Interview with Maria Sörgjerd: “It was fascinating that people had travelled so far just to see Roxette”

We interviewed Maria Sörgjerd, the author of “I en underbar ballong”, the book about Roxette fans. So here you can read the “behind the scenes” of the book.

RXB: Maria, could you tell us about you? how long have you been a Roxette fan?

As a Swedish girl, born in the mid 1970s, I couldn’t avoid Roxette when I was growing up. I have many positive memories connected to Roxette. When I was 16, I went to my first big concert: Roxette in ”Globen” 1991, the Joyride Tour. But I can’t say that I was a devoted Roxette fan back then, even though I liked their music. I became a real fan much later in life. When I was growing up I listed to all sorts of music, Neil Young, The Beatles, Abba, just to mention a few.

In the beginning of the twenty-first century, I rediscovered and upgraded music that I had listened to as a teenager, a time in life which is of great importance for one’s identity. At the same time, Marie fell ill and this affected me strongly on a personal level. I was trying to get pregnant by means of medically assisted reproduction and a test indicated that I might have problems with fertility because of a brain tumour. Fortunately, this was not the case, but I was really scared during a couple of weeks, while waiting for the test results. During this time, I listened more and more to Marie’s music and I felt that I could on some level relate to what she was going through. Small coincidences in life can make you discover new paths… My fertility issues could be solved and I am now mother of two wonderful girls, six and seven years old.

RXB: We understood that you studied (music) psychology, could you explain why and how you got the idea to write the book?

I studied psychology for two years, 1998-2000 and I wrote a major essay on the topic of music psychology. The essay was called “Auditory and visual recognition of emotional expression in performances of music”. I came up with the idea to write the book “I en underbar ballong” two and a half years ago, in the summer of  2010 when I was at a Roxette concert in Halmstad. That was when I got to know many international fans in real life, and not just over the Internet.

From my Swedish perspective, it was fascinating that people had travelled so far, from different corners of the world, from Europe, Argentina, Brazil and Russia, just to see Roxette. I had a great experience in Halmstad and it felt so huge that Roxette was back on stage again. It gave me a real energy boost.

RXB: When did you start writing the book then?

During the fall of 2010, after the concert in Halmstad, the idea to write something about Roxette grew stronger. I found inspiration through talking to my friends. At first, I aimed at writing an essay, but then the project grew bigger. I had made friends with a fan from Argentina (her name is Paula), she told me what it means to be a real Roxer.

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Book review: “I en underbar ballong”

I just finished reading “I en underbar ballong” (“In a wonderful balloon”), written by Maria Sörgjerd from Sweden and published by Fenomena. Maria, who studied psychology and music psychology, spent two years collecting information about being a fan and interviewing Roxette fans for her book.

I read the book quite fast, one of the reasons being the fact that I know most of the interviewed fans, even though most of them got aliases, if you’ve been around long enough you will recognize them and their stories. And of course, because I recognize, even if not relate to some of them, many of the topics which are treated in the book, being a fan myself.

The first part of the book is an introduction to what it means to be a Roxer and to go to a concert for the fans, meeting all the other fans and friends, but also fighting for the first row or meeting Per and Marie or the musicians after a concert. It also contains a short biography of Roxette & co, with comments of Roxette’s position in the music market and how Roxette is seen by the media and “outside”.

In the second part of the book, the author goes deeper in the psychological aspect of belonging to the fan(atic) subculture and having Per and Marie as idols. Not everything is a wonderful balloon though: some may take their fanatism to extremes of stalking, and there is also a lot of competition about who is first to break the news or who has met Per and Marie most times, jealousy and hostility among fans. It has become less with the years, but unfortunately, is still present.

Luckily, there are a lot of positive aspects as well, such as friendship and love stories – many found their best friends or their partners because of Roxette – and how fans help each other sharing videos, pictures and stories via fan communities, from the old times via Friendship Books to the internet era.

The last part of the book concentrates on music and how it affects our brain and feelings, and how music serves as therapy and makes us feel better in hard times and happier in happy times. The author comes to the conclusion that it’s not just the melodies that matter, but also the texts and voice, and has a special mention about Marie’s voice.

All in all an interesting book that should not be missing in the private library of a Roxette fan, both for fans who have been around for a long time and fans who recently joined the fun and want to understand the reason behind some rituals, behavior and stories and jokes. It might not be that interesting to read for “outsiders”, it may help other music psychologists and sociologists though, since the market lacks books like this.