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 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!

 

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 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

Interview with Marie Dimberg and Per Gessle about Space Station 12

ss12Marie Dimberg and Per Gessle launched the label Space Station 12 in February 2016. Since then, three artists have released their single at SS12. You may have seen Per posting about SS12 on Facebook quite frequently this year, so we thought of asking Marie D. and Per a bit more about the company.

Judith: When did you have the idea and how did it all start?

Per: The music industry is changing so much at the moment I felt like I, before I go to sleep, should take part of the new revolution. There’s a window at the moment for indie labels. And for indie way of thinking. I like that.

J: What was your motivation?

P: Same as with everything else in my musical life; to take part of music that I like and enjoy.

J: What do you want to achieve with SS12?

P: A great logo and a few gold records.

J: What are your tasks/responsibilities?

P: I’m the DJ, I am what I play!

Marie D: I run the daily operations with my team Lotta and Josef and we work together with our great license partners at BMG. We also have independent press- and radio people.

J: What is the story behind the label’s name?

P: The name comes from a Montrose-song, “Space Station #5” but I thought 12 was cooler since it’s my birthdate.

J: So far, 3 artists have released their latest singles at SS12. Their styles are rather different, who is involved in the A&R process and how does it work in your case?

P: We all are. But I have the last say. If I don’t like it, we won’t release it. But I’m pretty easy to convince.

MD: We all listen and try to convince Per if he doesn’t agree…! A good song, a great voice and an artistic expression are of course key ingredients. No matter what kind of “genre”

J: What are your main criteria when picking an artist up?

P: Personality. Intelligence. We don’t want artists who strive for fifteen minutes of fame.

J: Why did you choose these 3 to start with? How did you discover them?

P: Alex was number one. He’s the best songwriter I’ve heard in years. He wrote “Sinking Deep” for Fanny. That’s how Fanny came aboard. She turned out to be a great communicator with an interesting voice. Good Harvest stand for something a little bit more “classic” and organic. That’s very rare to find these days. They’re amazing.

J: Marie, you mentioned that Fanny’s single has almost reached 400.000 plays on Spotify, which is amazing for a new artist. How are you promoting the artists? What are the target audiences and countries?

MD: We start with Scandinavia as a home market but make the release available worldwide digitally. Together with the BMG team, the press- and radio people we try to get exposure wherever suitable for each individual artist.

J: The three artists are rather young and newcomers; are you focusing on this kind of artists or are you also looking to sign up established ones?

MD: We’ll see… our focus is great talent with great songs and I’m sure we’ll eventually embrace established acts as well.

J: Per, you co-wrote the lyrics of Alex Shield’s and for what I understood from an interview with him, the song was finalised and has been released as a single because of this.

P: Yes, I co-wrote the lyrics and the music to “New York City Ways” but that’s not the reason it was released as a single. Who writes the song doesn’t really matter. What matters is if it’s a good record. It has to communicate.

J: In what way have you been involved in the final results of (so far) the singles? Do you get to give input / feedback during the recording/composing process or final outcome?

P: Sometimes. I’m there if I’m needed.

MD: Per’s input is extremely important given his long and successful career both as a songwriter and an artist!!! In my mind, it’s a fantastic opportunity for young artists to have an artist/songwriter of Per’s magnitude as your “wingman”

J: Are more songs co-composed by you planned?

P: I’ve written quite a lot of songs together with Alex which are really cool. You’ll see.

J: What are SS12’s plans for the future and what is in the pipeline?

MD: We’re currently focusing on these three for the rest of 2016. There will be a new song by Good Harvest released in December penned by themselves; “Charly”. They will also perform at the Eurosonic in Amsterdam. Alex “New York City Ways” will be accompanied by a lyric video this week. Fanny is writing and recording and will make her first performance at Musikhjälpen in December.

If you want to know more about the three great artists go on reading.

Read more

Marie Fredriksson interview from 1984

Another fab interview popped up in Elisabeth Elle Sandberg’s archives. Some weeks ago she shared an interview she did with Per Gessle in 1985 and now it’s Marie’s turn. Elisabeth did an interview with her in 1984, probably on 15th May, just some days before Marie’s 26th birthday. How awesome it is! Thanks a lot again, Elisabeth for sharing such gems with the world!

The interview starts with the intro telling that Marie Fredriksson has recently released her single ”Ännu doftar kärlek”. It is a ballad that Marie has written together with Lasse Lindbom. On the back side there is a song written by Per Gessle, ”Tag detta hjärta”. What happens in the future will depend very much on how the single is received. The upcoming LP is released when it feels timely, possibly in August.

Marie tells Elisabeth that it was planned that the LP would be released this spring. They wanted to wait a bit, so they had time to write some more material. She says she will go to the studio again in June and record 3-4 songs that they have written now. Possibly they release another single in summer and it depends on how it goes with it. She will probably record a video and it will be very exciting.

Marie also talks about the fact that most of the material on the LP she wrote together with Lasse, but there are also some songs that she herself has written both music and lyrics to. Martin Sternhufvud also made a song that will be included on the LP which is damn good and Marie is very proud of. Per wrote a song that is the B-side of the single. Marie also worked together with Björn Holmgren, who is a director in Halmstad. He is very good at writing and has written some children’s plays. On the LP there is a song he wrote the text to and Marie wrote the music.

Miss Fredriksson tells Elisabeth that she is happy that Lasse and she have been able to write so well together. They didn’t know it, just tested it for fun and it worked damn well. Everything is exactly as Marie imagined, but she says they have to see if it sells. You’ve done what you could, you’re only human. But if people don’t want to buy it, you have to do something new. Marie thinks the mmost important is that she is satisfied and she 100% is.

Elisabeth asks Marie if she can make a living on music. Marie says it’s OK. She was on tour with Gyllene Tider and she got paid. She managed to have her apartment in Halmstad. Later in the summer she will tour with Lasse Lindbom Band. She will be there as a guest, just as she was on the Gyllene Tider tour. In autumn, when her LP is released, she will go on tour and will go with Lasse and they will have the same band. Marie says they should not work as Dan Hylander and Py Bäckman, but Lasse does his songs and Marie hers. There will be two performances, so the audience get double value for their money. Then they do the end together. After that she decided to go on a bigger tour. It will be her first thing, which she is in charge of. The musicians will be Pelle Andersson and Pelle Sirén from the X-models. They are not known, but very talented. Probably Janne Bark as well, but it is not decided yet. Even Backa Hans (Eriksson, Elisabeth’s comment) who have played with Lundell and perhaps Göran Fritzson from Gyllene Tider. It’s a great mix that feels very fresh, and there are some new people.

Elisabeth asks about the band Marie played with last summer. Marie says unfortunately she doesn’t play with them now, but it was fun and they are thinking about doing some gigs together this summer, maybe in August. They have some contacts in Kungsbacka and Falkenberg, who would like them to come back. But with them she does only covers, no own songs.

Elisabeth is curious about how it feels to be on tour with Gyllene Tider. Marie says she had a blast and it was really fantastic. It was very fruitful for her. This spring she learned a lot about stage experience and how to talk to the crowd. She performed one song as a guest. They were on tour for 5 weeks and they became like family, so it was sad when the tour ended. And it’s not only the band, because Gyllene Tider you meet every now and then as they also live in Halmstad, but also the crew who take care of everything from sound to lights, they won’t see each other for a long time.

Marie is asked what she thinks about Swedish female rock singers? For example, Py Bäckman and Anne-Lie Rydé. According to Ms Fredriksson, Anne-Lie Rydé is really good. Py Bäckman is a wonderful text and music writer. Her latest LP is very good. She has also written a text for Marie and she is now making music to it. Marie says she saw Anne-Lie Rydé when she was in town last  time. She is very good on stage. But Marie likes Py Bäckman’s depth. Elisabeth asks about Efva Attling and Eva Dahlgren and Marie replies that she liked Eva Dahlgren’s latest LP ”För väntan”. Marie thinks Efva Attling is very professional on stage. Marie says if she goes to a concert or is listening to an album, then she wants to feel something.

Talking about Swedish male singers Marie says Mikael Rickfors is very good. He sings very well and writes good songs. Marie thinks that Mikael Rickfors and Lasse Lindbom are the best male singers in Sweden. She listens closely to the voice and the feeling in it.

Elisabeth asks Marie if she remembers her first gig. She does and it was very interesting. No one has ever asked it so far. Marie’s first performance was horrible. She was 7 years old and was singing for many people. There was her mom and a lot of old ladies. It was kind of a celebration, some sew meeting. “Oh, then little Marie could sing”. She was singing Rönnerdahl. She was standing there in a nice dress. She did not look at the audience, but at the floor all the time while she was singing, so the ladies didn’t hear a damn thing of what she sang. She was so nervous and afterwards she started crying, came home and was completely broken.

After that, Marie was singing in a lot of children and youth choirs while she went to school. She often sang in churches. Then she went to learn music program at a college for two years, where they sang a lot. Then she started singing jazz. Marie will never forget the first time she sang to a thousand people. It was with Strul, which was the support act to Eldkvarn. It was the first time they had a really big audience. Earlier they had crowds of 400-500 people. When they walked up on stage, everyone cheered when they started to play. It’s probably the best memory she has of Strul. Then there was an occasion when they played for 450 people with several other bands at Kattegattskolan. They played last and it went so well they got to do more than one encore. Marie thinks it was in 1977. These are wonderful memories and Marie is grateful.

Marie ends the interview with saying one shouldn’t be giddy with success. You must be able to be with ordinary people, otherwise you can’t write. If she becomes a diva, it won’t work. Then she couldn’t write. You must live the everyday life to get inspiration for new songs. Marie thinks that one person is not worth more than others just because she made an album. She thinks it’s important to think this way. You should be just like you were before.

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Per Gessle interview from 1985

A fab interview with Per Gessle was done by Elisabeth Elle Sandberg on 9th February 1985. Elisabeth, who was 18 when she did the interview at Per’s apartment in Halmstad, decided to make it available online after 31 years. Great decision, I must say. What an interesting reading after all these years knowing what Per achieved in his solo career and with Gyllene Tider, as well as with Marie in Roxette. Awesome! Thanks a lot, Elisabeth!

Elisabeth starts the article with placing the interview in a time perspective. In 1983 Per released his first solo album, Per Gessle. The following year, in February, 1984 came Gyllene Tider’s English album, The Heartland Café, which did not sell particularly well. During this interview in 1985 Per started working on his second solo album, Scener. Gyllene Tider broke up about a month after this interview and Per and Marie formed Roxette in 1986.

On the day of the interview Per was in the process of looking for images that would illustrate the lyrics of his second solo album. He says it’s really hard. The only image he found good was a picture of his mother. Elisabeth asks if there were no pictures of himself and Per said he wouldn’t dare using them.

Elisabeth asks Mr. G why he is doing a solo album when he is fine with the band, Gyllene Tider. Per says he doesn’t have a good answer to the question, but it’s good to change the environment sometimes. However, there is less reason to make a solo album now than before, because Gyllene Tider’s music is closer to him than it was before. But after doing The Heartland Café album he decided that the next one should be a solo album.

Elisabeth asks if the next GT album will be more full of hits and Per replies that the main difference is that it will be in Swedish again. Another difference will be that he won’t write more than 1/3 of the album and gets the others write too. He thinks that if there is a reason for them to continue to play together, they must move on and everyone should contribute to the creative side, so it doesn’t become 12 Per Gessle tunes. There would of course be songs similar to Sommartider, but he hasn’t written so much yet. The idea is to make it a more danceable up-tempo album.

Elisabeth asks if Per thinks the fans will come back and Per says he hopes so, but he sounds a bit uncertain. Per says they are probably the oldest band at this level in Sweden and the audience they had in 1980-81 are four years older now. At that age musical taste changes quite a lot. According to Mr. G, each artist is just as big as their last song (The Heartland Café album sold 30 000 copies). They have, after all, a fairly large audience still and if they make a good album, he thinks they can be huge again. Per was surprised that The Heartland Café was selling so much anyway, because many people didn’t have a clue that the album was released, but that’s only because it was in English.

Per says Teaser Japanese sold quite well as a single, but he thinks it was totally wrong, a stupid thing. Mr. G says it was his fault that they did an English LP. He just wanted them to invest in Europe, but one shouldn’t throw out 300 000 SEK on an LP that no one wants to buy. Instead, one should record a single and test it. If it doesn’t work, one should make another single. Now he thinks the whole year they worked on The Heartland Café was a waste of time.

Mr. G says the fans bought the album Puls in autumn of 1982 and it is much to ask that they wait for a new Gyllene Tider album. They will release a new single after his solo album. It’s a bit useless to compete with himself. He says a song is finished and its title is “30 skäl” [this is the song Anna recorded in 1986 – PP]. Per says it’s very danceable and is possibly out sometime in July-August.

Per says his songwriting is changing all the time. The biggest change was in 1982 when he bought a piano. Elisabeth asks if it was hard to bring the piano up the stairs (since there were a lot of stairs to reach Per’s apartment) and Per laughs and says “they said” it was. The piano was built exactly in 1900 and he found it in a shop in Falkenberg. Since he bought it, he started to write music using the piano and it allowed him to write differently.

Per thinks it’s great to read his old lyrics. He doesn’t write the same way anymore. He doesn’t know why. Today it would be really hard to write a song like (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän. Blå December was an attempt to write a short story, a narrated story in pictures.

Per says he started writing English lyrics when he was 13-14. He couldn’t play any instruments, so he just wrote the lyrics. He started playing the guitar in 1976.

To Elisabeth’s question regarding what Per thinks about Swedish music he replied that it’s exactly the same today as when Gyllene Tider had their breakthrough. There are great artists like Ulf Lundell, Dan Hylander, Eva Dahlgren and others who survive, but nothing new appears. He believes that a new generation of 17-18-year-olds will do great things soon. The record companies working with them will be great. Today the record companies are run by older people. The record company Stranded woke up now with bands like Ratata.

Per says many people wonder how he can write songs for Herreys och Pinks, but after all, those are the most-selling artists in Sweden and Per makes a living from writing music.

Elisabeth asks Per which producer he would choose for his next solo album or Gyllene Tider’s next album. Per thinks Gyllene Tider needs a producer more than himself. His solo albums are much clearer than Gyllene Tider’s. He thinks there are tons of good producers, but perhaps above all two. One of them is Trevor Horn, who is a tech pro. He produced Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes. He is fantastic. The other is a guy called Robert “Mutt” Lange, who did The Cars’ latest LP. Per was stunned when he heard The Cars’ latest LP. That’s exactly what they should have done long ago, but they don’t have the resources.

Per says it’s so ridiculous that the record company still wants to have a new album in English. But they can’t spend more time on it, because then it will be the same thing again. Abroad they are competing for airplay time with all other Capitol artists such as John Waite, Tina Turner and David Bowie. And it is impossible.

To the question if he is interested in writing soundtracks or musicals, Per replies that he would like to do soundtracks and also instrumental music, it would be fun, but about musicals he thinks they are so boring.

Elisabeth asks Per if he remembers the first time he was standing in front of an audience. Mr. G says he was always singing Staffan Stalledräng. He and a guy called Peter Nilsson worked as troubadours and were singing at hospitals. There he learned how to sit with a guitar and sing for people. He says it was useful and helped when they played with Gyllene Tider. But he thinks he is still nervous. But that’s just because people have other requirements today in any context. Per says if you are at a family party, people always want you to sit down at the piano, sing and play. Stuff he hates, because he can’t. He can barely play the piano.

To the question which concert he was fascinated by, Per replies that there are several. Bruce Springsteen when he was in Sweden last. It was an incredible concert. He is just like an artist should be. He captivates his audience. Then Joni Mitchell when she was in Sweden. Per says he saw David Bowie on his recent tour in France. Randy Newman alone with a grand piano is the best there is. Staffan Scheja and Björn J:son Lindh are also beautiful. Per says there are so many ways to experience a concert, however, actually he doesn’t like to go to concerts. It’s rare that he goes to one and almost never at Scandinavium, because it’s so boring.

He is asked if he goes out to dance and his reply is he does. If he likes dancing? He says it depends. He thinks it’s fun to dance sometimes, it depends on what mood you are in. He tends to go out in Halmstad, but he doesn’t go out to dance only, but to eat.

Regarding what he produced so far Per says Rita & The Rip-Off. He would really love to produce more, but it’s hard when you work with yourself. This new album he is doing he produces it together with Lasse Lindbom. He thinks it’s good for all bands, no matter how much experience they have, to have a producer. You need an objective person all the time. If you work for a long time with your material, you become snowed in what you are doing. Producing other artists would be fun. Per thinks he is pretty good at it and he laughs. Then he goes off and gets more coffee saying he always drinks so much coffee. It’s part of his plans to produce more. The problem is that he likes working in Halmstad. He finds it boring to stay at a hotel in Stockholm.

Elisabeth asks Per what he would like to be able to do what he still can’t do. Per says he would like to be a better musician than he is. He would also like to be able to read music. No one he knows can do that. When one is working with other musicians, often older musicians, it’s an incredible advantage to be able to write and read music. When Per hears or knows what he wants in a song, he is humming it out. He thinks it’s a handicap. He would also like to be able to sing better, to have a larger vocal range. He went and took singing lessons four times, but he says he is not one of those who can do it, for example, every Tuesday. It’s rare that he is home. Mr. G says he had season ticket for Drott’s matches, but he saw only one game during the season, because he wasn’t home. He says it’s useless this way and he can’t have anything definite.

Elisabeth asks Per if he plays football and Per says they play soccer every Monday in the summer, he and some neighbors. He says it’s funny. He played football when he was little and he always found ball sports fun. He is also playing badminton quite often.

The interview ends with a question about what Per is doing now and he replies he is trying to get an agent in Los Angeles, and it goes pretty well.

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Spanish interview with Per Gessle about Roxette

Sebas E. Alonso did an interview with Per Gessle at the end of June for Spanish jenesaispop.com. Here you can read a summary of it in English.

Per and the reporter are talking about the updated sound on “Good Karma”, but keeping the DNA of Roxette. Mr. G says that for this album they have 2 more songs recorded and there are 3 others they didn’t record in the studio. He says if he doesn’t like a song, he leaves it and focuses on something else. To make a song takes a long time. If he makes a demo and he doesn’t like it, he leaves it completely. A song has to pass several processes before reaching the studio.

Per says all songs on the album are special. “From a Distance” was originally a ballad, atmospheric, without a groove. But they had many ballads, so they took Marie’s voice and gave it to Addeboy vs. Cliff. It became an uptempo song, they added a guitar and new voices. What’s on the album is the second version. It was the last song they recorded.

Mr. G says it’s cool that people still listen to their songs and every time he hears e.g. “It Must Have Been Love” at the airport or at the supermarket it feels great.

He talks about the band The 1975 from today’s music and that he likes their production, but he also still listens to ‘60s and ‘70s music. To the question if Roxette is a pop or a rock band Per replies they make pop music, but with guitars.

Regarding “Good Karma” Per says Marie thinks it’s their best album ever, but he thinks it’s rather just a good album. The best they could do now.

About “April Clouds” Mr. G says they had two ballads, “April Clouds” and “Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?” and they thought that one had to be the final song of the album. They decided on AC, which is organic, no synthesizers involved but real instruments. They don’t think of it as a farewell song, but many people interpret it so, and this is how things work. You do something and people interpret it as they want and this is how it should be.

The reporter asks about Marie and Per says he talked to her the day the interview was done (22nd June) and she was fine. Sometimes she can’t get up and has to sit, but other days she feels good and can even take a walk. Per says they haven’t talked about a future concert at all. It doesn’t look like there will be more concerts at all. But Marie sometimes surprises us and if she wants to do something, Per is there. But there are no plans at all.

Per talks about the fans, their support over the years and that it was a great rehab for Marie. He says even now when they decided not to do more tours they have their fans’ support.

Regarding how music changed nowadays, Mr. G says today the artist is like a brand, especially in the EDM world. David Guetta and Avicii are trademarks and are presented as brands, and they (Roxette) are not a brand. They want to be a band. Today in Sweden for example, Spotify is 90% of the market. No one is interested in the artists or producers anymore, however, he still buys physical albums besides listening to Spotify as well.

About the US Per says it was lost when their company was sold in 1992. They were planning the “Joyride” world tour, but the guys at the record label only wanted to work with people they knew and they didn’t know Roxette. Since then, things didn’t work. At the same time, to get the American market they had to spend 6 or 7 months there and when Marie became pregnant it changed everything. Since about 1993, when they started recording “Crash! Boom! Bang!” they didn’t do enough to keep themselves there on the market, they were not playing in the US. The last time they played in New York and Los Angeles was amazing, but it was not as massive. Per always says that they left America for the rest of the world. It required too much effort, they should have spent too much time there and Marie refused it.

Regarding “It Must Have Been Love” the reporter asks Per if he gets paid every time Pretty Woman is on TV. Per laughs and says he hopes so. He was asked if he thinks he could have won an Oscar with IMHBL for the best song and Per says he thinks so, but since there was an earlier version of the song, it couldn’t be nominated. And he laughs that it was him who told about the older version, so he should have just kept his mouth shut.

They talk about “Baladas en español” that it was the record company’s idea to record that album. Rafael Gil helped them to pronounce the words correctly and he says they got some critics. The reporter says there were no problems with the pronunciation, but the lyrics in Spanish were rather crappy. Per says he can say only “una cerveza, por favor” in Spanish.

Per closes the interview with the thoughts of being fortunate. If you look at the whole thing in perspective, it’s a miracle that Marie survived her illness. They did a tour of 200 concerts for 1.4 million people and it has been a blessing to work for 30 years in this. Marie doesn’t have cancer or anything, she is simply affected by the disease. Maybe they can make more music together in the future.

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Interview with Per Gessle about Good Karma, melodies, songwriting and other groovy things

zdf_pgThere were quite some shorter and longer Good Karma interviews with Per during the past few weeks and he even provided all of us, Roxers with a fantastic opportunity, a Facebook live Q&A some days ago, answering 84 questions in 1 hour. After all this, we still had thousands of questions, so we put them together and shot all of them at him.

Even if Mr. G is always very busy with all of his parallel projects, he found the time to answer all our Qs. It’s really m.u.c.h. a.p.p.r.e.c.i.a.t.e.d. and we love all his detailed replies! And also the less detailed ones. Haha. Enjoy!

 

RXB: – First of all, thank you very much in advance for taking your time and answering our questions. Much appreciated! We know you are always very curious about the reception of your releases. Seeing the reaction of fans, your new album, ”Good Karma” is loved. How does it feel?
PG: – It feels fab. Since our fans are extremely varied and therefore very hard to please we didn’t expect anything like this. People, including the media, seem surprised by the direction we’ve taken and we find that interesting. You never know what people might think.
”Good Karma” has been created with a natural flow, we knew right from the beginning what we were looking for. However it’s been quite a difficult album to make. Not only couldn’t Marie join us in the studio except for her vocal takes and the technical challenges we went through took a lot of time and energy, especially from Christoffer. You need a low pulse and lots of patience to make an album like G.K.

RXB: – ”Good Karma” is the shortest Roxette album with its 38 minutes. Quality over quantity, but do you consider an album having a certain length when you start recording?
PG: – No. We record songs we like and use the ones we like the most. In the ”Good Karma”-case there are a few leftovers but we didn’t think they matched the quality of the other tracks so we left them out. Personally I think forty minutes is perfect for an album. You know you’ve succeeded if your natural instinct is to play it again.

RXB: – Your album titles are always short and simple. After the 10th studio album was released, which of your records do you think has the best title, taking into consideration the whole concept around that certain album?
PG: – I think they’re all pretty good. No, I don’t. I don’t really like ”Pearls Of Passion”. I don’t like titles with an ”OF” in the middle. It sounds pretentious. My original song was called ”Pearls AND Passion” but it was misspelled by EMI on an early draft and we kept it like that for some reason. And I changed the title and the lyrics of my song. True story. Have I told that one before?
”Look Sharp!” is a very cool title. ”Crash! Boom! Bang!” as well. And ”Charm School” and ”Joyride”. And ”Have A Nice Day”. And ”Room Service”. Hey, we’re brilliant at titles!

RXB: – You smiled in the Sat1 interview that the album leaked and so you could read on Facebook which songs people liked already before the official release date. Does it piss you off when such things happen?
PG: – No, it was expected. It’s almost impossible to keep things secret these days. There’s always someone who spills the beans. It goes hand in hand with our open-minded and ultra connected universe.

RXB: – Regarding radio, the last time a Roxette lead single went on air worldwide was ”She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio)” in 2011. Unfortunately, in many countries ”It Just Happens” is still not played. Why do you think radios don’t pick it up even if there are news in the media about it?
PG: – Radio doesn’t work like it used to. In the old days you had music people who were in charge over playlists etc. Today most stations around the world play music selected by algorithms based on social media etc. It’s pretty tough to crack that system especially if you’re a ”vintage” band like us. It’s the same problem for most artists of our generation (and older). That’s one of the reasons most songs in the Top 40 chart sound pretty much the same and are targeted towards a very young audience who are on the internet all the time.

RXB: – You mentioned in several interviews that ”Good Karma” songs were not meant to be performed live. The previous two albums’ lead singles had you on lead vocals, which was obvious from promotional point of view as Marie wouldn’t have been able to handle new lyrics. How was ”It Just Happens” chosen now? Three singles in a row with you on lead vocals make us wonder.
PG: – No strategy. Warner wanted a ”classic” powerful Roxette-song as the lead single and off we went with ”IJH”. It’s a quite sophisticated song, coming from us. Maybe not the most obvious choice for a first single but I understand how they were thinking. Personally I consider ”IJH” to be a ”Marie-song”. Her vocals are the driving force behind it, not mine.

RXB: – ”Some Other Summer” might have a bigger potential. Do you expect it or any another song to be a bigger hit worldwide and that radios realize these tracks are worth to be on air?
PG: – No, I don’t expect anything. ”SOS” is a great pop song in my book, so are ”Good Karma” and ”Why Dontcha?” and a few others. But that doesn’t mean that I expect it to become a worldwide hit. It doesn’t work like that anymore. New balls, dear you.

RXB: – Talking about it, you gave ”Some Other Summer” to Sebastien Drums long before your original version was out. What was the idea behind someone else releasing your song before you do?
PG: – We had a mutual friend in the German music biz who asked us if we had a Rox-song Sebastien could use. And we had just finished ”SOS” so he got that one. I like the idea of doing unexpected things. Sometimes strange and wonderful things happen that way. But I never really understood Seb’s official version. There are a couple of other SOS-remixes he did that I prefer. But that’s me.

RXB: – The video to ”It Just Happens” turned out to be wonderful. We loved seeing you both enjoyed the shooting and Marie still loves acting. How was it working together with a new team?
PG: – It was cool. They all did a great job. We spent a day in an old building in the centre of Stockholm trying out the take away sushi and fooling around in front of the cameras. The rest of the shooting didn’t involve us at all but we certainly liked the result. It’s a beautiful little story that director Tobias Nordquist captured very well visually.

RXB: – We got used to the fact that MTV is mostly not about music and videos anymore and the clips are rather watched on YouTube, Vimeo, etc. What do you think is the purpose of a video clip nowadays?
PG: – I think most things you do promowise are made to remind the media and your fans that you’re still alive! If you release new music and don’t do anything, no interviews, no videos or no TV-appearances it’s really hard to cut through that enormous amount of information that surrounds us all. A video might pop up at an airport, department store or getting shared on smartphones. It’s all part of that big puzzle called the entertainment industry.

RXB: – We got very excited when in an earlier interview you mentioned you wrote some songs together with MP now for the first time since long. ”You Can’t Do This to Me Anymore” is now on the album and it’s certainly very different to what we are used to when you 2 put your talents together. Are there any other songs from this set of latest MP cooperations that might see the light of day?
PG: – I don’t know. We’ve written more songs together over the last couple of years but there are no plans of using them for the moment. Time will tell what’s gonna happen to them. MP sometimes got some wonderful and weird musical ideas and I try to glue them together with my humble ambitions. It’s fun. He’s very special. He still drives a very fast Suzuki-bike.

RXB: – You wrote 3 songs together with Addeboy vs. Cliff and they are co-producers on 3 other songs. How did it feel to work with others? You were never really into bringing new people in.
PG: – Well, I’ve changed. I had bumped into AvsC through other projects so I knew their style and what they were capable of. I basically asked them to send me some musical ideas, like sounds and grooves, bass lines and chord progressions, to see if I could make something out of it. And I could. I kept a lot of stuff they made, edited a few things out, added some new parts and wrote melody lines and lyrics. However, none of the songs we wrote together were specifically made for Roxette. They were just collaborations trying things out.
AvsC and me never worked together in the studio. It was all done via the internet. I loved the final result but actually never expected Marie to like it since it was pretty far out. Not quite ”classic” Roxette if you know what I mean. But she really loved some of the songs and so did Chris and Clarence. Off we went and put them on a rocket to Planet Roxette!
The ”Good Karma” track was co-written with AvsC but Chris wanted us to produce it ourselves so he could play some serious power chords in the intro. His guilty pleasure, I guess…. And Clarence added that ”Fading Like A Flower”-inspired keyboard intro. Very nice. Very catchy. Cheers.

RXB: – What’s the difference in the cooperation with Addeboy vs. Cliff between ”The Look” remake in 2015 when they got the basics and had to do something with it and when it was vice versa for ”Good Karma” songs and you asked them to give you baselines?
PG: – Well, the main difference is of course that the songs we wrote together started with them, not me. ”The Look” is my song which they ”interpreted” their own way. We did the same thing with ”You Can’t Do This To Me Anymore”, which was written by MP and me, but the backing track was created by AvsC. And they’ve just finished a fab uptempo version of ”Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?”. Same thing. A song of mine done in Addeboy vs Cliff-style. It will hopefully be released later this year.

RXB: – The world is changing. You record parts in one studio, others in another and you don’t even have to meet physically to put things together. Isn’t it strange for you to record this way? Don’t you miss the ”personal meeting” touch in each phase?
PG: – It depends on what kind of recording it is. The more technical it gets the less you need lots of people around. It’s always, more or less, only one person who’s doing the job anyway. In Roxette’s case it’s Chris since he’s in charge of the computer and the digital funfair. My (and Clarence’s) job is to guide him through the audio jungle with our taste and our musical suggestions.
Chris has become an amazing tech wizard. Without him and his vast palette of sounds the Good Karma project wouldn’t have sounded as interesting. And he’s become a brilliant mixing engineer as well. He mixes a song, sends me his vision, I change or suggest a few things and might add or take away something, he sends me back an updated version. And we go on and on like that for a few days and nights. When we’re done we send it to Marie and Clarence for their approval. That’s how the Good Karma-album was mixed.
When you make a record like ”Travelling” or anything with Gyllene Tider it’s a different ballgame. Then it’s all about instant communication and ”playing” together. I like both ways. I would love to make a new Mazarin-style album one day but I also know that if I want a really hardcore updated production sound it can’t really be done in that ”organic” way. You have to do everything on the computer. It’s no big deal. I’m glad I enjoy both ways. And have the opportunity to choose.

RXB: – Besides the standard vinyl, there is a limited edition, beautiful, orange coloured LP as well. How many copies of the limited edition vinyls are released?
PG: – I wish I knew but I don’t. A couple of thousand is my guess. It might be less. Or more.

RXB: – There is a poster to this edition and it’s the album cover. Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to include a poster on which you and Marie appear instead of the butterfly?
PG: – No, if we thought so we would have done it. We like the butterfly.

RXB: – On the vinyl there is a ghost track after ”April Clouds”. We tried to figure out what it is. Any hints?
PG: – No. Another internal joke.

RXB: – It’s the first time you and Marie don’t appear in any form on the front cover of a studio album. Why?
PG: – We wanted this project to have a symbol that we could use on lots of things. The album sleeve, the tiny stamp-sized pic used on iTunes and Spotify and Amazon etc. On merchandise and upcoming singles. The butterfly-image is beautiful and stands out and can be used in so many varieties. And it fits the music and the title.

RXB: – Now we understand the butterfly artwork, its X shape and the evolution it symbolizes. What is still not clear is the guitar and microphone appearing at a certain body part of poor butterflies. What’s that intended to be?
PG: – It’s up to you to decide.

RXB: – Then there is no instrument on the ”Some Other Summer” cover. Is that a coincidence or maybe you rethought it after reading some comments?
PG: – No. I haven’t even noticed that. Thanks.

RXB: – Warner seem to be enthusiastic about doing promo for Roxette and we are very happy to see all their efforts. How do you see your cooperation with them vs. EMI?
PG: – It’s a totally different market today so it’s really impossible to compare. Warner worldwide is very committed to Roxette and the Good Karma-project. We’re very happy.

RXB: – You say that you would never be able to write e.g. ”Fading Like A Flower” today, simply because you moved on as a songwriter. At the same time, each song on ”Good Karma” has your stamp on them. All the lyrics are Gessleish as usual and the songs have the classic Roxette sound. So it seems your songwriting basics stay the same, but something is changing. How do you see it?
PG: – Yes, it’s like that. I change a lot but I still stay the same. It’s good and bad. I have my trademarks and style which make my songs sound like me. It’s hard to close that door and I’m not sure I want to. The older I get the more I treasure my personality and my way of thinking. My creative challenge is to find new ways to express myself via new sounds and techniques and collaborators and partners. That’s what I’m trying to do.

RXB: – What was the most challenging in improving your own sound for ”Good Karma” and update your style of writing?
PG: – I don’t know. The idea behind the album, to make a quite complex production that’s not intended to be played live, was there from the beginning. I started to write songs with that in mind. And, like I’ve mentioned earlier, working with new collaborators became part of that task.

RXB: – Which song do you think has the best title on ”Good Karma”? Which song do you think someone who doesn’t listen too much to Roxette would definitely listen to by seeing its title?
PG: –”You Make It Sound So Simple” is my favourite title. It makes me curious.

RXB: – There are 2 ”Why don’t you…?” titles on the album. Even if they are different, with one being rather slangy, isn’t it strange to include 2 similar titles on the same album?
PG: – No.

RXB: – You say you are very satisfied with ”Why Dontcha?”, because even if it seems to be so simple, it’s very hard to write such a song. How do you know that a good song was written? Can you feel it from the very beginning once it was written that everyone in the gang will like it?
PG: – Yes, I feel it as go along writing it. If it doesn’t interest me enough I don’t finish it. I throw it on the fire. But that someone else will like it is a different matter. I never know.
I might finish my song, make a simple demo out of it. Then maybe I re-write it and make another demo before I play it to anyone. Every song has gone a long way before it’s presented to the people I work with.

RXB: – Are you impressed by any song on ”Good Karma” to the same extent as any of your biggest hits throughout the years?
PG: – All of them. This album was made at a certain point in our lives and we’ve done the best we could under the circumstances. I’m not the one to compare our new stuff to the old stuff. Every song and recording has its own history and destiny.

RXB: – Knowing the album was planned to be released earlier than this year, have the lyrics of ”This One” ever contained 2015? (”Oh gimme a coin and I will kick off a dream / In 2016”)
PG: – Yes. There are versions with ”2015” somewhere.

RXB: – The music of ”April Clouds” and ”Wish You The Best” is different and you also mentioned that ”Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers?” was originally an uptempo song. How does the melody to the same song change in your head?
PG: – I don’t know. I just follow what feels right. If you have a lyric like ”April Clouds”, which mostly were written a long time ago and you make new music to it, the end result will be quite different due to the fact that you’re a different person twenty years later. You interpret the words and the meaning and the vibe differently because you’re older and time has gone by.
Making ballads out of uptempo songs are quite easy. As long as the lyrics are interesting and the melodies are strong you can basically do whatever you want with a song.

RXB: – We know it’s very early since ”Good Karma” is out, but is there anything you would change on the album now?
PG: – I would love to have another go mixing ”You Can’t Do This To Me Anymore”. It’s OK but I know it can be even stronger.

RXB: – Roxette’s live career is (most likely) over for now. There are so many concerts that are lying in the vaults and waiting for a proper release. You mentioned a potential box with all these. Can you please tell us a bit more about what concerts it would include? We hope for Norrköping 88, Borgholm 89, Zurich and Sydney 91, Unplugged 93, Johannesburg 95 and Stockholm 2001 – having them in a bit better quality wouldn’t harm!
PG: – No, I can’t because I don’t know. But you’re right, the first things that should be made available are all those old live VHS-tapes and DVDs that’s not around anymore. The ones you mentioned.

RXB: – Roxette Diaries stopped in ’95. But there is 21 years more of Roxette stories to tell. Any plan to mix ”Soooo-Christoffer” clips and HAND / Room Service footage into one motion picture any time soon?
PG: – No, not for the moment. But I’m sure things will pop up down the road.

RXB: – Because of the tour cancellation, reporters of course asked you about Marie’s health and then many times overdramatized the situation with stupid headlines. It felt like history repeated itself, but you handled it quite well. How is it going with those interviews when you expect they would rather ask about the new album? Can you change the direction of the interview and skip answering questions not related to the album?
PG: – Yes I can if I want to. But most reporters are interested in Marie’s health and our future plans together. I can understand that. It’s not a problem for me. I know how media works.

RXB: – Was the tour photo book originally planned to be published this June already before the tour cancellation? Or if no cancellation, would you have waited until after the tour ending in September?
PG: – The plan was always to have it ready for the summer of 2016.

RXB: – Anders told there were several tens of thousands of photos and he had a hard time choosing only a certain amount to send you to choose from them. How did it work for you?
PG: – I went through hundreds of pics and put a little red dot in front of those I found interesting. I think Marie did the same.

RXB: – Will there be any tour book signing sessions?
PG: – No signing sessions, no.

RXB: – Roxette is celebrating the 30th anniversary this year. We got a new album, we’ll get the tour book. Any vinyl releases of previous studio albums by chance?
PG: – No plans but we might put together something for Record Store Day next year. 31 years is worth celebrating too!

RXB: – You wrote books, you did radio programs, you appeared countless times on TV. Do you fancy some new technological tricks besides Facebook and Twitter? As a part of your artistic exposure in e.g. YouTube videos?
PG: – Sometimes I do. I like new things.

RXB: – Besides music, your wine world is another part the fans are curious about. Are there any plans for some new items in The Per Gessle Selection in the near future?
PG: – Well, the new ”Kurt & Lisa” vintage will be out later this year. The new vintage of ”The Improver”-champagne from Pierre Peters will come early 2017. We’re talking about making a nice Pinot Grigio and also a new red wine from South Africa. Time will tell.

RXB: – Is there any question you would ask from your hardcore fan base now, either related to the new album or anything else?
PG: – Not really. You guys seem to cover most of my universe!

RXB: – Thank you very much for your time and good luck with all the new releases and your future projects!
PG: – Thanks very much. More to come, I promise!

 

/Patrícia, Tomasz, Kirsten, Judith, Sascha

Interview with Per Gessle about the new Roxette album

Ruutu (Finland) did a lovely and interesting telephone interview with Per Gessle yesterday. Listen to it HERE! It will play after 1-2 ads.

Per says It Just Happens was one of the first songs they started to work with for the new album. It’s a classic Roxette midtempo song, it’s some sort of a power ballad. They wanted to update their sound while keeping the classic Roxette sound. They decided quite early to bring fresh blood into the production side, so they started working with different producers. Some of them they used, some of them they got rid of very quickly.

The reporter asks Per if It Just Happens is his attitude for life and if he believes in destiny. Per replies most things in life that change you just happen. Like falling in love or situations that take you to different directions. You can’t really plan anything, it just happens. So in the end, he believes there is some sort of destiny.

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Still is from the Warner Music Argentina video

About Good Karma, the title of the new album Per says he had the song, Good Karma. He thinks it’s a positive thing and sums up Roxette’s special history. They had all the success, then came all the disaster when Marie got ill in 2002, then they did their 2009 comeback against all odds.

We want to make a positive statement with this album. There is a certain positiveness around the whole album.

Per says about his personality that he likes to have his antennas out and if there is something attractive to him, he uses it.

Going with the flow is just a great expression of how I live my life. Of course, you have to have your fundamental rules in life, but you have to be open-minded, curious. Especially when you’re getting older and especially in a business like the music business. It’s crucial to be aware of what’s going on, listen to new stuff. Otherwise everything is going to be the same and the same and the same and the same and I hate that, you know.

The reporter asks Mr. G if he still gets excited or even nervous when they release new stuff. Per says he doesn’t really get nervous, but he is always very curious about the reception. He is very much aware of the music industry. They still work in the Top40 format and it’s almost impossible for bands and artists like them being that old to get across, because pop music is always about today. It’s music for younger people. At the same time he finds it challenging to improve their sound or update his style of writing. He is not the one who can judge the end result.

Sometimes I say to myself, hey Per, you’re only just beginning. Everything is in front of you. And I think it’s a great attitude. I think it works.

According to Mr. G, the worst thing you can do is to close the door to new technology, new sounds. There is so much going on in the art world, not only in music, but photography, television, movies and social media for that matter that wasn’t on when he was a kid.

I thinks it’s crucial to be part of today and not only to be part of yesterday, because you’re getting old.

They talk about playing in Jyväskylä, Finland on 18th June and the reporter asks Per if he has any special memories from Finland or the Finnish audience. It’s always been great concerts there, so they are really looking forward to play at this place which he count pronounce. He asked just bring the sunshine for the outdoor show.

Thanks, Ruutu for the great interview!

Video to the new Roxette single

As you could read in our article this morning, Per starts a radio podcast on 24th March. A great chance to practice your Swedish by listening to 2 nerds chatting about music.

Today Per visited Swedish Radio P4 Halland and talked about the podcast. In the short interview he also mentioned that he is busy with other things as well. Besides that he started his own record label Space Station 12, there are also a lot of things happening around Roxette. The new album is out in summer, the single is out in April and he confirmed there will be a video to the single which they are shooting next week. Too cool!

Another interesting thing Mr. G mentioned is that they are playing 18 shows in Europe this summer. We know about 14 dates so far, so there are at least 4 more to come. Sounds promising!

Listen to Per HERE!

PG_P4_Halland_02  PG_P4_Halland_01

 

Interview with Marie on TV4

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An interview with Marie and Helena von Zweigbergk was broadcasted on TV4 Nyhetsmorgon today.

Marie and Helena were interviewed by Jesper Börjesson earlier this week. Both Jesper and MF FB page shared teaser pictures from the interview.

In the interview Marie and Helena explained about the process of writing the book, and that she hopes the book helps people who are going through a hard time / cancer. Because there is hope and it’s possible to make it. She also explains that she is thankful she survived and that deep inside she knew she would.

Marie also explains about her childhood and the  funeral of her sister as one of the strongest memories from her childhood.

She also thanks her fans for the prayer chain and the list of names which reached her at one of the worst moments in her sickness. It is very important for her and she wanted it to be in the book as a way to thank her fans.

The touching lovely interview can be seen here.