Per Gessle interview for German media – “Marie will always be a legend”

Spot on news agency in Germany did an interview with Per Gessle related to the Bag of Trix release. Vol. 3 is out today!

On “Bag of Trix” you release rediscovered Roxette songs. What can the fans expect?

PG: “Bag of Trix” is a compilation of previously unreleased songs, most of them from the 80’s.
There are also alternative versions of published songs and songs that were simply lost when switching to streaming. But the songs are definitely worth listening to, I am really satisfied with this album!

Have you found any songs that you would no longer stand behind?

PG: Regarding some songs I think to myself: they weren’t that good. But there isn’t a song that I regret because they were all fun to make. When I listen to Roxette songs from the 80’s, I sometimes think that some of the lyrics were not the best. But I was still young then and not yet able to express what I wanted. And besides that, as soon as Marie started to sing, it almost didn’t matter what she sang.

How does it feel for you to release new albums by Roxette without Marie?

PG: Even if I’m releasing the album without her, she’s still part of it. She’s part of every song. I try to think positively and not let my grief drag me down, because then I wouldn’t be able to continue working on our joint projects. She was seriously ill for so many years – since 2002 – and at some point you get used to the idea that one day she will no longer be with us. It is now almost a year since she passed away and I am trying to look ahead. It didn’t deter me from going through our collection. To hear the songs that I recorded with Marie makes me proud in a special way. A lot of the songs are incredibly good and Marie was a great singer. She was just magical. She made my songs a lot better than they actually were. I think that while listening. We worked together for so many decades which is why I wrote most of my songs especially for her. For me as a songwriter, the way she performed was the greatest gift. When I hear her sing, I always have a smile on my face.

How do you deal with being asked repeatedly about Marie Fredriksson?

PG: She was part of my life since I was 19 and was like a sister to me. That’s why she’s always there and I remember her all the time, for example when I hear a Roxette song. She means so much to so many people and that’s why I like to talk about her. She deserves it, she was a wonderful person. She will always remain a legend and inspire many young people.
I have a lot of contact with her family. I know her husband Mikael very well. We keep in touch and see each other regularly.

You have been a successful musician on stage for several decades. Are you taking it easy now?

PG: I like to be busy. I still write songs, I write all the time. My wife says I work all the time. In Sweden I regularly publish music – including songs in Swedish. But I’m still working on English songs. I’m in the studio several days a week and if it weren’t for the pandemic I would definitely go on tour.

Could you imagine going on tour alone under the name Roxette, if it’s possible to tour again after the pandemic?

PG: I would never revive Roxette with a new female singer. But of course I like to play the songs at gigs, which is why I want to work with female singers in the future. That would of course not be Roxette, but after all I wrote the songs and thirty years of my life consisted of Roxette.

Per Gessle nominated as Hallandian of The Year again!

It’s the second time Per Gessle is nominated as Hallandian of The Year. Last year’s winner was Janne Andersson.

Last year the competition was decided by voting, but this time an expert jury from MiH, Hallandsposten and Hallands Nyheter will choose the winner. They do this to make it as fair as possible, because nowadays it’s easy to start a voting campaign on social media.

There are 7 nominees and the winner will be announced at MiH’s breakfast gala held in Halmstad Arena without an audience on 17th December, live broadcast on Hallandsposten.

The jury’s motivation for nominating Per: „One of Sweden’s most successful artists and songwriters. A musical genius who has gilded many people’s lives with Roxette, Gyllene Tider and as a solo artist. At prime time, Per is an obvious guest on the TV couch, when he is once again releasing a new album. He opens up when the media stands in line to do interviews with him, one of the world’s greatest hitmakers. Per is faithful to his hometown and still has his base in Halmstad where he relaxes with walks next to his Hotel Tylösand.”

Good luck, Mr. G!

Roxette – Piece of Cake

A long-awaited song sees the light of day today. Probably, the last Roxette song Marie and Per recorded. I think I can tell that all of us have been waiting for Piece of Cake to be released one day since we read about it in Per Gessle’s Songs, Sketches & Reflections book in 2014. This is what he told Sven Lindström about POC when he interviewed Mr. G for the book:

One of the latest [lyric] is called „Piece of Cake”, and probably is quite typical of my way of writing English lyrics. Someone used that expression recently, and it stuck in my mind. That’s the way it’s worked for me ever since I started writing lyrics, and especially English lyrics. You catch words and phrases that probably get a partially different meaning for me than for someone with English as their native tongue.
Sometimes I sneak such an expression into a line, other times it becomes the track title and then the whole idea is based on that. „Piece of Cake” is an unusual title to work with, since it’s pretty obvious. And since it means that something is dead easy, I will automatically focus on the opposite; I write a lyric about how hard everything is, but that thanks to one thing or the other it will become a piece of cake.

Per Gessle today says:

„Piece of Cake” is one of the very last Roxette recordings, a genuine glimmering sing-along pop song freshly mixed with amazing vocals from Marie. The album „Good Karma” took forever to make, and by the end everyone was pretty exhausted so we never really got around to finish this track. But having a fresh listen to it years later, I realized all pieces were there – it just needed a good mix. So, I sent it to mixer Ronny Lahti who’s got a brilliant ear, always makes things sound spectacular – and he came back with a great mix as usual. Very happy to release this gem! Finally!

Piece of Cake is now out as a digital single and you can listen to it here: Spotify, iTunes, YouTube. It will also be released on Bag of Trix Vol. 3 next Friday, 27th November.

Piece of Cake’s music video premiere is at 3 pm CET on Friday, 20th November. You will be able to watch it on Roxette’s YouTube channel HERE.

In all cases, sing along! Let’s go!

Piece of Cake

Let’s go…

I am busy doing nothing
I am on my own
There is no hot water
I can’t find my comb

My jeans are smelling funny
My records they’re all torn
The zombies on the TV
They won’t leave me alone

But me and you
Make it safe and sound
Me and you
Make it sunny all over this town
Life’s a piece of cake when you are coming around

There’s a church on the block
Baby, I wouldn’t mind
If the numbers on the clock
Knew how to show me a good time

I’m dead as disco
On my own I’m doing wrong
The beat is really steady
But I don’t know the song

But me and you
Make it safe and sound
Me and you
Make the wheels go ’round and ’round
Life’s a piece of cake when you are coming around
Life’s a piece of cake when you are coming around

But me and you
Make it safe and sound
Me and you
Make it sunny all over this town
Life’s a piece of cake when you are coming around
Life’s a piece of cake when you are coming around

Let’s go

Music: Per Gessle + MP Persson
Lyrics: Per Gessle
© Jimmy Fun Music

Per Gessle – Värvet podcast interview

It’s not the first time Per was a guest of Kristoffer Triumf on his podcast, Värvet. Mr. G was guest No. 61 in May 2013 and now he is back in episode 442. The guys talked about Roxette, Halmstad, corporate gigs, Gyllene Tider, Marie Fredriksson, getting tired of music, his driving force, Så mycket bättre, money and happiness, dishwasher filling, the boring side of being Per Gessle and the connection between Monty Python and Joyride.

Already the teaser video on Instagram was much fun:

Kristoffer: – Brag about something!
Per: – I’m damn good at hockey.

K: – Do you have pain anywhere?
P: – In one shoulder for some reason, but I don’t know why. But it’s over now.

K: – How do you make the world better?
P: – I can’t answer that. I don’t know if I make the world better, actually.

K: – But you spread some kind of joy with your art?
P: – Yeah, maybe I do, but I can’t sit here and say that.

K: – Football team?
P: – Halmia, of course!

K: – If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would that be?
P: – Spaghetti aglio e olio. I love that.

K: – Choose a karaoke song!
P: – I don’t like karaoke, but… Hotel California.

K: – What will be written on your headstone?
P: – See you later, alligator… Haha, I don’t know.

In the podcast, Kristoffer asks Per how this corona year affected him. Per says it’s a quite boring and negative period in a way. At the same time, there are a lot of things happening in the world. The US elections and other creepy things related to the pandemic and it hasn’t ended yet and one can’t see the end of it. Mr. G says it has affected the music and hotel industry very much. He didn’t have a tour booked for this year, so he didn’t have to cancel anything, however, he had some corporate gigs booked that were cancelled. Kristoffer asks about corporate gigs. Per says he plays mainly for big companies, e.g. Ferrari, sometimes in Sweden, sometimes abroad. He is doing those to gather with his band and to be able to play. If they play in Sweden, people usually want to hear Här kommer alla känslorna and Sommartider, while if they do such gigs abroad it’s mainly Roxette songs they play. He thinks it’s fun to be with the band and they have a small crew with them. Kristoffer asks if there are any other benefits of playing for e.g. Ferrari than to earn money on that. Per says actually at that company he knows some people who work there. They played in Monaco on a huge Philip Morris luxury yacht. There was a swimming pool in the middle and there were people sitting in costumes and tuxedos rattling their jewelry around the pool while they were playing The Look. It was quite surreal, he laughs. Kristoffer says it must have been a difficult audience. Per says there is no difficult audience, but they were different for sure.

Per started what he is doing at a young age and he learned a lot over the years. When they broke through with Gyllene Tider in 1980 there were people who liked what they were doing and there were people who didn’t. The more successful they became the more dirt some wanted to find around them. There weren’t paparazzis or such, but they felt they had to take care of themselves at the shows and also with journalists. The more professional he got the more he could deal with it. Once he leaves his house, he is a public person. He can’t let it go. His close friends have another picture of him than those who don’t know him too well.

Kristoffer says he saw the documentary Jonas Åkerlund cut, the Roxette Diaries. He asks if it’s another Per. Most of it was filmed by Mr. G’s wife, so it’s a bit different when someone else films. Kristoffer says there are scenes in the Let Your Heart Dance With Me video too. Per says LYHDWM is one of two leftover songs from the Good Karma session. They release it in a box, Bag of Trix that consists of 4 vinyls or 3 CDs. It will contain bonus songs that were out on CD singles released e.g. in Japan only, demos and Spanish versions of songs as well. LYHDWM was ready but not mixed, so it was done only now. First Per wanted to find like 10 songs to release, but the deeper he was digging the more tracks he found. He already released a box with his own demos 5-6 years ago. That box contained a lot of Roxette songs, but then he didn’t pick demos that Marie was singing. So the demos Marie was involved with are on this Bag of Trix box now. There are even demos from the era before they released their first album. Kristoffer asks if there are demos of the hits as well. Per says it depends on what he means by hits. There are hits on it, but e.g. the demo of The Look or Joyride, which he was singing, are not on this compilation.

Kristoffer starts talking about the tribute concert to Marie held in January this year. Mr. G says it was a lovely, but strange event. When you go through something like what happened, you grow a shell around yourself. When you are so sad, it’s always tough to do anything. But when he met all the other musicians, Marie’s friends, it was in the air that everyone felt the same. So there was a kind of collective darkness. It was very difficult. The hardest times came when there were those little films in between the songs where Marie appeared. But it felt very great to do that. After the event it felt that it was perfect. Kristoffer aks Per how he worked on processing his grief. Per says he can’t really tell. He feels there is a huge emptiness. He was kind of prepared for what happened, because Marie was ill for so long. But you can’t really be prepared for this. When it’s over, it’s over. He thinks that this emptiness will stay there forever. It pops up all the time. When they are talking about Roxette, or when he sees things or a song is on the radio. He is reminded every day.

Kritoffer asks Per if he still plans to play the songs he wrote for Roxette, he did that before. Mr. G says he wants to sing them, because the alternative is not playing them anymore and that feels like a bad option. The songs live their own lives. Marie can’t be replaced, but he wants to play those songs. He already did that. It’s different, but it works.

Kristoffer thinks it might be a stupid question, but he asks Per how he remembers Marie. Per says there are so many different Maries. The greatest thing is that they succeeded with breaking through abroad. It’s highly impossible what they did. With their background, coming from Halmstad. He remembers the time when they shared the rehearsal studio, the days when she came up to his apartment and they were chatting, playing music, singing, drinking wine and dreaming away. Slowly but surely it happened. There were a lot of coincidences, a lot of luck and the determined dedication they both turned out to have. They both were very ambitious. After they broke through, Marie became a professional pop star. Then he also thinks about Marie as a fantastic singer who learned how to handle the audience of a football stadium and suddenly became a Freddie Mercury. Then he also remembers the break they had in the 90’s when Marie had her second child. Per did other things then, Gyllene Tider and solo stuff. Then they did another journey from 1999 to 2001 when they released 2 albums. It wasn’t a long time, because then Marie got ill in 2002.

Regarding Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig Per says he was writing an English pop album. He says it’s difficult to write songs like How Do You Do! when you are getting older. Because of the pandemic he thought he would record an acoustic record in the studio. The idea was to play all the instruments himself. He thought it would be personal. He didn’t have any songs and he didn’t want to write a new album, because he was already writing an English one. Then he thought he has so many old Swedish songs he likes very much, but never recorded or didn’t record it in a modern time. There are songs he wrote for other artists or songs he recorded but thinks they didn’t turn out to be good enough in their original version. He tested tons of songs, more than you can find on the album now.

There is a difference between Per today and Per 25-30 years ago. He doesn’t write pop songs the same way as before. He is dealing with stuff he finds interesting, but it’s still in his DNA to write something commercial. He doesn’t feel home in the world of producing music on laptops. He thinks some of these things are cool, but it’s not as much fun for him to record as e.g. an acoustic album. The hours he spends in the studio are like birthday celebration for him. It’s a big creative process, there he feels home. He feels awkward when he sits in front of the computer for hours to produce music. He sometimes likes a sound, but then they have to find another sound and it’s a boring process. He is coming from the rehearsal studio tradition. The music he is making these days doesn’t become so commercial as before. It’s fun to work with the 80’s or early 90’s sound again, synths and drum machines. Per loves that sound and that’s what he is doing now. We’ll hear the result maybe in spring next year. He says one will recognize his style. At least he hopes so. This album is being recorded mostly in Skåne at Christoffer Lundquist’s studio. He works together with Christoffer, Clarence Öfwerman and Magnus Börjeson.

Kristoffer asks about the phases we can’t see in Per’s job. Mr. G says it’s hard to tell about those, because he is his work, his activity is coming out of anything he is doing. He is constantly gathering ideas and has his antennas out. Sometimes he lets it go, when he feels he worked too much, was in the studio for so long or wrote too much and he needs space and distance. His iPhone is full of ideas, sketches, thoughts, song ideas, lyric ideas, production ideas.

Kristoffer aks what is the boring side of being Per Gessle or being an artist at all. Mr. G says there is nothing super boring in it. He always tries to have fun. But he knows what Kristoffer means. There is a girl who takes care of his music business and a manager who takes care of replying all the mails that have anything to do with Per’s job. There is Thomas Johansson at Live Nation who takes care of the shows. So he doesn’t have to take care of the administration himself. Sometimes he does, but only to keep an eye on it. A lot of his music is being used in commercials or movies on Netflix and when there are these requests, he gets emails daily and is asked if they can go ahead with this or that. He says he doesn’t want his music to be connected to anything controversial or political and he doesn’t get emails like that because probably everyone knows he is not interested in that. Sometimes it’s a commercial for an Italian clothes brand or a Chilean mineral water or independent movies. Sometimes he gets the synopsis and they tell him there is a space for e.g. Dressed for Success in it. He thinks his music doesn’t need to be constrained to McDonald’s commercials, but can also appear in avantgarde films.

Kristoffer says it’s an old truth that they never talk about money in Sweden, at the same time he feels that Per had to talk a lot about money in Sweden. Per says he doesn’t know why. He thinks it’s because they became successful very early. Now there are a lot of people who earn a lot of money in Sweden: IT millionaires, the Spotfiy guys etc. But when they broke through in the 80’s it was different. When he is asked about money he is always talking about music instead. He likes earning a lot of money and loves success, but the most important is that everything is based on his music and the ideas he has around his musicality, songwriting and artistry. So he turns the conversation into a creative discussion then. Kristoffer asks Per if financial independency makes him happy. Per says the short answer is yes. Life itself became much simpler besides paying the rent. That’s another question that the business he works in is a risk industry. The money he earns gives him the possibility to keep going without compromises. He doesn’t need to think of making commercial music anymore. Before he had to think about it a lot. Both with Gyllene Tider and Roxette, but thankfully, they had the power of creating those songs themselves. All of their hits are original songs and that’s what he is the most proud of in his career. It’s all built on his songwriting. The music industry changed so much. Spotify takes 94-95% of the total business in Sweden. At the same time, he is still thinking in album format, he still tries to record organically in a studio with different musicians. It costs a lot of money and that money doesn’t come back, so it’s him who is financing that part, having fun in the studio. But he is doing corporate gigs or tours and he hopes to sell tickets so that he can earn on that and invest it into his recording activity. If he wasn’t selling tickets, he wouldn’t have the possibility for that. Money gives you freedom to be able to do what you want.

Kristoffer says Per has a huge song catalogue and asks Per if he is reminded of it daily. Per says it’s his life, but he doesn’t sit down to think „shit, what a huge song catalogue I have”. He is very proud of all they achieved over the years, but it’s not something you are thinking about every day. You keep going forward.

Kristoffer asks when Per is the happiest. Mr. G says he is superhappy when he is with his family, they mean so much to him. But as a person he is the best when he is working in the studio. When he creates music with people who he respects. They make the result together. He has always been a studio fox. He also likes playing music together, he loves everything around music. Sometimes it’s too much, he feels he was working too much, e.g. after long tours he gets tired of himself and all the songs. But it’s fantastic to go to a rehearsal studio and prepare for a tour, playing together. Music is a huge power itself. He doesn’t know any other art that is so strong as music. It makes you laugh or cry or dance. And doing it together is magical. He told his son who has never played in a band that all kids should play in a band at least once in their lives to get the feeling of working together and discover when „you and I sing together” and it sounds good. Or when you play the bass and drums and they sound good together. And writing stuff yourself or arranging music. It’s fantastic, the whole journey.

Kristoffer asks if Per’s son, Gabriel plays any instruments. Per says he plays a little piano, a little guitar and the drums. Not at a super level, but it’s fun. He is 23 and he is very much into laptop music. He is programming ambient music.

Kristoffer aks Per if he ever gets tired of music. Per doesn’t think so. If he looks back on his teenage years, he always thinks about music, artists like David Bowie, T. Rex, The Beatles, Bad Company, Wings. That was his education. He learned English via pop music. He found the fundamentals in music and for him it’s easy to refer to music. There he recognizes himself and that era. When he is talking about music he remembers not solely music, but art or movies or magazines of the era. He spent a lot of time away from school, putting on the earphones and listening to The Dark Side of the Moon or Aladdin Sane.

About history Per says he is interested in it, one can learn a lot from history. When you are reading about different eras in history you recognize a lot from our times today. He says his son is very good at Maths and Physics, but Per is lost in that field. When he grew up his walls were full of posters of pop idols, motorcycles and cars. His son’s room is filled with formulas and algorithms. He loves Maths.

Kristoffer asks Per about Gyllene Tider’s comeback. Per says he read that in the newspapers that they would come back, but he says the question was if that was really the last tour last year. He said it was, BUT it’s a pity, because GT is a fantastic band to play with and a fantastic fireball in the music life. It was Micke Syd’s idea that they should do a last tour now that they are all still healthy and alive. It made sense. But now that it’s over, Per is not against doing more GT gigs again. It’s always fun. They are like brothers and there is a fundamental love between them in a way. Of course, between brothers there is arguing as well, but in 2019, while they became older they became calmer and it was so easy to do it together. There is a huge gratitude for what they have achieved and the chance to succeed was so little, one can’t ignore it.

Kristoffer asks Per about Roxette’s break through if it was luck. Mr. G says that all artists who break through in that way are lucky. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Per says there were so many moments that led to their success. He was asked to write a song for Pernilla Wahlgren. He wrote Svarta glas, but she never recorded it. Per’s demo was circulating at his record company though and the boss, Rolf Nygren said he should translate it into English and record it with Marie so they have what they always talked about to do something together in English. So Per translated it and it became Neverending Love. That became their first hit. So it was luck that Pernilla didn’t want the song, but Rolf saw it and gave the budget to Marie and Per to record it. Neverending Love became a summer hit in 1986 and they recorded their first album in no time and released it in October. It contained songs Per wrote for his Swedish solo album and translated the lyrics into English. Then The Look’s story with the exchange student who brought their album to Minneapolis in the US was also lucky moment. There was a radio program where the listeners could ask to play their favourite songs, but not only to ask, but leave their records there and ask something to be played from that. When that happened they had the capacity to follow up all the time. It was of course their own power. Many thought that The Look would be a one hit wonder in the US. It was followed by Dressed for Success in the US, but there was a radio syndicate that didn’t want to play DFS, because they were convinced Roxette was a flash in the pan with The Look. But it peaked on the Billboard charts at No. 14. It could have been No. 3 if the radio syndicate didn’t refuse it, who knows. But then Listen To Your Heart became No. 1. They were there on the US charts constantly for appr. 4 years. He thinks everyone needs luck. He thinks The Beatles had their luck when Brian Epstein came and saw them at the Cavern Club. The Police broke through with Roxanne in the US in a similar way as Roxette with The Look. Coincidence and fate play a big role. Kristoffer thinks it’s 97% talent and 3% luck. Per thinks it’s 50-50%, because it doesn’t matter how talented you are if you are not lucky. There are so many talented artists who never break through. Per says they had the capacity of being able to play live that many of their competitors didn’t. Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul for example. Marie hated doing the playback shows on TV, because she wanted to sing and Per wanted to play. All in all, Per thinks you have to be lucky, but also you have to have the capacity.

Kristoffer starts talking about Marie’s and Per’s voices. Per says it’s exciting in music when there are different voices. Either if you are a boy and girl, but also when there are boys, e.g. in The Beatles or The Beach Boys. You can change the arrangement and take advantage of your different key preferences both when you are writing and when you are performing. It’s something they tried to benefit from from the very beginning. It also became an ingredient in Per’s songwriting that he and Marie had different key preferences. The most perfect it was when they had a fifth interval between their voices. Kristoffer asks what it means and Per explains It Must Have Been Love starts in C major, but for him it would be G major. So Per wrote the songs to fit Marie’s voice and his voice. It needs a technical know-how to do so and he learned that. He says in many Roxette songs they are changing the keys. It’s in his songwriting style. When a girl and a guy sing a duet, it’s like they are singing about each other and you can also take advantage of it in the lyrics. Paint is a good example. Per sings the verses and those are very masculine, while Marie’s singing is very girly, feminine.

Kristoffer says he remembers Per wrote a nice line when Marie passed away that she painted Per’s black and white songs in the most beautiful colours. He also remembers that Per talked about Clarence Öfwerman’s role in how his music came into life. He asks whether Per is realistic when he talks about these or he has lack of self confidence. Per thinks it’s a mix. He felt and still feels his musical limits. He needs others to cooperate in carrying out what he hears in his head. He can’t do everything himself. They started working together with Clarence very early. The first Roxette song they recorded with him was I Call Your Name. Its title in Swedish was Jag hör din röst. They never recorded it in Swedish. Everything Clarence suggested was great and the song got a swing. Per never heard his music that way. It got a funk swing and it was very far from Per’s Blondie pop he did with Gyllene Tider. Clarence added a finnesse, he does things differently. Sometimes Per asked him if they could get the swing like in Let’s Dance by Bowie, then Clarence said it wouldn’t work because there are too many chords in the verses, so it wouldn’t have the swing in that way. And that’s something Per didn’t think about. That’s something he learned that you can’t make something blue out of something red. You have to go the way, take your time and learn and find the simple way, otherwise you’ll have a problem all the way. Regarding Marie, Per says she was a jazz singer, she was singing R&B, blues and soul, anything possible, so when they recorded Soul Deep or I Call Your Name it fit her very well. One of the things why Marie wanted to work with Per was because she got songs she couldn’t write herself, even if she was a singer songwriter too. So she got access to material out of what she could create something more. She liked that. She liked to be in different roles, being a pop diva in Dressed for Success or being a crazy R&B chick in Soul Deep and at the same time she was a fantastic ballad singer as well. It’s actually a singer’s job to make the listener react, to make you think that „shit, this text is about me”. So this is how Marie coloured Per’s songs. They did that together with Clarence.

Kristoffer asks Per if he still feels limited. Technically he has his limits. He is not a good lead guitarist. His style fits Gllene Tider very well. Once he wants to make something modern, something new, then he needs help. Before he asks for help, the melody, the chords and the lyrics are ready. He needs help with the execution. For example, it would be nice to have strings in the second verse and that would lift up the song towards the end. He is not good at writing string arrangements, he would hire musicians to do that. Kristoffer asks if he can describe how he wants things to sound. Per says he can tell e.g. where he wants it to be lifted and such things, but it’s not brain surgery.

Kristoffer asks Per how his self confidence as a songwriter is now in autumn of 2020. Per thinks he has self confidence, but he also feels that he is a child of his time for better or worse. Sometimes he wishes he wouldn’t have that much in his luggage, if he wouldn’t know that much music. He thinks about it most often when he hears music, because then he automatically thinks it sounds like this, it sounds like that and he is kind of cataloguing the songs. His relation to music changed totally when he became a musician, an artist, a songwriter. When he listens to Spotify Top50 he is doing it for educational purposes. He listens to it to hear how things sound, why it works there, what they thought here etc. He sees YouTube parodies about how the same 4 chords appear in so many songs. There are people who sit there and create beats on their computer. He worked together with younger musicians who didn’t know what chords are at all. But they might have a talent that Per probably doesn’t have. It can be useful sometimes. Musicality is so different for different people. Those who are in their 20s now grew up with pop music in a different way than Per did. Nowadays not all record labels need artists who can play instruments.

Kristoffer realized that Per is very focused. Mr. G says it’s true. Kristoffer asks if it’s the same when he is reading a book. Per says he can be very focused and then extremely restless. He always has parallel projects. It fits him that he can hop from one thing to another. He has Gyllene Tider, Roxette, his Swedish solo stuff, his English solo stuff and Mono Mind. The difficulty is when he is working with his Swedish stuff. Sweden is such a small market, a small country. He can’t release albums and go on tours all the time, because people get tired of him. With their international career it was easy to be away for a longer time. There were many years when he didn’t write songs in Swedish because he was working with Roxette only.

Kristoffer asks Per what he is watching on TV. He says he is streaming a lot, watching HBO and Netflix. He is watching Ray Donovan now, the fifth season. He also watched a surprisingly good Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher. It was like Mission Impossible, but without all the tehniques. Ozark is very good too. Succession as well. Curb Your Enthusiasm is a favourite and he is a big Seinfeld fan. He also likes After Life with Ricky Gervais.

Kristoffer is curious if it is important for Per to discover new music. Per says he thinks Taylor Swift’s latest album, Folklore is damn good. It’s not what you usually hear from her, it’s no hit music, but very nice. It’s newly created but with respect to its genre.

Kristoffer aks Per what he thinks about Max Martin. Mr. G thinks he is a fantastic songwriter and a fantastic coordinator in the team he works together with. It’s great that he is so successful.

Kristoffer asks what Per’s driving force is. Per says he is just existing like that. He just wants to move forward. He thinks many become stressed by success, but he has never been triggered by it. He tells he wrote Joyride and Spending My Time on the same day, because Joyride turned out to be so good that he just wanted to continue writing. He must mention that Mats MP Persson was also involved in writing SMT. It has never been a problem for him to follow up such things what others become stressed by. Kristoffer says it sounds like if Per wants to make a new album, he wants to make it even better than the previous one. Better and a bit different, Per says. The fun thing with the creative process is that you aim to the Southwest and you end up in the Northeast, but it still sounds good. He likes that. Of course one tries to make better things than before. However, he thinks „better” is not the right word. Whenever there is a new project, you start it from the beginning, but you have your experience with you. When Per writes he is always trying to write from a new angle. He is changing. He is not the same as he was a year ago or 30 years ago. That’s why it was exciting for him to go through his material for Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig, because he was thinking why he wrote this or that text. Today he can’t really understand what he meant with that what he wrote in the 80’s or 90’s. He can’t understand the temperature in the text and he is wondering what his purpose was. He would choose different words now.

Kristoffer asks if there are perfect songs. Per thinks it’s hard to answer. A song is perfect if it fills a function. If you like a song in a certain situation or a certain period of your life, it’s perfect for you just then. Kristoffer asks if Per has such songs. Mr. G says he has songs that mean a lot to people, they married to them, maybe also divorced to them, haha. Kristoffer is curious if Per thinks there is any song of his in which he wouldn’t change anything. Per says there is no song he wrote that couldn’t be better. And he thinks „better” is not the right word here either. He thinks he wouldn’t make them the same way today. It would be dull to run around and say The Look peaked at No. 1 so you can’t make anything better than that. Kristoffer asks if Mr. G has any Beatles song in his mind in which he thinks one shouldn’t change anything. Per thinks there are Beatles songs and Tom Petty songs that are fantastic, because they fill a function for him, but it’s not like he is listening to them and says „shit, it couldn’t have been done better”. One shouldn’t strive for the maximum all the time. One should go with the flow and experience things. Music is like a film. Sometimes you think it was a good movie, but a bit too long, then you would make it shorter, but if you cut it in the wrong places, it won’t give you the same experience.

Kristoffer says Per lost some close friends and relatives over the past years and is curious if it matters in a way that he wants to create things that stay after he is gone. Per says sometimes you ask yourself what are you doing here or what is your goal with this or that. When you release a song it’s a question if you make it for yourself or for others’ sake. He is so terribly narcissistic that he is making them for his own sake. He works like that. If it wasn’t music he would find a way to express himself anyway. It’s a huge ego trip. There will for sure be songs that live on after he is gone. When he thinks about the 80’s when it didn’t go well for him commercially before Roxette, he wrote songs for others, but it didn’t fit him to be a hired gun, to write for someone else to make him or her satisfied. That’s why he thinks it’s fascinating when there are those Swedish songwriting teams when there are 5-6 people and make different parts of a song. There must be someone who says stop or that’s what we want or this is better than that. Must be an A&R person at a record company or a manager or the artist himself. He doesn’t know. Kristoffer is curious if Per had any other similarly tough period in his life as in the 80’s after GT broke up. In his career he didn’t have. Roxette became so big and then they had a break and GT came back and he made a solo record. Then Roxette came back again. Then Marie got ill and he made solo records again. Mazarin became probably his biggest Swedish success.

Kristoffer asks Per if he has ever been depressed. There were tough years, but he wasn’t depressed. When his family, his mother, sister and brother passed away in 3 years it was tough, then also when Marie passed away last December. There comes emptiness and you become another person. But even if you can’t talk to those people anymore, they are still there in a way. Kristoffer likes that Per talks about Marie in present. Per says she is always there in a way.

Kristoffer asks Per about the Swedish reality TV program, Så mycket bättre [Swedish artists live together for eight days and each artist attempts to do their own version of another artist’s well-known song /PP]. Per says he won’t ever be on that show. He thinks it’s boring to do TV at all and he also thinks that such a TV program is to make people more known or let people get to know more about those who are there on the show. He has never been interested in becoming known as a person.

Regarding enjoying the moment when they stood in front of tens of thousands of people at shows in Montevideo for example, Per says they talked a lot about that with Marie that how little you enjoy these things while you are working. You are in a bubble, you perform, you do your job and then you go to the bar and lay down and fly to another city or country. It becomes a neverending loop of performing. So the short answer is no, he thinks they don’t enjoy it the way an outsider thinks they do. At the same time, there are of course moments, e.g. when Marie and Per stand together on stage in a football stadium and Per looks at Marie and he knows they think the same „is it really true? how did we get to here?”. That of course you enjoy, that moment. You enjoy being on stage though or when you feel it at night that you did an amazing concert and you sleep well because you know you did a good job and that means a lot to people.

Kristoffer asks if they still felt happiness when they reached their fourth No. 1 in the US. Per says it was Joyride in 1991. Per was in Paris and Marie was in Stockholm. From all four No. 1s it was the fourth he enjoyed the most. It was soon after they released the album and it was huge then. Thanks to his wife who left that note, „Hej, din tok, jag älskar dig!” (Hello, you fool, I love you!) on his piano. Kristoffer asks where the whistling came from. It comes from Per. He always liked the whistling in Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. There is whistling in Let Your Heart Dance With Me as well. You shoudn’t underrate whistling.

Kristoffer is curious what Per takes photos of. Mr. G says it depends on his mood. He often takes pics of forms of nature. Trees, silhouettes. He almost always takes pictures only if he knows he will save them. He likes taking pics. It’s fantastic that you have a camera on your phone, it became so easy. It’s easy to film as well or use filters. There is creativity in it. You can use filters to look less wrinkly. Haha. Kristoffer asks if he was thinking about a plastic surgery. Per smiles and says it’s not his cup of tea. Kristoffer says Per can wear his age with dignity. Per thanks. Kristoffer asks what Per uses those photos for and if he exhibits them at Hotel Tylösand. Per says he did some books with his lyrics or so and they included pictures and his drawings in them to illustrate the lyrics or some comments. But he doesn’t take the pictures for using them for something. A photo can tell a lot about the one who takes the picture. Kristoffer asks if Per has a good camera or he just has his phone with him. He has his phone with him only. He has an OK camera at home, but you have everything on a phone nowadays. It’s not a phone anymore.

There come some funny questions.

Do you have an idea how to fill a dishwasher? – Per says it’s a constant fight in the family, because he and his wife likes to fill the dishwasher in totally different ways. Per likes to put the knives on the left side in the top compartment and longer stuff, e.g. bread knife or cheese slicer go to the right side, while Åsa likes to put everything higgledy-piggledy. Haha.

What do you think about moss? – Per has positive feelings about moss, he thinks it’s nice and very green. He should write about them.

When was the last time you had a beard? – He has a beard each morning. It’s quite robust and is growing fast. Now in the middle of the day he can feel it. He shaved himself 5 hours ago and it’s already out again. He had a real beard in the 80’s for the last time. There was a photo session with Marie and him, there he had a beard.

What do you want to do with your future? – Per says he goes with the flow. He wants to keep going and live on and do as many good things as he can and be a fairly sensible husband and father and friend.

Would you recommend anything? – He recommends parking the e-scooters at another place, not in the middle of the sidewalks. He doesn’t dare to move them away because he would appear in the magazines with that later, but he already thought about it.

Kristoffer thanks Per for his time. Per says it’s his pleasure and „see you in 7 years”.

Podcast preview pic and still is from Värvet’s Instagram.

Per Gessle on RIX FM

Per Gessle was Martina Thun’s guest on RIX FM yesterday. Martina tells she heard Per was creative during the pandemic. He wrote and rewrote songs. Per says he couldn’t stay home and went to the studio to record an album based on his old materials. He had the idea to play as many instruments as possible himself, but he soon realized it wouldn’t work. He realized that he is not a good bassist and drummer. But the album turned out to be nice and it was a fun idea to go back to the material he wrote in the 80’s for other artists or songs he never really finished for different reasons. He found some songs where he thought what he meant with this one. He tried to pick those that still feel relevant. What he found exciting was that he wrote these songs when he was 23-25 years old and now when he sings them as an 80-year-old (haha) they get another meaning. They are more sentimental and nostalgic now.

Martina asks Mr. G about how he has developed from a 23-25-year-old songwriter to a songwriter today. Per thinks he wrote longer songs in the past. The most difficult when you are writing a song is to make it simple. To bring forward what you actually want to say. When you are getting old you know more and you easily become a little oversophisticated. You can also feel that you did something 18 times before, so you have to find something else and then it’s easy to lose the starting idea.

They talk about Ömhet that it was written during the Mazarin era, but back then it had another music and he thought it was lousy. Then in 2012 he wrote new music to it and brought it to the Dags att tänka på refrängen session with Gyllene Tider, but he thinks they didn’t even try to record it, because they already had enough other songs. It was lying around a bit more and when he went to Nashville in 2016 he took the song again, but it wasn’t recorded then either.

Martina asks Per about Marie, how it was losing her. Per says it was very hard of course. It’s terrible when such a close friend is passing away. They met already at the end of the 70’s when they shared a rehearsal studio, but played in separate bands. It was tough and it still is. You miss calling each other and chatting. During the latest period they didn’t do that too often, but when a close friend or relative disappears you miss those little bickerings or sharing something with each other.

Martina is curious about what the highlights are during Roxette’s career. Mr. G says there are so many, but when they first became No. 1 in the US with The Look was a sensation for the brain and the heart. Back then, more than now, the music industry was very much focused on the US and England, so that they as Swedes could succeed was unbelievable. He remembers that after The Look became No. 1 in the US and they were to release the album in the UK they were told to be an American band, because no one would want to sign a Swedish band. So for a couple of weeks they were an American band.

Martina asks what the roles were in the band between Marie and Per when they were on tour, on stage. Per says it’s a good question, Marie became the front figure quite fast. She sang the most and the best. She learned very fast how to handle the audience. Taking the crowd with you at a club is very much different to a stadium. She was very good at that. Per was the eager beaver. It was him who asked what if they do this or what if they do that, what if they release another single, what if they make a video to this, etc. The big thing with Roxette was that 1+1 made 3 in a way. The idea behind Roxette was that Per was the songwriter and Marie was the singer. She needed songs and Per needed someone to sing his songs. That’s how it started besides the friendship they had. They had the ambition, the dream to succeed abroad, in Belgium or Luxemburg. Haha.

Per says he doesn’t sit down to write every day, he is writing a lot when he is in his bubble. There are periods like that. But he always has his antennas out, he is always looking for an idea. He saves those ideas that can be from a film scene or anything that might be used for something later. His music is his way of expressing himself and to communicate with other people or make an impression on them through his music is great.

Regarding how the music industry changed over the years Per says pop music always reflected its era. In the 60’s and 70’s it was much about the teenage revolution and long hair for the guys. Pop music went hand in hand with fashion and art. Pop music also gets poltical from time to time, e.g. John and Yoko. Nowadays mainstream pop music is a formula made on laptop. When you listen to Marie singing Listen To Your Heart or It Must Have Been Love, you can hear that she is really singing, there is no technical support to it, but nowadays you can do many things on computers. It’s a different time, a different craft. He can’t say it was better before, but he comes from that generation and grew up with the music of the 60’s and 70’s. So his heart is beating for that style.

Regarding his plans, Per says he just had a Zoom interview with a radio in Argentina and he is recording a new album that will be released next year.