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Melodifestivalen, Fröken Snusk, And A Guide To The Genre Of EPA-Dunk Written by on February 8, 2024

In the Swedish Smörgåsbord of music that is Melodifestivalen’s second heat, there is Fröken Snusk… one of the nation’s biggest artists in one of the nation’s biggest new musical genres of EPA-Dunk. This might need some explaining, so we sent Ben Robertson into the Swedish countryside to find out more.

Melodifestivalen’s first heat gave you an output that provided the return of Melfest that was expected. You had the accessible pop number that opened the show, a cocktail of ABBA-sprinkled schlager and Samir and Viktor performing with charm that hasn’t grown up a day since their debut in the show nine years ago.

We often talk about how Melfest sits in its own bubble, with artists returning many times with the same style of three-minute slick pop numbers. Now the show’s second heat threatens to introduce something different to show you, a musical genre that is crashing into Melodifestivalen from a completely different hemisphere of Swedish popular music.

Welcome to the world of EPA-dunk.

What EPA Stands For?

Let’s start this explanation by splitting up the genre into its two component parts, EPA and dunk. EPA in Swedish is a term that comes from a now-defunct chain of department stores from the 1930s to the 1970s known for selling cheaper products of less quality than their competitors. This term was then attached to a special type of truck that was adapted for work purposes, generally in the agriculture industry, and were registered as EPA-tractors with the Swedish Transport Board at a time when it was estimated 5,000 of them were active in the country.

The formal term EPA-tractor does not exist anymore, instead replaced by A-tractor, and while there may be some used in industry, colloquially one using this term isn’t talking about farm vehicles. Instead one is more than likely chatting about the growing number of little cars that dominate side streets and rural roads up and down the country.

The rules regarding these vehicles may explain why. They are limited to a speed of 30 kilometres per hour, and can be driven by people with a moped licence. To have a moped licence in Sweden, you need to be the age of 15, whereas a driver’s licence is from the age of 18. These vehicles, which were once a simplified way of taking goods or people around a worksite, are now the desired transport mode for many in the next generation.

Ann-Britt Åsebol, a member of the Swedish Parliament from 2010 to 2022, in an argument about increasing the speed limit of these vehicles, commented on the increased importance of A-tractors in society. She highlighted how, particularly in rural areas with limited public transport, this allowed youth to travel to work and school independently. While speed increases did not happen, modern electronic tools are today permitted, which allows conventional cars to be easily adapted so they operate below the speed limit, as well as increased safety standards. That has been attributed as some of the reasons why the numbers of A-tractors on the roads in Sweden are skyrocketing, from July 2021 to July 2022 there were nearly 30 percent more registered A-tractors around the country.

The Culture and the Dunk

The stereotypes of A-tractors in Swedish culture have changed with this recent growth. Traditionally, it was commonplace for a-tractors to be tough, hard-working cars that gave youth a sense of freedom. Photographer Benjamin Nørskov, who has followed the culture surrounding the use of a-tractors for three years, describes their importance as “the freedom to take yourself around, the friends that you meet around the culture and to teach yourself to gain competence about owning and managing a car for the first time.

Amanda Karlsson, head of the reporting team for Melodifestivalklubben, OGAE Sweden, has fond memories of this culture. She grew up in the rural part of Sweden, describing her upbringing as being on the outside of the town of Ullared, a town with a population under 1,000.

“When I was 15 years old I had my own A-tractor, which I built myself together with my family. I am from the countryside and I needed the car in order to get to places and work at the age of 15.

“There was no public transport, it was too far for a bicycle, and a moped is not so comfortable when it is raining and snowing. So it was either an A-tractor or I had to call my mum or call my dad to take me anywhere.

“You are basically more independent because you are acting like you are 18 as you can get where you want to. You grow up a lot quicker.”

As young people gather to meet and jump into each other’s machines and roam around the neighbourhood, it’s little surprise that music becomes as much a part of their identity as the cars they drive. Christopher ‘Gotte’ Gothnier is one expert in organising some of the biggest parties and shows in the music genre of EPA-dunk. Speaking to Aftonbladet, he shows how some of the first roots of the music culture amongst youths in Sweden today came from across the border in Norway.

In Norway a well known genre of music is described as Russmusikk, a fast-tempo style of electronic party music aimed squarely at the Russ traditions of Norwegians graduating high school…and the partying that goes along with that.

One of the perpetrators of Russmusikk might be well known to ESC Insight readers, Norwegian TIX, who represented the nation in Rotterdam in 2021. Now ‘Fallen Angel’ was in a completely different hemisphere than his earlier music, where there is a plethora of lyrics about sex, drugs and partying, many of which have been critiqued for their misogynistic tendancies.

The Swedish EPA-dunk sound is a cousin of its Norwegian counterpart. Arguably, the Swedish style has a touch more EDM sprinkles in production to its Norwegian counterpart and, as well as the explicit mentions of sex and partying, a-tractor lifestyle can and often is a part of the lyrical vocabulary in this music.

“You can imagine the kind of music that comes from the rural areas of Sweden, continues Amanda Karlsson. “It does not fit into the model of Sweden about what you can say. Nowadays, when we are moving from the countryside to the cities, we are also moving to the model that Sweden has that what you are allowed to say, express and feel, it’s a change from the countryside to the cities.”

The term EPA-dunk only emerged into Swedish vocabulary around the summer of 2022, as the enormous rise of A-tractor ownership fed more into the music culture and pushed it into the mainstream. What also pushed the music into the mainstream was how the tracks started to dominate the charts, which were the first in the world in 2010 to include streaming figures.

And when you are mainstream music in Sweden, there’s only one place to end up…

EPA-dunk And Melodifestivalen

The first taste of EPA-dunk to hit Melodifestivalen was in the 2023 competition. There Elov & Beny competed with the song ‘Raggen Går’ which reached the Semi Final stage. ‘Raggen Går’ is a family-friendly (something mandated by their record label) intro into this alternative musical universe. It deals lyrically with a guy who has dated everybody in his village and finally has met someone new. Drugs are mentioned, but only the legal snus, sex is implied through seeing a former boyfriend’s face on said new girl’s lower back, and the lowlight of Swedish food culture, a roadside hot dog with ketchup and mustard, plays up to the stereotypes of grabbing food on the go in your EPA.

Speaking last year to Aftonbladet, Beny from the group spoke about the differences between his genre of music and that within mainstream culture in Sweden.

“EPA-dunk is a free-speech counter weight against political correctness and cancel culture. Stockholm artists would never dare to be so graphic.

“If Stockholm starts to dilute EPA-dunk too much, I believe it could be the case that one doesn’t continue with it.”

But that Stockholmisation and gentrification of the genre has been happening, and it’s happening at Melodifestivalen.

Elov & Beny come from Örebro in the middle of Sweden. Taking part in Melodifestivalen’s second heat is arguably the most talked about name in the genre, Fröken Snusk. Translated as “Miss Dirty”, Fröken Snusk is an anonymous female performer that wears a pink balaclava to stop her real identity from being known. This act has its headquarters from a living room in Bromma, a particularly anonymous Stockholm suburb. It has taken the country by storm and is easily one of the biggest domestic music acts in the industry, EPA-dunk or otherwise.

Fröken Snusk’s songs are raunchy although Amanda Karlsson notes that “she’s trying to be controversial, but it has this city vibe”. The most famous of Fröken Snusk’s songs is ‘Rida Mig Som En Dalahäst’, a bop of two minutes in length about driving around the Dalarna countryside while everybody hears her scream as she rides her ‘fuckboy’. This song got Fröken Snusk to number one in the Swedish charts in January 2023.

In her Melodifestivalen entry, ‘Unga & Fria’, we get a toned-down tale about the next generation singing and dancing around town proclaiming their freedom to the world. The nod to Fröken Snusk’s background in the EPA-dunk scene and for scandalous lyrics are there, albeit weakly, and instead, this is a number that is more EPA-pop than EPA-dunk.

The Party For All Of Sweden

One part of the remit of Melodifestivalen is that the songs taking part come from all walks of life from Swedish culture. The EPA-dunk craze has gotten so large that it would be considered wrong for SVT not to try and include it within Melodifestivalen’s smörgåsbord of Swedish music. However, is Melodifestivalen getting these authentic slices of their own culture correct? Elov and Beny’s act last year had to be toned down to get itself onto Saturday night primetime entertainment, and Fröken Snusk’s act for Melodifestivalen feels more aimed at entertaining the 3-9-year-old age group than actually engaging with the genre’s prime audience. Dare I say an audience that Melodifestivalen often misses?

And Fröken Snusk won’t be the only attempt at EPA-dunk in this year’s Melodifestivalen. Coming in heat 4 we are promised EPA-dunk from TikTok breakthrough Lia Larsson, with over 400,000 followers on the social media giant. Now Lia Larsson’s EPA-dunk might sound on paper the real deal, with a song called ‘30 km/h’ about, you guessed it, driving along at 30 kilometres an hour. However this number is as authentic as the songwriter list suggests, with Jimmy Jansson, Axel Schylström and Thomas G:Son taking their Melodifestivalen experience into the genre.

The gentrification is almost complete. EPA-dunk’s fringe culture edge has become mainstream. And a whole bunch of Swedish kids are about to straddle pretend dala horses in their living rooms on Saturday night. You have been warned.

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

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