Meeting the Man Behind Oslo’s Folk Collective

Meeting the Man Behind Oslo’s Folk Collective

we asked Liam Baker, editor of Oslo Folk
magazine to meet us for a coffee, we thought we had better leave the
decision up to him. East London-born Liam made himself an honorary
Olso-ite back in 2010, but not before testing the waters in Sweden.
Stuck in a “soulless” corporate job in London, Liam moved to escape
the grind after a particularly depressing tube journey to work one
day. “I was just sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this
any more. I should be doing more with my life,'” he tells us. Soon
after his tube-piphany, Liam booked himself a flight to Sweden,
where he spent the next couple of years working as a chef. Still
restless, he migrated to Oslo soon afterwards. He now lives in the
newly gentrified east side of the city, where he says: “It’s all

After two years working as a chef in the esteemed restaurant
ORO, in May 2014 he launched the first issue of Oslo Folk
Collective, a monthly online magazine celebrating Oslo’s arts and
the people behind them. The magazine covers art, music, fashion and
food and perfectly encapsulates Oslo’s strange, minimalist beauty.
Liam’s magazine shines a light on the city’s most creative chefs,
musicians, artists and filmmakers. We met Liam at Kolonihagen in
the stylish Grünerløkka district. Unsurprisingly, it was a dream.
Set inside an old stable, this rustic spot served dishes with
organic produce from local farms. The whole thing was impossibly
Norwegian and impossibly cool.

Over cured salmon on rye with peppery radishes, we soon learned
that there is more to Liam than his magazine and impressive beard.
As well as running O.F.C (which comes out in print next year) Liam
also works as a chef in local hotspot Ni & Tyve. On top of
that, he is writing an alternative guide to Oslo, set to be
published next year. He is also curating art exhibitions in the
city. Oh, and is working on a film exploring “the creative side of
chefs”. The man is a machine. “I think I must be a bit mad,
really,” he says. Mad, maybe. Inspired, definitely. Here’s what we
found out about Liam Baker while trying to suppress the feeling
that we are chronic underachievers.

CURIOUS PEAR: Tell us how this all began, what spurred
you to move away from London?

LIAM BAKER: I had worked for corporate
companies for 12 years, and just found it miserable. I had
surpressed a lot of my own creativity for a long time. I was going
home on the tube one day, and the train stopped. I was just sitting
there thinking, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I should be doing
more with my life.” A week later I bumped into a friend who told me
I looked like shit, and I told him how lost I felt. We drank wine,
and after about five bottles I decided to quit my job. The next day
I handed in my notice and booked a one-way ticket to Sweden.

CP: So where did the idea for O.F.C come

LB: I went to Marrakech for a few months to
write, and I guess the idea came to me then. I wanted to feel
something honest. I wanted to explore. I’d been in Oslo meeting all
of these incredible people and just thinking ‘how have I not heard
of you?’ Norwegians are taught not to talk about their own
achievements; it’s just the mentality they’re used to. I felt like
these people needed to be talked about, because they weren’t doing
it for themselves. I wanted to interact with people on a creative
level, and feel inspired again.

CP: Has the experience been harder than you

LB: I have moments when I’m full of self-doubt.
Any creative person gets that. You kind of beat your head against
the wall. I feel very privileged and proud of the last seven years,
though. When I started the magazine and was cooking too, I just
hardly slept. I was working seven days a week, every hour I could
get. It’s been like that for almost two years now. But I like being
very busy, it keeps me sane. I guess I’m an idealist in a lot of

CP: Do you think Norway is changing in terms of popular

LB: Absolutely, I do. Norwegians are flying all
over the world more than ever before, and seeing culture in a
completely new way. And I think when they come back to Oslo, they
want to see those cultures reciprocated here. People have become
more open minded in the last few years. It’s all happening right
before our eyes, these subtle changes that are making the city
better than ever before. This generation in particular is really
hungry for change.

CP: And is Oslo at the centre of this

LB: It’s on the edge of something really good.
In the next two or three years it’s really going to pop. Now is a
very interesting time to come, there’s change in the air and an
energy in the people. It’s at the beginning of its evolution, but
it’s snowballing fast.

CP: What do you love most about Oslo?

LB: It’s the capital city, and yet today I
walked from one side of it to the other in 20 minutes. I love that
about it. Visually, it is the tale of two cities. You can see the
two different sides so clearly through the architecture. The
moneyed west side is very precise, people dress differently and
drive different cars. In the east side, it’s completely different.
It’s more relaxed, more urban, and people are a lot more
interactive. Everything leans in this part of the city, nothing is
straight. But when you go to the west side there’s this purist form
in the buildings. Both sides are quirky in their own ways.

CP: Does the city change a lot from summer to

LB: It’s a totally different place. Winters are
tough; the darkness just draws people inside. They’re very quiet,
reserved and shy by nature here. But come summer, that whole
dynamic just flips, and they go wild. Anything goes. You feel it in
the air, it’s vibrant. People have energy when there’s all this
light, and the city moves at a different pace.

CP: Do you ever miss London?

LB: I miss elements of it, but only small
elements. I miss my family, that’s tough. But I have so much here
now; I have opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed in
London. People aren’t scratching each other’s eyes out to get ahead
of one another here, and I felt that straight away.

CP: So what are your recommendations for an afternoon
in Oslo?

LB: Everything’s walkable in Oslo, so just
wandering around for an afternoon and taking in all of the
architecture is a great way to spend the day.

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City Guide: Oslo, Norway