Xander Brett in Stockholm

Let’s meet Xander Brett, presenter of ‘The Nordic Podcast‘ (that we regularly feature here on ATN), and editor of ‘Fika Online‘.

Why I started Fika Online
My fascination with the Nordic countries began with a trip to Norway when I was thirteen. I suspect there was some gene in me before that, though, which meant I fell instantly in love with the people, the landscape, the food, and the culture. I founded ‘Fika Online’ when I left school in 2017. Since then, it has grown from a small gathering to a worldwide readership, with a particularly strong following in the United States. We publish a new post every Monday morning, and the site has seen contributions from hundreds of people in all walks of Nordic life… everyone from the King of Sweden to chefs, singers, and an arthouse cinema owner. In 2019, I set up a podcast to give my contributors a voice, and to keep followers up to date with the latest Nordic current affairs. Episodes are published monthly, and I present them from wherever I am in the world. That includes, each August, hosting from the heart of a Nordic city: so far, it has been Helsinki in 2020, Stockholm in 2021, and Oslo in 2022.

The British interest in Scandinavia
To be honest, I worry our attention is diverting somewhat… certainly from the peak craze of 2010-2012, when Scandi noir hit our screens for the first time, we learned about ‘hygge’, and our politicians looked to emulate Scandinavian welfare models. That said, however, there’s still an appetite for Nordic lifestyle trends, and Sweden’s unique approach to the coronavirus pandemic kept discussion alive around Nordic society’s merits and limitations. We shouldn’t forget, too, that interest in the Nordic countries isn’t limited to Great Britain. My blog has readers in North America for a reason. ‘Nordic noir’ is also increasingly popular in France, and I’ve discovered the Germans have something of an obsession with their neighbours (Sweden in particular). Their rose-tinted view even has a term: ‘Bullerbü-Syndrom’.

Covering the Nordic countries
I’m lucky to have travelled all over the Nordic region, on both short and long research trips. Last year was particularly interesting, when I travelled across Sweden for a month – visiting settlements vast and miniscule – to record an audio documentary called ‘What Makes Sweden Special?’. There’s a multitude of journalists covering the Nordic region for English speakers, and obviously I’m limited by the fact I’m based in the UK. But I like to dip into the discussion, with articles and reports across Nordic media (in English), whenever I can.

Xander is the editor of ‘Fika Online‘ and presenter of ‘The Nordic Podcast’, available to listen here