Magnus Carlsson is one of the most consistently successful artists that Sweden has ever produced. From his days fronting the group Barbados for ten years from 1992 to 2002, to his time with Alcazar from 2002 until 2005, and onto his career as a solo artist from 2006 until today, he’s continued to have massive hits both in the charts and on radio. His vocals have lent themselves to some of the most popular songs of all time in Sweden. The likes of ‘Kom Hem’, ‘Rosalita’, ‘Not A Sinner, Nor A Saint’, ‘This Is The World We Live In’, and ‘Live Forever’, are all modern day classics, not just in Sweden, but amongst fans of scandipop and schlager all over the world. If you’re a fan of the genre, then you’ll have more than a handful of tracks in your collection that Magnus Carlsson has contributed to. As a result, and to cement his status, Magnus released an epic 40 track Greatest Hits album late last year, spanning all three phases of his fruitful career. But six months later, he’s already releasing new music again! His new single ‘This Is Disco’ is out now in Sweden, and he’s releasing another new single next month (more about that below). So this week we interviewed the gentleman himself to ask him about everything we always wanted to! He was charming, gracious and honest with his answers.
You can read the interview below, but firstly, here’s his new single;
scandipop: So Magnus, you’re back again and starting summer with a new single, ‘This Is Disco’. Tell us a bit more about the song.
Magnus: The song ‘This Is Disco’ was sent to me by my friend Emil, who is the guy behind Soundfactory. He told me, ”I know a song that you’ve just GOT to record”. So he played it for me and I fell in love with it. It was just what I was looking for, because the lyrics are made up of old disco tune titles like ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘Disco Inferno’, so it was very kitsch and ha ha, very camp!
scandipop: Which is just what you like isn’t it?!
Magnus: Ha ha, yes!
scandipop: Most artists who release a Greatest Hits record, usually take a year out, or some form of break. But you released your Greatest Hits album at the end of last year and you’re already back to releasing music. Is that because you get bored otherwise?
Magnus: I think I was brought up that way, because if I don’t work then I go crazy! So I just have to work. And I was looking forward to recording new material and getting on with my career and my albums.
scandipop: And can we expect a new album from you quite soon then?
Magnus: Yeah sure, I’m recording right now. I’m actually doing two parrallel albums!
scandipop: Are you?!
Magnus: Yeah. I’m doing a new Christmas album that I’m going to release later in the year. I’m doing a tour in Sweden for a month or so in November and December, around churches. And I’m going to record the songs that I’m performing in the churches, so that people can actually own the music too.
scandipop: Ah, I see what you mean.
Magnus: And I’m doing my pop album along with that. So ‘This Is Disco’ is the first pop single, that will be from the pop album, but I’m doing the Christmas album in between.
scandipop: So when do you reckon the pop album will be released?
Magnus: It’ll be released I think, in February next year.
scandipop: And who have you been working with for the pop stuff?
Magnus: I’m working with Pitchline for the new album.
scandipop: Oh excellent, they’re amazing!
Magnus: Yes, I absolutely adore Velvet and the music that they’ve been making for her, so I got in touch with them and asked them to produce some of my album. Maybe five or six tracks.
scandipop: That’s great. And actually, my next question was going to be, if you could compare your new sound to any other artist at the moment, who would it be? But I guess the answer to that is Velvet!
Magnus: Yes it’s something like if you crossed Alcazar, the old Alcazar, with Velvet and September, it sounds like that.
scandipop: Well that sounds amazing!
Magnus: Yeah I love the old stuff, like when you’re mixing in old eighties stuff and you can always hear the old eighties song in the background. Like the old Alcazar. And I love the new Eurodance/techno like September and all that. So I think it’s a wonderful mix of everything.
scandipop: Cool. Your Greatest Hits album, ‘Re:Collection’, covered fifteen years and three different stages of your career; Barbados, Alcazar, and solo Magnus Carlsson. When you were compiling that collection, at which of those periods did you look back at with the fondest memories?
Magnus: Oh, that’s really difficult! With Barbados, we worked together for twelve years and we recorded somewhere between twelve and fifteen albums. And when it came to selecting the tracks for the collection it was very hard – I was choosing the songs that I wanted, and the record label were choosing the songs that they wanted. (laughs) And they were very different choices! But the Alcazar era was the most fun time in my life actually. I really adore the years we had before. Then after Alcazar toured the world, came the solo career. And maybe it didn’t work that well at the beginning, when ‘Live Forever’ went out of Melodifestivalen, but actually it became a super hit in Sweden and Poland, and South Africa. So I love that part too. And I can’t actually choose!
scandipop: Ok, I understand! Do you still speak to any of Alcazar?
Magnus: Oh yes, we are in a lot of contact. Not Annikafiore actually, she has her new life. She lives in the South of Sweden with her baby and husband, so I think she’s happy with that.
scandipop: And when you saw the performance of Alcazar’s ‘Stay The Night’, could you imagine yourself singing that as part of the group still?
Magnus: As part of the group?
Magnus: Oh, (laughs…a lot!)….erm….yeah of course. Of course…erm…..how shall I say this….I can see the resemblance between that and the old style of choreography. So I think that if I were a member of the group now, I would know straight away that dance routine of course (laughs). I love Alcazar, I really do.
scandipop: And do you think that you’d ever go back to Alcazar?
Magnus: If they asked me, sure, no problem. I would go there in a heartbeat.
scandipop: And how about Barbados?
Magnus: Barbados, no I don’t think so. Not because I don’t like the music or anything, but Barbados are what we call in Sweden a dansband. And that means that you are playing for four hours every performance whilst people are dancing. And it’s extremely hard work and you’re playing almost three or four nights a week. When we were at the top, we toured like four or five days every week. So if you put that together and you’re standing in the same space twenty hours a week. And it really hurts your voice, it hurts your brain, and it hurts your everything! So I don’t think that Barbados would be a smart choice for me. But Alcazar? Absolutely!
scandipop: Ok. We loved your two most recent Melodifestivalen entries, ‘Lev Livet’ and ‘Live Forever’. Do you think you might go back to the contest anytime soon?
Magnus: Erm…well…(laughs)…the songwriter is writing right now and I think will be submitting two or three songs to Swedish tv. And I really really would kill to do it one more time. But then there’s another aspect like, should I do it? Is it right for my career right now? But I love the Eurovision Song Contest and I love Melodifestivalen even more, so….I don’t know, it’s a tricky question! If I could choose, I’d be there every year, but I don’t think the Swedes would…(laughs)
scandipop: Well if you’re releasing your album next February, then it’s the perfect time to promote it with an appearance in Melodifestivalen isn’t it?
Magnus: Yeah. We’ll see, is all I can say!
scandipop: Ok. You’ve got so many amazing original songs to your name, like ‘Live Forever’, ‘Walking In My Shoes’, and ‘Crazy Summer Nights’. So why do you end up recording cover versions like ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and ‘YMCA’?!!!
Magnus: Well…(laughs)….with ‘The Lions Sleeps Tonight’, that’s from eleven/twelve years ago. When you’re in a dansband, you have to sing songs that people know. If you don’t play anything that they know in the four hours of dancing, they’re gonna be bored as hell. So we played ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ at those shows, and the people really loved them. So the record label manager said; ”you HAVE to record it”. And I hated it!…but we did it anyway. And with ‘YMCA’, I did it just because it was a soundtrack for a cartoon. It wasn’t my choice, I wouldn’t do ‘YMCA’, but they told me they had this song that they wanted me to do, and I was like; ”Sure, ”I’m gay”, there you go”!
scandipop: And speaking of the whole ”I’m gay” thing, of your recent singles, I really loved ‘Walking In My Shoes’, it’s one of my favourite pop/dance/disco songs of all time….
Magnus: Oh, thank you.
scandipop: But with ‘I Was Born This Way’, that’s a song that I’ve never really learned to like. Why did you make a song like ‘I Was Born This Way’, with such a blatant ”I’m gay” message? ‘Walking In My Shoes’ had that same message, but is done in a much more subtle, commercial and relatable way. Anybody can relate to it, whereas ‘I Was Born This Way’s message can only be related to by a much smaller, much more specific demograph.
Magnus: Well, I recorded ‘I Was Born This Way’ for the Swedish gay community. Because my first contact with gay people, period, was when they came to my school. There was a nice looking guy, very low key and natural. And he sat there and talked to me and the rest of the class and was like; ”Hi, my name is blah blah blah, and I’m gay”. And I was so relieved, because before that, to me, gay people were all these crazy trannies and people who put on shows, and everyone laughs at them. But I didn’t feel like I was like that, so when he came to the school and was talking to us so naturally, I was like; ”oh, thank God, there’s more out there” (laughs). So ‘I Was Born This Way’ was recorded for that cause, to fund more people like that going out to schools. And that’s why it was done. I can see what you mean though with the lyrics, it’s very ”here I am” (laughs).
scandipop: Oh ok, I understand. We saw a recent performance of ‘This Is Disco’, it’s on youtube, and you looked really really well. You’ve lost a lot of weight and you’re back to looking as handsome as you did when you performed at Melodifestivalen in 2006…
Magnus: (laughs) thank you!
scandipop: So how did you manage to lose all that weight? Because you really ballooned for a couple of years, didn’t you?
Magnus: Well, I just knew that I had to do some extreme dieting for this new album, so I just had to stop eating so much crap. And I drank more water and paid more attention to what I was eating. So I lost eleven kilos. And it’s a good thing I did that, because if I hadn’t have, then I wouldn’t be able to perform ‘This Is Disco’. And I’m actually going to perform it on another show this summer…..
scandipop: Oh, is that Allsang Pa Skansen?
Magnus: No that’s something different. The show I’m going to do is Sommerkrysset, and I’ll have my dancers there for ‘This Is Disco’. But with Allsang Pa Skansen, that’s another thing, I’m doing a duet. In Melodifestivalen 1975 there was a song called ‘Sommer’n Som’. And it’s one the biggest hits ever in Melodifestivalen history. So I’m doing a parrallel single release with a Swedish singer Wille Crafoord, we’re going to release that in a few weeks. There was actually a big controversy with the song years ago, because it had a lyric comparing breasts to swallows nestling. And the Swedes hated it! But everyone knows it now and loves it. It’s corny as hell, but…yeah.
scandipop: Ok cool. And one final question Magnus. Recently there have been a lot of Scandinavian artists crossing over and having big success in the UK charts. Why do you think that is?
Magnus: I don’t know….I have a theory, and that’s that a lot of Swedish artists and Swedish producers are very keen on the melody line. It goes back to the eighties, the melody was always the key for everything. And nowadays we have a lot of r&b and very monotone music. But the eighties sound is becoming more and more popular again and so melodies are in demand. And we sound like the eighties music! I really adore Agnes, she my sweetheart.
scandipop: Yeah she’s amazing isn’t she?
Magnus: I love her. She’s my favourite. But we’ll see about ‘This Is Disco’ (laughs lots!). Maybe radio could love that too, we’ll see!
scandipop: I hope so! At the scandipop club nights, ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Walking In My Shoes’ are always really popular.
Magnus: Really? Wow! I didn’t realise that ‘Walking In My Shoes’ was so popular. Maybe I should include it on my next album in that case.
scandipop: Oh yeah, you really should, it’s such a great song!
Magnus: Thank you.
scandipop: And thank YOU very much for your time Magnus! Best of luck with ‘This Is Disco’ in Sweden, I hope it’s a hit!