Per Gessle: “I often cry” – Aftonbladet interview

Aftonbladet published an interview with Per Gessle on 25th April. he interview was done by Jan-Olov Andersson. The title already grabs your attention and you get curious about what Mr. G has to tell.

Jan-Olov states that even if Per has sold 80 million albums so far, he is not tired of it all. When they meet to talk about the new album, the love towards his wife, his role as a father and missing those who have passed away, both artists and those in his family, Per reveals what makes him extra fond of meeting his fans.

According to Jan-Olov, ”En vacker natt” is one of the best albums Per has ever made. Per says he wanted to write lyrics-based music, with his voice and acoustic guitars. It wouldn’t be pop, but thoughtfully beautiful music. Sentimental, but not tearful. It was quite easy to write and he also noticed that it became much more private than what he wrote earlier. Country sentimentality didn’t come until Per came to Nashville and met the musicians, especially Dan Dugmore and Stuart Duncan, who play pedal steel and violin. Then Mr. G felt shit, they don’t need strings, guitar loops or piano. It was something that was created in the moment.

Even if ”Småstadsprat”, the duet with Lars Winnerbäck is played extensively on the radio, Per wasn’t sure how the audience’s reception would be. He means there is no ”radio bomb” on the album and some might think the music is too slow and the violin is too whiny.

Per says that’s amazingly fascinating about his job is that one can never predict what will happen. It might not be an album for everyone, in times of Spotify, when some only listen to 24 seconds of a song. This is from another tradition. It has probably taken 58 years of Per’s life to come to a point where he dares to do it.

Jan-Olov asks Per how he will combine this country melancholy with all his previous hits. Mr. G says his original idea was to select songs from his entire songwriter career. Roxette, solo and Gyllene Tider songs. He feels that with the band he goes on tour, including a pedal steel and a violin player, he has the opportunity to change even the other songs a little bit. But he hasn’t decided yet how exactly.

Regarding Roxette, Per says the last touring years they did on Marie’s terms. That they had to cancel the tour he understands and respects Marie to 100000%. He says it felt nice that Marie herself made the decision, she could decide if it was on or off. Per says Marie and he talk sometimes, not every day. They had dinner together a few weeks ago. She is fine that she doesn’t have the stress and pressure now. That was crucial. Having 10000 people in the audience waiting…, she now feels damn good that she doesn’t have to deliver this way.

After Roxette was over, Per was thinking about what to do. Jan-Olov thought Per had hundreds of songs ready on stock, but Mr. G says the only ones he has is a few left-overs from earlier recordings. Otherwise, he doesn’t write until he knows he would make a record.

Per says he always has the antennas out. It might be something a taxi driver says, something he heard on TV or saw at the cinema. If he goes to a clothing store in London and hears a groove he likes, he records it on his iPhone. Jan-Olov asks Per what he is doing with all of these things. Mr. G says he has an idea archive. Titles, verses, words he thinks can be exciting, which can open doors. Often when he is in a writing phase, if he fails in the second verse, he can go to the archive and see if he finds something that fits.

Per talks about the fact that he uses symbols in the lyrics. If we look at his Swedish texts, there is a lot of sea and summer. He never tries to show the way, say how things are, he rather tries to let people form their own view. Then he has to use symbols. Like tussilago in ”Småstadsprat”. That means everything goes on, you get a new chance.

Per tells Jan-Olov that when people say they sing his songs on weddings or birthdays and say it’s about them, about their boyfriend or about their siblings, that they have interpreted it that way, it’s the coolest thing for a songwriter. He says then he knows he has succeeded. Mr. G says many of the lyrics that meant a lot to him, by Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, he feels like they are about him. He mentions that it was Mauro Scocco who once said it doesn’t happen often that you go and look at a sculpture and start crying. But the identification, it’s so amazingly awesome with music.

To Jan-Olov’s question if he cries often Per replies he is a weepy type when it comes to movies, in the most ridiculous context. He thinks it’s super sentimental when, for example, you portray injustice in a movie. He cries a lot more often than Åsa. She thinks it’s great fun. Per says men are raised to try to hide it.

The guys are talking about several rock icons who have passed away lately. Jan-Olov asks Per if any of them touched him extra much. Per says David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. Bowie was a shock, the day after his birthday, they were on vacation. Cohen was old, Per tried to see him as often as he could in recent years. His feeling influenced his record quite much. Girl choruses that give an angelic sense. So sometimes he uses Helena Josefsson’s voice, already since ”Mazarin”.

Jan-Olov asks Per about Sven-Erik Magnusson from Sven-Ingvars, who has died recently. Per says he wrote some songs to them. He can’t say he knew Sven-Erik very well, but he always felt young. Sven-Ingvars was a fantastic band. Their ‘60s hits can’t be copied. Listen to ”Börja om från början”. Highest elite! But when Per was young, they didn’t like the band had a ridiculous name and the guys had short hair. Back then everyone wanted to look like The Beatles on the ”Rubber Soul” cover.

Per Gessle was still living at home when Gyllene Tider became Sweden’s most popular band. His brother Bengt, who was 7 years older than Per and his sister Gunilla, who was 14 years older than him, had moved from home. Per’s father Kurt, who ran his own company as a plumber, passed away when Per was 19 years old. So when he suddenly became famous throughout Sweden, it was he and his mother who were affected. Jan-Olov asks if Per’s mother understood the strange journey Per has done. Mr. G says yes and no. He lived home for quite a while and it was so terribly hysterical around Gyllene Tider. Everyone who rang the door, the huge amount of mails, things stolen from number plates on the car to the laundry on dry. But the Roxette stuff, his mom thought it was amazing and she was always reminded of success by the people in her vicinity, but she understood just enough. She was barely outside Sweden, she was in France once. When Per showed pictures and videos she said worried: Ojojoj, I hope you take care of yourselves. Bengt passed away in spring 2014, Per’s mother Elisabeth 3.5 years ago and his sister last autumn, in cancer. Per says he hasn’t had any depression, but when your relatives die, you find other values important. Losing them certainly affected him and probably his new album too. Old photos of Gunilla and Elisabeth now are on the 2 new albums’ covers.

Per says that a lot of lyrics he has written now required a whole life to mature. He says a few years ago sometimes he drove past the house where he grew up. Now he doesn’t do it anymore, they have changed so much so you hardly recognize it. It’s strange that you want to do it, but it’s also human. When time passes you become restless, you want to belong to something. You imagine how it was, but it looks quite different. It’s like in Per Myrberg’s song ”34:an”.

Now his family is his wife Åsa, they have been together since Per was 25, and his son Gabriel, 19. To the question why Gabriel came so late Per replies his life was much about his career and Åsa was so involved in it. Organized the travelling and such. They prioritized their job. Marie set the trend when she became pregnant. She had two children, so we also took the opportunity. Roxette took four years of child break.

Jan-Olov asks Per how he is as a father. Per says he shouldn’t ask him, but he thinks he has a great relationship with Gabriel. His upbringing is quite special. There has been a lot of travelling, sometimes he had a teacher on the tours. Per thinks Gabbe has become a very easy going, normal guy. He has surely got it from his parents. Per says they are quite common people, even if it doesn’t seem so in the media.

Jan-Olov asks Per how he and Åsa have managed to keep their love alive for so long. According to Per, it’s probably just because they are pretty alike but still different. They fit well together. Per can’t see his life without Åsa. They have never had any heavy schisms, even if sometimes they think different. To the question about what, hereplies small things. Shoes choice or something like that… (laughs).

In the video which is inlcuded in the article, Per is asked about the similarity between him and Lars Winnerbäck. The reporter says if he listens to Per’s first solo album from 1983, it sounds like anything from Lars. Per couldn’t really get what he meant. He says he hasn’t listened to it since long and asks the reporter if he likes the album. The guy says yes, absolutely. Per says Lars is a fantastic songwriter and artist and Per is very happy and proud that he is on his new album now. He is a wonderful person. That he is also a small town guy, it fits well for ”Småstadsprat”.

 

Gessle doesn’t take life for granted – Per Gessle interview by P4 Extra

Per Gessle was the guest of the day on P4 Extra, Swedish Radio on 26th April. The interview with him was done by Johar Bendjelloul. If you listen to the 113 min online version (including music), Per is on from 28:44 to 52:07, if you listen to him in the downloadable mp3 version of the program, he is on from 15:00 to 33:27.

Johar first talks about Per’s career that he sold an unbelievable amount of albums, 80 million with Roxette, Gyllene Tider and solo. Then he welcomes Per, the hitmaker music nerd in the studio.

They talk about last year’s announcement that Roxette had to stop touring and that this way Per had much free time left. Per thought he would do something different than what he did during the past 5 years. Johar asks Per if Roxette is over. Per replies touring is definitely over, but if they will record something together in the future, he doesn’t know, doesn’t think so.

The guys are talking about country capital Nashville, why Per chose that location. Per says he started writing songs in Swedish. Acoustic based songs with the lyrics and voice in focus, in really simple production. First he thought he would record in London or in France, but then the idea came why not making the obvious fusion of Nashville and Halmstad. Per says he always liked classic country, Neil Young or Gram Parsons.

Johar and Per are talking about Per’s voice. Per has not always liked his own voice. In the beginning he had a huge problem with his voice actually, he thought it sounded bad. Not that he sang badly, but the sound of his voice was bad. But later he learned it’s special and sometimes it’s quite good even (laughs). He says he talked a lot about it with his psychologist. Haha.

There is a premiere of ”Min plats” in the program. Per says it’s the type of song you need to have on an album. It’s the opening song and it sets the tone of what Per wants to say with this album. There is pedal steel, violin and acoustic instruments in it. Per and Helena Josefsson are singing on this track. It’s a 3-minute-long song. (You can listen to it in the online version of the interview from 32:10 to 35:15.)

Johar asks Per why he chose to work with new musicians while he is known as a control freak. Per says he is not really a control freak, just a little bit. He tries to put himself into new situations and it was really good to work with these musicians. The pedal steel player, the violin player. Per wanted something new to happen.

Per talks about the fact that he releases 2 albums. ”En vacker natt” now and ”En vacker dag” in September. He says he had so much material and it felt too much to include all on one album only.

The guys are talking about the album cover. There is Per’s sister, Gunilla on the cover of ”En vacker natt”. Per’s sister died last autumn and his son found a box full of photos. The picture is from the ’60s and Per thought this one fits the album and he dedicates this album to his sister. ”En vacker dag” is dedicated to his mother, Elisabeth. Per tells his sister, mother and brother have died during the past three years. He has been the youngest in the family and now he is the only one left. It of course has affected him, but it’s not directly in there in the songs. You realize that time passes and nothing stands still. And that’s what you reflect on when you grow older. When you are young, you take it for granted and there is an energy and a hunger that decreases over the years. It’s an important ingredient in pop music, however, it’s not pop music now on these two albums. There is an obvious connection between youth and pop music. Per thinks the task of pop music is to reflect its own time. Pop music of the ‘60s and ‘70s is very typical of its own time and also today’s pop music is very typical.

Johar wants a confirmation from Per that he won’t give up on pop music and Per says take it easy, he won’t. Haha. Johar says a lot of Per’s songs and lyrics will remain after Per will be gone. Per asks if Johar really thinks so. He asks Per what he thinks about it now that they are talking about the passing of time and deaths. Per says he doesn’t know, he doesn’t think about it. Johar is surprised and asks if Per doesn’t think his songs are classic. Johar mentions for example Sommartider being played at the school year end happenings in Sweden. Per says it’s just not a pleasant thing to think about his songs remaining after he’s gone. So they just move on to another topic.

They start talking about Per’s books he published 3 years ago, “Texter, klotter & funderingar” and “Songs, sketches & reflections”. Per laughs and says it was exhausting to collect all the things together, because it was too much material. But he was happy that people liked the end result. The books are a compilation of studio diaries, Per’s lyrics and all possible stuff. During the project, reading through and checking all things, he saw how different the ‘80s and ‘90s were. For Per, writing lyrics is a bit like writing a diary in a certain way. Sometimes he writes lyrics including what happened during the day. He writes about things he likes. Love, disappointment, stuff people can identify with. Johar says it’s kind of magical that people can feel Per’s songs are like they are written about themselves.

The guys listen to Dolly Parton’s song, Jolene. Per thinks it’s a fantastic song. Johar says the listeners couldn’t see it, but Per was listening to this song intensively, concentrating deeply on it in the studio. Johar asks Per what he thinks as a songwriter, what is the success behind this song. Per says the songwriters succeeded with everything here. For example, there is the exact same chord in both the verses and the choruses. The same chord goes round and round. It has a classic country text of a nice story. It’s a wonderful song, wonderfully arranged with pedal steel. When talking about the country milieu, Per says, on the new album he used milieu sounds between the songs.

Johar asks Per about songwriting again, if he sees colors when he writes. Per says he is always looking for some certain color, the temperature of the song. In a way it’s hard to explain though that he wants a yellow song with a little blue in it. On the new album there is everything possible. There is a certain melancholy. It’s very melodic and effectively arranged.There is happiness and there is sadness.

The guys are talking about the summer tour. Johar states Per tours terribly much, all his life, actually. He asks Per if he still finds it fun. Per replies it’s totally amazing, it’s the best thing. He likes the creative process in the studio, but it’s damn good to stand on stage and perform to the crowd. He is looking very much forward to this summer. Johar says a lot of artists say they hate touring, but Per enjoys it much. He says there is of course a price you pay, for example you wake up in a new bed each day and you don’t know where to find the toilet. Whether it’s on the left or on the right. Haha.

Johar mentions he read that Per was in Nashville once before he recorded his album. Per says he was, but can’t really remember. It was when they toured with Roxette in the US.

Johar asks Per if he likes attending other artists’ concerts. Per says sometimes he goes to shows, but often it’s boring, because tons of artists have pre-recorded CDs. It’s not like cheating, it’s just a style. Some music in the digital technology can’t be played live. But of course, he likes to attend concerts. To the question which was the last concert he saw and liked Per replies he has to think about it for a long time. He doesn’t know, he can’t say it. And here, the interview ends with this unanswered question.

 

Gomorron Sverige interview with Per Gessle

Per was one of the guests on today’s Gomorron Sverige on SVT. As he mentioned on his Instagram account: ”Early morning TV show. Really early. Really.” Haha. Poor guy, having some long and busy PR days this week.

If you are in Sweden, you can watch the show on SVT Play, if not, then you can watch it on YouTube (thanks to Gaby for recording it).

In 10 years, this is the first material Per releases in Swedish. To the question why Nashville, he replies he wanted to change the milieu a bit, not to record again in Skåne. He was thinking about recording in England or France, but suddenly Nashville popped up. Per thinks the combination of Halmstad and Nashville is perfect. He says he likes classic country, Neil Young, for example.

The host on the show says Per’s music is not really country, but Mr. G says there are country elements, for example, on Mazarin. Now he worked together with local musicians and all the instruments they used add the Nashville sound to the album, but at the same time he wanted the lyrics and his voice to be in focus.

Regarding the duet with Lars Winnerbäck, the hostess asks Per if it is a bit like looking for something new after Marie. Per says he just wanted to do something different. He likes to test different things all the time.

The host asks Per if this project is more about looking back than looking into the future. Per says in a way it is. He tried to write the lyrics from the point of view who he is today, even he writes about the same topics as usual, love, disappointment, longing, dreaming. The host asks if it is easier to write in his mother tongue, Swedish than in English. Per says it is.

They talk about the album cover of ”En vacker natt”. Per tells it’s his sister on the cover. She passed away last autumn. Her son found a box full of photos from 1965-66 and Per chose to put this picture of Gunilla on the cover. The pic was taken in Halmstad.

The hostess asks Per if losing his father, mother, brother and sister had any affect on his music. Per says of course it had in a way. Everyone who loses someone close is affected by the loss.

They are talking about the fact that a second album is out in autumn. Per says they worked fast and there was so much material, he decided to release 2 albums instead of one damn long album.

The hostess says the album looks like an old LP. Per says that was the idea behind the design. The cover also helps to create the milieu of the songs. And it will be released also on LP. The hostess asks why Mr. G thought it should be released on vinyl as well. He says mainly in Sweden, Spotify is huge in streaming music, but it’s a bit anonymous. There are no album covers, but pop or rock culture doesn’t exist without album covers. Nowadays Per still buys LPs and he is looking at the sleeves while listening to the songs on Spotify. He likes to have the lyrics in front of him when he is actively listening to music.

The hostess asks what Halmstad means to Per. He replies he has been travelling a lot around the world, but he always gets back to Halmstad. He likes Halmstad and he likes small town life. He of course likes Stockholm too, but he is more of a small town guy. Lars Winnerbäck is also a small town guy, Marie Fredriksson is also a small town girl.

The host asks about that one English song, ”Far Too Close” (duet with Savannah Church) on the album and they play a short snippet from it. Per says this is a homage to Nashville to have an English song as the last track on the album, a duet by a local country singer.

Per says the musicians in Nashville of course knew the songs ”Listen To Your Heart” or ”It Must Have Been Love”, but they thought Per’s music was strange. Per was happy about it and thought their cooperation would be exciting.

About how he wrote the songs Per says he always writes either on acoustic guitar or on piano. The host asks how long they rehearsed together with the musicians in Nashville. Per says they didn’t rehearse at all. He played the demos to them and explained some things, but then it was more like jamming. There were like 3-4 takes for a track, then they just put the whole song together. The pedal steel and the violin are very characteristic.

Per says his summer tour has its premiere in Helsingborg, but he couldn’t remember the exact date. Haha. First he said 7th July, then smiled and said or maybe rather 6th July. Yes, it’s the 6th. He won’t have Nashville musicians in the band, but Swedish guys and girls. They will play songs from Per’s whole career.

Still is from the TV show

 

Personal Per Gessle in Nashville style

This article contains the translation of the text that was sent out by TT Swedish news agency and was published in most Swedish newspapers yesterday and today. Metro’s article contained the most details and the most photos (fabulous pics by Jonas Ekströmer), so that’s why I chose to include that one here.

Per Gessle is back with new music in Swedish. The album “En vacker natt” is his most personal so far.

I wanted to do something where the lyrics and my voice were in focus, he says.

An announcement was made last year in spring that Roxette would say goodbye to big stages after the doctors advised Marie Fredriksson to stop touring. Suddenly, the pop group’s other half, Per Gessle, had much time left. He decided to record new music in Swedish, for the first time in ten years. Then it went fast.

It’s just the way I love to work. “Now we make a record on Tuesday, write five songs until then”, then I do it. But if you say “it’s going to be finished next spring”, then I’ll do something else until the last week, says Per Gessle.

Ended up in Nashville

“En vacker natt” and its sister album “En vacker dag”, coming in September, were recorded in Nashville. But there was really no deeper thought about it – apart from getting away from his partner in crime, Christoffer Lundquist’s diligently used studio, Aerosol Gray Machine in Skåne.

I saw a documentary about Nick Cave in which he was down in France in a damn cool studio, but I thought that place was a bit big. So we checked some smaller places in England, but then Nashville popped up and I thought, “that’s not that bad”. Even though I’m not a country nerd, there is automatically pretty much country stuff in my music.

The studio we booked in the Blackbird complex still seemed to be too big and offered too many facilities. Gessle and his gang switched to a smaller studio and in the evenings they walked home to a house they rented via Airbnb and shared their bathroom with a bunch of beetles.

“Too fussy”

Small and intimate, just like the music they recorded. Per Gessle sees “En vacker natt” as a cousin of his “Mazarin” album from 2003 – firmly spiced with fiddle and pedal steel.

I tried to make this record as a unit, and of course I had to pay a price for it – there is no radio bomb here. But I didn’t even want it, this will be something else. I’m conceited like everyone else and want everyone to think this is the best there is. But I also know that very many will find it too slow, too brittle or too fussy with the violin.

Per Gessle admits that his feelings before the album release are a little different from how it used to be.

It’s special everytime. But there has been many things happening now. There was an end with Roxette and there were a lot of family things happening around me while the whole Nashville project was a bit of a “happy accident”. It was such a boost, but it could as well have fallen flat.

Sentimental cover

With “family things” he means that he has suffered from several deaths in recent years. Last autumn Per Gessle’s sister, Gunilla passed away and when her son found a box of diapositives from the 1960s, he decided to dismiss the album cover photos already taken by Anton Corbijn.

“En vacker natt” has a picture of Gunilla and “En vacker dag” has a picture of mother Elisabeth, who passed away in 2013. These are Per Gessle’s first solo records where he is not visible on the cover.

Paradoxically, I think these are my most private and personal records. But after these pictures appeared, there was no reason to have me on the cover. These pictures set a feeling.

TT: Why do you think the music became personal and private?

I don’t know. As I said, I want to work fast and then just pour out what comes naturally. Sometimes it feels like the songs come by themselves. And many of these texts have just emerged, it’s nothing I’ve been looking for and thought out, it just fell down. Sometimes it feels like it has taken 58 years for them to arrive.

Photo captions:

Per Gessle releases two new albums this year. The first, “En vacker natt” will be released on April 28th. “It’s an acoustically affected album, recorded in Nashville”, he says.

After this year’s two albums and a tour, Per Gessle has no plans. “We’ll see, I have a partly new band and I feel it’s much fun to play with them, so maybe we have to do something more”, he says.

For Per Gessle, the order of songs and the album covers are still important. “Via the cover, you can reinforce what you want to present and it’s similarly important to present the songs in the right order so that you come right into the idea. It’s like an art exhibition or TV series or anything. If the pilot part is very good so you get curious”, he says.

The opening song on “En vacker natt” is “Min plats” – a song that sets the tone for the entire Nashville project. “There you get it all, the violin and pedal steel stuff, the ease, the summer feeling, the sentimentality and a little black in the middle of it all. If you like it, you want to go on”, says Per Gessle.

Facts: Per Gessle

Born 1959 in Halmstad. After his years in Gyllene Tider and Roxette, he is one of Sweden’s most successful artists and songwriters of all time.

Solo albums: “Per Gessle” (1983), “Scener” (1985), “The World According to Gessle” (1997), “Mazarin” (2003), “Son of a Plumber” (2005), “En händig man” (2007), “Party Crasher” (2008).

Roxette albums: “Pearls of Passion” (1986), “Look Sharp!” (1988), “Joyride” (1991), “Tourism” (1992), “Crash! Boom! Bang!” (1994), “Have a Nice Day” (1999), “Room Service” (2001), “Charm School” (2011), “Travelling” (2012), “Good Karma” (2016).

Gyllene Tider albums: “Gyllene Tider” (1980), “Moderna tider” (1981), “Puls” (1982), “The Heartland Café” (1984), “Finn 5 fel!” (2004), “Dags att tänka på refrängen” (2013).

Current: his new album, “En vacker natt” will be released on April 28th. The album contains duets with, among others, Lars Winnerbäck and Savanna Church. The sister album, “En vacker dag” is released in September and contains duets with Linnea Henriksson and John Holm. Goes on a big tour this summer.

Tour dates: 6/7 Helsingborg, 7/7 Oskarshamn, 8/7 Örebro, 13/7 Rättvik ,14/7 Töreboda, 15/7 Karlskrona, 21/7 Grebbestad, 22/7 Göteborg, 23/7 Fredrikstad, 27/7 Stockholm, 28/7 Östersund, 29/7 Piteå, 1/8 Borgholm, 2/8 Malmö, 3/8 Arvika, 11/8 Halmstad, 12/8 Linköping, 18/8 Uppsala, 19/8 Eskilstuna, 25/8 Vasa, 26/8 Borgå.

Per Gessle about…

… the album covers with his sister’s and mother’s pictures: “Anton Corbijn rang when I was in Nashville. He was in New Orleans and shooted Arcade Fire so he said ‘oh, are you there, can I get over and we’ll do a photo session? ‘. Of course, so I cancelled one day in the studio and then we did a photo session in Nashville milieu, it was perfect. His images were supposed to be on the covers, he shooted many of my other records. But then my sister died and her son found a box of diapositives from 1965-1966 or so. I was in some pictures and that was just before I got glasses. The quality of the pictures is so beautiful, those colors. So I told Anton that ‘sorry, there won’t be any covers this time’.”

… what he will play on the summer tour: “Yes, that’s a good question. I haven’t really decided yet. I have a partly new band with violin and pedal steel so there are endless possibilities to rearrange songs and maybe have some Roxette songs in this form. To arrange my solo songs in this way is not that hard, but it would be exciting to arrange for example “It Must Have Been Love” with a little violin. My ambition is to play songs from my whole song catalogue, if you say so. I’m getting old so there are quite a lot of songs.”

… making 2 short records instead of 1 long: “I had the options either to ‘kill my darlings’, remove four songs and let them become bonus tracks on Spotify, or make a double album – and that doesn’t really makes sense nowadays. Or, to do what I did, two albums with a little ‘space’ between them. If you like the first album, you will like the second. The only negative is that if I play something from the other album this summer, nobody has heard that music. But even conceptually, it’s damn exciting, because for example I can make two cool album covers. I really love that you can extend the idea of the music via the album cover and how it’s presented visually.”

Photo by Jonas Ekströmer / TT

 

Per Gessle – En vacker natt – interview in Expressen

Anders Nunstedt posted a pic of himself and Per Gessle on Instagram yesterday and wrote he did an interview with Mr. G. Despite the title (”Per Gessle about life with his love, Åsa”), the article is more about Per’s new album, En vacker natt and the recording process. The interview was done at BMG’s office in Stockholm.

As Anders writes, Per Gessle travelled to Nashville and came home with 2 pop albums colored by sentimental American country and Swedish romance. The first album, En vacker natt is out on Friday (28 April), then comes a summer tour, En vacker kväll and in September the 2nd album, En vacker dag is released. Per describes it enthusiastically as a gigantic comeback, spiced with an extensive signing tour in the next few weeks.

About the project Per says:

There’s no need to stop just because you get older. These songs have taken 58 years to mature.

Regarding songwriting Mr. G tells Anders he tries to write fast when he gets started. The songs have been recorded in a studio in Nashville, the country metropolis, where Per and his gang rocked together with American studio musicians. This musical meeting gave the Swedish material a different touch and Per, at least partly, a new sound. Mr. G thinks it was much fun, because he had never met those people before and he noticed that they thought it was very strange music they did. But Per thought there was a sound in this project that those Nashville musicians have never played before. And then he became a little proud.

As Anders expresses himself, En vacker natt is not about a jet-set life. It’s down to earth from start to finish. Gessle has collected children’s laughter, birdsong, ocean waves and the sound of a train station. He sings about tussilagos on the single, Småstadsprat, the Winnerbäck duet and about daisies in the opening track Min plats.

Per says:

It’s my style when I’m writing texts. If I succeed, the lyrics mean something for the listener. To do that, I have to use symbols. If I write “ny tussilago vid den väg jag går, kommer varje vår” (new tussilago on the way I go, comes every spring), I say at the same time, “there will be new chances”, “next year comes a new journey”, “life goes on”. You can interpret this in so many different ways.

Anders asks Per if it often becomes sentimental. Per replies it does. Even if he always writes the same thing, he has tried to write from another angle now. For example, Några glas rosé is a pretty classic love text, but the angle is that he being older looks back on a young love. This way there is automatically a certain form of sentimentality. Mr. G says it’s a bit sad that time goes by. It might be scary and insanely strange, but you can also use it as an ingredient and an inspiration.

Anders asks Per if the lyrics of his love songs are about his wife, Åsa. Per is laughing and tells Mr. Nunstedt that if it’s love texts, Åsa thinks he wrote them about her, but if she doesn’t like the lyrics, she doesn’t take the song personal. Haha.

Anders says Per and Åsa have been married since almost 25 years and asks how they kept their love alive. Per says:

We’ve been together since 1984. It’s a long time. But Åsa and I have always belonged to each other in a certain way, ever since we first met. I can’t see my life without her at all.

We are very similar and very different. Åsa is a superstrong person, but at the same time she has chosen to be in a supporting role to me.

Per tells Åsa is from the travel industry and started working early with Roxette and their travels, and got a position in the whole organization. So it has never been the case that Per had been away for eight months and came home, but they basically shared everything. Mr. G says his wife has been amazing.

Thanks for the interview, Expressen! An album review by Anders Nunstedt (as usual) is probably out later this week. Let’s see how many Expressen bees Per’s new album gets!

Per Gessle – Småstadsprat video

Per Gessle’s first single off his upcoming album was released on 17th March. A duet with Lars Winnerbäck. We already knew it on 7th April that a video will also be released to Småstadsprat, as Per Gessle posted about it on his Facebook page:

Yepp. Småstadsprat-video klar. Grymt cool. Kommer strax. /P.

Translation: Voila. Småstadsprat-video clip signed, sealed and delivered. Very nice indeed. Out before you know it. /P.

We all hoped to see Per himself in the video, but we were also kind of sure there would be more tussilagos in it than PG. The video was published on 21st April. It’s a cartoon created by Emil Gustafsson Ryderup. Even if it doesn’t contain any PG images, it turned out to be beautiful. Beautiful but so sad at the same time. It fits the lyrics and the melody perfectly.

As Emil told Göteborgs-Posten, first he said no to doing a video for ”an artist”, because he was too busy. Then it turned out it would have been a video for a Per Gessle song and he got anxious. He says:

He is one of the Swedish music geniuses, one of the absolute greatest and that’s when anxiety kicked in that I missed it. Gessle has definitely been in the frontline of our country’s music history. He has always been around in a certain way and I have to admit that sometimes in the dark times of my life I have listened to “It Must Have Been Love”.

Thanks to Emil’s employers, he could get 3 weeks off for making the video. It was an intensive period for him, to interpret the lyrics into his drawings. He says it’s a story of love that doesn’t disappear, about those who leave a small town and those who do not. He had a style in mind inspired by the ‘50s and ‘60s and UPA animation studio. A bit of “Mr. Magoo” style, but still with Emil’s character in it.

At the beginning, Emil sent some still images and a synopsis to the record company and he got green light to go on with it. Emil says it was more like he gathered the ingredients for a cake and hoped it would turn out right in the end. For example, he made the backgrounds last. All involved were satisfied with the result and the video is now out in public. Emil tells Göteborgs-Posten that he is quite pleased and that Per Gessle said yes to Emil Gustafsson Ryderup is fun and feels great. He is very happy that he managed to do this in the end.

Congrats and well done, Emil! The video can be watched on Per’s YouTube channel, HERE.

Per Gessle interview by Dagens Nyheter

When Per Gessle shared some beach boogaloo pics and a video 3 weeks ago, we still didn’t know what it was about. Just that there was a photo session in Tylösand. Then it turned out that the photos have been taken by Thomas Karlsson for a Dagens Nyheter (dn.se) interview with Mr. G, done by Martin Jönsson.

The interview is very long, very much detailed and very nicely written. Martin is a talented journalist, he put the material together very professionally and Thomas took fab photos of Mr. G (don’t miss any of them in the article, as well as the ones Thomas shared on his Instagram). Hats off!

I tried to summarize the whole thing in English as detailed as I could (with all respect to Martin Jönsson and Per), but it probably won’t give the real feelings and expressions back completely. So, learn Swedish you all! 😉

NASHVILLE, OCTOBER 2016

At the beginning of the article you can read a bit about Nashville, the capital of country music and Blackbird Studios, where Per recorded his new albums. The list of musicians who already recorded there is long from Dolly Parton to Taylor Swift. For an artist who had 4 US No. 1 hits it would have been easy to sail in as a star through the studio doors. But when Per Gessle arrives to Nashville with Christoffer Lundquist, Anders Herrlin, Clarence Öfwerman and Helena Josefsson, he does it with a slightly lower profile. He doesn’t live in a luxury hotel in the center, but hires through Airbnb in the villa area a few kilometers away and walks home in the evenings. And he chooses a smaller one instead of a great prestige studio, because it’s more intimate. A living room with recording possibilities. This is his home for 3-4 weeks, but also new ground. And it’s necessary for what he wants to accomplish. What’s going to be not one album, but two: first “En vacker natt” released next week, then “En vacker dag”, released in September. Though at that time he didn’t know it.

HALMSTAD, APRIL 2016

In April 2016 Roxette had to cancel their tour due to the recommendation of Marie’s doctors. So the touring period ended for Roxette. Suddenly, Per had no plans. Roxette was over, Gyllene Tider was too early to do something together again and Mr. G felt he has to do something different vs. what he did lately. The question was only what. And where. After he spent more than 400 days in Christoffer’s studio in Vallarum, Skåne during the past 10 years, it was not an option to go there again. In addition, there was nothing to record. The only thing lying around was some songs in the archive that were written for Roxette.

Per tells dn.se he can’t write songs unplanned, it only works if he does it for a particular project. Then slowly, it became clear that he wanted to do something for himself. He wanted to write strong lyrics, for something musically different. A few months later the trip was booked to Nashville, Tennessee and Per Gessle began writing seriously. There was a lot about looking back on his roots. However, a new geographical location was required.

NASHVILLE, OCTOBER 2016

October 2016 is the second time Per Gessle was in Nashville, however, he can’t remember clearly the first time. It was a premiere show on one of Roxette’s US tours, 17 years ago. As Martin writes in the article, it’s really strange that Mr. G has not been there more times, because the city is completely built around songwriting and commercial music production, so it should have been like a second home for an artist who has long been fascinated by the music industry’s all mechanisms – and mastered them better than most.

The country sound was present on Per’s first solo album in 1983, partly on “Scener” in 1985 and on “Mazarin” in 2003. But then it was most like spice, not the base component. Per says the starting point for him was that it should sound like a merger of his Nordic heritage and Nashville. He is not a hardcore country fan, but has always liked a certain kind of country. Like Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young at the time of “Harvest”, but also Jim Reeves, whom he first heard through Gunnar Wiklund. It’s very close to him, but at the same time, he is also very much in the legacy of Swedish music.

The challenge was to bring together the Nordic and Nashville heritage in songs that still sound like Per Gessle. To tie up the career that began as a county troubadour in Halmstad, where Per and his friend sang “Drömmen om Elin” for pensioners, with a 58-year-old popnerd’s album that smells like country.

Per tells Dagens Nyheter that what he understood instantly was that the project had to be based on texts that felt credible and genuine. The song must be much more in focus. It’s an extra challenge to Mr. G, who for a long time hated the sound of his own voice. He tried to sing without thinking too much.

The first challenge was to find local musicians who can bring the Nashville sound. There was no plan, which is unusual for a control freak like Per. But studio owner John McBride helped. Per asked him about good pedal steel players. John said there are only two really good players and he called them to check if they were available. On the third day since they arrived in Nashville, Dan Dugmore came to the studio, wearing a T-shirt, jeans and cap, a gray-haired veteran who played on many albums that Per listened to in the ‘70s, like Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks and James Taylor, and who in the recent years played with two of the most successful new country stars, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. Per immediately felt he met the right musician and decided to have Dugmore on all the songs they recorded.

The next instrument missing was violin. Then came Stuart Duncan, who toured with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. He made Per and the gang open even more. He has never worked with violin or bluegrass, but Stuart introduced a completely new atmosphere, which also made the songs and arrangements different than Per imagined. Per describes Stuart’s way of playing as if he is dancing ballet between Per’s beats and it was completely new to Per musically. Totally amazing.

Martin Jönsson asks Per about what these Nashville musicians knew about him. Per says they of course heard Roxette hits, but they liked more what they heard in the studio related to this project.

Per unfortunately couldn’t work with bluegrass star Alison Krauss, but one of the greatest Nashville musicians, harmonica player Mickey Raphael was available. He played with many musicians from Bob Dylan to Emmylou Harris, but most of all with Willie Nelson since the early ‘70s. On one of the songs of “En vacker dag”, Raphael’s harmonica has an important role, together with acoustic guitars and a children’s choir.

Per tells Dagens Nyheter that he knew from the beginning that this would be his least poppish album, but by letting these musicians control and influence much, they went farther than he had thought. That’s why it became two albums in the end. The recordings were fast and improvised and the songs grew organically.

TYLÖSAND, APRIL 2017

Martin and Per are talking at Hotel Tylösand after the seaside photo session and Per shows the pictures of the album covers on his mobile. The first, “En vacker natt” is dedicated to Per’s sister, Gunilla. She appears on the cover. It was taken on the westcoast in 1966. The second, “En vacker dag” has Elisabeth, Per’s mother on the cover. The picture was taken on a trip in the late ‘60s, with the picnic table just behind the family’s Volvo Amazon.

Per’s mom, Elisabeth died 3.5 years ago. Gunilla, who was 14 years older than Per, died in cancer last autumn, just before the trip to Nashville. Per’s brother, Bengt also died not too long ago, in spring 2014. He was 7 years older than Per and died after a period of illness. Per’s father, Kurt, who ran his own business as a plumber and did not show any interest in his son’s music ambitions died after a long period of illness already when Per was 19 years old.

Mr. G says it’s strange and obviously one gets affected. His father died when Per was still so young and his siblings were so much older than him, so it was more about his mom and himself. The relationship with his siblings was not too close, because they were so much older. Per says Gunilla was Elvis, Bengt was The Beatles and Per was Bowie. There was a big age gap between them. Gunilla never lived at home when Per grew up, she lived her own life.

Per describes Gunilla as a very humanist person, an artistic soul. She was very committed to the care of severe cancer, at the hospice. Then she suffered from cancer herself. She was ill for a long time, so her death wasn’t unexpected.

Mr. G tells Dagens Nyheter that Bengt was very important to Per when he grew up, because he introduced music to Per. At the same time, Bengt also moved and lived his own life early. Then Per was much on the road with Gyllene Tider and when he got home to Halmstad, no one was at home, only his mom. Per and his dad were never so close to each other. Mr. G had the closest relationship with his mother.

The song “Några glas rosé” has the lyrics: ”Allt verkade vilset mitt i mönstret / Det var hög tid att komma bort / Jag undrade vem jag kunde vara / Och sökte efter en av samma sort”. It sounds like a more personal Gessle. Per tells Martin when he writes, he tries not to think too much. He had the ambition to write in a new way, but you never know until after succeeding. But now he can say that this feels very close to himself.

Martin and Per are talking about the fact that Mr. G has always been very much concerned with protecting his private life. Per says he feels better this way. He likes to talk about records and guitars and cars, but he has no interest in taking part in TV shows like “Så mycket bättre” or other programs and being “personal”.

To the question why, Per replies that when writing songs, you are digging all the time in yourself, you love your own story. He has sometimes become very tired of himself. Then, of course, it also comes from the fact that he has been living in the centre of attention. When Roxette was the biggest, Expressen had a small section on the entertainment pages called “Roxette of the Day”. Every day. When everyone constantly observes what you do you grow thick skin. Of course you’ll be affected anyway. You don’t have alligator skin. Martin asks Per how he handled it. Per says through his family. They are very close, always. And also through those he chooses to work with. It’s like an extended family.

Martin asks about those who Per works together with. They are the same people over the years and he is curious if it is more because of feeling safer or because of control freak reasons. According to Mr. G it’s more for the reason of feeling safe. He needs a small group of people he can trust and enjoy working with. He knows that he has to develop it and once in a while tries to work with new people in a new project, to bring in another dynamic, but some always remain. He has been lucky enough to find people whom he gets on well and can learn from, even musically. Per has never had the ambition to do the same thing. Even if the basics are always the same, he likes changing a bit between each project.

One of the central songs on “En vacker natt” is “Allt gick så fort”. It stands out, even musically. It is about different stages of life. Per says he couldn’t have written it and some other of the new songs 5-10 years ago. He couldn’t have told the stories in that way. At the same time, he doesn’t want this or other songs to be interpreted autobiographically. It’s still about storytelling and conveying feelings. Even if he mentions his mom in the text he thinks many can identify with the topic itself. The feeling of being eight years with your mom or the feeling of meeting someone. It doesn’t have to be his story.

Per tells Dagens Nyheter that he loves texts where the listeners are allowed to shape the answers and interpret the song themselves. He doesn’t want to control the listener’s experience. He can give the palette, then every painting gets ready by itself. It’s rarely good when artists explain their lyrics. When Paul McCartney told “Martha, my dear” was actually about his dog, it was not as strong anymore…

Martin asks Per about what has changed in his way of writing. Per says some of these lyrics have taken 58 years to mature. Then he can write them down in half an hour. That’s how he works. But he can’t pretend to be anything but who he is.

VALLARUM, JANUARY 2017

Besides “Småstadsprat”, a duet with Lars Winnerbäck, they talk about the duet with Helena, that she went to Nashville for the recordings, but other Swedish duet partners’ vocals were recorded in Sweden. On the autumn album, “En vacker dag” the last and perhaps most important duet is with Per Gessle’s ‘70s idol, John Holm. Title of the song is “Det är vi tillsammans”. Holm has not recorded anything since the late ‘90s and until last year he had not played live since the ’70s. But for Per he is extremely important. He sent fan mails to John Holm in the ‘70s. Mr. G is very happy that John joined him for this duet. He says John Holm is the best, a hero for him, but he thinks John has no clue how much he really meant to Per.

When Per started writing lyrics, it was by translating long, brushy English texts by Bowie, Cohen and others. Then he heard John Holm and then fell so much in place. Per thought he had a strange vocal voice. Holm also had it and it made Per’s strange voice more legitimate.

When Per made his first solo record, which was more a personal album, one of the first decisions was to make a cover of John Holm’s “Den öde stranden”. Now when he becomes more personal again and looks for the roots, Holm is an important part again. Per laughs a bit that nothing has happened since 1983, he is back to where he started. But there is a quality in it too. This is the music he comes from, the one he loves most. It still feels fresh for him, as he constantly tries to do it in new ways.

Martin Jönsson thinks there is an indisputable chemistry between Per’s and John’s voices and their duet will be heard at many weddings in the coming years.

NASHVILLE, NOVEMBER 2016

In November 2016 it was clear that there will be two albums. The musicians barely left the studio, they only visited the country sanctuary Grand Ole Opry and a few country clubs nearby, as well as paid a quick visit at the Johnny Cash Museum in the center. One evening they were invited to the BMI Awards in Nashville. Per says over a hundred prizes were awarded and most of them sounded the same. White muscle rock with country color. It’s not really the kind of country he can relate to. Although there are exceptions. Per likes Chris Stapleton and there is a song “Die a happy man” by Thomas Rhett. But basically Per is old school and he always liked the classics more.

Per and Martin also talk about Roy Orbison. Mr. G knows Roy’s son, Roy Orbison Jr., who is now building a museum about his dad. He wanted them to be blessed by Roy so he brought some of his father’s old Gibson guitars.

STOCKHOLM, APRIL 2017

When Martin and Per are having coffee at the record company office in Stockholm, Per checks “Småstadsprat” on Spotify and realizes that the single passed half a million streams. He is surprised by this, because he didn’t think the audience would be so receptive. He says it’s not Drake or Zara Larsson after all.

Martin asks Per why the word “småstad” is so important to him. Per says it’s filled with images, some words have that feature. Then it’s rewarding to write small town stories. That’s what he has been doing all his life. His language is very local, he writes about places that are perceived to be natural to many and they stick in the brain. Then the listeners make the places to their own.

To Martin’s question regarding in what aspect Per is still a small town person Per replies that it’s very much about the balance between security and looking for a personal identity, but there is both humility and insecurity in it. Both he and Marie had ambitions and dreams to get away from the small town, but at the same time they were very deeply rooted in it.

Success was very important for Per in the old days. He says when you are young and hungry you think you are unstoppable. With Roxette he never stopped. If they did interviews all day, he thought they could continue with telephone interviews with newspapers in another time zone. It was always possible to do more. Today he is more relaxed with such things. He knows he wouldn’t be able to write “The Look” today. But the records they made now could have never been done during the Roxette years. Now he feels more comfortable writing like this.

Martin asks if it’s like finding home and Per says it is. To reach here and be pleased to be right here. He thinks he is getting better. The day he doesn’t feel like it anymore, he won’t continue.

In the article there is a Spotify playlist including 20 country songs Per chose exclusively for dn.se. HERE you can listen to it.

At the end of the article there is a fact sheet with info about Per’s career, family and interests, as well as a little info about the new albums and the tour. There is a list of musicians Per worked together with on the albums: Clarence Öfwerman, Anders Herrlin, Helena Josefsson, Dan Dugmore, Stuart Duncan, Elizabeth Goodfellow, Mickey Raphael, Savannah Church, Lars Winnerbäck, Linnea Henriksson and John Holm. And we get to know who will be in the band on the summer tour: Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist, Helena Josefsson, Magnus Börjeson, Ola Gustafsson, Malin My-Wall and Andreas Dahlbäck.

Fantastic interview! Thanks a lot for it, Dagens Nyheter!

 

Per Gessle – En vacker natt signing session tour

The release date of Per Gessle’s new album, En vacker natt is getting closer (28 April). Space Station 12 shared the complete list of the signing session tour stops. There are 14 places where you can meet Mr. G.

 

·         27 April (Thursday) – Göteborg 19:00-21:00 Bengans (Stigbergstorget 1)
·         28 April (Friday) – Halmstad 17:00-19:00 Akademibokhandeln (Storgatan 28)
·         29 April (Saturday) – Stockholm 13:00-15:00 Bengans (Drottninggatan 20)
·         4 May (Thursday) – Västerås 17:00-18:00 Skivbörsen (Smedjegatan 15)
·         6 May (Saturday) – Hässleholm 12:30-14:00 Skivlagret (Tingshusgatan 10)
·         6 May (Saturday) – Malmö 16:00-18:00 Folk å Rock (Skomakargatan 11)
·         7 May (Sunday) – Ullared 12:00-14:00 Gekås (Danska vägen 13)
·         12 May (Friday) – Gävle 17:00-18:00 Alla Tiders Skivhandel (Norra Skeppargatan 13)
·         13 May (Saturday) – Borlänge 13:00-15:00 Skivbutiken (Kupolen)
·         19 May (Friday) – Uppsala 17:00-18:00 Skivcentrum (Vaksalagatan 14)
·         20 May (Saturday) – Örebro 11:00-12:00 Bananamoon Records (Klostergatan 7-9)
·         20 May (Saturday) – Karlstad 14:00-15:00 Akademibokhandeln (Järnvägsgatan 14)
·         27 May (Saturday) – Norrköping 11:00-12:00 Vaxkupan (Drottninggatan 25)
·         27 May (Saturday) – Linköping 14:00-16:00 Bengans (Nygatan 31)

 

You can order the album online at these sites: Bengans CD; Bengans vinyl; Bengans RED vinyl; Ginza CD; Ginza vinyl; CDON CD; CDON vinyl. CDs are signed until the stock lasts. Let’s see who will be the lucky one getting that last signed CD which Per made special with a Leif drawing.

 

Interview with Per Gessle in Svenska Dagbladet

There is a very personal interview with Per in Svenska Dagsbladet. They did the interview at BMG’s office in Stockholm. Per talks about music, songwriting, the new albums, the duets, Roxette, Gyllene Tider and his family. How he talks about his mother will bring you to tears.

The article starts with stating what we all know well, Per Gessle loves talking about music. He loves ’60s music even if he was only 6-7-8 years old when the best music was released. At the age of 10 he already owned 100 records and was looking for the ”hook” in the songs. He listened to The Beatles’ Dizzy Miss Lizzy 25 times in a row. He still had his Roy Orbison-style glasses when he started his first band, The Pepcis. They were only miming to songs of e.g. The Animals.

They are talking about that Måndagsbörsen show from 1981 where Per appeared in his red trousers, red tie and long blonde hair. Per says he remembers it like yesterday. He was damn nervous, because it was all live and it was scary back then. It was hard to do interviews, his generation was not so good at talking. But over the years he has become an analyst of himself because he talked so much.

Per says in the interview that they didn’t start Gyllene Tider only for becoming known. They wanted to reach out with their music. He doesn’t know whether they wanted expensive cars or be chased by girls. They wanted to stand there and play and be accepted.

Regarding why he recorded his upcoming albums in Nashville Per says Åsa calculated that he spent 420 hours in Skåne in Christoffer Lundquist’s studio and he felt that he needs something new. Then came Nashville in sight, even if he is not a real country guy. He thought he would make a fusion of Halmstad and Nashville. He had 14 songs with him and thought it was a little bit too many for one album. Then the idea was to make two records. En vacker natt (out on 28 April) and En vacker dag (out on 1 September).

In addition, Per had a couple of songs in English left and wanted to do duets with American country singers. He says he wanted to sing with Alison Krauss and ran into her in the elevator but she was so angry, something had happened, so Per didn’t dare to ask her. Then he called his friend Scott Borchetta, who owns Big Machine Records and is Taylor Swift’s manager. Scott suggested a duo, The Church Sisters because one of the sisters, Savannah Church sounds exactly like Alison Krauss. Per sent his demo “Far too close” to her and she immediately replied that she loved the song and came to the studio to sing. She was singing so well it took only 20 minutes to record it.

Per Gessle’s good friend, Roy Orbison Jr., son of the legendary singer suggested they should have Roy Orbison’s guitars on the album. So now it’s as if he blessed the recordings.

On the new album there are several songs about love. Per says it’s a topic he is always writing about. The difference this time is that he is getting older. He doesn’t want to write about love as if he was still young. “Några glas rosé” is for example a song he couldn’t have written 15 years ago. Per says melancholy, sentimentality and romance are grateful to write songs about.

To the question if he writes texts quickly he replies he does. If it doesn’t happen, then the text is not good enough. If he picks it up again three weeks later, he has lost his point of view, sees the text from the outside and may not understand what he meant before. So he doesn’t understand how Leonard Cohen worked for 5 years on writing “Hallelujah”.

In the song “Allt gick så fort” (= Everything went so fast), Per Gessle sings: ” De plockade upp en kvinna från vattnet / Strömmarna hade blivit för starka / Ett mini maximum / Allt gick så fort ” (= They picked up a woman from the water / The currents had become too strong / A mini maximum / Everything went so fast”). The text is inspired by an accident Per witnessed during a visit to France. Fortunately, the woman was rescued from drowning. This song is the album’s hub. Per says he read an interview with David Crosby who told he had five guitars in his bedroom and that all of them were tuned differently. Per tells Svenska Dagbladet that he has almost always played with classical guitar tuning, sometimes he turned down the E-string to D. Crosby and even Joni Mitchell did it a lot. Per wanted to write a text of different self and time concepts mixed with the harmonies of unusual guitar tuning.

In the interview Per also talks about the duets on the new albums. He says when singing a duet with a girl, it is perceived as if they sing to each other. Also in the country world with songs like “Jackson” and “Did you ever” with Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood where they constantly answer each other. Per has used this technique in Roxette but also that the guy and the girl are singing towards a common goal. When two guys sing, the text becomes completely different, like in “Småstadsprat” (duet with Lars Winnerbäck), when they don’t sing to each other, but to a third person, a girl.

Per tells Svenska Dagbladet that John Holm was one of those who made him start writing songs as a 14-year-old. John gave Per so much self-confidence, because he had such a strange voice and Per also has a strange one. When John played in Halmstad some time ago, Per went backstage and greeted him. Then this fall he played at Scalateatern in Stockholm and Per asked him if he wanted to sing a song on his album and John was in. Per says John Holm is someone who doesn’t really know how good he is.

Next year Gyllene Tider celebrates its 40th anniversary if, like Gessle, we count it from the time when the yellow EP was released in 1978. If there will be a tour to celebrate it, Per says they will tour for sure, but it’s not sure when. If it’s next year or the follwoing year. He really wants to play with Gyllene Tider, the world’s best powerpop band along with good old Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Regarding Roxette Per says the touring period is 100% over. Marie can’t manage it physically. Per tells Svenska Dagbladet that Marie now feels relatively good and they meet occasionally. She has just been in Spain and had a little sunbathing. Per says he won’t ever replace Marie with another singer. Roxette is Marie. But he can imagine playing some of his songs in one way or another. It would feel strange, for example, never to play “The Look” or “Listen To Your Heart” again.

On the cover of the new album “En vacker natt” is a picture of Per’s sister Gunilla. Gunilla’s son found a box of 1960s pictures, including the picture as she stands and sings on a dock with just a glove like Michael Jackson. The entire album is dedicated to his sister. She died last autumn. Per’s mom died in 2013, his brother Bengt in 2014 and now his sister. Now Per is the only one living from his family.

Per says it has been difficult, especially when his mom died. She was 88 years old. His brother had lung cancer but he didn’t tell anyone, not even to the closest family. His sister also had cancer and they knew it would happen but not when. It’s tough, of course.

Svenska Dagbladet asks Per if it appears in any way in the lyrics. Per says he doesn’t think there’s a song about the grief, but he thinks he changed when everyone passed away. It became an old age issue for him and he reflected on things in a different way. When something is happening in one’s life, like a close relative passes away, sadness never leaves. It’s coming and going.

On the album cover of “En vacker dag” there will be a picture of Per’s mom on picnic in front of their old Volvo Amazon 1965. Per says he never heard her sister singing, but his mother sang a lot, she was a real loudmouth. Per tells Svenska Dagbladet that he met his mother a couple of days before she died and then she had pain in her back, but there was nothing more about it. The next day she called Per’s sister Gunilla and said she had a severe pain and then Gunilla urged her to press the alarm button because it is a bad sign of the heart with such pain. When the ambulance arrived, she told the drivers she would only finish the apple cake to her neighbor who had name day. Then she got a stroke or heart attack in the kitchen and they tried to revive her. Per thinks it was nice to die in the generosity, it fitted his mother.

The interview is closed with a thought about Per’s brother. The great legacy of him was all his records, thanks to them Per got dragged into the beautiful world of pop.

There is a fact sheet at the end of the article. There Per tells his wife Åsa is called Woody after a Woody Allen movie and his son Gabriel, 19, is studying computer programming at KTH. In an earlier interview Åsa said while laughing that Per always drinks filter coffee at certain times like an old aunt. Per laughs and says  it’s not really true, but he sticks to his habits and always eats the same breakfast for example. He doesn’t mind that if he is on tour it will be a different kind of breakfast. But if he is at home, he wants the same bread, butter, ham, mustard and cheese.

Per is doing a radio podcast “Gessles nio i topp” on Swedish Radio and in the coming season he chooses “Nine songs you wouldn’t believe I loved”, “The nine most underestimated artists” and “The nine most forgotten artists”.

In the article appears a 3 min 50 sec long video of Per where he enthusiastically talks about 5 songs that mean a lot to him now:

  1. John Holm – Sommaräng
  2. The Balloon Farm – A Question of Temperature
  3. Joni Mitchell – Rainy Night House
  4. The Beatles – Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Refugee

 

Great interview and very nice article. Thanks a lot for this, Svenska Dagbladet!

 

PG in the SvD video where he talks about 5 songs that mean a lot to him now.

Per Gessle – Småstadsprat promo single

Per Gessle’s first single off his upcoming album was released on 17th March. As you could see it in Mr. G’s video showing his brand new album, En vacker natt (out on 28th April), he also showed a physical Småstadsprat single which is for promotional use only, distributed to radio stations in Sweden. It’s a bit sad, mainly for collectors, that we are living in a ”digital single release only” world.

On the promo single’s back cover we can see who created the magical sounds on this track.

  • Per Gessle: acoustic guitar and vocals
  • Lars Winnerbäck: vocals
  • Clarence Öfwerman: piano
  • Christoffer Lundquist: acoustic guitar, contrabass, percussion and keyboards
  • Dan Dugmore: pedal steel guitar
  • Stuart Duncan: violin
  • Helena Josefsson: backing vocals

Lyrics and music by Per Gessle.

Produced by Christoffer Lundquist and Per Gessle.

Recorded in Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

Additional recordings were done at Tits & Ass, Halmstad (Technician: M.P Persson) and Shortlist, Stockholm (Technician: Anders Herrlin).

The single is released under Space Station 12, Per’s record label that has just celebrated its 1 year anniversary this week. All guests are now lucky owners of a Småstadsprat promo single.

Per wrote Småstadsprat on 5-6 May 2016 in Halmstad. This is what he says about the song:

I wrote Småstadsprat in Halmstad in the beginning of May last year when the sun started to shine seriously. It became one of the signature songs of how I wanted my new album to sound. I wanted Helena Josefsson on the choruses and then I met Lasse Winnerbäck at Sofiero in Helsingborg in July and asked him if he wanted to sing a bit too. He liked the song and joined in. The lyrics is about being young and in love and confused and disappointed at the same time. Everyday life in small towns.

 

Småstadsprat

Jag trodde inte att det var sant
Att du kommit tillbaks med samma namn
Det var bara småstadsprat

Jag trodde aldrig på allt ståhej
Att det första du gjorde var att fråga om mej
Det var bara småstadsprat

Ny tussilago
Vid den väg du går
Ny tussilago
Kommer varje vår

Om du hör att jag blivit svår
Att jag har funderat på hur du mår
Det är bara småstadsprat

Om du hör att jag slutat le
Att jag har förändrats och hamnat bredvid
Det är bara småstadsprat

Ny tussilago
Vid den väg jag går
Ny tussilago
Kommer varje vår

Lyrics + Music: Per Gessle

© Jimmy Fun Music

 

Listen to the song on your favourite digital platform! Or if you are more into the live version, now you can choose from 2 beautiful live performances. The one you could hear on Skavlan and the other from the SS12 anniversary party.

Enjoy!

 

Per Gessle’s record label, Space Station 12 celebrates 1 year anniversary

21 March 2017 is for sure a day to remember for the rest of our lives. From the RXB team Judith and I had the honor of being invited to the 1 year anniversary party of Space Station 12, Per Gessle’s and Marie Dimberg’s record label. Much appreciated! The event was announced to start at 6 pm and last until 10 pm. It took place at Skyddsrummet, Stockholm.

We arrived at around 17:45, at the same time as Helena Josefsson, Christoffer Lundquist and Clarence Öfwerman. Marie Dimberg was welcoming the guests and a photographer took pictures of all who arrived in front of a black and white Space Station 12 background. We thanked Marie for the invitations and congratulated on the anniversary.

The musicians who were to appear on stage were 1 floor above the event area and were getting prepared for their performances. Per Gessle was among them, too. Some minutes after 6 pm Mr. G came down and also welcomed some guests. We had the chance to thank him too for the invitation and congratulate. He said he didn’t realize that already 1 year passed since they started this label. Time flies when you’re having fun. Thomas Evensson from TDR was taking some pics and Per kindly posed for them. Even for a group pic. Oh well, he said on Skavlan he gets depressed when he is out and no one asks for a selfie. Now he told us he will regret what he said for the rest of his life. Haha. Nah, he was really easy with it.

At appr. 7 pm a curtain was pulled away, so we could see the stage and go to the area where the performances were to happen. The stage was so tiny and low, the whole place so cozy! Of course, we, a small bunch of fans got in the front row, however it felt being too close to the stage. Everyone else was standing at least 5 steps behind us. Haha. It was funny. Then we also stepped back a bit, to have a better view of the not too high stage.

First Marie Dimberg went up on stage and she talked about Space Station 12, how they started it with Per. She talked very nicely about Mr. G and about their signed artists. She also mentioned their very good collaboration with BMG and she said they decided on a simple principle regarding what to release under SS12 and it’s that they release what they like. She also said there will be musicians on stage now who have their live debut, so she asked to applaud them. Then invited PG on stage saying even if Per doesn’t have his live debut now, he also loves being applauded. Haha.

So Per came up on stage to perform. He had Helena Josefsson (backing vocals), Malin-My Nilsson (violin), Clarence Öfwerman (keyboards) and Christoffer Lundquist (guitar) with him. Mr. G was playing an acoustic guitar while singing. He performed 2 songs, Tycker om när du tar på mej and Småstadsprat which he said we might have heard on Skavlan or whatever. Both songs sounded fantastic live and in this very much stripped-down-acoustic versions. Space Station 12 was live on Facebook during Småstadsprat, so you can watch a great video of it on their Facebook page.

Åsa was filming both songs too, so videos will surely appear on Per’s and Roxette’s Facebook pages shortly. After Småstadsprat Per told they leave the stage now and give the chance to SS12’s young artists to perform. After he left the stage we congratulated him on their wonderful performance. He thanked for it, but also said he was missing our banners in the front. We were wondering what kind of banners we could hold up for these 2 ballads and he said why not a tussilago sign. Haha. Yeah, OK. For the summer tour he gets it!

Before the next act, after some minutes break Marie Dimberg came up on stage again saying she wouldn’t sing, but please welcome Good Harvest. They performed 3 songs. All three were beautiful and one can melt hearing how the 2 girls’ voices blend! As Christoffer later mentioned, they both sound like one voice together. We are happy to see them on tour with Per this summer!

There came a little break again and Alex Shield was next to perform together with Charla K. They played Alex’s 3 songs, Charla’s debut single and a new duet that they mentioned were going to test with us, the audience. Everybody cheered afterwards, so we would say – thumbs up! We were all surprised how different Alex sounded live. He is a fantastic songwriter and now it turned out he is a great live musician as well. He and Charla K got the audience in a real party mood. It would have been fun if PG joined Alex on Good Fight as in the album version, but it didn’t happen. The song sounded cool live anyway.

We missed Fanny de Aguiar very much. It would have been fab to see and hear her live. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to perform and wasn’t present at the party either.

Rocket Fuel beer! – Picture by Judith S.

Even if Per was on stage only for 2 songs, he didn’t leave the concert hall. He was chatting with the guests and enjoying the performances of SS12’s artists while eating hot dog and drinking beer. Talking about beer, it seems that Per now is involved not only in the wine business, but the beer industry as well. There was a beer at the party, called Rocket Fuel which has Space Station 12 label on the bottle. The label says: ”Space Station 12 is an independent record label with the finger pointing at the future, always in love with great music. No matter what we release it will always be unique, interesting and something you certainly can’t live without. Just keep your ears open. And we love beer. Our favourite ones are made by Krönleins in Halmstad. Enjoy!”

Per was in a real happy mood, he even came to us asking if we were having a good time and we had a small talk. He is very proud of the acts they signed, he finds them real talented. And he is so right.

Among the guests, besides other artists, journalists, people from the music industry, TV, radio, wine people, we were happy to meet Pelle Alsing, Dea Norberg, Lasse Lindbom and see 2 members of the usual crew, Micke N-S and Peter Fredriksson. Christoffer said these events and performances are also good for them, because otherwise they don’t meet too often.

Regarding the summer tour, we got to know that besides Helena Josefsson, Christoffer Lundquist and Clarence Öfwerman, Magnus Börjeson will join and play the bass, woohoo and there will be a new drummer this time. We also heard a few times from different people that maybe they will also have a violin too… Is it July yet???

The party ended at 10 pm as it was stated in the invitation. Each guest got a SS12 bag when leaving. There were promo singles of SS12 artists inside – including Småstadsprat – and an SS12 badge. You can see this badge on the pics of Per as he was wearing one during the event.

All in all, it was really a fantastic event. We want to thank once again for letting us being part of this celebration. Good luck to Space Station 12 with finding even more exceptional artists to join the already fab team of signed musicians!

Per Gessle & band (Helena Josefsson, Malin-My Nilsson, Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist); Good Harvest; Alex Shield and Charla K. Pics by Judith S.

 

Per performing at the party. Pics by Patrícia Peres.

Official Space Station 12 party photos

Instapics of PG at the party: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9;

Instavideos of PG performing: Tycker om när du tar på mej: 1; 2; Småstadsprat

Instapics and vids of other Space Station 12 artists who performed: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5;

 

Per Gessle interview and single performance on Skavlan

As you already know, Per Gessle appeared on Skavlan talk show tonight. From the video teasers (selfie; desert island) we saw on SVT’s website during the day we could be absolutely sure that the show was going to be much fun. The recording took place on 15th March and 2 hours before showtime Per shared a rehearsal video from his 14th March get together with the band and Lars Winnerbäck on his YouTube channel (GessleHomeVids), which we hope he will keep alive for a longer time and share even more content in the future.

The first 2 guests in Skavlan were Annika Falkengren (actual President and Group Chief Executive of the Swedish bank, SEB) and Jo Nesbø (Norwegian writer, musician). Mr. G was the third guest, his part starts at around 25:40. Before he entered the studio, some old concert and TV show footage was shown from Per’s early and later career (Gyllene Tider, Roxette, solo) and after he sat down, Fredrik Skavlan, host of the show was chatting with all 3 people, asking interesting questions.

Since Annika is one of the guests, Fredrik asks Per what type of bank client Mr. G is. He says he is a weak banker. Then Fredrik goes on asking who Per was before he became a musician. Per says he can’t remember, it was so long ago, but he thinks he was a shy and lonely guy. Music became his life quite early. Already at the age of 6-7-8 he was listening to The Kinks and then The Beatles.

Fredrik asks Per what his father thought about him choosing music. Per says his father died in 1978, but he wasn’t fond of his musical efforts. He heard one song on the show Bandet går and thought Per was singing like shouting badly. Fredrik asks Per if he would have chosen this career if his father wouldn’t have died, but Per doesn’t know the answer. He says his mother always supported him. His dad died the same day a big article about Gyllene Tider appeared in Expressen.

They talk about Per being called a mom’s boy and that she and Per’s brother and sister died during the past 3 years. Fredrik asks Per what his mother would say was the peak in Per’s career. Per tells she lived with her mother for a long time and she witnessed all the weird things during the golden age of Gyllene Tider, like getting 3000 postcards or fans stealing the drying clothes from their garden. Then it was different with Roxette, it was more of a global thing. But he tells his mum was very proud of him.

Fredrik says people talk about Per as the boss. Per says he is more of a control freak. Fredrik asks if it has always been easy to work together in Roxette. Per replies ”piece of cake” and laughs. He says they started from nowhere and it was a fantastic journey with Marie. But of course, there were conflicts. Per always wanted to work and when they finished something he wanted to work again, but Marie didn’t think the same way. And probably Per’s control freakness also caused some conflicts. Fredrik asks if Marie has ever told it to Per and Per replies he read that in Marie’s book and laughs.

Fredrik Skavlan asks Per if he is a pedant. Per says he is. If Fredrik goes to his home he would for sure think a pedant lives there. All records are sorted on the shelves in alphabetic order, for example. He was like that already as a kid. He tells his friends think it’s fun to push some books in on the shelf when they visit him. Here Jo Nesbø says all guys put the records in alphabetical order but asks Per if he also puts the records in chronological order for one band. Per says no, he doesn’t do that. Jo says then everyone can calm down. Haha.

Fredrik says both Lars Winnerbäck and Per Gessle are introvert guys. He is wondering who talks most. Per laughs and says they sit silent. Then Fredrik asks Mr. G what small town talks (småstadsprat) Per knows about himself. He says he loves Halmstad and he really feels that Halmstad is proud of him. He says it’s always fun to fuel the car. Then Fredrik asks if he drives the cars Per has in his collection. It’s like having a horse inside the house. Per says of course he drives them. Mr. G talks about how it is to drive his Ferrari to the ICA (Swedish supermarket) to buy strawberries. He says he thought a Ferrari is a girl magnet, but it’s not at all. Everytime he leaves the shop, coming back to where he parked the car there are like 30 guys filming his Ferrari.

Per also talks about that since he was 20 he got used to the fact that people recognize him. He can’t leave his apartment without bumping into people who want to take a selfie with him. Actually, if nobody asks for a selfie, he gets very depressed. Then Fredrik comes close to PG and they pose for a selfie.

Fredrik asks Per what kind of car Annika’s husband should buy when they move to Switzerland and Mr. G suggest a 2-seated with no roof. Here Annika tells Per once she was sitting behind Per on a plane and Mr. G was reading a car magazine. His wife and son were sitting on the other side. She asks if it happens often. Per is kidding he is surprised Annika saw them travelling on the same class.

Then comes a little game. Fredrik asks his guests which 3 albums they would bring to a desert island where they would spend a long long time. Jo Nesbø asks Per who he prefers, John Lennon or Paul McCartney and Per chooses John Lennon. Jo and Per can agree on taking The Beatles’ Revolver album. Annika couldn’t really get first what revolver they are talking about, then out of the blue she suggests why not taking Julio Iglesias with them. LOL. Per’s facial expression is priceless. WTF? Haha. Then Annika goes on with Demis Roussos and Per can’t keep it to himself, he says he hopes it’s a big island. Haha. One must love his sense of humor. Per says the 3 albums he would take are Revolver, The Ramones’ first album and Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon. Jo agrees on The Ramones’ as well, but he would take Rocket to Russia from them.

With this the PG talking part is over (at appr. 40 minutes in), but a fourth guest is coming, Susan Faludi, an American Pulitzer winner author and feminist. It’s worth watching this part, too, because Per stays there in the studio and is listening to Susan’s stories, paying a lot of attention.

Then at appr. 53:20, at the end of the show Per performs his new song, ”Småstadsprat”, a duet with Lars Winnerbäck. Lars is of course there as well. In the band you can see Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist, Helena Josefsson and some new faces, Ola Gustafsson, Malin-My Nilsson and Martin Höper. How they perform Småstadsprat live is pure awesomeness! Just magical! H.e.a.v.e.n.l.y.!

What a wonderful and interesting show it was! We would love to have more of this, wouldn’t we?

Still is from the TV show

 

Per Gessle interview by SVT Nyheter Halland

SVT Nyheter Halland did an e-mail interview with Per Gessle about the new albums and his upcoming summer tour. In the interview Per says one of the great benefits of being a little older and have gained experience is that he learned to relax and not to take everything so bloody serious anymore. He thinks it has never been as much fun to play music as now.

For Per the big challenge is to put something together on stage this summer and to be able to surprise even himself. He has never done anything like this before, mixing his various careers.

Per’s Nashville project has already become a unique phenomenon for Mr. G. He thinks it’s among the most personal and best he has done and so of course he would like people to listen to it. Per belongs to the album generation so he still thinks in making an LP. He had 14 songs with him in Nashville. Normally, 2-3 tracks are off automatically, then you still have a reasonably long record. But it went so well in Tennessee, all pieces fell into place surprisingly quickly and he finished his 14 songs in time. Instead of hanging in the bar, Per remembered he had 2 awesome ballads in English that could fit to do duets with American country music singers. A serious challenge! He called a few friends in the industry and found 2 wonderful singers who were available and it became the icing on the cake of his Nashville-adventure.

However, the length of 16 songs was about 65 minutes and it felt too long for a single album. The options were a double album or two separate records. He decided for the 2nd option and put the English tracks as last ones on each record. Both albums have roughly the same temperature and contain beautiful, gently produced music.

About John Holm Per says he is a real hero. Although they ran into each other a few times over the years, he met him properly first in Halmstad last winter when John played there. Then Per saw him again on one of his Stockholm gigs when John was really in top shape. That was the time when Mr. G asked John if he wanted to cooperate on Per’s new album and John wanted to. So Per sent him his demo and they recorded the song in Skåne and had a few magical hours in the studio. John has a great and generous personality and he is one of the most expressive singers Per knows. According to Mr. G, John Holm does not really know how good he is.

Per says to SVT he’s been singing a lot with Helena Josefsson on his solo albums over the years and he will still do the rest of his life if he may. Many of his songs are written for several voices so it felt quite natural to expand the palette of more than Helena. The idea of ??singing with the other singers felt new to Per and it also gives the lyrics a different perspective. Lars Winnerbäck is an awesome songwriter and performer who is admired by Per, so he was really happy when Lars wanted to cooperate. Per has known Linnea Henriksson for a while and she is an absolutely adorable person and singer with her blue tones and some light jazz funds. All the duet partners on the album changed the songs’ overall identity. It’s exciting and unpredictable according to Per.

Per tells SVT that inspiration and experience can easily go hand in hand. He feels more free than ever when he writes nowadays. He tests different odd guitar tunings, he is fiddling more in the studio, he takes his time to write more verses than he needs, he lets his gut feeling decide most of the time. He feels, slowly but surely, that he doesn’t need to prove much for himself anymore. He thinks he became kinder to himself. He doesn’t have a hit list in sight, no record label to make happy, no major commercial requirements to live up to. He has been so very fortunate in his life that his music reached out to so many and it’s really something one can’t take for granted. It has created a sort of peace in Mr. G.

About the tour and setlist Per says he is – as we all know – a great advocate of short concerts. There will of course be many kill-your-darlings, because he was going to keep the show around 100 minutes. Including hits that encourage spontaneous dancing.

Per says about consulting song choice with fans on social media sitesthat it’s really lovely with all the feedback and all proposals that come in all the time. Everyone seems to have their own favorites. Honung och guld. I Like It Like That. Varmt igen. He says they will test a lot of songs when they start rehearsing and see where they end up.

About the pre-concert playlist Mr. G says he already started to put one together and promises it will be fab. Willie Nelson and Townes van Zandt have to be on the list and little Roy Orbison too. They use Roy’s guitars on the Nashville project. Per knows Roy Obison’s son, and he came to the studio with a couple of lovely old Gibsons he thought would be fine and bless their Nashville dream.

 

Listen to Per Gessle’s new song, Småstadsprat!

Even if the release date of Per’s first single off the new album, En vacker natt is set to 17th March, Swedish Radio P4 already played the song today. In the radio program, Eftermiddag i P4 Dalarna Med Emma och Martin the hosts talked about Mr. G’s new albums and then aired Småstadsprat, a duet with Lars Winnerbäck. The talking about Per starts at 51:40, the song starts at 52:25! The total length of the song is 3:39, on the radio you can hear a bit more than 3 min, so there might be some surprise sounds still on Friday. Aaaaaaaw! The song makes me even more curious about the complete album!

Don’t forget to watch Skavlan on SVT on Friday at 21:00 CET! There will be an interview with Per and he will also perform Småstadsprat together with Lars Winnerbäck. What a treat!

Per Gessle & Lars Winnerbäck – pic from PG’s Instagram

 

Per Gessle about the new albums and duets – interview by Swedish Radio P4

Swedish Radio (Kulturnytt P4) tried to reach Per Gessle after yesterday’s great news about his 2 new solo albums. They write that Per is now in Nashville and they interviewed him via e-mail.

Swedish Radio asked Per what made him want to do duets with Lars Winnerbäck, Linnea Henriksson and John Holm. Mr. G says often cooperates with Helena Josefsson when he is making his solo albums. This time she is there again and is doing backing vocals on almost all songs and sings one song in duet with Per. Per says Helena is incredibly talented and always lifts his songs to the sky. Their voices are a perfect match. But when Mr. G started writing last summer, he started thinking about male duet partners. A regular duet can bring a different angle to the text. When a guy and a girl sings it sounds in a certain way, but when 2 guys or 2 girls are singing, it becomes something totally different. Interesting.

Per says he has many things in common with Lars Winnerbäck. Small-town background and quite similar taste in music even if Mr. G is older. Per always liked Lars. They met at Sofiero in Helsingborg when he was on tour last summer and Per asked if he wanted to sing a duet. Thank God he wanted.

Besides Helena Josefsson there were other musicians involved: Christoffer Lundquist, Clarence Öfwerman and Anders Herrlin. They were also there in Nashville to record the songs.

The autumn album will contain duets with Linnea Henriksson and John Holm. Per says John Holm was one of those who made him start writing his own songs when he was fourteen, so it’s a personal highlight in Per’s life to record with John Holm. According to Per, John Holm is still a unique singer and personality.

Regarding Linnea Henriksson Per says he had an uptempo song he thought Linnea could sing the chorus on. But after a few weeks in Nashville, he realized that it did not fit into the project, so he put it on hold. But then he had another song that screamed for Linnea’s blue tones and it became so fine. Per is very happy and proud that Linnea wanted to cooperate.

Per says to his great surprise, he had studio time left when they were done with the 14 Swedish songs. Then he thought he could do duets in English with country-girls too. He had two quite newly written songs that he thought would be great to record in the Nashville environment. He called some friends in Nashville’s music industry and got tips on 2 talented girls, Savannah Church and Jessica S. who suddenly appeared and rounded off this incredibly exciting project.

To Swedish Radio’s question regarding how Per would describe the album he said he have tried to make very beautiful songs, arrangements and productions. Stripped down, but efficient. He went started the project with no limits and rules, he didn’t want to sound a certain way or do anything in a format which is now unfortunately characterizes the entire music industry. He wanted the local musicians to be part of and create the songs’ design. Per let them play on almost all songs to see what happens, then they edited it all afterwards and took away what they thought didn’t fit.

Per’s solo projects in Swedish are always quite text-oriented. So it is this time. Perhaps more than ever.

Each song has its own story, it’s about being young and getting older. To look back but also dare to look ahead. Happiness, but also disappointment. About things don’t always turn out as planned or as expected. I have lost my mother, brother and sister in the last three years and it has certainly put its weight on the lyrics and my life in general. But life goes on.

To Swedish Radio’s question if there will be duets on stage, Per replied who knows. He has the habit from Roxette.

The first album, En vacker natt, will be out on April 28th. The first single “Småstadsprat“, a duet with Lars Winnerbäck, will be released on March 17th.

The second album, En vacker dag, will be released on September 1st.

Photo by Anton Corbijn