Ola released his third album this week. You can read our full track by track review here, but in short – it’s EFFING AMAZING. We haven’t been able to stop listening to it since it was sent to us last week. 10 tracks of pop glory, each of them a tune and a half, all mind bendingly catchy. It’s a truly great pop album, and so we just had to speak to him about it. We wanted to know if he really does love pop as much as we do…………………..if he has plans to finally launch himself internationally………if he was aware of how utterly incredible one album track in particular is………….the creative process behind his music………………his experiences at this year’s Melodifestivalen……………and if he has a special ladyfriend in his life right now!
So on Tuesday we met up with him. And he answered everything – with great gusto! Have a read;
scandipop: Hello Ola! Well, firstly thank you for a great album. It’s your third, but I think it’s your strongest and I prefer it to your previous two. I know why I think it’s so strong and prefer it to your other two, but can you tell our readers why you think it’s such a strong album, and if they too will think it’s your best yet?
Ola: I think this album is a more mature album. Both with the melodies and with the lyrics I think it’s more mature. And I think that every song has its own identity. There are ten songs but they all have their own identity. And I love it that way. I hate buying an album and there is 45 minutes of music where every song sounds like the rest, you know. It’s one song, one long song. And I think that when you listen to the album you will hear that I’m singing pretty differently on every song. There’s a different attitude on every song, vocally. And I think that’s good. It’s a pop album! Some of the songs are for pre-party and for the clubs. And some of the songs are ballads that you can listen to when you’re not feeling so strong. I think that with this album you definitely get both.
scandipop: Ok. Actually you’re right about predicting that there are good club songs on there too. I’ve played ‘All Over The World’ when I’ve DJ’d both in Stockholm and in London, and each time I always get at least one person coming up to me to ask what it is!
Ola: That’s great! Actually, ‘All Over The World’ will be the third single.
scandipop: Oh really?! That’s good to hear.
Ola: Yeah. It’s crazy you know. With this song it’s crazy, we’ve had emails from America. Two managers in America who both just love the song. And we only released it on the ‘Overdrive’ EP on iTunes and Spotify for my summer tour.
scandipop: Yeah I was worried that it had been overshadowed by just being another track on a single’s EP. When actually it’s even better than ‘Overdrive’. In fact, in my opinion, the best thing you’ve ever done.
Ola: Yeah I know what you mean. We discussed this before. It’s just crazy with this song – the people at the record label who’ve heard it, my friends, the people I work with, they all think it’s a huge hit. So we’ll see what happens. But it’s crazy, these two American managers – they don’t know each other. And we only released the song in Sweden so we don’t know how they even managed to hear it. Oh actually, one of the managers said that he heard it on a blog. But how the blog got the song, we don’t know. So it’s crazy how it goes.
scandipop: Well to be honest, actually scandipop wrote about it over the summer and posted the song for people to listen to. And we just embedded the audio that was already on youtube. And that’s really how a lot of people outside of Sweden know Swedish artists’ music – either through listening on youtube or reading about them on blogs. It’s not uncommon.
Ola: Oh, ok. Well it’ll be really interesting to see what will happen with the song. We’re recording a video in two weeks. I love this song, I love it! It’s one of my absolute favourites, through all my songs. So I’m happy to hear that you think it’s my best.
scandipop: Definitely! So on the album, there are a few different sub genres of pop on there. There’s the electro of ‘Riot’, the dance pop of ‘All Over The World’, the r&b balladry of ‘Still Remember’ and ‘Let It Hit You’, and your usual guitar pop sound. But with each of them, no matter which sound you take on, at the heart of the song is still an incredibly strong and catchy pop melody. Would you say that that is perhaps the Ola trademark in your songs? Good melodies?
Ola: I absolutely think so. That’s my biggest priority when I make songs, and in particular when I made this album, my third album. I wanted to have a high standard with the meldies, and with the lyrics too. What I love is pop songs, that’s my passion. That’s what I wanna make. So…..yeah absolutely! Ha ha, to answer your question, absolutely! What I want is that when people think of me, they think of great pop songs. That’s what I want.
scandipop: And did you write much of the album yourself?
Ola: Yep, absolutely. For this album I wrote 80 songs! 78 to be exact, in 2 years. So all of the 10 songs on the album I’ve written. Co-written with some songwriters, especially with one guy, Alexander Kronlund – he wrote with Britney and Backstreet Boys and a lot of international acts. And I met him when we were starting to write ‘Unstoppable’ for Melodifestivalen, and we just clicked, you know. Like this guy would be one of my closest friends. I felt that straight away.
scandipop: He just ‘gets’ pop music.
Ola: Exactly, that’s his passion too. And he’s been in Cheiron, so he’s a genius! So yeah, he liked me too, we became friends, and we decided to write the album. Of the 10 songs on the album, 7 of them were written with him. He’s like my mentor, you know, in all of the creative work. And he believes in me. And that’s the most important thing for me.
scandipop: Ok. You say you wrote 78 songs – so how come it’s only a 10 track album? Weren’t you tempted to put 15 songs on there, or 16?
Ola: Yeah I know what you mean, I know what you mean. But a lot of the tracks I wrote were like a search, for how I wanted the album to sound. They were all very very different. So perhaps a lot of them then didn’t fit in with the final album sound. They were good melodies, but they weren’t the right sound or had the right character of song. But some of the songs I will give to other artists. In fact two have been recorded by other artists already and will be released. But yes, I know what you mean. And it was really hard to decide which ten songs would go on the album. In the end, it was down to 24, 25 songs that I really liked. But I don’t know, maybe I will release another new album pretty soon after this one.
scandipop: Oh please do!
Ola: Ha ha, maybe, we don’t know yet. We’ll see what happens. I have some ideas, maybe I don’t want to do it the traditional way!
scandipop: Maybe you want to do it like Robyn?
scandipop: Ok. And keeping on the subject of writing……When you write songs, is your contribution usually lyrics, music, melodies, or a combination of all three?
Ola: I think it’s a combination of all three. But I would say that on this album, when me and Alexander write the songs, we do it all together. But I always come up with what the song is about, and then we do the lyrics together. But I always come up with the meaning of the song. And then we do the melodies together. With some of the songs I did 80% and he did 20% or whatever, and then the other way round. It differs from song to song.
scandipop: Yesterday you revealed that you’d started your own record label. With more independence now, does that mean that we’re going to see a drastic change to the Ola we know, and his music, in the future?
Ola: I think that there will absolutely be a change. Drastic or not, I don’t know. But there will absolutely be a change. I will do it my own way now. I will still listen to people who are my creative inspiration, like Alexander, and there’s another friend who’s a DJ here in Stockholm – he’s one of my best friends and I always talk to him about the songs. I will listen to those kinds of friends, my creative inspirations. But yes, there will be a change. You will see a change with things like my videos, the pictures of me. And there will be a change in the music too, yes.
scandipop: But you aren’t gonna leave pop behind are you?!
Ola: Never! Never.
Ola: I will be pop, but with inspirations from other stuff. But commercial pop, that’s my passion.
scandipop: Cool. So the change in record label, what does that mean for your international fans? Are we now going to see Ola launched internationally?
Ola: We’ll see, we’ll see. It’s always been my dream to make it outside of Sweden, and of course that’s still my dream. But for now it’s Sweden. Tomorrow I release my album here in Sweden, and I will work the album here. Then I will go to New York and LA in November to have some meetings with some people there. And then I’ll take it from there. I don’t have any stress, I’m only 24 years old! So I wanna take it slow and I wanna find myself, in my new record company. I wanna find my creative self with everything too. But I’m on my way. And I’ve found my people that I wanna work with, and I think that’s the most important thing. So yeah, to answer your question. ’Unstoppable’ is now being played on some small radio stations in the USA right now. And ‘Overdrive’ in Canada. ‘Unstoppable’ is played a lot on one of Italy’s radio stations. And actually yesterday I heard that Russia has started playing ‘Unstoppable’ as well. So the international thing is on its way, but we have not started to work on it yet, it has just happened by itself so far. Which is great, it’s fantastic! It means that there are people outside of this country who want to take my music and play it on radio stations. And that’s fantastic. But of course that’s my dream. Maybe 2011, we’ll see what happens! But the rest of this year I will work in Sweden.
scandipop: And in which countries in particular would you like to release music?
Ola: Of course the UK, of course, of course. But I would like to release all over the world too. But the UK is a big music country, so it would be great to be releasing my music there. And also Germany, Italy, America, all over the world!
scandipop: A lot of Swedish musicians, artists, writers, and producers have had huge success internationally down through the years. Perhaps recently even more than ever in terms of writers and producers. What is it about Sweden do you think, that produces so many talented musicians that have an international appeal?
Ola: That’s a really hard question, and actually one that I’ve been thinking about myself recently. It’s such a small country, but I don’t know man. It’s a country that really loves melodies. But I don’t know why really. But it’s definitely very interesting. Very interesting.
scandipop: Ok. Keeping with international now – how did you feel when you missed out on going to the Eurovision Song Contest this year? Would you have liked to have gone there? Or were you happy to just reach the final of Melodifestivalen, score a huge hit in the process, and escape the pressure of Eurovision
Ola: I think that today, looking at it, I’m really happy that I didn’t win. Of course when I was in the competition, I wanted to win. I’m a competition guy, I wanna win. But today I’m really happy and I see many positive sides to not winning actually. But it was really great for me, because the international juries gave me really high points. And that for me was like a proof that this music is good for other countries outside of Sweden. Like Ireland gave me 12 points, and they are a real music country. And that for me was success, you know. So I’m really happy. I’m happy for reaching the finals and for getting a hit here.
scandipop: This was your second year doing Melodifestivalen, your first being in 2008. So did you approach it differently this year, with the benefit of experience? Or were you just thrown into chaos and insanity all over again?!
Ola: I totally agree with you there, it’s a chaos! And you can never expect what’s going to happen. But yes, I had more experience this time, so I knew how it all worked, so that was pretty nice. And I was more calm in the competition this year. But I don’t know if I am ever going to be in that competition again.
scandipop: Why? Why not?
Ola: I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do it again but in another way.
scandipop: As a songwriter for example?
Ola: Yeah maybe as a songwriter, that’s not impossible.
scandipop: What other way did you have in mind?
Ola: I don’t know. But I would like to build my career on other platforms, I think that’s good. I should never say never though, maybe in 5 years time I will do it again. But what I feel right now is that I won’t be in it again for a few years.
scandipop: I suppose this might not apply to you anymore since you have your own label, but a lot of record labels do put pressure on their artists to compete in Melodifestivalen, as it’s the perfect launch when they have a new album coming out. Especially pop artists. When you next have an album to be released, won’t you be tempted to do Melodifestivalen, to give the album a platform, a hit, and some guaranteed exposure?
Ola: I know what you mean. You’re guaranteed a hit and you’re guaranteed publicity, absolutely. But maybe I’ll get publicity from other sources and from other areas.
scandipop: Ok. So what’s next for you now. You release the album this week, what have you got planned for the rest of the year?
Ola: I will promote my album here in Sweden of course. I will have a tour through October, November and December – in Sweden, and hopefully Poland as well. I have the meetings in America too. And actually we are recording a DVD about my road to this album, and about the tour, a kind of behind the scenes look at my life, a documentary about my life. And we’re releasing a lot more singles from the album too. I hope that I have four singles more. That’s a lot, but, yeah.
scandipop: And besides ‘All Over The World’ which we’ve already discussed, which other songs would you like released as singles? Which are your favourites?!
Ola: Well the next single will be ‘All Over The World’, but after that, I don’t wanna say! I’d like it to be a surprise!
scandipop: Name three favourites then, they don’t necessarily have to be what the singles will be!
Ola: Ha ha ha. Ermmm……
scandipop: Artists usually hate answering that question, but I’m particularly intrigued as to what your response would be. Like I said, you’ve tested out a few different sounds of pop on your album, and I’m curious as to which ones made their mark on you most.
Ola: You guess! Which ones would you like to be the next singles?
scandipop: It’s actually quite difficult. It would be interesting if you released ‘Riot’, because it’s different to anything you’ve done before, and it’s got the Dr Luke and Ke$ha sound going on…..
Ola: Yeah we thought about that when we did it.
scandipop: And I really like ‘Still Remember’ and ‘Let It Hit You’ – the Ryan Tedder-esque r&b ballads. But I also really like ‘Y.T.G.’, just because I think it’s pure schlager. And I’m not sure if you’d agree with that, but….
Ola: No, I…….I know why you think it’s schlager, but I don’t agree. The melody is really catchy. And it has some irony to it too. I love it, it’s one of my favourite songs, absolutely. And we had so much fun making that song. But at the same time, we had Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’ in our mind a little bit too. I know why you think it’s schlager, but that song for me is like a really charming, ironic lyric, happy melody………..if you read the lyrics you’ll see.
scandipop: Ok. Well we’ve spoken about your plans for the next few months. But have you actually booked in any time to relax at all?!
Ola: Maybe I will get three days to go to Milan, for football. But that’s not decided yet because we have some other stuff to do.So maybe I can go, we’ll see. But otherwise I think I have work every day.
scandipop: Oh my God, are you serious?!
Ola: 7 days a week! When I look at my schedule it’s crazy. I have work in there in January!
scandipop: How does that feel?!
Ola: It feels fantastic!
Ola: It feels good, because I love my work. For example, this interview here is not work for me, it feels like a chat! I love it, I love talking about pop music. It’s what I live for. But of course I get tired, I was tired yesterday when I got home at 9 at night. But I love my work. Although of course it would be great to go on vacation for two weeks and just relax.
scandipop: Ok. My final question now. Moving away from the music, apologies! But we’ve discussed your life for the next few months – so tell me if you have anyone special to share that life with right now!
Ola: Actually, right now I don’t have that. I’m dating actually.
scandipop: Ok. One girl in particular or lots of girls?!
Ola: One girl in particular. We’ll see what happens, but it feels good right now.
scandipop: And how does she feel when she sees your schedule?!
Ola: She’s like; ”how can you work this hard”! But she understands me, and she likes people who work, you know. People who have ambition. So I think that’s a good thing. But we’ll see. The future will tell!
scandipop: Thank you very much Ola.
Ola: Thank you very much.
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