Det svenska popundret – The Swedish Pop Phenomenon

2 months ago SVT broadcast a documentary about modern Swedish music’s journey around the world. I just had the time now to watch it and since many fans asked for translation, I thought I would summarize it for them. The part with Roxette in it has a more detailed summary, of course.

The documentary consists of 6 episodes and one can follow how the music industry, music consumption, production and spreading music changed over the decades. It’s a real high quality docu including a lot of information not only about Roxette, but many other Swedish artists and worldwide hits.

The 6 episodes on SVT’s website are available to watch only in Sweden, but the extras can be watched even outside Sweden. The episodes are up on YouTube though, so you can watch them from any country.

Part 1 – En magisk afton i april – A magical evening in April

This episode is about the ’60s and ’70s. I picked a couple of interesting parts of it. One of them is when the reporter asks several Swedish artists (Dr. Alban, Neneh Cherry, Jonas Åkerlund, Björn Skifs, Per Gessle among them) if they know who the first Swedish artist was that entered the US Billboard Hot 100. Even Per couldn’t guess it right. It was Siw Malmkvist with Sole Sole Sole in 1964, peaking at No. 58. When the reporter hands over the single to Mr. G he says it has a wonderful cover. He immediately takes out the vinyl from its sleeve and smells it. Haha.

Another interesting fact was that the first Swedish No. 1 on Billboard was Blue Swede’s cover of Hooked On a Feeling. Blue Swede was Björn Skifs’ band back then. What is more interesting is that the song became No. 1 on the same day when ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. 6th April 1974.

ABBA, still being Sweden’s biggest music export, was the first band that could make an international breakthrough not coming from the US or the UK.

Paul Gambaccini (known as The Professor of Pop) from BBC says they learned that if you get music from Sweden, you should at least listen to it.

Part 2 – “Today Sweden, Tomorrow The World”

Yes, this is the episode about Roxette, the ’80s mainly, but also a few words about the ’90s. It is worth watching this episode even if you can’t speak Swedish. It shows a lot of footage from concerts, studio sessions and old interviews.

In one of the old interviews Marie and Per say their dream is to break through not only in Sweden, but also internationally.

First, the reporter is talking about Gyllene Tider with Per. After a while he shows the English version of När vi två blir en (Beating Heart) to Mr. G on YouTube. Per’s facial expression says it all. Many artists tried their luck in the ’80s. They were singing in English to have better chances for their breakthrough.

Per shows The Heartland Café album that was released in 1984, one year after he released his first solo album. Then he suddenly shows another sleeve which says Roxette as the band’s name. That was the US version. Per tells he remembers he was at Tower Records in Los Angeles and found their album next to Roxy Music and it made him very happy. But they sold only a few hundred copies of that record. The Heartland Café didn’t sell good in Sweden either.

About Marie, the reporter says a girl showed up with a better voice than the best singers had. Per says Marie and him thought they could do something together and one day break through abroad. Mr. G says it was a better period for Marie when GT failed with The Heartland Café. She was an artist on her way up with a bright future. For Per, it was the exact opposite. He released another solo album that was a flop.

Per always wanted to work together with Marie and do something in English. Mr. G wrote Svarta Glas for Pernilla Wahlgren, but she or her record company never got back to Per. Then this song was just lying around and when the head of EMI heard it, he told Per he should translate it into English and record it with Marie. It became Roxette’s debut single, Neverending Love. There was no picture of Marie and Per on the cover not to risk Marie’s career. If the single flops, there is no harm done, they thought. But the single became a hit in Sweden, so they went to the studio to record a complete album. They had a video camera with them and extreme ambitions. They even printed ”Today Sweden, Tomorrow The World” on their T-shirts.

There was another Swedish band back in the days that was really successful, Europe. The reporter asks Per if they were envious of Europe. Mr. G says of course they were. Of their hairdo. Haha. After we get to know more about Europe’s breakthrough, Per says they envied the success of the guys, but at the same time it was awesome. Europe showed that it works even after ABBA. They managed to succeed in the US.

Roxette’s debut album wasn’t released abroad even if it became double platinum in Sweden. EMI in Germany said they should write a Christmas song, so it might be on the radio. Per went home and wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted). It was a big song in Sweden in 1987, but it wasn’t even released in Germany.

The reporter says, if you come from Halmstad, there is only one way to go, forward. Per started writing songs for another Roxette album and they were soon back in the studio. With less musicians, more machines and of course, Marie’s magical voice.

Per thinks that their 2nd album, Look Sharp! is still magnificent. The reporter asks what people thought about the album abroad. Per says it had a nice response, but many other artists had good albums. The reporter asks if they were disappointed. Mr. G says he was disappointed because he knew it was a fantastic album, they all felt it was a strong record, so they thought it’s difficult to go forward when you don’t have success with such an album.

In 1988 another Swedish artist broke through internationally. It was Neneh Cherry with her Buffalo Stance single. Per says it’s an awesome one. He knew that Neneh Cherry was Swedish, but many thought she was e.g. from Brooklyn.

Then comes the story of Dean Cushman. As we all know, he brought his copy of Look Sharp! to the radio station in Minneapolis. Program leader Brian Phillips says it picked his curiosity, but didn’t put it on on his CD player. The album was lying around on his table among other music. Then Dean popped up again to ask his album back, so then Brian felt guilty and thought he would listen to it. The Look came up and Brian thought the intro was great. He thought the whole song was great. ”This is terrific pop. I remember hitting the false ending in the song and it picked back up again and then I got goosebumps. Oh boy… this is…”

Per says they sent it to other stations too and got the same response. Everything exploded after that. The Look became No. 1 on the US Billboard 100 on 8th April 1989. In an old interview Per explains what it means to have an US No. 1. It can open the doors to other markets, like Europe, Japan, everywhere.

Per tells the story of soundtrack to Pretty Woman. He was asked to write a soundtrack song for a movie called 3000 Dollars in the beginning. He didn’t have the time to write a new song, but thought It Must Have Been Love could work with that. And the rest is history. 6 months later Pretty Woman became one of the biggest movies of all time and IMHBL became Roxette’s biggest song. The reporter asks how the song worked in Germany. Per says it became a hit there too. It was No. 4 on the charts the reporter confirms.

The reporter gives Per a piece of paper with numbers written on it. 1, 14, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2. Per guesses it right, it’s the list of Roxette’s singles’ peaks on Billboard. The Look, Dressed for Success, Listen to Your Heart, Dangerous, It Must Have Been Love, Joyride, Fading Like A Flower. Per says the more time goes by, the more unbelievable it feels.

To emphasize how amazing it is, there were 7 Swedish No. 1’s on Billboard and 4 of them are Roxette songs. Roxette had more US No. 1’s than e.g. the Queen.

Swedish No. 1’s

1974 Blue Swede – Hooked On A Feeling
1977 ABBA – Dancing Queen
1989 Roxette – The Look
1989 Roxette – Listen To Your Heart
1990 Roxette – It Must Have Been Love
1991 Roxette – Joyride
1994 Ace of Base – The Sign

Part 3 – Hitkrattan och Cheirongubben – Exploring hits and the Cheiron guy

This episode is about the ’90s, the disco and dance floor era. DJs and music producers talk, but also Dr. Alban and Ace of Base, as well as American artists who came to Sweden to record their songs. Denniz Pop and Max Martin also appear in this part of the documentary, who wrote and produced songs for e.g. Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Part 4 – “Generation Blockflöjt” – Generation Recorder

This episode is also about the ’90s. The Wannadies, Atomic Swing, The Cardigans, Meja are talking among others, but also Jonas Åkerlund who directed tons of music videos. Roxette’s Fingertips and June Afternoon, as well as Per Gessle’s Kix is shown in the docu for some seconds, but he directed videos also for e.g. The Prodigy, The Cardigans, U2 and Madonna.

Part 5 – Ett paradis för pirater – A paradise for pirates

This episode is about the 2000s. It’s about how the computers and the internet changed the music industry. Basshunter, Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii and his manager, as well as Daniel Ek (VD Spotify) talk among others in this part of the docu. Most of this episode is about Avicii.

Part 6 – Må bästa låt vinna – May the best song win

In this episode we can see again the question about who the first Swedish artist was on Billboard. Then another question is asked from several artists: Which song is the biggest hit? Being for the longest time on several charts, not only in the US. In the vinyl era: ABBA – Dancing Queen; CD era: Ace of Base – The Sign; streaming era: Avicii – Wake Me Up; written by a Swede: Lady Gaga – Poker Face (co-written by RedOne).

Most of this episode is about Max Martin and Johan ”Shellback” Schuster. Martin has 22 No. 1’s on Billboard Hot 100. Only John Lennon and Paul McCartney have more. Justin Timberlake says Martin is great at making earworms. Adam Levine, Pink, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift are also talking about him. Martin together with Shellback produced tons of worldwide hits.

Extras

Hitlåtens historia på 2 minuter – Roxette – The Look

It’s the song’s story in 2 minutes. Most of it is repeating what you could hear and see in Part 2 of the docu about the song. In addition it is mentioned that the recording technician who would have originally been in the studio broke his leg, so Anders Herrlin came to record with Marie and Per. He brought computers, synths and some other stuff. Roxette found their sound. Also, they are talking about the song, what the lyrics mean. There Per explains he wrote the lyrics to remember the rythm. If you want, you can find a surreal logic in the text.

Per + Marie = Roxette

Per says he thought he was good at writing songs, but he didn’t like his own voice. He thought his voice set a limit to his material. He didn’t want to sing, but wanted to work with someone who could. When Marie started singing she made Per’s songs so much better. In the end they became a duo and Per was singing too. He says it’s effective. It’s the same as in Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles or The Beatles. You can customize the song after you wrote it. He wrote The Look for Marie, but it didn’t fit her, but it suited Per. The big ballads he wrote for her, Queen of Rain, Listen To Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love, Marie made them big anthems. When he listens to his demos of these songs he can hear they are rather boring. It’s Marie’s capacity that lifted these songs. Per says they were a good combo. Match made in heaven. They were good at different things, but when they added them together, 1 + 1 made 5.

Fönster mot TV-världen del 2: Roxette tar över Argentina – Window to the TV world (part 2): Roxette takes over Argentina

Per talks about their first tour in South America 1992. He says there was extreme poverty and Michael Jackson cancelled his tour, Guns N’ Roses too, Madonna as well. It was clear they wouldn’t earn money on that part of the tour, but they still wanted to play there. Whole South America exploded. They had to move their shows from places with capacity of 7000 to football stadiums with capacity of 48000 in Buenos Aires, 65000 in São Paulo, 55000 in Rio de Janeiro. Same in Lima and Santiago. After the first Buenos Aires concert they had to do another show and they sold the rights to broadcast live to one of the 2 TV channels in Argentina. The other TV channel was broadcasting their Zurich show from half a year before. So that night for about 90 minutes Roxette was all around Argentina.

 

Stills are from the documentary.

Per Gessle on SVT – Go’kväll

As you all know, Per Gessle appeared on SVT’s evening show, Go’kväll on 25th November. The recordings took place in the TV studio in snowy Umeå 2 days before. Even if the TV broadcast was at 18:15 CET, SVT Play made the whole program available on the web very early in the morning. Watch the whole show HERE!

The show starts with host Pekka Heino and Per Gessle standing in the front, the band sitting on the couch in the back. Pekka is having a discussion with Per saying he doesn’t know what he’ll become when he grows up. Per says it’s actually the same with him. So they’ll see if they come up with something during the show.

Besides Per, there is a chef, Gustaf Mabrouk in the studio to prepare some dessert and stylist Hedvig Andér. Pekka starts talking about fashion with Hedvig and apropos talking about fashion icons, he turns to Per. Before they are talking about clothes, Pekka mentions Per has released 2 albums, one in spring, one in autumn. Both recorded in Nashville last year. He also mentions that Per went on tour this summer, for the first time with songs from his entire career and he is going to release a live album and a photo book as well. Pekka says he is old-fashioned and still buys records at record stores. Per is joking and asks where he can find a record store. Pekka says there is at least one in Stockholm.

Getting back to fashion, Pekka says they found a recording from Jacob Dahlin era, from Jacobs stege show on TV. Per says “Help! Fasten your seatbelts!” Roxette’s Soul Deep performance is shown from 1986, Marie and Per wearing their stylish shoulder padded clothes. Then Pekka shows a picture of a young Per Gessle from the ‘70s, Per says it was 1977 when he was 18. He recognizes the nice white buttons and mentions wearing socks with moccasins is not so good. But it was cold in Halmstad. Haha. Then a 1981 Gyllene Tider pic is shown. Per was wearing a white belt to a pair of black leather pants. Back then it was cool, but not anymore. And it was the era of narrow ties. Pekka asks Per how many hair colors he has had over the years. Per replies now it’s mostly grey, but he had all possible hairdos. Blue-black hair, then blonde, purple and red like wine. Then carrot red during his David Bowie era. Pekka shows a picture of Roxette from 1989, from the breakthrough era. Marie and Per were styled and photographed in New York for this pic and had their clothes from Trash and Vaudeville that sold fantastic clothes on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan. The stylist confirms that the clothes are really cool and fit the era. The last pic shown is a private photo of Per and Åsa. Per says it’s from the ’80s, this is how they looked when they were young. Pekka asks whose hairdo took longer time to be done. Per says it was his. The stylist says Per’s jeans on the pic look quite modern for that time. Patched jeans. Pekka asks Hedvig about what is still to be found in today’s fashion in any form if they look at these pictures from the ’70s and ’80s. Leather jacket, as well as patched or torn jeans are still trendy. Maybe the striped tights aren’t, but everything comes back into fashion. Maybe not in the same combination, but everything comes back. Then Pekka and Per take out 2 pairs of boots. Per says they bought them in 1989 for photo sessions, TV shows and stage use. One can see on their sole they are hardly used. Per tells they had 1800 interviews in 8 months back then and 400-500 photo sessions at the same time. So they had tons of clothes. Especially Marie has a fantastic collection of leather jackets, one can see photos of them in her autobiography book.

 

Pekka walks back to Gustaf to see what he is doing in the kitchen. Per follows him. Gustaf is preparing lemon fromage. Gustaf asks Per to taste the yuzu cream he prepared. Per reacts, woohoo, there is minus sugar in it. He says it’s very good. Per looks happy when he sees Gustaf adds white chocolate to the dessert. Pekka is kidding Per, saying Per tries to memorize the recipe. Haha. He asks Mr. G how he is in the kitchen. Per says he is pretty bad, but his wife is very  good, so he rather lays the table, opens the wine and washes up the dishes. (Look at the band’s reaction when Per says washing up, LOL! 😉 ) Mr. G says he wishes he could cook. He says he is good at preparing mincemeat sauce though. Pekka and Per laugh when they see Gustaf as a man can do multi-tasking, 2 things at the same time. Before leaving Gustaf, Pekka says hi to the band and tells Per and Co will perform a song with a children choir. Then he leaves Per and there is a short discussion with Hedvig, without Per.

After some minutes, Pekka greets Per again. Now they are sitting on the couch and the real interview starts. At this point you realize that torn jeans are really trendy these days… Haha. Pekka talks about the fact that actually in Swedish media he was the first one who came out with the news of Roxette having a No. 1 in the US, The Look. It was in Frukostbrickan on P3 Swedish Radio. Pekka asks Per if he remembers how the news about No. 1 got to him back then. Per says he was in Halmstad, Marie was in Stockholm. They knew that they had the chance to become No. 1, but they were in separate places not to become disappointed together if they don’t become No. 1 in the end. But they became No. 1 and it was silly to be in 2 separate cities.

Pekka then remembers a story he read back in the ’80s. ABBA-Frida released her first solo album in English in 1982. Per wrote music to a Dorothy Parker poem that Frida read a lot of times. What Pekka read is that when the album came out, Per asked his financial adviser ”Am I a millionaire now?” Per laughs and says it’s not true. Not everything is true what one can read.

Pekka says ABBA members were around 30 when they broke through and that was the case with Roxette, too. Per says both Marie and him had approximately 10 years of experience in Sweden before they broke through with Roxette. Pekka asks how they handled succes after that. Per says they could make decisions differently. When they became big in the US, their record label wanted them to move to the US, but they wanted to stay in Stockholm and work with their band and they could decide for themselves.

Pekka asks if there is a difference between luxury back then and luxury now. Per says he doesn’t know. The more you get older, the more you value other things. Time, for example. When you are 25-30, you don’t think about time. Then you waste it, with all rights. But when you get older and lose your friends, parents and siblings, time becomes valuable. At this point they start talking about ”En vacker natt” and ”En vacker dag”. Per tells he recorded the albums in Nashville and EVN has his sister on the cover, while EVD has his mother on it. He tells he lost his mother, sister and brother in 3 years so he is the only one who is left in the family. It was tough. He handled it via working further. This is how it works for him. He uses his experiences and feelings in his work.

Pekka and Per talk about the fact that long relationships are important for Mr. G both in his private and professional life. Per says he is together with his wife since more than 30 years, he works together with the same guys in Gyllene Tider since 1979, his manager since 1986, the same booking company and Marie and producers and almost the same record label.

Pekka talks about the 2 Polish guys, Jakub and Dawid who made a video to Roxette’s song, ”Some Other Summer” and Per surprised them at the QX Gala in Stockholm earlier this year. Per says Roxette has the best fans in the world. They are very creative, active and have always been supporting them, especially when Marie was ill in 2002. Per says the surprise at the gala was cool. The guys got a lot of shit in Poland and it was lovely that they came to Stockholm. They are wonderful people.

They move on to the songwriting topic. Pekka asks Mr. G if he decides in advance whether the song he is writing is for Gyllene Tider or Roxette or for his solo career. Or if it is the song that comes first and then he decides where to use it. Per says both can happen. One deals with several projects and writes for a certain project, but it can happen that a song is too heavy for Gyllene Tider for example, then he can put it in his solo box and take it out 3 years later. Pekka says there are songs that have Swedish lyrics and also English lyrics. He asks Per whether it goes smoothly or it’s challenging for him. Per says he translated his Nashville albums to English and it was actually quite hard to do, because the texts are very private and personal. To find the feeling in English was very hard, so half of the texts is written by a Nashville girl. The album is to be released in spring 2018.

Pekka says he is quite convinced that one day there will be a jukebox musical, the question is only whether it will be based on Gyllene Tider, Roxette or Per’s solo songs or all together. Per says each can have an own musical, why to choose.

Pekka mentions that Per has described his career as a tree. Per confirms, he has many branches on his tree and he tries to exploit it, not to tire out his audience. Working internationally provides a much bigger market. It’s harder to work only in Sweden, you can make people feel ”not him again”. Per says he is very fortunate to have all these branches.

Pekka asks Per about what he thinks about songs all people want to hear at the shows. Mr. G says when he works in English, the audience is international. They don’t know Sommartider or Gå & fiska! or Leva livet or Här kommer alla känslorna. But Gyllene Tider never rehearse Sommartider for example. They would laugh, but when there are 10000 people in front of them, then it’s wonderful to have these songs. Every artist loves their own hits, those are the spine of their activity.

Pekka asks Per if he thinks about what comes next when he creates playlists. It happens, but Per has a long playlist that suits most. It’s an easy listening how he calls it. Sounds a bit like guilty pleasure. There is everything possible from old jazz to James Taylor.

The interview ends here and the guys go back to the kitchen to see what Gustaf is doing. Per enjoys seeing the final steps of preparing the dessert and says it looks fantastic. He also touches and smells the lemon verbena plant that’s right in front of him. Gustaf asks Per if he is a dessert guy. Per says, unfortunately, he is. He says he loves Italian kitchen and so he loves Tiramisu. The guys talk about TV series and Per says he likes it when the whole season is available and can watch it at once. One can get hooked to some series.

Before they can all taste the dessert, Pekka leaves the guys and goes back to Hedvig. After the discussion, they all gather to try Gustaf’s treat. Per is joking and says he has crumbs all over his mouth already – trying before others. They all like it and say they will save Per’s portion, but Mr. G has to leave for the stage, because the band is already waiting and they perform ”Det är vi tillsammans”. John Holm isn’t there this time, Helena Josefsson is singing the parts John sings on the album. What an incredibly amazing performance it is! You can also watch it separately HERE!

The band: Helena Josefsson, Malin-My Wall, Christoffer Lundquist, Ola Gustafsson, Martin Höper; children choir: Vasakyrkan Amigos.

Per Gessle on TV show ”Robins”

A week ago it turned out that Per Gessle would be a guest on Swedish talk show “Robins” on September 30 on SVT1. We all got excited to see an interview with Mr. G on such a program. It’s similar to the late night shows you can see on US channels and stand-up comedian Robin Paulsson, the host is often called the Swedish David Letterman.

The recordings happened on 28th September and since then we could see many pictures where Per, Robin and the other guest on the show, Keyyo appeared. We couldn’t wait anymore for tonite when a teaser video was published yesterday, with Keyyo getting pranked. Seemed to be a fun TV program and we could already see in that teaser that Mr. G had a good time during the show.

Finally, tonight we could watch the real deal, the complete program with the Per Gessle interview in it. The show starts with Robin telling Per backstage that the lyrics to The Look is a bit confusing. Keyyo starts reading it, then Robin continues. Per says he finds nothing strange in it, but Robin says they don’t understand the text. Then Per says it’s in English. Robin and Keyyo say: aaaah, English, then they can understand the rest too, na-na-na-na-na-na… Haha.

Per enters the studio at around 5 minutes in and gets a huge applause and loud woohoo from the audience. First Robin and Per are talking about the differences between their jobs. Robin says he envies Per, because he can play his songs from the ’80s and people love them, but no one wants to hear a comedian telling a joke from 1981. Per says it might not be true. He saw Monty Python on their farewell tour in London and was wondering if it could be fun to hear a joke what he already heard so many times, the ”Parrot Sketch” and it was much fun even if he knew exactly when the fun part came and what the joke was about. Everyone loved it. Robin says he as a comedian can get tired of certain jokes and throws them away. He asks Per what happens if he is doing a concert and skips Sommartider. Mr. G says it’s good to have some more songs. As a last comparison of their jobs, Robin tells Per he can fill in The Look with nanananana and everyone loves it, but he can’t come up with nanananana in his jokes, people would miss something. Per says nanananana is good, because it’s international.

The guys are talking about Per’s new album. Per tells he recorded 2 albums in Nashville, En vacker natt and En vacker dag. Robin mentions it’s said to be Per’s most personal release ever. Robin asks Mr. G how he means it’s the most personal and Per tells about the tough times in his family, that his mother, brother and sister passed away during the past 3 years and it affected the atmosphere of his music. Robin asks Per whether it is more difficult to write a personal song or a summer song like Sommartider. Per says one of the questions he gets most often is how to write a hit. He has no clue. He never plans to write a hit, he just can’t plan it. Robin is surprised that it means that Per never knows which song would become a hit. Then Per tells him he is the worst at choosing singles. He wanted to leave “Här kommer alla känslorna” off Mazarin. Robin concludes Per is a very good musician, but at the same time also very bad.

Robin says it feels like Per is a normal person despite him being a pop star, very down-to-earth. He asks Per if success has ever gone to his head. Mr. G says he doesn’t know, it’s hard to tell, because he was 19-20 when Gyllene Tider broke through, so he lived all his life in this “celebrity fame”. So he doesn’t know how life is without all this. Maybe he would be unbearable. Robin says he is not unbearable, they met backstage. OK, he had to pay for an autograph, but that’s OK. Haha.

To see how the pop star life touched Per, Robin asks questions and Mr. G has to answer whether it’s typically an everyday thing or a typically luxury thing. If he replies everyday, he has to drink milk, if he replies luxury, he has to drink champagne. Per asks what kind of champagne it is. Haha. Robin says Per is such a gourmet. Ready, steady, go! Robin’s first question: Ferrari or bus? Per takes a sip from the champagne. Next question: Russian caviar or Kalles caviar? Per chooses Kalles and takes a sip from the milk. Next: patent shoes or clogs? Per takes a sip from the champagne. Robin asks if Per has clogs. Mr. G says no, he drinks. Next: Venice Beach or Tylösand? Here Per asks which one is which. Haha. Good question. He chooses the champagne and says Tylösand. Next: watching a Real Madrid or a Halmia match? Per chooses Halmia and drinks champagne. Robin concludes Per is a big fan, but also mentions that it doesn’t go so good for Halmia now as for Halmstad. Per says: soon! Haha. Last question: sitting on a throne in a palace or on a rock by a lake in a forest (på en sten vid en sjö i en skog)? It’s the rock! And Mr. G takes a sip from the champagne and says it’s a good one, the champagne.

Robin says let’s turn back time to the ‘70s. How was it being Sweden’s biggest pop star at the age of 20? Per says it was bewildering. Gyllene Tider did 6 concerts before they became No. 1. They came from nowhere. Robin says 6 gigs are nothing, one can’t become confident on stage after only 6 shows. Per says they weren’t too confident at their seventh gig either. Haha. Robin asks which song was No. 1 then. Per says Flickorna på TV2. Robin says it must have changed Per’s life. Mr. G says totally, it was cool. Suddenly he got 2000 cards on his birthday, people stole his laundry that hung in the garden to dry, everything movable disappeared, e.g. the number plate on the car.

Robin asks Per what the key to success is. Per says the 3T: tur, tajming, talang, i.e. luck, timing and talent. Robin adds hard work maybe. Per says yeah, one has to do his own 10000 hours, but there are a lot of coincidences and you also have to be in the right place at the right time.

Robin says it’s easy to believe that Per’s career has always been going upwards, but there was a period between Gyllene Tider and Roxette, around 1985 when it was a tough time. He asks Per if he could describe that period. Per first says no and laughs. Then he tells Gyllene Tider was over in 1984 and he didn’t have a record contract or a vision what he should do. He started writing songs for others, because he had the reputation as a songwriter. He says the coolest was that he knew Marie Fredriksson since years then as they shared a rehearsal room in the ’70s and they were talking about doing something together. Per wrote a song to Pernilla Wahlgren, Svarta glas, but she has never recorded it. Then Per translated it into English and that became Roxette’s first single, Neverending Love, which was a big hit in Sweden in 1986. They recorded an album from all his refused Swedish songs. Per translated the songs into English and that became Roxette’s first album.

Robin says when he was a child he thought Per and Marie were a couple. Per says many thought so and many others thought he was Marie’s manager and Marie was called Roxette. A TV studio had a dressing room for Marie and they showed the green room for Per.

Robin mentions that It Must Have Been Love was played 4 million times already until 2005 on the radio in the US. It’s like playing it non stop for 35 years. Per says he can talk about this song for long. It was written in 1987. They tried to get on the market in Germany and they were said that it’s easier with a Christmas song. So he wrote “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for The Broken Hearted)”. When they played it for the German, they hated it. So they released it in Sweden and it became a Christmas hit in 1987. Robin says one doesn’t think about this song as a Christmas song. Then Per tells the story how it became a song for the movie Pretty Woman some years later. Robin concludes Per recycles a lot. Everyone laughs.

Robin asks Per if he has ever felt it’s enough now. Per says he is not done yet. Nowadays he feels more confident about what he is doing than 20 years ago, because back then he wanted to prove things for himself. Now everything is more relaxed and he is doing things for his own sake. It’s more fun now. It was fun before too, of course, but now it’s devilishly fun.

With this the interview ends, but Per stays in the studio while Robin’s other guest, Keyyo arrives. She is a 20-year-old YouTuber who is very popular in Sweden. She is originally from Russia, but lives in Sweden since she was 8. Robin asks Keyyo if she listened to Per, his music. Keyyo says she has to be honest, she didn’t listen to Per, but her mother did and now her mother envies Keyyo a lot for being on the same show as Per Gessle. Keyyo tells a story that when she was 8-9 years old and they were driving in the car and Tycker om när du tar på mej came on the radio and exactly this part: ”Jag tycker om dina bröst i morgonljuset”, she always thought it was so filthy. Haha. She also compliments Per saying he is so normal. Everyone laughs.

Then the show is about Keyyo who also got pranked and you can see Per had a good time also in the second half of the show. It was a nice program. Would be fun to see Mr. G more on TV shows like this. Cool thing!

Watch the TV show HERE!

 

Per Gessle at Allsång på Skansen 2017

On June 13th it was announced that Per Gessle would perform at Allsång på Skansen on 4th July. The day has come and Per collected his new band to appear on stage at Skansen. During the day he showed the new tussilago drumhead on insta and also posted a pic of himself and Sanna Nielsen, singer, presenter. We could see some instapics and instavids from the rehearsals where we could hear the band playing Sommartider and Småstadsprat. We heard they also rehearsed Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång). 2 hours before showtime SVT shared a photo of Mr. G posing backstage. He had a new stage outfit on. Black shirt with red stars on the shoulders and black trousers with red stripes on the sides. And Per must have come from the hairdresser, haha, his hair is freshly cut. Ready for tonite, ready for the tour!

The show started at 20:00 and it was available live online. You can watch it HERE! First Sanna Nielsen was singing and introduced the artists who would perform at the event. Per had a chit-chat with some in the crowd while waiting and people were of course taking pictures of him. Mr. G was walking towards the stage after Sanna Nielsen introduced him, waving to the crowd. He was the first to perform, Sommartider. Hej hej, it was a fab starter! All from 3 to 99 in the audience loved it and sang along. So many happy faces all around, all smiles. Per left the stage after Sommartider ended, but Sanna told he would be back later.

We had to wait until 20:50 to see Mr. G again. Sanna said Per wrote more songs than she could count and she started singing It Must Have Been Love, asking the audience to sing along, while PG was getting up on stage again. Per loved to hear the crowd singing IMHBL. Then he and the band started playing Småstadsprat. Now the cameras showed close-ups of the band members too. They sounded fantastic together again. The part Lars Winnerbäck sings on the album version was sung by Sanna Nielsen this time. The crowd didn’t really sing along to this one. They need to practice a bit more or check their booklets thoroughly next time.

After Småstadsprat Sanna asked Per about a tour memory he would never forget. Per said there are many, but he remembered and told the story when (he believes) in Mexico City he tried a sexy move on stage, but he stumbled over a lamp and his pants got torn. Marie and the front row thought it was funny, but Per thought thank God there were no mobile phones back then. He said anyway it’s great to be on tour and play to fantastic crowds like this here. The best is to be waiting for 22 hours to be 2 hours on stage.

Then he and the band performed Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång). The whole crowd got on their feet. With this song the show on TV ended. All artists came up on stage and got a sunflower in their hands. Not a tussilago. Haha. They were singing Stockholm i mitt hjärta together. We hoped for more PG in the last 30 minutes that were broadcast online only, but he didn’t perform more.

Per’s thoughts about tonight:

Allsång på Skansen! Tack alla som sjöng med. Tack för en underbar kväll i ett härligt sommar-Stockholm. Grymt band, Sanna var fab på “Småstadsprat” och publiken…. wunderbar!!! Syns på torsdag. Då smäller det! /P.

The tour starts in 2 days! Come and join Mr. G for En vacker kväll or more! 😉

Pics:

Aftonbladet
Expressen

Per Gessle and Gyllene Tider – Allsång på Skansen history:

PG 2003
GT 2004
PG 2007
GT 2013

 

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