This link for the illustrations.
Per A.J. Andersson for the texts. Written September
2005, updated November 2011.
the north of Europe there are ice and snow. And polar bears roam
the streets. Everyone knows that. Some people have also heard
of a pop group by the name ABBA. I was born in the land where
it was formed.
— • —
is sometimes called the 51st United State. This to point out our
willingness to accept and adapt to an English-speaking culture.
And we often find it diffucult naming any artist (musical or not)
hailing from any neighbouring country. To us Finnish, Danish and
Norwegian stuff seem more foreign than the Anglo-Saxon one. Still
we are Scandinavians, with a common history and common cultural
traits. And languages that we - if we try - can learn to understand
(apart from Finnish, which is a whole different ball-game).
Some local artists have even gotten recognition beyond the national
borders. By singing in English... During the 80s and 90s, Sweden
has changed from being a major music importer to become the number
three exporter of music (as measured with royalty income) world-wide,
the US and the UK being first and second on that list. A good
command of English and lots of musical inspiration from immigrants
is only a part of that story.
But this is not the place for such a story. Instead I'll content
with showing some artists that have followed me around inside
my head during the years – besides Gina
Jacobi and Stina Nordenstam...
Formed: 1979 (Stockholm, Sweden)
Members (1983): Nike Nojja, Kajsa Grytt, Malena
Jönsson, Liten Falkenholm
My discovery: 1983
An all-female new-wave outfit who combined the punk-era energy
with an intimate and emotional approach, presenting songs which
oozed with both longing and pride. The former group members launched
solo careers after 1983, Kajsa Grytt being the most successful of
HANSSON DE WOLFE UNITED
Formed: 1978 (Sweden)
Members (1979): Lorne Munthe de Wolfe, Ingrid Munthe,
Claes Palmqvist and Dick Hansson.
My discovery: late '70s
With its roots in the Swedish folk movement of the early 70s
("Contact", "Vargen"...), HdWU developed as
a more stream-lined outfit. A studio group with jazz-scented pop
tunes performed in Swedish only (featuring gentle and personal lyrics)
and geared towards a grown-up audience.
ADOLPHSON & FALK
Formed: 1973 (Sweden)
Members: Tomas Adolphson and Anders Falk
My discovery: 1982
Quite alike the HdWU type of adult pop sung in Swedish. Only
with a bit more synthesizers in the mix. A studio production duo
filling the Swedish airwaves in the 80s with hits such as "Blinkar
blå" and "Mer jul".
Born: 19?? (Sweden)
My discovery: 1985
This founder-member of the Swedish-Norwegian folk-rock group
"Folk & Rackare" made a stunningly good solo record
in 1985. It combined covers of Fairport Convention songs with exciting
originals, arranged and played in a more rockish style.
Born: 1960 (Umeå, Sweden)
First album: 1978
My discovery: c. 1986
of the major Swedish pop/rock names during the 80s and 90s, she
started out as a teenager singing her own folk-oriented pop. Although
presenting an almost flamboyant public persona, Eva's private life
was indeed kept private. Her marriage to fellow artist Efva Attling
in 1996 eventually let her speak and sing about life with a renewed
force and clarity.
Born: 1953 (Århus, Denmark)
First album: 1975
My discovery: late '80s
The grand old lady of Danish rock music started out as a folk
singer, subsequently encompassing many bands and lots of the other
big names on the Danish scene along the way. In the 80s she experimented
with a hard-edge rap-funk music and the group Marquis de Sade.
Formed: 1982 (Gnosjö, Sweden)
Members (1988): Arne Johansson, Mats Johansson,
Sam Johansson and Uno Svenningsson
My discovery: late '80s
With their finely crafted pop songs of faith, doubt and love,
this group eventually made it big in 1988. In the early 90s Uno
Svenningsson's trademark warm and husky voice went solo, continuing
his own career in a very similar style.
ARMY OF LOVERS
Formed: 1987 (Stockholm, Sweden)
Members (1990): Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda
and Camilla Henemark
My discovery: 1990
This dance music outfit, the most successful of Alexander Bard's
many projects, was/is patently vulgar, politically suspect, shrouded
in non-factual rumours - yet a visual feast with a kick-ass attitude
and some really good melodies.
Born: 1965 (Reykjavik, Iceland)
First solo album: 1977
My discovery: 1993
This original and uncompromising rock singer debuted as a recording
artist already at age 12. Surrounded by music, she was part of group
the Sugarcubes before making it big - internationally - with her "Debut"
album in 1993.
Born: 1967 (Vasa, Finland)
First album: 1997
My discovery: late '90s
With multiple TV appearances, film roles and theatrical productions
to her belt, Regina Lund's musical career is but one of her many
artistic experiences. Her often soft yet firm singing style has
found its best match in Johan Norberg's music, composed in a style
reminiscent of Rickie Lee Jones. Regina's own compositions carry
a more distinct hard edge.
Born: (1979?) (Finland)
First album: 2001
My discovery: c. 2002
As a young rock singer and guitarist covering all her own material,
she came as the big revelation of 2001 (in Finland, that is). Her
energetic yet harmonious style lends to comparisons with similar
names such as Sam Brown and k d lang.
Formed: 1994 (Bergen, Norway)
Members: Inger Lise Størksen, Christine Sandtorv
and Jannicke Larsen
My discovery: 2003
An all-female trio hailing from the west of Norway, they nowadays
successfully manages their own record label. Their happy and sweet
compositions have won hearts both in faraway Japan and back home (multiple
wins of the Spellemann Prize).