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Norse mythology

Local label and booking company Norse Korea Presents celebrates a landmark debut year

Photo: Rob Bartlett, License: N/A

Rob Bartlett

Norse Korea Anniversary

with Great Deceivers, Yip Yip, Basements of Florida, Arc and Panther, Abuse
8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26
Will’s Pub, 407-898-5070

To all but music-scene insiders, the figures who organize concerts around Orlando can seem like shadowy forces, but their influence shapes the cultural landscape in fundamental ways. When they’re bad, or simply uninspired, the city’s name loses stock. When they’re good, they can spark and catalyze an entire scene. More than almost anyone else in the indie circuit for the past year, Norse Korea Presents has been a paragon of the latter.

Under the Norse Korea name, the two-man group – comprised of Orlando movers Bradley Ryan and Kyle Raker – administers booking and runs promotions and a music label. As a DJ for WPRK 91.5, Ryan was a fixture at live shows, which led to an internship and eventual job at venerable music venue the Social for two years. Raker, also part of the local community as both a fan and a musician, worked for influential promoter Parafora Presents and downtown club Back Booth for a year. After cutting their respective teeth under the tutelage of some of the city’s top names in indie booking, their paths officially converged last year when Ryan approached Raker with the idea for Norse Korea.

Despite N.K.’s vault into the underground glitterati over the past year, their perspective and ethos remain grounded. “One thing that drew us together was the fact that we were seeing each other at the same shows,” Raker says. “And I think we kind of wanted to keep that going. Not just putting on shows, but also supporting the scene within it; being members of the music scene, not just someone behind it.”

That’s why, when they teamed up, their outlook was firmly rooted in this experience. “I, as an audience member, never really saw too many people that were behind the scenes of booking shows in Orlando at shows,” Ryan says. “And that’s definitely one thing with Norse Korea that we want to drive into the ground is that we are here, we are local, we are absolutely common dudes. We’re drinking the same crappy beer as everyone else.”

In only a matter of months, Ryan and Raker’s legitimacy separated them from the sea of promoter pretenders. “We learned from people who were doing it for a living and kind of had instruction from them and learned from them,” Raker says. “So we didn’t come into it completely green.”

Besides a refreshingly high degree of musical taste, their operating procedure quickly distinguished them by straddling the often mutually exclusive approaches of DIY and professional – an optimal balance that no one in the city’s recent history has been able to certifiably strike. The foundation and flexibility it’s given N.K. has yielded surprising results in the form of a long and varied list of head-turning shows by artists including Thee Oh Sees, Surf City, Young Widows, Hunx & His Punx, Lil Daggers, Bare Wires, Capsule and Circle Takes the Square, among many others.

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