Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 8: “So yes, Per saw the mouse”
Gubbens hus, the place to get some sleep. Or not.
C: Hehehehe, yeah, sure! I always thought that Roxette was a copy of Eurythmics.
K: Yes, so thought I!
C: A very obvious copy, hehe!
K: Yes, the singers looked similar, the concept was the same, the guy writing the songs and playing the guitar and the girl singing.
C: A very similar concept indeed, yeah!
K: Roxette, SOAP, Beatles I see here… almost no Swedish stuff, only English albums?
C: Yeah… there is very little Swedish music actually.
K: Why that?
C: Well, I haven’t found any I like so much, I guess. There’s lots of great Swedish music obviously but nothing that touched my heart that much.
K: George Harrison is there… A-ha… Oh by the way… The Sir George Martin award! You were the first one who got the award…
K: How did you get to know about this?
C: They just called me and told me. And it was a little bit difficult to believe that. Actually, I thought it was a joke. But you know, this interview is great. It’s more of the theme of luck! We should call it “Luck“ because when I was seven or eight, I had a couple of Beatles records that my parents bought and I was a huge fan and then there was a program on the radio where a Swedish guy who is an expert on the Beatles, a super expert, he played unfinished tracks and solo stuff that I never heard before. And among many other things, I heard the song “My Sweet Lord“, a George Harrison song that for me was a mind blower of astronomical proportions and it turned out that this guy who did this program by being a Beatles expert, he got to know George Martin because he contacted him and they got to be friends and they spent a lot of time together and he took the initiative to this prize. He asked George Martin, “Do you want to be a part of it, shall we start a music prize in your name?” And then, the same guy thought that I would be a good first. So that little loop is also incredible to me. It’s so unlikely that it’s just stupid. So, that’s the reason.
K: You once joked that you would use the money to repair your roof. Has it been repaired?
C: Yeah yeah yeah. It was that house [he points over to his living house]. It was leaking and now it got a new George Martin roof.
K: We talked to Clarence, he said that it’s quite windy and cold here in the studio. Is that something you hear often?
J: …like people recording here in jackets…
C: Well, actually, it’s mostly Per because he doesn’t eat any fat. So he’s always cold. He freezes very easily. For me in here it’s as hot as in a sauna and he sits here in winter jackets, “Oh, it’s so cold! I can’t be here“. So, that’s the true story.
K: Then you also have a guest house, Gubbens hus, somewhere down the road. Is this a special service for the bands that want to work here?
C: Yes. Because if they want to come here and work, they need some place to stay because there aren’t any places to sleep here. So I bought another house.
K: What kind of standard is it?
C: Really crappy. We can go and have a look if you want. It’s great that Marie and Per and all the other people are actually staying in this place. It’s not that they like it…
K: Oh, heard of it, yes…
C: But they do. Per counted not too long ago and he came to the conclusion that he spent maybe 350 to 400 days here now. Over a year crammed together in this room, they have been staying in this horrible house throughout this time. Maybe you heard it before because I always tell this story, please stop me if you heard it before: During the recording of the first record, Mazarin, Per didn’t want to stay here. He went to a hotel. But then we found our way of working and then he realized, “Okay, if I stay here, we work so late hours, it would be more effective.” So for the recording of the second album, the first night, I was going to show them the house: “Now you’re going to stay here, it’s simple but it’s going to work!” and I opened the door at two in the morning and I showed them their beds. Then I saw in the corner of my eye a little mouse running across the living room! I felt “Okay, hm hm hm, bad luck, I shouldn’t tell them, they probably didn’t see it“. But then Per said “Vad var det där???“ which is “What was that???“ in his Halland stupid dialect. So yes, he saw the mouse. And Clarence claims that the next morning, when he woke up and on his bed table was his tooth brushing cup and there was a mouse like this [Christoffer shows us how the mouse was looking out of the cup]. It’s very true and it’s a great story I think! [Everyone bursting out laughing!]
J: Per must have thought, “Gosh I’m in hell!”
C: It’s not his style having mice running around!
K: Yeah. Clarence said, it’s very nice for three days, maybe four. But then please Stockholm again!
C: Yeah, they hate it. But then again, we only work and sleep, so it doesn’t really matter, yeah.
J: After some wine it doesn’t matter anymore!
K: Yeah, there’s always a lot of wine here, I saw on the videos…
C. Yeah, sort of. We have dinner at six and we have some wine and then we drink a lot of the time some little during the evening. Mainly because something different happens then, you become a little more open, you don’t care so much. The next morning, it’s not that we’re drunk, but it’s just a little bit… lalala… flimsy. Which is good. Yes. Per doesn’t like to drink when he’s going to record the vocals but Clarence and I secretly always think that if he has a glass of wine before, he is better because he’s more relaxed. So we try to have the drunk vocal takes, hehehe. But there aren’t too many of them.
K: Where does the recording of the voice take place? In the other room?
C: Yeah, on the other side of the window, there.
K: How do you control the reverbs and echoes of the room? Normally, studios try to avoid them…
C: Oh yeah.
K: Here, there’s still some reverb, which is certainly nice but will not fit every production…
C: There are different kinds of echoes. There is the echo that you get from the room you are recording in. And that’s the kind of echo they want to get rid of in studios, normally. and I have thought the other way, that these rooms have a sound. There’s an acoustic in here. So if you going to record here, there would be a certain amount of acoustic. But it’s very little, you wouldn’t notice it as an echo, it’s more like a color. You get the sense of a little bit of air. All studios have their sound because of the rooms, because of the acoustic. Here it’s a little bit more pronounced. But then, after you recorded, you can add different kinds of echo. They are also special because there are echo chambers and tape delays, all kinds of effects. But generally, I don’t try to get rid of the sound of the room. I rather use it. It’s another little spot of character, a color. More color is good. The less color you have, the more boring it gets.
K: Just like people used to say “Oh, you hear the sound of the Abbey Road Studios in that and that record“. It’s like a good old wine.
C: Yeah. And that sound comes from a very complete combination of different things. It’s the equipment, it’s the rooms, it’s the people. Anything. Generally, I think that control is for the most a very bad thing in music. Musicians and artists generally have a bad self-confidence. They are afraid not to be good enough. And in order to avoid this feeling of not being good enough, you want to take control of what you do. And if you feel like “Oh, I know what my song is going to be like, I know exactly how I want to sing it, what instruments it’s going to be, then I feel relaxed and in control.” But the result suffers from that. The more control you take, the less creative it gets. So I think you have to try to be open even if you have a plan. So if something else happens that is really attractive, you do that instead. You go quickly “Oh, I like that, let’s do that, no matter what the plan was.” Let go the control. And this control idea goes into everything. That’s why I think a glass of wine before singing can be good. A really good singer who has a lot of control can become boring because he knows exactly every little “Nnn“, the “T“ was too long, the little vibrato, you do it with all your life, and then it’s 100 % control. And then, some of the communication goes away, I think.
J: Hm, it’s getting more and more dry. You need to be more relaxed to put the emotions…
C: Just let it happen as subconsciously as possible, really.
K: In preparation for the interview with Clarence, I found a nerd forum, probably one of those you browse through too sometimes, and there was a thread talking about Clarence as a producer. But later people only kept chatting about you. They also said that you have the habit that whatever recording somebody brings to your studio, you first put it on tape and digitize this. Is it true?
C: Yeah, I do that a lot of the time, yes.
K: In order to stay in your personal working process?
C: It’s just from experience. I grew up with tape machines and I got used to working with them and I think I shaped everything I do around that sound. So when I do a recording digitally, it sounds great but really different. Then I cannot handle it. It’s not that it sounds bad, it’s just… other people can make it sound great. But for me, to get it into my bubble…
K: It doesn’t have a life then?
C: Yeah! It’s another little color because it adds character, it adds distortion, it ruins it a little bit, it isn’t perfect pristine anymore. Something happens. And then all of a sudden, that sound source for me is really easier to handle, it fits in the whole picture and I can do anything I want with it. But if it’s 100 % digital, it’s difficult for me.
K: What if you do the production for a multi million dollar project… like Roxette, which has international releases, is being played by mainstream radios… Is there a pressure that you have to buy certain machines to make the sounds be good according to international quality standards?
C: The quality standard is emotional for me only. If it feels good, it is good. So if you start thinking that it needs to be a certain way in order to please those people or those people or the record company, then for me the whole thing goes wrong. You shouldn’t think like that ever. You should just do what you like.
K: I agree. The question was if this pressure exists.
C: I mean, since Per is really good at that, he says, “Okay, we finish the music, I make my records the way I like them and then I give it to you, the record company and the business, and you promote it“, it is not quite like that. So there is no very precise pressure. But at the same time it would be a lie to deny that if you going to make a Roxette comeback record, and of course in the back of your mind you know that people are waiting for this, they have expectations and you try not to think about that. But it interferes, of course. but I wouldn’t try to do like anyone else does: “Oh no, it’s Roxette, it has to be this and that“, then it’s better to work with someone else, I think, because then it’s pointless.
K: So you don’t torture your ears by let’s say checking the latest Lady Gaga CD just to find out what is en vogue at the moment?
C: Well, we do that too, we listen to stuff. Per brings all the time new things: “Oh listen to this, listen to this“, also new stuff. But it’s more for inspiration, it’s more for opening your mind, it’s not for trying to go a certain way. But of course, in some cases, with Charm School, we thought that “Oh, this should be partly programmed and partly played, that was the idea. But it should be a little bit more precise because it’s Roxette and that’s their style“. That was our common idea. But with a song like for example “She’s Got Nothing On”, that was a little bit conscious effort to make it, a little bit like contemporary music. Not exactly, not like “Oh we must do a hit so that the German radio can play it“ but a little bit “Hmmm, it’s fun, it’s fun to be inspired by Lady Gaga“ or whatever. You try to do it your way and while you do it your way, you totally fuck it up and misunderstand everything and it becomes something else. But there can be an influence from anything. Modern music or old music, anything, yeah.
Tomorrow on TDR: Face to face with Christoffer Lundquist. Pt. 9: “Remixes don’t say anything to me”
Per and Clarence have to walk to their sleeping place. It’s not exactly around the corner and even in the summer you will need some good 15 minutes walking
The kitchen at AGM
Chris and Kai looking at things
Technical errors may occur.