Interview with Magnus Börjeson: “We just want to have fun on stage.”

Kirsten and Judith met Magnus Börjeson a few hours before the concert in Halmstad to talk about his career as musician and how he sees Roxette at the moment. We picked him up at the station and sat down at the station café to chat. It was actually us who wanted to know more about him, but he started asking about us:

Magnus: So where are you from? Germany?

Judith: I come from Spain, live in Austria.

Kirsten: Germany.

M: So when you are not Roxette fans, what are you doing for a living?

J: I work as project manager in a bank.

M: And you?

K: I am a journalist.

M: For a newspaper..?

K: Yes, for a local newspaper, sports mainly.

M: Where is that?

K: North of Frankfurt.

J: What are you doing, when you don’t work with Roxette or Per?

M: I do music, that’s all I do. Haha! In different shapes and kinds, I do a lot of music for films and TV commercials, that’s what I’ve done the last couple of years.

J: Could you explain us how did you get into music?

M: I started playing when I was a kid with my neighbour, we played in his basement. Then I had a band at school. I had a lot of bands, I had a band called Beagle in the early 90ies, we had two albums out, that’s the first time we really had a record deal.

K: I saw the videos from that time, they are funny.

M: Yeah, we did a lot of videos. It was the age of the video. And yes, they were fun. I had a lot of hair then.

K: It looks better now anyway.

M: haha, thank you! I think so too. That was like my first real major thing. We signed with Polar, which was ABBA’s record company. We were at ABBA’s manager’s to sign the deal, everything was very intense. It was really fun for a couple of years. Then it wasn’t fun anymore, so we quit.

K: Can you really make a living from music?

M: yes, I do. I’ve done since then. It’s a lot of work; I’m into a lot of things. But I cannot imagine doing anything else, I have always wanted to do this since I started playing, so I couldn’t think of anything else to do. That would be horrible.

J: How many instruments do you play?

M: I play bass and guitar, and some keyboards. I started playing drums when I was a kid, that was my first instrument.


K: Do you still play drums?
M: I know how to play, but you know, when you haven’t played for a while, you get very bad. But give me six months and I think I would manage.

J: So you mentioned you don’t do anything else but music, meaning you also compose your own stuff?

M: yes, that’s what I do when I am not touring or doing something with other artists. I compose a lot of music for films.

J: Do you prefer to play live or studio?

M: Well, both. I love to play live, I think it’s funny, you can show off a bit, be a rock musician, haha! But I work a lot in the studio as well, I have my own little studio at home, so I work there every day and I enjoy that immensely too.

K: You mentioned music for films, can you tell us about this film you presented in Cannes?

M: We’ve been working long on this project. We first made a short film, which you can find on YouTube. It was about six drummers breaking into an apartment and starting to play songs. We did that in 2000, with a couple of friends of mine who made short movies at that time. And then a French production company suggested we should make a feature film about this. So we started about four years ago and we just finished before Cannes, where we presented it. It’s called “Music for one apartment and six drummers” and it’s going to have its premiere in Sweden and France this December.

K: How long is the movie now? Can you tell us a bit more about the plot?

M: It’s one and a half hours. It’s about a police man who chases a terrorist sect (band), which plays music around the city. That’s one of the first scenes as well. I play the drums on the film. It’s a bit of a surrealistic fun film for everyone. I hope a lot of people will like it when it comes out.

K: So you are an actor as well?

M: NO! But I had to do that part in the movie, I was forced to, haha! It was a lot of fun, though, and I’d like to do it again. We had to do it as we were the original drummers and we did all the music we play in the movie. It’s been four years of hard work, but now it’s done.

J: Let’s talk about working with Per and now Roxette, how did you get to Per and got to play with him?

M: I got to know him through Christoffer. I played with Brainpool before. We come from the same city, Lund, and I knew them from way back. They were a bit younger than me, so we didn’t hang around, but I knew of them and they knew of me too. I was on a Brainpool tour as well, they wanted somebody to fill in for another guy, so I did play thousand of instruments there. We had a lot of fun. It was for “You are here”, the album which was released before the opera album. I did a small tour with them, and ever since then we played a lot together. We had a little company together as well for a couple of years, called Junk Music. So we recorded many albums at Christoffer’s. Me and David also had a band called Metro Jets and we also composed songs for a Norwegian girl called Vibeke Saugestad, whose album was also recorded at Christoffer’s place.

And one day, Christoffer came and said “oh we need a bass player for Per, can you do it?” And I just said “yes!”. So I am in the gang since then, it’s a lot of fun. Per is a very nice guy.

J: What can you tell us about this tour so far?

M: It just started and now it’s almost finished. It’s very short. But it’s a test drive, to see how it works. It’s been fun, I think it sounds very good. The gig in Denmark was amazing, it was like 20.000 or 30.000 and the atmosphere was great. The audience had some sparkling lights during the ballads which they lit up. It looked like in a Disney movie, I’ve never seen anything like this before! The mood was great, I think Marie was great, everybody was great, the band was I think for the first time “ah, now we are really together”.

On the tour with Per I think we were amazingly good from the beginning, actually. We were striving for this to happen on this tour, and in Denmark it finally happened.

J: So could you tell if there is a lot of difference between the Party Crasher and this tour, of course, besides Marie?

M: The biggest difference is that now Marie is in the center of everything. But it’s also a lot of the same thing. Many songs are from that tour and we do them in that kind of style, not so over produced. We are more loose about it, it’s more a fun feeling. Not like “now we should play this perfect jam or guitar riff”, it’s not like this, it’s more “1-2-3 ok let’s go and play”. I enjoy doing it like this more.

J: If you compare it to, for example, the 2001 Room Service tour, I can see a lot of difference. 2001 felt like everything had to be perfect, perfect timing with light effects and all. Now everything seems to be more spontaneous.

M: I just saw one of those concerts, in Göteborg I think, and I cannot make a comparison, but I can only say that everyone enjoys it like we do it now.

K: We do as well!

J: Yes, we love it!

M: You do? Ah, good, great to hear, so we are on the same side.

K: We love this bit of improvising, we don’t care about small mistakes or small things, the important thing is to play, be together on stage and have fun.

M: Yeah, that’s exactly what we are trying to do. Just enjoy on stage.

J: And it’s really working. We really feel it and enjoy as well.

M: Oh, that’s great to hear, that’s the whole idea behind it, but you never know if it comes across from the stage. Good to hear. After the Leif’s Lounge concert…

At this point a guy interrupted us to ask where Marknadsplatsen is. We showed him the way, and then he asked us if we are also fans and asked where we are from. He explained he comes from Malaysia for the concert.Funny how, he didn’t recognise Magnus.

M: so I was going to tell you about Leif’s Lounge. Marie came off the stage and she was just laughing so hard. She was like in a roller coaster or something. She was sitting there and started to laugh. “Hahaha! This is so much fun”. Then she calmed down a bit, and suddenly “Hahaha!” She had like a hysterical laughter attack, and she was like “oh sorry, sorry, I am so happy”, so it was really nice to see this from her. For her it’s just the only way forward. This is her element, this is where she belongs to and she is so happy about it.

J: How were the rehearsals? Did you try a lot more of songs?

M: Yeah, we tried a couple of them. We started with the Party Crasher set list, and then we started to put in songs for Marie, of course. We didn’t really know which ones would work, so we tried some.

K: It’s so great you introduced “Silver Blue”. We like the new version.

M: yes, that was because of the little contest/survey. I had never heard it before. Clarence explained the bass on the original song was actually his keyboard, the song was so very 80ies we had to do something about it. So we made this version.

K: This song is a long-time favourite of all fans. It was a b-side of one single and fans were “oh, we love this song”. Then it was also released on Tourism.

M: Oh, ok, I think it works very good. We also needed some kind of song like “It doesn’t make sense”, a song that could go somewhere else, take people somewhere else, and then come back. A kind of breathing moment, so it’s fun when you get back to the hits.

J: It was a great surprise. When Per started to introduce this with the story about the website survey, the song ending up at #1, I was like “WHAT? Are they going to play Silver Blue?”

M: So it was on your website?

J: We counted all the votes and made the results available and sent the link to Per…

M: Cool! Well, it’s a nice song, so good choice.

J: Are you involved in the recordings too?

M: No, sometimes I do some voices, but it’s mostly Christoffer and Clarence, together with Per. That’s the way they’ve been working since Mazarin. That’s when I started playing with them. They had some technical problems, and I was there to cut everything in the computer and make it fit and make it work. So I did a lot of work on this album but not playing, mainly cutting and fixing. That was the first time I worked with Per at all. They had their little thing there, like their own band, they like that, and go on working like that since then. And I join sometimes when needed.

J: You mentioned this about fixing some technical problems. Are you interested in IT?

M: I am. I am an Apple guy. I don’t like computers in general, I like Apple computers, haha! I also like music software, I think that’s very interesting. I know a bit of IT and websites and I like to try things out. But I couldn’t be a big website designer. I know a a bit of WordPress, Twitter and so on.

K: I noticed you send tweets from Malmö, eating pizza somewhere…

M: Haha! yeah, I tried out Gowalla but it became a bit boring. You just get a link to a map which says where you are. I never really got into Facebook, I like Twitter a bit better. Facebook is too complicated, lots of things going on and to read.

K: For fans everything changed, we communicate a lot via FB now.

M: I love the idea of it, it’s just that I think the interface is not user friendly if you are “friends” with many people. But I am all for all these new technologies.

J: Do you think music business will change even more because of all these new 2.0 internet possibilities?

M: I think there was a big change already. I think the biggest thing was the possibility to sell albums via iTunes and alike. Of course, it may be harder to make a living selling recorded albums. But for middle-small artists now there is a way in the business which wasn’t there before. And, of course, all this communication with fans and being able to share information with a lot of people in a couple of seconds is positive for an artist. Sometimes you miss the covers and booklets, though. But on the other hand, I put all my music into iTunes when iPod came out, and I just love it, you don’t have to stand there and think “what CD do I put on now”. And I listen to a lot of new music. The first time, you put all your music in your iPod and listen to all your albums, but since with the iPod you listen to music a lot more, somewhen you go like “I don’t want to listen to this anymore, I want to listen to something new”. There were some years when I didn’t listen to any new music at all, like the time of the boy bands, everything was so boring and sounded the same. But now I just listen to new stuff. On the train on the way here, I just listened to Caribou, a Canadian electronic artist who did a brilliant album called “Swim”. You can find it on Spotify.

K: We don’t have Spotify in our countries…

M: Oh! you don’t! Too bad…

K: We cannot even see all videos on YouTube..

M: Oh my.. this is so stupid, they should stop that.. It doesn’t make sense.

K: We should get going if you don’t want to be late. But before that, could you tell us about your future projects?

M: We are doing some stuff with the movie, because of the premiere, so maybe we will do some gigs in some clubs with a collage with images of the film. That’s a lot of work, but I have all autumn until December. Sometimes I do music for commercials, that’s good pay and it’s fun, there will be some of that as well. I like that, because you have very strict deadlines, like in two weeks you have to deliver this. You just sit, think and do it. Out. Bye. That’s great. When you record albums, sometimes when you know it’s going to be released in a year time or so, it’s a lot slower and you think and think and think how you can make the best album ever. With commercials it’s just “Do it!”

J&K: So thank you very much for your time. We could sit for hours, but we are all a bit in a hurry, you need to go to the rehearsals, and we go back to our place in the queue. Oh, one more thing. We don’t see you too often in the videos Per uploads…

M: haha, when we hear him “OK!!!…” we all run and hide. It’s just Christoffer standing there and he just has to be funny. In the beginning, I thought maybe I should appear more often. But it’s most of the times the same, we are in backstage doing nonsense things. Haha! So I will head off to the stage now, time to do some rehearsals. And good luck with your queue. I hope you didn’t get any troubles with the tickets.

J: Well, we had to buy new tickets because we had the 3-day race tickets, which are not valid tonight, so we had to buy new tickets on Ticnet.

M: Oh, so you spent a fortune in the end. It’s a shame. I am sorry.

K: But it was great that a new concert was arranged. When I read that the concert in Anderstorp was cancelled, I knew Per would go and arrange something else, there were many people who had planned to travel to Sweden for this concert.

M: Yes, back then it was the only one concert which was announced. We knew a lot of people were coming. This is anyway much better. Let’s just hope it won’t rain.

After a short discussion about the weather for that night, we walked with Magnus till we had to part our ways, he direction artist entry, the two of us direction audience entry.

And yes, it did rain, before the concert started at least. But what is a concert in Halmstad without rain?

Pictures copyright Kirsten Ohlwein

3 thoughts on “Interview with Magnus Börjeson: “We just want to have fun on stage.””

  1. Nice interview, I hope I get to see the film, hopefully the cinema in Manchester that normally shows Swedish imported films will show this on it’s release! 😉

  2. Thanks! I always enjoy these band interviews, nice read!

    The part about Marie laughing uncontrollably was touching, only she truly knows what it took for her to get back to this point. A nice “fuck you” to cancer!

  3. i agree, these interviews are very welcome…thanks for taking the time to arrange them!

    also great to hear about Marie’s hysterics 🙂

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