Swedish Works...

[From Billboard]

The Billboard Spotlight On Stockholm: Teaming Up & Making Hits

By Jeffrey de Hart

November 24, 2001

Stockholm has been a hotbed of pop songwriting and producing in recent years, with the Swedish touch credited for the multiplatinum success of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and others. Billboard correspondent Jeffrey de Hart offers a selective look at some of the most noteworthy production/songwriting teams in Stockholm today.


Since the dissolution of the famed Cheiron Studios hit factory, which had been set up by Tom Talomaa and the late Dag Volle (aka Denniz Pop), Maratone has been the new home of Max Martin, Talomaa and partner Rami Yacoub. The studio continues to boast the platinum touch of its predecessor. During the 2000 chart year, Martin ranked as the third-most successful songwriter on the Hot 100 and the ninth most-successful producer for his work with the Jive/Zomba teen- pop stable, among others. Martin formed his partnership with DJ/producer Pop in the early '90s. Together, the two almost singlehandedly put Sweden back on the international pop map with their production and songwriting for Rednex, Ace of Base, Leila K., the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Robyn and 5ive. In 1996, Zomba Music European A&R chief Martin Dodd struck a five-year deal with Cheiron, which led to the Swedish-flavored platinum streak for the Jive label. Zomba's relationship continues with Maratone. Following Pop's death in 1998, Martin teamed up with Yacoub, and their first collaboration was Britney Spears' "EBaby, One More Time." Since then, the two have worked together on projects for E-Type, Westlife and the Backstreet Boys. Martin prefers to remain out of the media spotlight: "Not my job," he quipped to Time magazine. Indeed, Martin has busied himself writing with or for artists such as Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and Bon Jovi.


Literally taking over the site of Cheiron Studios, songwriter/
producers Andreas Carlsson, Kristian Lundin and Jake Schulze assumed the lease of their former home and opened their own studio under the name The Location. "The name comes from the feeling of this being the most important thing, because everything within these walls is magic," says Carlsson, a Warner/Chappell writer. "So we decided we wanted to keep the same place and same atmosphere." Lundin and Schulze are currently negotiating new publisher affiliations. Invited by Denniz Pop to join Cheiron, Carlsson, Lundin and Schulze first worked together on 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye." The three have written and/or produced songs with each other, as well as others on the Cheiron crew, including Pop and Max Martin, for Swedish artists such as E-Type and Papa Dee and international artists such as Westlife, Steps and Laura Pausini. They can claim credit for sales of more than 100 million records, thanks to songs like Celine Dion's "That's the Way It Is," Britney Spears' "Born to Make You Happy" and the Backstreet Boys' "Quit Playing Games With My Heart."


With an impressive roster of 38 writers and producers, Murlyn Music Group turns out hits for the likes of Celine Dion, Marc Anthony, Robyn, Jennifer Lopez and Sting, with songs pending for artists such as TLC and Whitney Houston. Among the cream of the crop of Murlyn's talent is founder Anders "Bag" Bagge, his partner Arnthor Birgisson and "groove whiz" Christian "Bloodshy" Carlsson. Bagge is published by EMI, but Murlyn Songs is administered and subpublished by Universal Music Publishing. Both Bagge and Birgisson are singers, keyboardists and songwriters, but, in the studio, Birgisson is the guy who sits behind the mixing console. "We're not a factory," Birgisson says. "Everything is handmade and nurtured, but it's not rocket science." The duo writes most of the songs as a team and often brings in American and British lyricists to collaborate. "We pretty much work up a track idea-a melody, a concept and a hook-and then they come in and we put it all together," he says. The team usually has a specific artist in mind when writing, but many times a song will end up with a different artist. Murlyn co-founder Christian W?hlberg heads up production and pitches the songs to A&R at labels, while Pelle Lidell takes care of the in-house publishing arm and places songs in movies and commercials. Work has recently been done for Celine Dion's "Sorry for Your Love," as well as for TLC's next album. All this while juggling a couple of new acts for Interscope.


Three more Cheiron veterans who had worked in that studio as a team were Jsrgen Elofsson, Per Magnusson and David Kreuger. The latter two now operate as A Side Productions, with Magnusson signed to peer music and Kreuger to Warner/Chappell. The three had been known for their success with "mostly Swedish acts selling really, really well in the early to mid-'90s," Magnusson says. "We worked with an artist named Dede on Sony who was really big in Japan. The success actually happened when we joined forces with Jsrgen." Their collaboration jelled at Cheiron on the track "We'll Be Yours," which was recorded by the Irish boy band Boyzone. They had also worked with Scandinavian acts like E-Type, Leila K. and Michael Learns to Rock, but undoubtedly their biggest success came with Britney Spears' "(You Drive Me) Crazy" and "Sometimes," as well as Westlife, whose debut album they produced and co-wrote. Elofsson, focusing on his writing skills, set up Shane Songs. He has written hits for Swedish chanteuse Carola, as well as successful artists such as Meja and Dr. Alban. He has also collaborated with many writers, including Dan Hill, Michael Bolton, Bryan Adams, Desmond Child and Andreas Carlsson.


Anders Hansson's production and songwriting partnership in the '80s with Ola H?kansson and Tim Norell led to a string of hits for acts including Lili & Susie, Ankie Bagger, Army of Lovers, Rednex and Abba's Agnetha FSltskog. When he struck out on his own, Hansson first teamed up with art student Johan ?berg and later invited former performer and Air Chrysalis songwriter Paul Rein to join them at Eclectic Studios, where they'd signed a publishing deal with BMG Music. "It's a good story," says Hansson, "because the first song they wrote was No. 1 in America." That was Christina Aguilera's hit "Come on Over (Baby)." Rein works independently of Eclectic under his own Perfect Beat Productions. He has recently spent time in Nashville writing with Donna Summer and has written a song with Robyn called "You Wear Me Out." Hansson has co-written and co-produced two new tracks for the forthcoming Alcazar album for international release. The Eclectic team differs from other studios in Stockholm, in that those involved sometimes write and produce tracks but at other times provide only the songwriting or production services. In recent years, they have added to their staff with Sigurd "Ziggy" Rssnes and Dennis B. Lomdahl, who have helped with projects by Jessica Simpson, Dream Street, A*Teens and a song called "Different Kind of Love Song," slated for Cher's upcoming album.



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