PRESS RELEASE – When Swedish pop duo Roxette made their debut with the summer single ”Neverending Love” 1986, not many believed that they would reach very far outside the Swedish border. Basically, only ABBA had managed to pull that off before.
But reality would soon surpass Marie Fredriksson’s and Per Gessle’s wildest dreams about international success.
With four US #1 singles, more than 80 million albums sold, and several world tours, Roxette in fact had two careers: the first when the band between 1986 and 2002 stormed the international charts, and the second with the unexpected and eagerly awaited comeback from 2009 to 2016.
Break and comeback
The first career was cut short when Marie Fredriksson in 2002 was diagnosed with a severe brain tumour that she miraculously managed to survive. The second career took off when the ever-fighting Marie had become so well that she not only could perform on stage, but even tour again.
But the band lived on borrowed time, and right before the release of the new album ”Good Karma” 2016, the Roxette saga finally came to an end. Doctors advised Marie to save her strength and quit touring. She did so, and got three more years before passing away in 2019, leaving millions of grieving fans with loving memories of her dynamic stage performances, and a treasure of recordings that forever had turned her and Per Gessle into pop history icons.
Wanted to perform again
After the initial void following Marie’s passing, Per started to feel an urge to get back on the road, meet the fans, and perform the songs with the classic Roxette family again.
But then the pandemic hit the world and postponed all thoughts on playing live. However, by then I already had recorded a song that got me wondering how it would sound if I made a new Roxette album that mixed a contemporary feel with the classic Rox attitude from ”Look Sharp!” and ”Joyride”.
The song was ”Walking on Air”.
In the autumn of 2019 I got an offer to write a song for a scene in the ”Top Gun: Maverick” movie. The result was ”Walking On Air”, but the scene was cut out of the movie, and I never heard from them again. So I kept it, started to write more songs in the same vein, and suddenly ”Walking On Air” had become the starting point for what would be the new PG Roxette album.
Dusted off the old synths
Having started to look back at the first golden Roxette years in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Per decided that he had to go down to the basement and get his old synthesizer workhorses från the 80’s up and running again.
If you want to go retro, get the right stuff, he smiles. So, I dusted off both the Jupiter 6 and 8, as well as my Prophet 5. A key or two was stuck, but after some TLC they were fit for fight again. Synth pop rules!
The recordings started in May 2020, and continued during the summer and autumn. By then a new offer had turned up; PG Roxette were asked to perform ”Nothing Else Matters” among the artists celebrating Metallica on the tribute album ”The Metallica Blacklist”.
One and one became three
The recording of ”Nothing Else Matters” made Per realize that the combination of Helena Josefsson’s and Dea Norberg’s voices, together with Per’s own vocals, would be the key ingredient on the new ”Pop-Up Dynamo!” album.
For me, it’s always been clear that Marie was impossible to replace, so until we recorded our version of ”Nothing Else Matters”, the idea was to use different singers through the album. But in this song, Helena and Dea was such a knockout combination that I decided to go with them all the way.
When Helena’s and Dea’s voices mix, it’s almost like they create a third persona. It’s a fabulous sound. And if you let them improvise on their own, they will come up with a whole palette of superb vocal takes, that you can play around with. And that, together with my vocals, became an integral part of the new album’s sound.
”My Chosen One” is the only exception from this rule on ”Pop-Up Dynamo!”, featuring a guest appearance by Swedish singer LÉON.
I heard a wonderful song on the radio, with a singer that reminded me a bit about Tanita Tikaram, who I loved in the 80’s. I had never heard of LÉON, but asked if she wanted to sing on the new album, which she did. I think the result became spectacular, and ”My Chosen One” is one of my favourites on the album.
The classic Roxette gang
Apart from that, the recordings of ”Pop-Up Dynamo!” has mostly been made with the inner Roxette circle: demoes and basic tracks recorded with long time collaborator Mats ”MP” Persson in the T&A studio in Halmstad, then down to the Malmö studio Farozon for further recordings with producers Clarence Öfwerman and Magnus Börjeson from the touring band, before final recordings at guitarist Christoffer Lundquist’s studio Aerosol Grey Machine.
Then it was mixed by Ronny Lahti, who also did Roxette’s ”Room Service” album in 2001, as well as created wonders with a few of my solo projects over the years.
Even guitarist Jonas Isacsson – whose electrifying riff once sent ”The Look” intro straight up in the pop stratosphere – is back in action again.
Guitar solos might not be the hottest thing in the universe right now, but if you’re looking back at Roxette’s heydays, you have to have at least one devastating guitar solo on the album. So, we let Jonas loose in ”Headphones On”. I don’t understand how he does it, but every time he starts playing, something magical happens.
A new ”Listen To Your Heart”
”You Hurt The One You Love The Most” was written in Amsterdam with Giorgio Tuinfort, who has collaborated with Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and numerous other superstars.
We had worked together with David Guetta and my Mono Mind project earlier, and now we were in a studio when Giorgio sat down by the piano and said: “Shouldn’t we write a new ’Listen To Your Heart’ together?” ’Hahaha – of course!’, I said, and 30 minutes later we had ’You Hurt The One You Love The Most’.
You could write a small novel about every song on ”Pop-Up Dynamo!”. But enough of the talk right now. Get your headphones on, press “play”, and discover the 2022 version of a pop phenomenon that never ceases to amaze.
“Pop-Up Dynamo!” is released on October 28.
Photos by Fredrik Etoall.
Click HERE for the Swedish version of the press release!