Terror in Oslo: Norwegian Musicians React

An aerial view of Oslo, Norway on July 22, 2011. Photo: Jon Bredo Overaas/AFP/Getty Images

Electronic musician Joachim Dyrdahl, who records under the name diskJokke, was less than a block away when the bomb went off on Friday, outside the offices of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. “I was in the studio working, on the main street of Oslo, on Karl Johans [Gate] — approximately 250 meters from the explosion,” he told Hive. “The paint came off the ceiling and the walls, from the shaking.” As the world learned hours later, that bomb and its follow-up attack on the island summer camp of Utøya, were reportedly the result of 10 years of planning by a 32-year-old right-wing terrorist named Anders Behring Breivik.

Eight people were killed in the Oslo bombing, and the protracted attack on Utøya ended with 76 people, mostly teenagers, shot to death, according to The New York Times. “You find yourself laughing about nothing, and go to the opposite again,” said Dyrdahl, describing the veil of tension hanging over Norway this week. In the sparsely populated country of 4.5 million people, you would be hard-pressed to find someone unaffected by the tragedy. “Even though we live on the other side of the country, Norway is so small, that many of us have some kind of link to someone involved,” said Rune Vandaskog, of Norwegian band Young Dreams. “A friend of mine was on that island,” Vandaskog’s bandmate, Matias Tellez, added. ”He had to swim to get away. He got to the mainland and is okay now, but many didn’t make it. A lot of people got shot.”

Initial reports from the country blamed the violence on Islamist extremists, but the attack was home-grown terrorism by the son of a diplomat, according to the Telegraph. And, as random as this seemed, Dyrdahl said Norwegians weren’t totally oblivious to their country as a targeted site. “We have been discussing in the public sphere that we should be prepared for something like this to happen, expecting the possibility of an Islamist terrorist attack,” he said. “But when we started hearing news about the shooting, we sort of knew it wasn’t religiously motivated.”

The available answers are hardly comforting — there isn’t much to be gleaned from the bloody work and manic writings of a madman. But it seems to have bolstered Norwegians’ conviction that their country should respond with, in their Prime Minister’s words, “more democracy, more openness, and more humanity.” “What happened in the aftermath, was they announced they are going to strengthen the Labor Party’s values even more. We’ll be even more defined on our basic values,” Dyrdahl said.

“This was an attack on our social democracy, and we will continue as we always have. We will not let terrorists control
 our way of living,” added Joakim Haugland, owner of the Oslo label Smalltown Supersound. “The only thing this attack will result in is more love.”

Additional reporting by Jason Newman.

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