Per Gessle – The Patriarch of Swedish Pop – interview from Greece

Texnologia.Net in Greece did an interview with Per Gessle. They asked Per how Sweden is now compared to when he started with Gyllene Tider in 1978. Mr. G says there is a big difference. He comes from a small town, Halmstad and his first visit to Stockholm was more than exciting. Stockholm in those days was very different from how it is now. Now you have the feeling that you are in another international city, with Prada and Gucci stores, shopping malls and traffic jams. But Per thinks it’s a beautiful city. Like any city surrounded by water. The problems are the same as elsewhere: health care, education, immigration, work, infection, a widening gap between rich and poor.

Texnologia.Net asked what MR. G thinks the reason is why Swedish pop is so successful around the world. PG says he gets this question quite often, but he doesn’t know. Maybe because most of the Swedish population speaks fairly good English. They watch the English language movies in their original version. Swedes use subtitles, which makes a big difference if you spend half your life in front of the TV. Per thinks Swedes are also ahead of many countries in terms of technology. When pop music became digital in the 80’s, they were at least one step ahead of the competition. Their tradition in folk music is firmly oriented towards melody. According to Per, beautiful melodies are part of their DNA. Digital “tools” just helped bring the necessary pace.

Mr. G tells Texnologia.Net that today it’s difficult to repeat what Roxette has already achieved. At the same time he is grateful and happy that his Swedish projects, Gyllene Tider and his solo career, went so well. Especially Gyllene Tider, in Sweden it’s more important than Roxette. On their 25th anniversary summer tour more than half a million people went to see GT in a country of only 9 million. His solo albums, Mazarin in 2003 or Son of a Plumber in 2005 and En händig man in 2007, as well as the tours that followed, became huge commercial successes in Sweden. A little later, in 2012, he composed the soundtrack of the film Small Apartments by director and friend Jonas Åkerlund.

Texnologia.Net is curious about the moment when Per felt more proud as a Swede than ever. Mr. G tells he is always proud when someone from Sweden makes an international success. It’s hard to do that, no matter what field you work in. Sweden is a small country in terms of population but has many pioneers and leaders in various fields. See IKEA, H&M, Spotify. Not to forget Björn Borg and Zlatan!

Texnologia.Net tells Roxette 4 US No. 1 hits and 2 Nr. 2 songs. They are curious about what Per’s experience was as a Swede in the US and how the American music industry was compared to the Swedish music business. Per tells in those days all commercial success came from the US and the UK. Coming from Sweden was definitely a downside. In the UK their record label promoted them as an American band, otherwise British radio wouldn’t have played their music. Sometimes they felt they had to be three times better than the average American competitor to get people to hear them.

Texnologia.Net asks Per about the chemistry in Roxette that took them so far. Per thinks it’s the strong friendship between Marie and him. He thinks that was what helped them achieve great success in Sweden before Roxette became a huge international success. At first they knew little about how things work in the music industry, so they made most of their mistakes before Roxette became a huge success. They worked hard because they didn’t take anything for granted. They did neverending tours. They decided early on to write and play music and do production without having to deal with American or British companies. They wanted them to move to Los Angeles or New York. Or at least to London. But they stayed in Stockholm and he thinks that’s why they managed to create their own sound.

Texnologia.Net asks Per what he considers the biggest achievement in his life so far. Mr. G says he is very lucky. He is lucky enough to do what he loves and live from it. He is blessed to have a great relationship with his wife since more than 30 years and has a wonderful son, who is an ace in computer science. If his music changed someone’s life out there, he is more than happy. The most important thing is that he is able to communicate.

Texnologia.Net is curious about a place in Sweden that feels harmonious for Per every time he visits. Mr. G says he comes from the West coast of Sweden and every time he returns there it calms him down. It has to do with the air and the sound of birds. Per says he has a house there and he likes to sit in the garden and listen to nothing but water and wind.

Texnologia.Net asks Mr. G what the phrase is that guides him. Per says “If you don’t go, you’ll never know.” He says he read it somewhere, he doesn’t remember who said that. He thinks that sums up most things in life. There is always a chance to see if it’s true.