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First Steps in Gothenburg

The Scandinavians lovingly call it the "Liverpool of Sweden" - Gothenburg.The town with its 700.000 inhabitants is not as much in the limelight as Sweden's capital Stockholm is. Nevertheless is especially here in the south-west of Sweden the music very interesting.

Especially Rock'n'Roll and Rhythm and Blues are often played here but people like lyrical dance songs as well. Jonas Berggren, musical head of Ace of Base praises the musical tolerance in his hometown that helped him very much in the beginning of his career: "Rock'n'Roll is very popular, there exist lots of guitar bands here. In Stockholm they are much more trendy and listen to dance music. But we are not the only ones in Gothenburg with our dance music, "modern music" becomes more important here, too. As everywhere in Sweden record companies and DJ's made all the important dance music acts popular and gave them contracts, Sweden's dancefloor scene is now quite well developped."

That was a good surrounding for the musical plans of Jonas Berggren. After having tried to gain acceptance as a Rock'n'Roll musician he concentrated his talent on dance-pop music. "In the very beginnings I played Rock'n'Roll in a band. But it is a lot more difficult to express his ideas together with different people and interests", Jonas tells. In "modern music", as I call dancefloor-pop, you can combine melody and groove a lot better. Me, personally, for this reason I like the "maxi-versions" of nearly every kind of songs because there the content is important. And you are simply happy when you here a good song."

And this is still Jonas' philosophy. It was the reason for Ace of Base's success. But there was also the obsession that accompanied their work. Because in the beginnings, it wasn't easy for Ace of Base as well. When you see the world of glamour it is now nearly unbelievable - but the success was the result of years of hard work. In these times Jonas even thought sometimes of giving up his plan to live as a professional musician.

"Yes, there were times whrer I invested every penny I earned into the studio. I had not much money left back then. In the last two years before our first record was released I did not have any money left and always had to borrow some. Back then I thought seriously about doing less music and searching for another job", he remembers. Nevertheless he could never imagine a life without music:"I never thought about quitting", although he had to suffer from the same phrases nearly every music-fanatic teenager has to listen to. He should learn something reasonable. And that music wasn't a real job.

 Today Jonas can only smile about it: "I had an 14-hours-day and I sometimes stayed in the studio till early in the morning. My relatives always asked when I was going to search for a real job. They thought I was crazy." His sister Jenny also remembers these times very well: "WE had lots of difficulties with our relatives and the family. My sister Malin had a job and I went to school, but Jonas did not do anything. He only had his "music"..."

Today both of them can only laugh about the difficulties in the beginning- the success was on Jonas' side. It was also him who got his two sisters Jenny and Malin into the band. And that was well-thought as the trhree Berggrens come from a very musical background. When they were only children they started to listen to jazz an classical music and Jenny and Malin sang in the church choir. When they find the time they still sing there today.

* Click on the pix to enlarge them