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Sounds Nordic - Interview vom 25.08.02

Thanks to the Acer Paul for the transcript of the interview!

Welcome to SONO.   We'll be devoting the next half-hour to a band that skyrocketed to fame in the early 90's, and still has die-hard fans waiting for their latest.   You know who I'm talking about ... Ace Of Base.   A couple of weeks ago I got Jenny and Ulf on the line for a chat, and we were lucky enough to get their first interview promoting the new single.   Of course at the end of the program we'll also have a competition; you could win an autographed single.   But before I do anything else, I'd like to thank all of you Ace Of Base fans, known as the Acers, for writing in.   I've had letters from Australia, France, Germany, the US, Canada, Venezuela, Hungary and Iran, to name just a few.   So thanks to everyone who runs the Perfect-World website for making it possible for me to get in touch with Acers.   So what I did was I asked you to write in with questions for the band, and I was bombarded, which was nice, because for once I hardly had any work to do myself.   But for those of you who aren't as familiar with the band, here's a little potted history.

Jenny, Malin, Jonas and Ulf are Ace Of Base.   Three of them are siblings; they're all from Gothenburg originally, and released their first single Wheel Of Fortune in 1992, and made it to star status worldwide in '93 with All That She Wants.   That made it to number one in eleven countries, and got to number two in the US.   And here's an interesting little fact:  they broke through in Denmark months before the Swedes discovered them.

And here's a medley of some of their most well-loved songs...

{plays clips of The Sign, Happy Nation, Lucky Love (Euro), Life Is A Flower, C'est La Vie}  

They've got a new album on the way and a new single just out that's called Beautiful Morning.   Take a listen to that, and then we've got Jenny on the line.

{plays Beautiful Morning}

{the interview:  G=Gaby  J=Jenny  U=Ulf}

J:  Greetings

G:  Hi Jenny

J:  Hi

G:  I see we've got you on the line first, and Ulf is having a costume fitting, I understand.

J:  Yes

G:  Well, now I have to tell you I've had loads and loads of letters from listeners asking for Ace Of Base updates, and you have a lot of die-hard fans out there.  People like Jonathan who emailed from the US saying Ace Of Base is awesome, and one of Sweden's most incredible groups; Benoit, a French fan, says "I know that life is a flower, so precious in our hands; Linn, Jenny, Jonas, Ulf - you are the best gardeners of my life."

J:  Um

G:  And another fan called Jam asks "Do you know that you're still idolized?" ... so do you?

J:  That's a very interesting question actually, because of course in one way I know, but in one way I have never understood.   I see myself as a very normal person, a bit strange, but very normal.

G:  Strange in what way?

J:  Now I'm a bit to be more of a vision {?} than some of my friends are - back from school, and maybe a bit deeper, more thinking person than some of them.

G:  Before I ask you some more of those questions your fans had for you, lets talk about the new single Beautiful Morning.   What does it mean to you?

J:  I think it means a lot to me cause I can think that way when I wake up on the wrong side in the morning, and I have to, like, start again, and OK, just another gift, another day, and that way of thinking makes my world go round.

G:  Well, what went into writing the song?

J:  Oh, it was me and Jonas first starting out writing the song, and it was just shortly after our father had died, and you are so up-to-date with what is actually important in your life.   Its the small things, its the big things that is actually free, its love, its caring for others, and its seeing each other - those things are free, and every day, yet they are free.   So in one way we were in like a sorrow shock after our father, but also I was put back to zero again.   Its always something good with something bad, and this is one of the songs that was actually something very good with our father's death.

G:  I'm very sorry to hear about your father, but apart from that what will you remember from recording the new album compared to the others, maybe musically?

J:  I've been working with great singers when I did my vocal parts.   You get so inspired, so that is one of the big hearts I take from this album is if I get a better person to sing with, I sing better.

G:  So tell us a little bit about the album - when will it be released, and does it have a title yet?

J:  The title issue  {laughs}  is not to my knowledge yet.

G:  OK  {laughs}  go ahead

J:  I think we're working on different names, but I don't know for sure, so I won't go into that.   And, well, the 31st of September (sic) is a date that has been set for the release, and I think we will keep that actually.

G:  OK, well I have a stack of letters, all with questions for you, so I thought I'd pick a few out, and lots of people want to know if the band will be having a world tour.

J:  I think that that is a question for Ulf.

G:  OK, we'll get back to that one.   But another common question running through the letters was the role you and Malin play in the band, you effectively changed places, bringing you more into the limelight and making Malin a little less visible, something I know you and Malin were both very content with the last time you spoke to SONO.   But your fans want to know why you stepped forward and Malin stepped back, and how it will be on the new album.

J:  Its me and Ulf, our best travelers, that our responsibility has to be lifted on my shoulders of doing the lead parts because she's afraid of flying and my brother has a family now with kids, so its better for me and Ulf to travel together and we gotta do much more promotion than they are.   So in one way it was very logical.   Its also a reason that it fits our personalities in a way - I like to hang out, I like to do a lot of things that she does as well, but in a very different way than I, so we're different in that way, and I am reputed for going around and working, in the way you have to work with a band being on this level.   She's singing a lot as well, so its just that she can't travel, and then she can't promote.   Its very sad but that's the way it is.

G:  Acera Kaa emailed in and wants to know if you still do solo concerts.

J:  I haven't done this summer, but I've done it in other summers, and in churches and stuff, but not this year because I'm working with Ace Of Base too much.

G:  Now someone who claims to be your biggest fan, Michael in Maryland USA, says a high percentage of your fans are gay, and so he asks what your views on homosexuality are.

J:  I think that you can have one vision of how it should be, until you get to know yourself and other people, and the more you get to know yourself and other people, the more you accept other people and what they think and do, and I think its very difficult when you don't accept homosexuality, because that is a way of not accepting a way a person are, and I would think that would be a problem.

G:  So then he wonders what you think of all your gay fans.

J:  Well, I love them.  

G:  And Karnig Dukmajian - hope I pronounced that right - in Los Angeles writes that "Many people in the music industry give Ace Of Base credit for creating the 90's pop sound.   How do you feel about this place in music history?"

J:  I think that is a question for Ulf.

G:  Ulf, OK, I'll write a "U" next to this question.

J:  Yep, I mean Ulf can get a lot of questions.

G:  And everyone, absolutely everyone, Alan from Brazil included, wonders what's next from Ace Of Base.

J:  Well, we have this single, Beautiful Morning, and then we have a huge release, and I think and I hope, dearly hope that we will get received everywhere, so we have a chance to go and to visit, because that enriches your life so much to see the place, I'm looking forward to in autumn and in winter and spring of 2003 to go around and see a lot of places and meet a lot of fans, so that is what I'm working at right now.

G:  Lots of people wanted to know if you ever check out the fan sites on the internet and actually correspond with people.

J:  That is something that we will do, I've been doing some small things, but that is very small.   I think Ulf and Jonas have done more of that, and me and Linn have been very bad at doing it.   Its not that we won't correspond, but we don't know, we haven't had a home site, and those things that we can actually know that it is safe to correspond.   We had one with Mega Records where it was safe, and my brother went out, and it was handled in a very strange way in the end.   So we want a secure line that we actually, people know that it is us speaking, and that is what we're working at as well.

G:  Well, OK, well how's Ulf doing?   Is he all costumed-up now?   Can we get him on the line?

J:  Yes, I can.

G:  OK

J:  OK, thank you

G:  Thank you very much, Jenny, it was lovely talking to you.  

J:  The same.

G:  Bye.

J:  Bye.

U:  Yes, hello.

G:  Hi Ulf.

U:  I'm fine, thank you.   How are you doing?

G:  Good, thanks.   Welcome to SONO.

U:  Thank you.

G:  And we have lots of questions we've saved for you.

U:  Ah, this is great.

G:  Now the thing is that lots of people have been writing in with what they'd like me to ask you.

U:  OK

G:  And one of the big questions that everyone was wondering about was will Ace Of Base be having a world tour?

U:  Actually, this album we probably won't tour.   We haven't been touring for many years, unfortunately, and first of all we're focusing on doing promotion and meeting the fans in that way.   If I could decide, I would love to tour, but we've four people and we may not be so keen on touring at the moment, but maybe later on, but at the moment we have no plans for touring, unfortunately.  

G:  OK, listeners seem to sympathize with what they see as problems with the record labels, and want to know if this was the toughest album to put together.

U:   I think it was the toughest, absolutely, because, many reasons, its not just the problems of the record companies, because I will not blame it on the record companies.   There is many different reasons why its problems out there today.   Not only for us, I think every single band at this moment has problems because of the markets went down.   Its a lot of piracy, internet, and also other competition of record sales.   A lot of people blame the internet for failure of selling records.   I don't think that's the reason.   I think more the reason is there's more competition about from the youth of the buying force.   For example, people have mobile phones, people have the games at home like playstation and nintendo.   People are very brand-oriented for clothes, and people don't have more money than they had ten years ago, they have actually a little bit less money.   So it means they can't buy enough records, which means its a much tougher market.   And also of course it affects all the record companies so they don't have as much money and then they're getting a little bit confused.   That's why all the big companies are getting together, they're merging together, and the whole industry is very different now than it was only five years ago.

G:  Here's a question for you now from an Iranian fan:  "Are we going to hear more great songs and lyrics from you on the new album?"

U:  From me?   Actually we wrote 100 songs from this album.   We've had probably 15 different sessions of writing.   This album we definitely just put the best songs together and unfortunately its only one of these songs I've been writing on.   And probably I've been involved with 30 songs totally from the beginning.   I definitely been more focusing on getting things together, getting the right producers together, and really get this ball rolling, because its been obviously four years that we worked on it.   And I think its the best choice, the songs on the album, the best songs.   We also brought in other songwriters, and unfortunately its only one of these songs that I've been writing.   But I've been involved with all the songs, I mean, making sure they happened, but I took a little step back on the songwriting, which I think is good, and I have at present no problem with that.   The most important thing is to get the best quality out of the band.

G:  OK, here's a question that Jenny has left for you.   Karnig Dukmajian in Los Angeles writes that "Many people in the music industry give Ace Of Base credit for creating the 90's pop sound.   How do you feel about this place in music history?"

U:  I must say that I'm very proud of it.   I'm very happy that Swedish music became such a big success internationally, and we definitely have been a big part of that in the beginning of the 90's.   I know when we started to play pop music it was really not happening in America, and somehow we became like crusaders of the European pop music again, like ABBA once did.   We were very lucky with timing.   Timing, talent and luck is the three ingredients you need to have success, and we had it in the beginning of the 90's.   And what have been following after, as I'm very happy, is a lot of American bands like Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears and NSYNC, and all these bands that had involvement of Swedish producers and songwriters which we were involved with in the beginning as well.   I'm very proud of seeing what grow up after we basically left the scene to the wide.

G:  A fan from Hungary asks "What does Ace Of Base want to say to its fans?"   Here's your chance.

U:  Well, our message to the fans, and actually also to people who are not our fans, is stay together and try to be happy, try to look at the bright side of life, especially now its even tougher than ever all around the world.   I would try to bring something positive into the life of the people through our music, make people happy.   That's basically our main message, and try to help each other out there, and its tough, but I think we all will be stronger, you know, going through all this tough times, with all the wars out there, and all the hungry, and all the bad economic sites, but actually there would be a better time, and we just want to bring that message to make people smiling and happy.

G:  OK, one final question:  which Ace Of Base song are you most fond of?

U:  Oh, the song I like most, it definitely depend on which kind of mood I am.   There's a lot of songs that have very good memories to.   For example, I love Living In Danger.   One reason for that is that we performed that in Berlin for the first MTV music award in Europe, and we were the first band performing under Vanderbergaten.   It was a very high message of peace - that's a strong impression for me.   The most fun I had was probably with Beautiful Life because that's a lot of action on stage, and especially live its fantastic to perform that song.   But of course, memories for all the songs in The Sign which became some of the most successful songs ever in the world, its of course unbelievable.   When I hear these songs I think I get extremely strong feelings, and especially all the songs on The Sign.   We get so many letters from people that thank us that they met through these songs on the dance floor, the lady getting married, and now they play this song every year on their anniversary, and they thank us so much because without those songs they would never find each other.   So I think it really depends what I feel, but I have all these songs very, very deep in my heart.

G:  That's a lovely story, Ulf, thanks so very much for joining us on SONO, and good luck with the new album.

U:  Thank you so much, I'll see you around, OK.   I would love to do another interview with you soon, and thank you so much.

G:  OK, thanks very much  

U:  OK

G:  OK, bye bye bye

{plays All That She Wants}

On to the competition - its a toughie; a question for real Ace Of Base fans.   What was the name of the song Ace Of Base wrote for the 1997 Swedish song competition which picks winners for the Eurovision song contest?   Here's a couple of hints:  its in Swedish, they didn't perform it, and it took last place in the competition.   Email your answers to me  SONO@radiosweden.org  that's  SONO@radiosweden.org  or use snail mail - label the envelope  SONO Competition  and mail it to  Radio Sweden  SE 105 10  Stockholm, Sweden

All the correct answers will be put into a hat and we'll draw out some lucky winners, but please, no more than one entry per person.   I will weed out all those people who are naughty - so be good, and good luck.

I'm Gaby Katz, thanks for listening.