24 May 2003

Small town, big feelings (VI): And here come all the feelings together

We read it in Aftonbladet and Expressen: on Monday 19 May 2003, the single Här kommer alla känslorna [på en och samma gång], which is the first Swedish solo single by Per Gessle in 18 years has been serviced to Swedish radio stations. Radio City Stockholm had the world airplay premiere. Even though the single is only released in Sweden, it can be ordered online from almost anywhere abroad.

According to Roxette Service, the single has quickly become the most frequently played ones on Swedish radio lately. All this even to Per Gessle's own surprise. Especially after most of his colleagues have had a hard time selling their music lately. It also received splendid reviews by the press. Columnist Per Bjurman from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet already stated that Per Gessle has never been better. That this is a summer hit if he ever has heard one before. That it is the eternal pop nerd from Harplinge who has written the soundtrack of the summer. Journalist Anders Nunstedt, from Expressen, who normally isn't too fond of Per Gessle's music, even agrees that it will be THE summer tune this year.

Per Gessle comments:

I'm completely overwhelmed. This actually wasn't a summer song, but something about my voice makes anything that I sing in Swedish sounds as summer. I had not expected anything like this. There wasn't even have a recording contract for Mazarin when I started. This is an emotional insurrection toward the thinking of the business. I have just collected songs, recorded them myself and paid for them myself. Yeah, the music industry is in a deep crisis. But nothing like that is on my mind. I haven't had to please anyone. I can bomb majorly and it's OK. That way a whole new world opens up. You get more honest and spontaneous.'
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The song Här kommer alla känslorna [på en och samma gång] means "Here come all the feelings (all at once)". Here are the credits:

  • Produced by Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist and Per Gessle for Elevator Entertainment.
  • Recorded by Christoffer Lundquist at The Aerosol Grey Machine, Österlén, Vollsjö, Skåne, Sweden between December 2002 and February 2003, by Mats MP Persson Tits&Ass Studio, Halmstad, Sweden between May 2002 and February 2003 (demos and most vocals) and by Ronny Lahti at Polar Studios, Stockholm, Sweden in March 2003 (strings and backing vocals).
  • Mixed by Ronny Lahti, Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist and Per Gessle at Megaphon, Stockholm, Sweden in March and April 2003.
  • Digital pitch: Magnus Börjesson at Pojkrummet, Malmö, Sweden.
  • Post-production ideas and well-chosen programming: Anders Herrlin at Shortlist Analogue Studios, Stockholm, Sweden. Post-master-editing: at the Cutting Room, Solna, Sweden.
  • Vocals, whistling and electric guitar solo: Per Gessle.
  • Acoustic guitar: Per Gessle and Christoffer Lundquist.
  • Electric bass, maracas, electric guitars, slide guitar, 1950s guitar and minimoog: Christoffer Lundquist.
  • Vox Jaguar, Hammond organ and glockenspiel: Clarence Öfwerman.
  • 12-string acoustic guitar solo: Mats MP Persson.
  • Drums: Jens Jansson.
  • Backing vocals: Christoffer Lundquist and Helena Josefsson.

Finally Gessle got his "small" band. Here we can find his old partners from Roxette (Clarence öfwerman and MP Persson and Anders Herrlin, from Gyllene Tider) and his friends from Brainpool (Chris Lundquist - now also producer - and Jens Jansson). It is the band that began rocking together in The World According to Gessle. And they enjoy it: just listen to the other song of the single, Nu är det ju juli igen, ju, an instrumental blues take-off on a traditional Swedish Christmas song. This is the style they were looking for.

The newbies this time are two musicians from Lund, Skane: Magnus Börjesson (singer and bass in the band Beagle) and Helena Josefsson (vocals and songwriter in the band Sandy Mouche). I really love Helena's backing vocals in this first single.

Right after finishing an album I listen to it a lot. And then I also listen to them a long time after they have been finished, released. I learn a lot from this process. I often realize when I put on a record which is like three years old, and I haven’t listened to it for a long time, then I realize new things in the songs which I didn’t realize before, because I was so much into the producing and working on it. “Mazarin” is a bit of retro, old style. That was the reaction to “Room service” or “Have a nice day”, where there was more like a conscious attempt to make them sound modern. I remember sitting with my wife in the kitchen, listening to “Mazarin demos” for the first time. I just played them in the background, not paying much attention, after a while we were “hm, what is this?”, next song “huh, what’s going on here?”. So from a song writing point of view it was like finding the source again, real inspirational sounds. With “Mazarin” we just allowed ourselves anything, we did what we felt like. It turned out to be a bit more retro. When you work like that everything goes faster, when you work trying to make modern music everything lasts forever. So it’s difficult to keep the feeling when you work on a song. It was a blast to record like that, more live.

It’s very good as well not to have new people coming and going. Christoffer Lundquist joined in 96, so it’s also a very long time. The band changed a lot when he joined, to the better, of course. He is an amazing guy, he can play anything. It all became fun again. He was there for “The world according to Gessle” and “Have a nice day”, but more as a musician. With “Mazarin” it was like “wow, it is fun to be in the studio again”. And has been since.

Having two producers is even more fun. Per Gessle has always been very much involved in the albums. Even though, he wasn’t in the studio the whole time in the early days. It was me and Anders Herrlin or Alar Suurna who sat there the whole time, with the musicians. Per and Marie went out of the studio, did some shopping, you know, some time off, then came back.

Now it is very hard to say who has done what but it doesn’t matter. It’s just team work. It’s easier with many people, of course, if they are easy to work with. If you struggle all the time then it gets complicated. And we have kind of the same ideas, me and Christoffer have the same roots, even if he is younger. We both like prog rock, which Per hates. So we agree in many things, we try different directions but then don’t always tell Per what it sounds like, even though we both know, because then he would scrap the idea immediately.

20 May 2003

Helena Josefsson, backing singer at Tambourine Studios and Gula Studion (V): Righteous boy - I sing because of you

Righteous Boy is the solo project of Magnus Sveningsson, bassist from Swedish rock group The Cardigans. Today he has released his first album in Sweden, I Sing Because of You.

"Righteous boy" was recorded at Tambourine Studios (Malmö, Sweden) and mastered by Björn Engelmann. Jens Jansson (drums) and Helena Josefsson (backing vocals) participated in many songs.

1 Loved Among Friends (3:45) - Single -
2 View From A Satellite (4:25)
3 No More Love (3:57)
4 Righteous Boy / Righteous Girl (4:04)
5 I Made It Hard For You To Love Me (3:34)
6 All My Evils (4:11)
7 I'm Not Shielded (1:10)
8 Elephant Man (4:35)
9 I Feel Apart (4:00)
10 Lone Among Friends (4:13)
11 Straight Song (4:06)
12 You Better Do Good (4:49)

  • Label: Future Farmer Recordings
  • Format: CD, Album
  • Released: 20 May 2003
  • Mastered By - Björn Engelmann
  • Magnus Sveningsson, of The Cardigans: co-producer, writer, vocals, bass (tracks: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12), organ (8, 9, 10, 12), vibraphone (6, 9, 10, 11), melodica (9, 10), keyboards (2, 6) and drums (3, 4)
  • Henrik Andersson: producer, mastering, co-writer (1, 3, 4), bass (1), guitar (1, 3, 4, 6), backing vocals (1, 6, 8, 10), keyboards (1, 3, 4, 5, 9), piano (3, 5), violin (3)
  • Sebastian "Batti" Borg, of stockfinster: co-producer, guitar (2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12), syntheziser (8, 11, 12), organ (9), mandolin (2).
  • Michael Ilbert: mixing (tracks 1,2 and 5 to 12), horn arrangements (12)
  • Marco Manieri: mixing (3, 4)
  • Jens Jansson, of Brainpool: drums (1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12), horns (12)
  • Patrik Barstosch, of Eggstone: piano (1, 2, 10) , syntheziser (3), organ (11)
  • Nathan Larson: programming (3, 4), backing vocals (5, 9)
  • Stefan Kvarnström: programming (8, 9)
  • Petter Lindgård, of Gula Studion and The Mopeds: trumpet (2), horns (12)
  • Per Sunding, of Eggstone: recording of additional vocals (2, 6), bass (11)
  • Filip Runeson: cello and violin (5)
  • Helena Josefsson, of Sandy Mouche: backing vocals (2, 4, 11, 12)
  • Lina Johansson: backing vocals (3)
  • Claes Persson: co-writer (track 2)
  • Juanjo Passo: voice (8)

Righteous Boy is actually bassist Magnus Sveningsson of Sweden’s Cardigans, a man-boy who approximates the emotional distress of Barry Manilow, the clever melodies of Prefab Sprout, and the doe-eyed romanticism of Jimmy Webb. Not that I Sing Because of You is purely derivative or without a pop persona — it’s a sincere pop production that has a classic feel. Sveningsson sings in a ceaseless whisper, the programmed symphonic music swelling around him as he expresses self-dissatisfaction, ennui, and empathy with the Elephant Man. But in misery comes beauty — the beauty of the eloquent "View from a Satellite," and "No More Love," a sputtering dub mix that at times brings to mind 10cc’s "I’m Not in Love." The disc picks up the pace for "Righteous Boy/Righteous Girl," a Eurotrash groover that could easily stand in for a lost Cardigans track. And the glockenspiel-filled "I Made It Hard for You To Love Me" is a gossamer whirligig that carries the softhearted yet poised Sveningsson right off into outer space.

Written by Ken Micallef
from Boston, U.S. - 13 June 2003 - The Phoenix Journal

The Cardigans have been in creative limbo since 1998's Gran Turismo, but not so its individual members. Following on the heels of projects by guitarist Peter Svensson and singer Nina Persson comes this solo effort by bassist Magnus Sveningsson, otherwise known as Righteous Boy.

These dozen low-key songs are mostly dark, emotionally wrought and intensely personal, chamber pop laden with Euro-lounge synths and then some. Sveningsson's voice often is a low rasp, a type of tuneful whisper that lulls you into paying attention, speak-singing confessions and observations.
Burnt out by touring and going through a difficult time, Sveningsson began working on these songs at Malmo's Tambourine studios when it was free from bookings, enlisting help from many of his musician friends. He hadn't written songs in years, and had never before attempted singing solo. The results are moody, but not without charm, the kind of record that makes for great listening on a rainy afternoon. Helping out is Jens Jansson (Brainpool) on drums; Nathan Larson (Shudder to Think) on programming, some synthesizer, and backing vocals; Patrik Bartosch (Eggstone) on keyboards; and Henrik Andersson (Ray Wonder) on a number of instruments.

I Sing Because of You is chock full of reflections and accusations, assuming blame and then claiming blamelessness, a confusing jumble of mixed emotions. It is like having someone's personal diary set to music following a very painful relationship's end.
  • The lounge-y single "Loved among Friends" takes heart in the knowledge that friends see the good in him that he is blind to on his own.
  • "View from a Satellite" is a slow and trancelike musical haze, a confession of doing wrong mixed with an appreciation of a helpful friend.
  • The similarly slow-paced "No More Love" is a search for what is lost, a hanger's on wish to turn back time to undo errors made in a relationship.
  • "Righteous Boy/Righteous Girl" examines another failed relationship, with the girl ending everything.
  • There's lots of soul in the minimalist "I Made It Hard for You to Love Me". This is the rawest of personal confessions laid bare in song, painful in its honest struggle to try and figure what happened.
  • "All My Evils" continues this personal obsessing; Sveningsson now is beyond compassion, reduced to acting like a rock, eager to have his evils gone.
  • "I'm Not Shielded" tells us this: she moved on and he hasn't.
  • "Elephant Man" continues this melodrama -- he revels in his self-pity, sees himself as a freak on display.
  • This loner's self-alienation is echoed in "I Feel Apart": "I feel apart / But I try and I try for you / What a large defeat / When I'm measured there beside you / Such indifference / Aren't we treasured there inside you".
  • In an interesting musical transposition, Sveningsson takes the relatively upbeat "Loved Among Friends" into a slowed down and somber "Lone among Friends". This is a further trip down into depression and feeling alone, a low point that has "never happened before".
  • However, by "Straight Song" he is at a crossroads, pondering whether time will help heal his wounds: "There's an ocean between what you perceive and how I feel / I reason differently / But if you could see me through and if I let you to / I got lots of lots of love for you / Equal blessing, equal curse / Will I grow from here or to the worse".
  • By CD's end, Sveningsson is ready to advise others not to make the same mistakes he has made. In the soulful "You Better Do Good", he warns that only good will lead to having someone to hold, and asks others to "Better do good before you're bitter and alone".
Throughout, small elements -- Wurlitzers, synths, loops, trumpets, and the trippy female backing vocals (Helena Josefsson) so popular in Europe -- add charm to these otherwise downtrodden songs. These varied elements are mixed well by Michael Ilbert. If sad heartbroken musings of achingly honest pain set to chamber pop music is your thing, Righteous Boy is manna from heaven. This mellow collection has delicious moments that elevate it above mere moping; it's great for that rainy day. I Sing Because of You lets us know that not only was Magnus Sveningsson hurt, but that he also has the talent to turn it into likeable fare.

Written by Gary Glauber
from the United States 14 August 2003 - PopMatters

12 May 2003

Small town, big feelings (V): Mazarin ... very soon

According to T. Evensson, from The Daily Roxette, a new solo album by Per Gessle, “Mazarin,” will be released on June 16. Mazarin means a cupcake: short crust pastry filled with almond-flavored marzipan and covered with frosting.

The album is in Swedish and contains 14 tracks. A single, “Här kommer alla känslorna (På en och samma gång)” (Here come all the feelings [all at once]), is to precede the album, with a radio date of May 19.

As we say in March, the album was recorded in Christoffer Lundquist’s studio - The Aerosol Grey Machine - with Per Gessle, Christoffer Lundquist and Clarence Öfwerman. Magnus Börjeson (from Beagle and Favorita) helped in the studio. and Helena Josefsson from Sandy Mouche features as background singer.

Lately Per has had a partiality to write in Swedish, and since the pile of songs grew a Swedish album came to mind. So when the year was at its darkest and coldest, an album that breathes – from the first tone to the last – Swedish summer, came alive.

The sleeve and the poster photos are taken by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn who has worked with U2, Depeche Mode and Roxette. A special limited edition of the album will include a DVD: “En Mazarin blir till” (The Making of a Mazarin), a 32-minute long behind-the-scenes “documentary” filmed and edited by Per and his friends.

According to Aftonbladet, Marie Fredriksson has recorded a song for the album, where she sings both chorus and backing vocals. The song is “På promenad genom staden” (Strolling through the town) and is about Per’s hometown, Halmstad. This is the first full song Marie records after she was operated due to a tumor last September, and it was recorded in Stockholm three weeks ago under complete secrecy. Per talks about it. By the way, The ballad hits by Roxette were released in the United States last April, but it seems EMI America won't promote the album at all.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt' s incredibly cool that Marie wanted to sing on a song for the album. She has gone through a bad time, but she is back, and it feels fantastic. Marie sings parts and backgrounds, but it’s a full song, not like ’Opportunity Nox’.One of the album’s advantages is that nothing sounds like this. While one of its disadvantages is that nothing sounds this…”

My favourite Beatles song ever?: 'Dear Prudence' followed by 'Cry Baby Cry.' I listen to quite a lot of things: Norah Jones, John Coltrane, REM, Bob Hund and Tom Petty of course. There is one artist that is very successful with her debut album: Norah Jones. It's a great album, one of the best I have heard for a very long time. Her style is very much what I listen to at home. I always like these sort of classical singer/songwriter type of artist. Norah Jones is someone I can recommend

I met Per Gessle through Christoffer Lundquist. I helped out with computer stuff on Mazarin. I still don't know if my job is bass player or Mac-tech-support. Working with Per is brilliant! He’s a great guy. He has his roots in 60s and 70s pop music and so do I. We have a lot of common ground there. I heard Roxette’s "Neverending Love" on the radio when it came out in 1986. I thought it sounded very "non-Swedish" and I liked that. I'm a Beatles fan of course. Who isn't? But I was a teenager in the early 80s so I'm really enjoying a lot of the newer Electronic and Semi-Electronic music. M83, Loney Dear, MGMT & Røyksopp comes to mind right now.
Magnus Börjeson (Junk Musik)

We sent a demo of our band Sandy Mouche to Christoffer Lundquist. He was about to produce Gessle album and they needed a back singer. Gessle has a very specific and rhythmic way to sing. It's strange because Marie Fredriksson was my idol when I was just a girl. I have listened to most of her solo albums.
Helena Josefsson (Sandy Mouche)