“You’re not the only person who feels like a fucking failure”, admits Allie Sheldan, vocalist of Vancouver natives, Little Destroyer. It doesn’t appear that way from Sheldan’s confident command of the stage, clawing at her midriff as she lunges atop the monitors. Despite these worries of one-upmanship, Sheldan has been carefully crafting the band’s synth-infused sounds between VA and LA for a few years now alongside brother pair, Chris and Michael Weiss. Slowburner ‘Mansions’ has a strong mental health message with Sheldan explaining how she sees her friends succeeding whilst she’s “living cheque to cheque”.

Amidst the electro fuzz and fury, it’s not surprising to hear that last year’s ‘Rattlesnakes’ taken from the band’s Strange Future EP was mixed by fellow Canadian Dave ‘Rave’ Ogilvie (longtime collaborator with Nine Inch Nails as well as the likes of Marilyn Manson and Carly Rae Jepsen) It’s this blend of brutal dark synths with sharpened hooks that make Little Destroyer the type of band you’d hope to hear if Gwen Stefani teamed up with Charlie XCX for a one-off (can this actually be a thing?). Perhaps it’s the Keychange confidence in the air or a festival that’s built on a bedrock of powerful creative sorts (from President Kersti Kaljulaid to founder and director, Helen Sildna) but in just a few days Tallinn Music Week has created a real platform for women to speak out, as Sheldan insists: “Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own body. No woman is free until every woman is free”. Thankfully, this lot are providing a pretty fist-fuelled soundtrack to pound those boundaries to the ground.

As soon as we enter the upstairs of Von Krahl (Tallinn’s first privately owned theatre now decked out for an indie club night) Intergalactic Lovers are ushering us forward, insisting that “Belgians don’t bite that hard”. Sadly, that’s sort of the problem. Whilst the fivesome pull off the Howling Bells-era blues rock tropes with aplomb, the set doesn’t really deviate much from there. 2008s disco beat hi-hat is back in full force as front woman, Lara Chedraoui woos the weekend to start with her Art Brut kneeling crowd tactics. The band’s strongest song is penultimate number ‘Between The Lines’ whilst finale ‘Rivers’ finds Chedraoui calling for a lover to follow her down the river (admittedly a route well-travelled by Scandi dream popstrel, Lykke Li) The set closes with all band members joining in choral harmony across the lines: “Save me, I’m lost, it’s done”. Blue lights fade and so does their set.

There’s a brew bubbling around tonight’s Crytomarket showcase which takes place in legendary Kuku Art Club; the city’s first private members bar. Those yuppy types probably weren’t expecting the bewitching sounds of London based burgeoning wonk-rocker, Suzi Wu then. The pair (Suzi is joined by Otto on the synths) are suffering from a loss of equipment tonight thanks to Baltic Air’s ropey handle on their luggage so they’re without their traditional drum pad setup but that doesn’t halt the beat. We’re treated to title track ‘Teenage Witch’ from last year’s EP of the same name as Wu demands adamantly: “Tell me is this bliss?” Women with special powers are something that seems dear to the 19-year-old musician crafting scrappy lo-fi bedroom beats: “Witches have always been women who were outliers in society… so I think it's a way for a woman to get in touch with the power inside herself and people can't take that away," she told Noisey. And it’s fair to say her bids to bring back American Cyberpunk again do place her as a bit of parallel to the traditional chart star archetype.

‘Punk Rock Charlie Brown’ is like observing the characters from a Zadie Smith novel. There’s an innate feeling of community and inner city culture here - fitting for a festival that spreads its tendrils out from the Russian Cultural Centre’s ceiling roses to Tallinn’s Botanical Gardens. In a counterpoint to her off-kilter alt-pop, Wu throws a Tom Waits cover into the set spinning out the fractious scene of a “two dollar pistol but the gun won’t shoot”. It’s an insight into this madcap mind, more than just the assumed rap spats and Jamie T swagger. “The next song is about love”, she admits which is met with audible boos. “Nah, not really it’s about sex”, she laughs against whoops and cheers from the crowd. “That’s the best audience response I’ve had and I reckon it’s because it’s mostly women”, she reasons with a cheeky smile. That’s the thing about Suzi Wu, put the magic out there and soon we’re feeling a little bit stronger, and a little less on the outskirts.

Dashing back along the cobbled streets and past Ye Olde Shoppe to the upstairs of Von Krahl, self-penned “fuck pop” duo The Magnettes have been starred in the lineup timings for days and for good reason. Bounding onto the stage like some sort of pleather-clad Eurovision spectacle, Sweden’s Sanna Kalla and Rebecka Digervall are a vision of unapologetic kitsch. But it’s not all handbags and gladrags. This pair has gumption. You’re more likely to find them spouting off about Bratmobile and Bikini Kill in their songs than fawning over any kind of wholesome women’s mag cover: “What if we break the rules? What if we don’t fucking care?” Electro belter ‘Killers In A Ghost Town’ is 1989 on Swedish speed whilst ‘Young and Wild’s RnB groove could have been nabbed straight from a Kesha catalogue.

Unsurprisingly for their sturdy partnership, there are a lot of cultural pairing namedrops, from insisting they’ll “be Kim and Kanye” if you like that shit to wooing with the offer of being “your Buddy Holly” if you’ll be “my Peggy Sue”. Theirs is a star-crossed romance brought together against the backdrop of “a shithole in the north of Sweden”. It’s a refreshing realism from the electropop warehouse cool on steady supply from their country’s capital. Instead of collabs with bonafide pop poster girl Charli XCX, they’re starting their own gang. Growing up and feeling like “fucking losers in a shit hole town”, they want to be losers together. As the undeniable pop stomp of ‘Sad Girls Club’ kicks in, the pair insists: “If you’re tired of this fucking world, come and join us”. Where do we sign?

It’s a brisk walk to Tallinn’s self-penned ‘hipster district’ Telliskivi. A reclaimed factory area just outside of the Old Town and the creative centre of the city. So it’s unsurprising to find eclectic Estonia export, Maria Minerva dishing out her digital sound bites in its surrounding - not a far cry from the place she now calls home having moved to Brooklyn before writing and recording her third LP, Histrionic. There’s a signature looping style to Minerva’s vocals which flit between the space and samples of the King of Pop’s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. It’s a momentary Jacko nod but Minerva was probably one of the country’s foremost artists to really start something when it came to putting Estonia on the map. It was during her studies at contemporary arts juggernaut, Goldsmiths in London that she began to attract a global niche for her experimental electronica. It could be the lights, it could be the embossed buffed ceiling panels above or indeed that MA in visual studies but watching Minerva is a bit like watching an intense Abramovich art installation as she topples on her knees calling out: “Sick, sick, sick”.

Continuing the best of the Baltics, Elizabete Balčus channels the kind of wonderland exotica that wouldn’t be out of place on a Björk Best-Of but with the dark vocal command of Mercury Prize winner, Anna Calvi. Agitated opener ‘Purple and Gold’ breathes new life into the phrase “no regrets, no fears” as this expression seems to be very true of the Latvian electronica scene. A broccoli, cabbage, spray of dill and a pineapple are all dotted about alongside her laptop as she sings against a harpsichord piano interlude, dressed in a bonnet with fairy lights and marigolds stitched to the rim. In the room, Balčus’ unearthly vocal builds towards the chandeliers which hang above gilded panel works and ornate ceiling roses. There’s a lot of clever pedal trickery here as she loops her trusted flute against a wall of synthesisers and the veg plot, of course. It’s like crazy guitar shredding but on a wind instrument and it’s genuinely hypnotising. “Do you see me the same as I see you?” she asks in closer, taken from 2016’s Conarium. In that avant-garde get up and whimsical hat perhaps not, but we are starting to see these songs for the primed picks they are.

This isn’t the first time that Iceland’s Hildur has made it to Tallinn. When she was 16, she was a high-flying athlete who came to compete in a sporting competition before she “figured out what life was all about”. Thankfully for us, it’s mainly about gigantic pop belters and putting ill-informed radio DJs to bed with their dated views on music production. The singer and producer is no stranger to representing her country on an international line up serving up the infectious ‘Bammbaramm’ as a Eurovision contender making it to the semi-finals for her country. A fair attempt to grab a clean sweep of points rather than the UK’s questionable efforts to bring back electro-swing the same year (it still hasn’t happened, guys). But Hildur isn’t all about hit-making and high-fiving (at one point we are encouraged to turn to the person next to us and high five them so that “we now have a new friend”) she’s also here to talk about progressive equality rights.

“I want to talk a little bit about Keychange”, she explains. “An organisation of women grouping together to make the world a better place”. In fact, Keychange is funding giants, PRS’s international campaign which invests in emerging female talent whilst encouraging festivals to sign up to a 50:50 gender balance pledge by 2022. And if you needed any more proof of why that’s necessary in 2018, Hildur has a charming anecdote to share. Her single, ‘I’ll Walk With You’ was lauded as Pop Song Of The Year at the Icelandic Music Awards last year so no surprises received tons of airtime on local radio. One station presenter even kindly commented after playing out the track that “she must’ve had a guy helping her out”. Hildur wrote a public letter to the DJ to tell him that he was the problem when it came to women not getting the credit they deserve. The Icelandic hitmaker deserves another award for Put Down of The Year too.

The first live encounter of Fever Dream is in the somewhat unconventional setting of a downtown shopping mall decked out in pastel pink leggings and a Dream Wife tee (if you haven’t already witnessed the boxing ring bonanza that is ‘F.U.U’ with the Brighton-via-Iceland troupe, it’s here. You’re welcome). The second is in the sweaty throngs of a dive bar circa 2 am in club appropriate patent cobalt skirt and fishnets. But for both fangirl moments, the net result is the same: souped-up smiles and a pretty strong desire to start a rap outfit with my brother. Of course, Vigdís Ósk Howser Harðardóttir (also known as rapper and poet, Fever Dream) didn’t start life out in this sibling supported set up.

Harðardóttir is a former member of sixteen strong feminist rap collective, Reykjavíkurdætu who faced opposition from day one, berated by their peers for their “bad music”. Fitting then that the artists’ hook fuelled and set favourite, ‘Reyndu BARA’ (literal translation: “JUST try”) takes a swipe at the naysayers, slamming the scene for its overwhelming male dominance. And for a genre which is more accustomed to parading women’s forms across the bonnets of cars, Harðardóttir spitting bars in a club is a welcome kick in the cojones. Frankly, it’s exhilarating as she ushers for “Queers to the front Women to the front. Bad bitches to the front”. For set closer, Harðardóttir does what any radical feminist with a strong steer on chauvinism would do and frees the nipple, leaping across the stage topless with a fierce fury. It might not fly with the Saturday afternoon shoppers but this crowd of bad bitches is living the Dream.

There’s a sizable gap on the final night of Tallinn Music Week between the Icelandic visionary and rising rap ambassador, GNUČČI. People are flagging, eeking out their last beer and sneaking in another look at their watch face. But as Ana Rab, takes to the stage in her matching-two piece, hair slicked back to the contours of her skull kicks into album namesake, ‘You good, I’m good, let’s be great’, we know it’s going to be. Originally from Yugoslavia but now a resident Swede, Rab’s ‘Finders Keepers’ has a brutal Matangi style drop whilst collab with Berlin-based, sweet-voiced singer/producer, Tami T is pastel pop perfection as she promises to be “your ultimate girl”. It’s a lazy comparison to drop the Misdemeanor Elliott moment but she’s there in the salty, wry club anthems and sauce filled slams: “I got attitude problems, not mine but yours”. At one point, she takes a moment to tell us: “I like good times with fucking manners, I hope you’re on your best nasty behaviour. I want my granny to come in here and have a great time”. I can’t say Nanny Mave would’ve dug it but the crowd invasion at the end of her set is certainly testament to the kind of nastiness Janet was asking for back in 1986. People are beaming, eeking out their last beat and sneaking in another look at their watch face...hoping it’s not time to leave this rapper’s delight.