This is a story about how a Swedish artist got to make her dreams fly in a place close to her heart.

By Olivia Ahltorp
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Olivia Ahltorp
Olivia Ahltorp
Photo: Wenche Lidberg

I have always felt a close connection to the natural world. The soil and the sky. The wisdom of trees. As a child in a small Swedish village, I spent much time in the woods. It was a safe space for me, and a place full of stories and adventures.

As I grew up, I decided to move to the city. I studied sustainable development, geography, self-sufficiency and small-scale agriculture. My knowledge about challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss grew deeper, accompanied by a growing fear for the future.

About three years ago, I made a life changing decision and moved to the small town Arvika in Värmland county, to study music production at Ingesund Music Academy. My music education gave me all the necessary tools to develop my skills in song writing and music production. But still, making a pay with music seemed like a faraway dream to me. How could I possibly find my way in this complex and competitive industry?

Part of the problem was my resistance to moving to Stockholm or another big city, where the music industry is most active. I struggled to see my place in the music industry, where could I possibly fit in? I had no wish to work with mainstream music, to compete with thousands of other music makers, trying to write the best songs and be on top of popular playlists.

In fact, my desire to work with sustainability had never left. I had no idea how to do this, but I felt a strong pull to connect with other artists to awaken people’s curiosity to reflect upon sustainable development, culture, philosophy and the human-nature relationship. To find collaborations with actors, dancers, filmmakers… all kinds of storytellers.

When a chance came right my way

During my first year at Ingesund Music Academy, the Interreg Sweden-Norway project Music Ecosystems Inner Scandinavia (MECO) arranged an event to inform people about how to start up a business or an organization. This event was the last piece of inspiration I needed to put into practice an idea that had been alive in me for months. I founded Rau-Rau Creative: Community of Transboundary works of Art. I reached out to other music makers, illustrators, photographers and more. Building a small collection of creative people with an aim to engage in common projects, combining our unique fields of expertise. A few months later, I got my first paid music commission, as Rau-Rau Creative made an audio-visual installation, on request from Värmlands Museum.

This event became a very important building block in my music career

Last spring my education in music production was drawing to an end. The pandemic was more present than ever and my aim to go on from being a student to start working as a professional music producer and composer seemed more challenging than ever. That’s when MECO decided to arrange an online event to support networking and innovation between – not only music makers – but all kinds of creative people in the region. This event became a very important building block in my music career, and in my personal life. I immediately connected and bonded with actress Isabelle Boström and puppeteer Hugo Catolino. We engaged in a beautiful and easy-going process, which led to the creation of a music-theatre performance for kids.

Our collaboration started in spring, right before the time I graduated, and kept on running during summer and fall. Our performance project Den stora LiLLa Cirkusen (The big LiTTLe Circus) gave me a good reason to stay in Värmland after graduation, while most of my classmates moved back to Stockholm and Gothenburg.

The big LiTTLe Circus performing in Värmland
The big LiTTLe Circus performing in Värmland, Sweden. Photo: Kai Zimmerl

The two MECO events I mentioned are only part of the support I’ve gained from the Interreg project. In general, this project has been of great importance for me, in bridging the gap between being a student and actually working with music. Through my education I learned about the music business. Through MECO I had the chance to meet the music business, through song writing camps, music conferences, networking events and more. I am truly grateful for everything the people in this project have done for me. Not only during events but also in the way they perceived and encouraged my individual longing and direction within music making.

Bridging the gap between music and sustainability

Today I still live in Värmland. I spend a lot of time in the woods. I run my own freelancing business as music producer and composer, focused on making music for performing arts and storytelling. I am also just about to release music under my music artist project Aevy Lore – where I use my artistry to reflect upon themes like sustainable development, philosophy and the nature-human relationship.

Sometimes, I am full of doubt. But most of the time, I feel like I am right on track. Getting closer and closer to working with projects I feel truly passionate about, projects with an opportunity to make a difference. Bridging the gap between my passion for music and sustainability. From a rural part of Sweden, where my creativity can flow freely. I’m truly grateful for the support I’ve received from the Interreg project MECO.


More information

Music Ecosystems Inner Scandinavia (MECO) aims to work for a strong, innovative and inclusive music industry in Värmland and Hedmark through crossborder collaboration between research, education and industry.

The main goal of the project was to investigate, innovate and optimize Inner Scandinavia’s music service ecosystem with user experience and digitization in focus. A strong and innovation-oriented music industry creates growth and promotes the quality of life for people in Inner Scandinavia.

The project was delivered in partnership between Karlstad University, Høgskolen i Innlandet and Studiefrämjandet Örebro-Värmland, and financed by the Interreg Sweden-Norway Programme.