Face to face with Marie Dimberg. Pt. 2: “You have to reach the girls and the gays”
Marie Dimberg and two reporters for TDR
K: In this office, you’re also working for Peter Jöback who is at the moment playing in a musical…
D: Yes, he is doing The Phantom Of The Opera for another week.
K: …you have Jonas Åkerlund who is a director…
K: …you have Agnes Carlsson, Cookies n Beans, Familjen… They are very different artists…
K: … one coming from the Swedish Idol show, the other one makes extremely… dark videos, the next one sings hip-hop, the next one pop… how do you accommodate all these different artists?
D: We want to work with artists that don’t compete in eachother’s genre and we want to work with the best in their field. And we think that we do!
K: Yes, indeed. Even I coming from Germany know their names.
D: We don’t want to necessarily be the biggest, but we want to be the best and have the best in each area.
K: How do you manage to get jobs for your artists in so many different fields? I mean… musicals, hip-hop, movies… I think you have to learn during your job, too…
D: Yes. I learnt a lot working with Peter [Jöback]. In 1997, he was the first client after Roxette that I started working with, and it was a new area for me. I learnt a lot from him. He could be a producer; he has an enormous love for that genre which I think is the most important thing. So yes, I had to learn and I have learnt and I make mistakes but it has been an exciting and necessary challenge. Familjen, is mostly Dita [Kleman]’s act. When I employed Dita in 2005, she had worked with Sony Music and she had worked with Agnes during her Idol years. I had met Agnes and her father (‘cause she was underage at this time) many times, but I didn’t feel I had the capacity to take her on. When Dita started, I said, “Maybe we should take on Agnes now”. I think that Agnes follows in the footsteps of Roxette, she does pop music.
K: You are representing your artists and somehow you have to represent their music styles as well. I think it’s hard to stand for so many different music styles and I was wondering how…
D: …it’s because you’re a guy that you think like that. I think, women and men look very differently at music. Am I right, Justyna? We don’t label things; we don’t put things in boxes.
J: They are simple, hm?
D: Well… They make lists, categories, statistics and put music in boxes… When I look at Peter’s fans on Facebook for example, they can buy tickets for Bruce Springsteen, for Phantom Of The Opera, they can buy Oskar Linnros’ new record because they’re open and it doesn’t matter. If they like it, it’s good. They don’t have to label it. There are men who do that too, and there are women who are stuck in boxes, too. But in general, I would say it’s a guy thing. If you want to reach a big audience you have to reach the girls. You can come as far as you can come if you only have sort of a male audience. If you want to be really big, you have to reach the girls. Roxette have always done that. You have to reach the girls and the gays. And I think if you like music and you’re open-minded, you don’t need to label things, you don’t need to put it into boxes, you can just go ahead and like it.
K: How do you achieve to attract the girls then? Do you choose certain media that are mainly read by women?
D: No, I think it’s up to the music. If you look at another Swedish phenomenon, Lars Winnerbäck, at first sight he may look like a typical male acoustic singer, but his main audience is girls. Young girls. I don’t think there’s a certain trick or so. I think it’s up to what the audience like.
K: What does an artist need to be chosen by you? How does it work, do you look for artists or are they coming to you?
D: No, they are coming to me, mostly. Well, Peter Jöback… I heard Peter when I came back from London and he had just done Kristina [Kristina från Duvemåla, a Swedish musical]. I heard him on the radio and thought, “Oh my God!”. A friend of mine who did the artwork for his album called me and told me that he really needs help because he came back from London as well and I said, “Sure, I’d be happy to work with him”. I love his voice, he’s a world class performer!
K: Yes, you can really feel that he lives his music!
D: Yes. Agnes… I don’t watch Idol but I saw her in Allsång på Skansen [a famous Swedish evening show] in 2006 and she just made the TV-screen shine… When you come through the TV screen and you reach out, that’s star quality. And she has that! I mean, she’s a star! She has a beautiful voice. I like voices! I’m a sucker for voices. Marie’s and Per’s voices too – love them!
I like to choose artists who I think have a special quality and who I think we can help develop. Cookies n Beans… Charlotte the guitarist, she was in Peter’s band in 2007 on tour and she said, “I have this band…”, so we went to see them in 2008. I love that kind of music. Voices and harmonies… And that’s also something we thought we could actually develop.
K: What exactly can you do for a director?
D: We can discuss projects. What he wants to do, what he doesn’t want to do. Media. Well, we only work for him within Scandinavia. What’s the next thing he wants to do when he comes back here etc.
K: Do you have projects where your artists collaborate with each other?
D: Yes. Per wrote a song for Peter’s X-mas album.
K: Varmt igen?
D. Yes. Peter and Cookies went on tour last summer. Agnes sang on Peter’s birthday party. So yes, to a certain extent, yes they do.
K: We talked about your career at EMI, you left in 1997. Why did you actually leave such a safe job behind?
D: [laughing] I don’t think that record companies are safe at all nowadays. But I had been there for 13 years. I had been in London as a VP [vice president] of international marketing working for Parlophone and Capitol for a year. So I came back to Sweden in the fall of 1996 as a marketing director and when I came back I felt like “I’ve been there for 13 years”, you know? There were all kind of schemes of who should take over when Rolf would retire. And then Per and Marie actually said, “Great, you’re back, now we can go on!” But I couldn’t really go on working with them in that capacity because it’s a conflict of interests if I was to pursue some kind of career within EMI. So they sort of “bought me out” and we decided to form this management company.
K: You started at EMI already in 1984. How did you happen to work with Marie and Per there?
D: I started working with them in 1985 when Marie released her second solo album and Per released his second solo album.
K: So you have worked together with them for… 30 years?
D: 27 years.
J: Quite a long time. The connection between you and Marie and Per is more like in a family or is there still a distance?
D: Well, it’s both. Of course, it’s both. There are people that don’t even have a relationship for that long. You know, we’ve been through thick and thin and we sort of grew up together and none of us really knew how to do things when we started out internationally. So, yeah, it’s a thin line.
K: Is it helpful that you’re all in the same age more or less?
D: Yes… [silently:] I’m the youngest of them…
D: No, but you’re right, absolutely.
Read tomorrow: Face to face with Marie Dimberg. pt.3: ”Communication is the way to save the world”
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