Ace of Base - the new ABBA
Ace of Base, you unquestionable have to think of the pop group ABBA. Here,
the four successful Swedes have to share the same destiny with almost
every famous band from their native country - they are compared to ABBA in
the first place. And with Ace of Base it is obvious. The structures
are about the same: four members, with the two women being
responsible for the singing and the two men being responsible for the
composition. Even more: Jonas and Ulf have the same infallible feeling for
easy going melodies like Björn and Benny from ABBA. Jenny doesn't even
try to deny such similarities. It's no shame for her to be compared to the
Fab Four from her home country. Only the frequency of the comparisons gets
on her nerves: " I wish I would have gotten one Dollar for every
single comparison I had to comment on."
But she confirms: "Yes,
you can compare us with ABBA on principle". However, Jenny rejects
the prejudice that they copy their idols: "We don't have this
extreme harmonic sound, and a lot of our songs have a reggae beat. That is
nothing like ABBA. Besides, I take the plunge to claim that our songs
simply have more substance without wanting to pull down ABBA. As a child I
grew up with the music of ABBA of course, and I have dreamed to become
like them once. Because Agnetha and Annafrid seemed to be like princesses
for a little girl. When I became older, I heard more faster music.
Sister Malin on the other hand rejects any comparison with the music
giants of the 70s: "There are a few fast, dancible and some reggae
songs on our album. When you listen to this record, you definately won't
hear anything that sounds like ABBA."
Sweden is a good place for an international career as a musician. The
country has produced some other popstars besides ABBA, who celebrate their
success around the world: Roxette or Europe are probably the most famous
representatives. These bands made the way for formations like Ace of Base.
The experts in the music business don't turn up their nose at swedish acts.
Jonas: "Somebody in a magazine once asked himself why Swedes are so
successful at the moment. I have three explanations. Firstly: We have
idols, great role models like ABBA, Europe or Roxette. The people know all
about it when you say: 'We are from Sweden' - then those bands come to
their minds. There's something behind it." Very much to the regret of
bands from other Scandinavian countries. And Jenny explains: "If you
are from Finland for example and go to Zurich with a song, nobody will be
interested because no one has ever heard of Finish music."
agrees with her: "When there is something new from Sweden, everybody
wants to know how good it is. So there are better chances that record
companies, which receive at least 50 tapes a day, will listen to the tape
of the Swedish band. The second reason is that Swedish record companies
are still looking for good bands. Especially in the dance section. They
get pushed a lot. They don't say: Oh, pop music, that doesn't go very
well, we don't know. They don't say either, why don't you sing in Swedish.
Thirdly, it's the tradition. The swedish language is very melodious.
Danish or German sound harder. Swedish sounds so musical. That led to the
fact, that we simply sing more. Even at home. We have a long tradition and
are musical people. But most people sing in English because it's more
However, it's not a pure coincidence that pop
form Sverige stands for qualitiy by now. In Jenny's opinion the Swedish
school already lays the foundation: "Maybe it's also a reason that
the Swedes are so successful and we have so many musicians because
everybody can learn an instrument at school. This way the state already
invests into the development of the music scene." Jonas adds: "There
are a lot of local acts you haven't heard from outside of Scandinavia, who,
however, make up a vivid scene."
And this is the crazy thing about the music
business, because in the beginning of the 90s Ace of Base belonged to the
unknown, blooming music scene. Today they are superstars on the whole
globe and the show-piece of the swedish music scene. It's not easy for the
four young people, all around 20, to deal with it. But the naturalness and
the common sense of Malin, Jenny, Jonas and Ulf makes them deal with this
burden. Jenny has a simple recipe: "If you stay normal and don't try
to be trendy and crazy, it works. You still should concentrate on what the
essential is, namely the singing. After all, it was the singing my
sister and I started with seven years ago in a studio in Holland and
it weren't the appearances and the dancing. We also had to learn how to
act as popstar in puplic, because I'm not a model. But today a lot more belongs to being popular which
isn't naturally. You have to learn so many things. It's really important
to still stay the way you once were. It can be over at any time and then
we are at the beginning again."
* Click on the pix to enlarge them