Two boys and two girls from Sweden therefore managed to overcome the borders of their country in the early 90’s and conquer with their music the entire globe… In Sweden there wasn’t just Abba or Roxette… There were also Ace Of Base who despite the fact that they state to be «discographically inactive» at the moment, they announced recently the release of a new album titled «Hidden Gems». So I thought I had to locate the «brain» of the band and ask him a lot of things about this release and many other questions that I had since my childhood. Jonas «Joker» Berggren quickly accepted my request and now I am pleased to present to you our interview … Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back Ace Of Base!
Jonas welcome to tralala.gr!
After two years of discographical absence you’re getting ready to release your new album entitled «Hidden Gems». What should we expect from this album?
The audience or the fans can expect an Ace Of Base album with recordings from earlier than 2006 with the original lineup. You could say it is an album of B-sides and unreleased songs and the productions are from 1992 until 2005, so if it sounds old school – that is why. This album is created because of the fans – they wanted us to collect and put together all of the unreleased songs. Some of them had already leaked on the net but in bad recordings etc. I hope the world is ready for some Ace of Base again!
Are there any songs that stand out for you from this album?
I especially enjoy the timelessness of «Into the might of Blue» and «Sunset in Southern California» I think they have stood up in the test of time.
Other songs like «Primetime» «Come to me» and “No Good Lover” sound very much like us. “No good lover” has also a special story. That song was first recorded and the record company wanted it to be a single, then everybody listened too much to it and got tired of it and liked songs that were recorded later for the «Flowers» album. Then it didn’t even make the album ha ha – It often happened like this, we are only humans. My favorite, at the moment, is “GoGoGo”.
Do the vocals on your first “Hidden Gems”-single “Would you believe” belong to Jenny?
Both Linn and Jenny sing on «Would you believe». Linn sings in the chorus.
I asked you that because since now I thought that both of your sisters Jonas, have been replaced by Clara Hagman and Julia Williamson. So, to put things in order which is the current line-up of A.O.B.?
This album is not a come back of Ace of Base so you will find songs recorded only by the original setup of the band. It’s «fan driven» so to say.
Is there any chance for us to see the initial formation of Ace Of Base again united in the future?
I’ll never close any doors but I think Linn has to be with us again and that’s a hardball haha.
In your new, official site you mention “Simplicity isn’t easy…” referring to your music. What do you mean by this sentence?
It means that enough is enough. You should know when to stop adding music to your song. The difficulty is to stop in time. A classic example is “All that she wants”. Just the «needed stuff» is on that track. It is very easy to put all kinds of difficult chords on a song and to add layer after layer with tones. I hope you understand
Ι understand completely but in your opinion, what do people or your own audience, expect from your music?
I think good melancholic melodies together with some optimistic vibes. How about that? Hahaha
It sounds good to me but please enlighten us a bit more! Who are your favorite artists? To what extent have you been influenced by them?
My favorite artists are few – I am more into genres than songs.
Italo Disco is a type of genre I still like for their mix of minor and major in the songs. Take a listen to; Two of Us/ «Generation Swing» or Fox the Fox/ «Precious Little Diamond» and you will understand what I mean.
Have you ever “borrowed» something from them and applied it to your own work?
I like a variety of songs and artists, and what made us famous was the melancholy and that we had many different styles of music on our first albums. Both «pop reggae» and up-tempo songs. If you listen to an album from then they had just reggae or just up-tempo – never a combination. So you might say we borrowed the «best of summer» albums and made one within one group.
Nowadays all artist mix their albums with different styles but not back then.
With which artists would you like to collaborate with, either on stage or on a track, in the future?
No one special, perhaps writing some songs with Mando Diao who is also a Swedish band. That could be interesting – I like them a lot!
Do you think that a good song could become a great global smash-hit without the «help» of public relations or that the success of «The Sign» can be repeated again in the future and bring you back on the top of the international charts?
No I doubt that this can happen without the “help” of public relations and the success of “The sign” will probably not be repeated, unless perhaps we were to work with a big US boyband. Haha
How easy it was for you, your global success? Were there any moments that you said «I can’t take it anymore»?
Oh there were many moments like this! Especially when we had to catch early flights….. No sleep haha.
What gave you the strength to continue?
We didn’t want people to be disappointed in us – that’s what gave us strength to continue.
You count almost 25 years in the musical industry. I’m pretty sure that there must have been many intense moments between the members of the band. Could you share with us the worst one in the history of Ace of Base?
The worst one was when Jenny had sung «Everytime it rains» and Clive Davies was angry because Linn hadn’t sung it. He forced Linn to sing the whole song which she didn’t like or want. That created a terrible situation for both Jenny and Linn and after that Linn had really had enough of this business and I understand her. I really don’t like that song! It ruined the band!
A lot of people have characterized you as the «next ABBA” since both bands have a lot in common. Is it a heavy load the comparison with such a big name worldwide?
That’s a flattering comparison but I don’t think you can compare two bands who belong in different time periods. All is so different over time.
Both ABBA and Jenny were involved with the Eurovision Song Contest in the past. Would you participate in ESC with Ace of Base?
I don’t like this contest at all… No never.
As you already know, Greece has drawn the attention worldwide. What is your message to the Greek people through these tough times?
Like in an Indiana Jones film; «choose, but choose wisely»
In 1993 we enjoyed your only appearance on Greek television. Is this also the only time that you have visited our country? What is your experience of the Greek audience?
Yes that was the only time we visited Greece. Greek audiences are a lot of fun, vivid and sparkling!!
Despite that, you have never given any concerts in our country. Did you ever try to throw a concert in Athens?
Yes that had been on the agenda. Unfortunately we were focused on the promotion of our music almost all the time… I think we made a mistake there – we should have done more concerts. That is promotion in itself.
How about the Greek music scene? Are there any Greek artists that you know or admire?
Now days I don’t know anything about recent Greek artists. It was more «back in the days».
What is your «relationship» with your social media and also your communication with your fans?
I communicate with «Acers» through our Facebook page quite frequently. I actually enjoy it. Nowadays I feel more free to do so.
What are your future plans? Should we hope for another release with new A.O.B. material after «Hidden Gems»?
I would like to do another fan based album for the hardcore Acers with old songs – perhaps another “Hidden Gems” album? I have worked so hard all these years when «Ace of Base are working in the studio» … It’s nice to be able to show some of these old masters to the audience finally. I still write at least one new song a week. That is my «calling» so to say – It’s building up, haha
We have no plans for newer material for the band since 2005. We live in a time-capsule contemplating Ace of Base.
Is there anything that you would like to add which hasn’t been mentioned since this moment of the interview?
We have material from 2005 and back for two more albums which is already delivered to the record company. If the audience would like to hear more old-school music I am more than willing to work towards that. We recorded some great songs the 4 of us and I really hope all of them will be heard in the future. Take care all Acers!
Jonas, thank you so much for this interview!
All the best!
Interview: Theodore Kolliopoulos
Special Thanks to Lars Tengroth and Elektra Limniou