TDR interview: Micke Bolyos talks about his career, and life with Marie
EDITOR’S NOTE – As you know, even though our online newspaper is called "The Daily Roxette," we try to cover everything related to Per and Marie. For a long time now, we've wanted to allow our readers to get to know Mikael Bolyos better, as he's played a major role with Marie Fredriksson's music both on and off the public stage. In this exclusive interview with TDR News Editor Judith Seuma, Mikael – better known as Micke – reveals much about his career with music and his working and personal relationship with his wife Marie.
VIENNA – Let's start with an introduction about Mikael as a musician. Mikael's recalls that his interest in music started when he heard The Platters' song "Only You" on the radio somewhere around 1963, and he knew he wanted to be a musician when his father asked him to take over his company one day. "He made plastic signs," explains Mikael. But he had considered other lines of work. "My dream was to become a gymnastics teacher," he says.
He started to learn the piano at the age of seven with "a private piano teacher, hated it and quit one year later, so I guess I still haven't learned to play it properly." He can also "play some chords on the guitar." Mikael wrote his first song at the age of 11. "The song was called 'Tell Me Why You Cry' and the lyrics were made up from different Beatles lyrics and titles," he says. The Beatles are one of his musical influences, together with Stevie Wonder and various '70s funk bands.
You compose, tour, play with other artists on albums, produce… Of these various facets of your career, what do you enjoy the most?
Today I'm not touring as much as I used to, but even then, when I used to, I was always happy in the studio. So, composing and recording must be my answer to that.
If you let your imagination run free for a moment (and assume that everyone is suddenly available), with whom would you like to work, that you've never had the opportunity to work with before?
I think it would be my new favorite artist and composer, Rufus Wainright.
How do you compose? For example, some artists rely on their inspiration and write music whenever it comes to them, others are more focused and prefer to schedule time for composing new material.
I wish I could be more scheduled in my work, but I'm quite a lazy guy and wait for the inspiration to come.
What is your prefered piano/keyboard? Do you have many of them in your studio? Do you prefer piano or keyboard?
A nice, well-tuned grand piano is always right. And synthesizers… [Micke goes into deep thought] Hmmm? My old favorites are the Mini Moog, Prophet 5 and the Jupiter 8. Yes I have some old synthesizers, but today you can buy so many good retro synths as plug-ins to your computer. I suppose piano.
What is the studio like in your home? Can you describe it to us?
In the control room we have a large mixing desk, racks of different effects and synths. And in the studio room where we record all the acoustic sounds we have a drum kit, some percussion and some real good microphones.
What do you do when you are not "Mikael the musician"? What other interests do you have?
Except from spending time with my family and friends I like cooking and to watch football.
What do you like to do "just for fun"?
I would be a liar if I didn't answer GOLF.
Simply out of curiosity: you spoke German rather well when we talked on the phone to arrange the interview. Did you learn it in school or did you ever live in Germany or Austria for a while?
Well, thank you! No I never lived in Germany. I spent some summers with my relatives in Austria when I was young, and I have a half sister in Hamburg and she is German. Otherwise, I learned it from a book!
How is it to work with Marie, given that you have both a personal and a professional relationship? Or are these two aspects completely intertwined?
When we started to work together in 1992, both Marie and I were quite experienced in studio work. I mean both technically and psychologically. We had an opinion what's worth spending time on, and the fact that you have to compromise. I found it already from the beginning very easy to work with Marie. She is so talented, she has a great voice and she knows how to use it.
Most of the time both of us want the same result, so it's a matter of finding the best way of reaching it. Most of the time in the studio, I'm programming and taking care of the sound part, but sometimes Marie plays the piano herself and has strong ideas of how the backup vocals or a certain synth or guitar should be played and mixed.
How do the two of you collaborate? Do you have an idea in your mind for a song, and then quickly share it with her and you go on together from there? Or, do you work on the idea for some time and when it's mostly finished, you have her listen to it then?
Yes, I play my ideas to her, and if she likes it I continue in a good mood. If she doesn't like it I continue singing "she doesn't understand me."
If you do work together on one idea, how do you distinguish whose song it is?
I don't know, but so far we haven't had any problems with that.
You wrote about half of the songs for "The Change." Was that album a way to talk about Marie's illness for you as well?
Yes, definitely! There's a lot coming up inside you, when you are approaching real existential angst.
What do you think you bring to Marie's music or how do you influence Marie's music?
I better ask Marie about this one. Hold on…… "[He influences my music] because we think the same," she says.
How was the work with "Min bäste vän"? Did you work on it for a long period of time or once you started you didn't stop until it was finished?
We started to record some songs in late October and in November we realized that we were doing a cover album. By that time, we had Marie's nephew (Jokke) staying with us, studying guitar in Stockholm. So he was available every evening doing guitar overdubs or backgrounds. That was a creative and fun period, and we were working quite fast.
The songs on "Min bäste vän" sound so fresh and alive, as if they were recorded live and with very little "production." Is this the case?
No, not really! "Min bäste vän" was a lot of programming (which I enjoyed after "The Change"). Only "Här kommer natten " was recorded live. The explanation to this might be that it sounds live with live musicians.
Is there any song (on the album) that also meant a lot to you at that time ('60s – '70s) and that you also "rescued" from your old LPs?
Yeah a lot of them. Marie and I are about the same age. But I used to tour with Pugh Rogefelt back in 1983, so his songs were always close to me. Especially "Aftonfalken."
You have started your own label with Marie and as far as we've heard, soon a new album from Max Schultz should be published under this label. What can you tell us about the album?
Yes that's correct! Since 2003 Max Shultz, Magnus Lindgren and I are recording in our Vinden studio in Stockholm and in our Vinden studio in Spain. Max and Magnus are playing so it's a record with only guitar & sax and flute. They are both such talented musicians, so it's like Christmas working with them. The three of us are writing and producing. The style of the music is very melodical and jazzy. I think you'll be surprised. It's an album that, if we're lucky, will sell 2000 copies.
Are there any other release plans on the horizon?
Yes. We already recorded a cover album with the singer Joachim Bergström with Magnus Lindgren Quartet. It's more like traditional jazz music the old way. I don't know when it's gonna be released though.
You have a unique perspective. What do you see coming up in the not-so-distant future? Can you let us in on anything that may just be an idea or in the planning stage right now?
Well, I shouldn't tell you this early, but I have always had this dream of releasing a record with my own songs. I decided to do this the 6th of April next year, and I promise that you will be able to pre-listen to some songs on the Mary Jane homepage before.
With those words The Daily Roxette thanks Micke Bolyos for his time.
Technical errors may occur.