David Myhr - Soundshine

The day I met Benny Andersson

Posted: December 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Alright folks… breaking news… I met Benny!!!

Please let me begin by apologising for the radio silence here on my news blog since the release of my ELO flavoured film song “Spellbound” which by the way turned into my career-peak (so far!) on Swedish radio. I can assure you that exciting things are in the pipeline for 2018 given that I have now finished the recordings of my second solo album (more about the recordings here). It’s about time considering my solo debut album Soundshine came out in 2012. Please register to the news-letter here on the side to stay updated! (Very few e-mails per year, I promise!).

What now causes me to break the silence (except for the fact that I’ve recently mostly been posting updates on my Facebook artist page) is the fact that I finally got to meet my life-long hero Benny Andersson of ABBA fame! It happened exactly a week ago, on Dec 1, 2017, at the12th Art of Record Production Conference, hosted by the Royal College of Music, Stockholm, Sweden.

 

 

A little over three years ago I experienced the handshake of my life. (Feel free to read my 4000 words long post about the day I met Paul McCartney). Even though it’s obviously impossible to beat, there are still a few hands I would really like to shake before I (or they) die. Now that both Tom Petty and David Bowie very sadly are out of the question (see my Petty tribute here, my Bowie tribute here) I can only wish for Jeff Lynne (read about my near-Jeff experience here). But also, of course, my Swedish heroes from the world phenomenon that is ABBA!

Whenever a Swede goes abroad we talk (proudly) of IKEA and of course ABBA. After all, they are indisputable true legends of music history in the BIG league. Loved by (almost) everybody! They sold over (unbelievable!) 400 million records worldwide and were the beginning of the Swedish music export phenomenon. As for me personally, not only did I grow up with ABBA, but they have always been present in my life one way or another. I remember hearing Waterloo on the radio as a child in the 70’s. I loved the piano outro of Chiquitita already before I became obsessed by the Beatles.  With the help of Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish as a producer, when I was in the Merrymakers, we borrowed inspiration from ABBA’s “Money Money Money” for the intro of “April’s Fool”. And through the years in the music business the ABBA stories have always been around. But most of all, ABBA has been a part of my professional life as a musician for the last 16 years. As a sideline I’m a Benny impersonator in the Swedish tribute (eight-piece) band Super Trouper which has offered hundreds of shows in Sweden and the Nordic countries. See below for a picture with me (and the other three “ABBAs”) in my wig and my platform shoes.

But years ago, I have also at a few occasions been a “Benny” stand-in in the internationally successful production ABBA The Music (later divided into The Show and The Visitors) playing together with members of the original ABBA band like Janne Schaffer, Lasse Wellander, Uffe Andersson, and Roger Palm. In this context I have toured the US (including shows at the legendary Hollywood Bowl in front of 16,000 people), Spain (World Expo in Zaragoza 2008), Cyprus, Holland, Belgium etc.

So the thought of meeting Benny has always been somewhat of a fantasy of mine. It hasn’t seem completely unlikely that it could happen one day considering we live in the same city and he’s out and about, I visit his studio every now and then, and that I know quite a few people who work with, or has worked with, him.

The first time I spotted Benny and his wife was at Malmö airport as a kid back in 1979. But I’ve also more or less bumped into him at a restaurant in Stockholm, at the Swedish Grammy awards, outside of his studio (where I’ve brought students through the years, see below). I’ve visited one of his summer houses at a party hosted by Tommy Körberg and so on. I also saw Björn and Benny salute an enormous crowd in Hyde Park in 2009. But again,  I have never got the chance to exchange a few words and shake his hand until a week ago!

It  happened on the day I was about to present a paper (“Observing melody in solo songwriting”) at the ARP conference (mentioned above) talking about methodologies from my on-going research project in the melody writing process. Benny was invited as a secret guest for a “celebrity interview”. Word got out (thanks to my assistant supervisor, friend and academic role-model Joe Bennett!) that “Benny is in the building” and I searched my way to the lobby of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm where the conference was taking place. It turned out Benny had come an hour too early and was told to come back in a while. So I thought I’d better stick around. And suddenly, the God of melodies himself walks into the building!

I recently had the honour of exchanging a couple of e-mails with Benny from my position as a senior lecturer at The School of Music at Luleå University of Technology (LTU) (see my staff profile here). LTU awarded Benny an honorary doctorate in 2012, Philosophical Faculty. So I could refer to that as my “ice breaker”, presenting myself briefly, and greeted him with a hand shake. Selfie-obsessed as I am, obviously it would be great to have a picture of this moment as well, so I asked him if he was okay with me taking a photo. He said it was no problem and jokingly asked “Shall I comb my hair?”. I answered that we looked great and took the picture. See my Facebook post here and Instagram post here.

A little later I put myself in the centre of the first row (where else?) when the “celebrity interview” took place. The interview was conducted by music researcher and former artist in his own right Göran Folkestad (who I got to know personally over a piano later in the evening singing “Oh Darling!” together after a couple of beers).
After so many years of reading about it, like for instance in this fine interview from Dagens Nyheter, or seeing it on TV (for instance in the talk show Skavlan not long ago), finally I was about to hear about melody making from Benny Andersson himself. An incredible opportunity that I feel very blessed to have experienced with my own eyes!
In the interview Benny talked about how it all began for him. How music came into his life since his father and grandfather were playing the accordion (with him playing along). His grandfather never complained about Benny’s playing and partly thanks to that eventually he got really good at it.  He also talked about how his wise mother got a piano for him and his sister back in 1956. He said: “–Once that piano came into the house. I started playing. Tried to… And since that first day I’ve been sitting at the piano, I could say, nearly every day. For 60 years. Because I like it. You know… It’s like… I have a connection… or maybe music has the connection with me.”
Folkestad started to ask very interesting questions about his compositional process. Considering my own interest in the subject, and how many times I’ve talked in my songwriting classes about Benny’s work methods (sit by the piano and work, work, work, until the ideas show up), it was almost unreal that he now not only sat there in front of me talking about just that. But also offered a demonstration on the piano!
He was saying: “–Because when I play something that I don’t ’know what it is, like in the composing process, it’s like… mostly rubbish. I can’t explain why that is. I can give you an example of how it is, but…”
Fokestad (and the audience): “–Yeah, please do!”
Benny: “–Yeah, well… Shall I?”
And since you made your way all down here in this blog post I am now very happy to be able to offer you to see exactly what I saw! Enjoy!

Filmed from the first row by myself. His highly fascinated disciple. It was kind of silly really. On the very day I’m supposed to talk about the process of melody writing Benny shows up! Talk about a humbling experience. He summed up the process in nine words: “–You have to get rid of all the rubbish!”.
And who do you think asked the first question from the audience once the interview was over? Good guess!
David Myhr: ”–OK, can I go? First row… sorry for taking the spot… First of all I want to thank you for coming and I can testify that I think you’re wrong saying you’re not an artist* because I’ve been a Benny impersonator for twenty years as a sideline and there’s a lot of head-shaking going on.”
Benny: ”–Yeah, yeah, but that was in the 60’s! I was an artist then!”**
DM: ”–But my question is, being a Beatles fan, I always read about what John did, what Paul did. They both spoke about it in separate interviews. And I’m very curious about , having read your interview in Dagens Nyheter, that you always when you compose melodies, there are never lyrics included in the process. So,  I was wondering – how did you work together in general? And if there’s a specific example it would be fantastic.”
Benny: ”–Well, do you mean during the days with ABBA?”
David: ”–Yeah, exactly”
Benny:
”–We were sitting together. I was hammering along on the piano and Björn on the guitar. And we kept on doing that until something came up. You know.  And sometimes there would be a lyric line like ”Money Money Money ” because it sits with (humming the main theme). That we tried to get rid of that actually! He wrote like three lyrics. And I said no, it’s not good. Money money… But the thing… there was a song called ”Money’, and there was a song called ‘Money Money’.  So we had to call it ‘Money Money Money’.
Yeah but we worked tightly together. Then at the time. Then that changed a bit. It actually started with ’Chess’ I think.
Since then I’ve been doing the music on my own. He always writes the lyrics. If he wants to. I always ask him first. Yeah…”
David: ”–Thank you!”
*) he actually suggested during the interview he’s just a songwriter/arranger/producer and together with ABBA live a ”backing musician” and not an ”artist”
**) In the 60’s Benny was in the biggest group of Scandinavia: Hep Stars! (see Benny behind the organ here)
In the pictures below you see me with Benny’s sound engineer and “right hand” since back in the 80’s, the sound engineer wizard Bernard Löhr (who by the way we once hired to mix The Merrymakers “Spinning My Mind Away”). He made a very interesting keynote speech the same morning. You will also find a couple of pictures from Benny’s studio Rixmixningsverket , a studio which house engineer Linn Fijal has been kind enough to show me and my students from The School of Music at Luleå University of Technology a number of times. In the small picture we see how the grand piano was miked during the recording of Benny’s new (beautiful!) album Piano.
It’s a worn-out cliché to say it. But what else is there to say, so here I go: Thank you for the music, Benny!
p.s. Feel free to check out my simple and very stripped-down version of one of ABBA’s many genius melodies: “Happy New Year” 

 

 

 


 


Coming up soon: The Melody and Madness tour!

Posted: August 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: post | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

In a few days I will be going on tour through three countries together with my friend, artist and songwriter colleague Linus of Hollywood! We call it the Melody and Madness tour 2015 (webpage here and Facebook-page here). It’s going to be an acoustic night of melodic pop where we play songs from our respective solo catalogues but also stuff from our former bands The Merrymakers and Size 14 as well as some carefully and lovingly selected cover songs. One of which is Badfinger’s “Come and Get it” (written by McCartney) that will be included on the very exclusive CD-single that we’ll be selling on the tour. (There will also be an exclusive T-shirt for sale – see photo below). On some of the nights we will have distinguished guests joining us on stage, like Peter Kvint (ex-Melony), Per Sunding (ex-Eggstone), Kurt Baker, and El Inquieto Roque.

Here’s Linus (and his dog Louie) explaining a little bit what it’s all about:

Followed by me explaining a little bit what it’s all about:

The tour schedule looks like this:

Aug 27 – Stockholm, Sweden – Waterfront Sunset (Loch & Quay) – feat. Peter Kvint (Melony) – FREE SHOW! (FB event here).

Aug 28 – Uppsala, Sweden – SOLD OUT living room concert

Aug 29 – Malmö, Sweden – Tambourine Studios – PRIVATE EVENT – email us at lohcontact@gmail.com if you would like to attend and we’ll see what we can do!

Aug 31 – London, U.K – The Green Note – TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE (FB event here).

Sep 1 – Loscoe, U.K – living Room concert TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE (FB event here).

(FB event for all Spain shows below here)

Sep 3 – Madrid, Spain – El Intruso – feat. Kurt Baker

Sep 4 – Valencia, Spain – El Loco – feat. El Inquieto Roque

Sep 6 – Madrid, Spain – living Room concert

Sep 7 – Bilbao, Spain – Colegio de Abogados (separate FB event here)

We hope to see you out there! It’ll be fun! Please help us spreading the word! Thanks!

Melody&MadnessInstagram

The exclusive Melody and Madness T-shirt:

11879283_10153199587948871_901435338433401837_o


Soundshine on LP!!!

Posted: July 23rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Good news vinyl fans! 

Just like that. Out of the blue! While you’re all out there lazing on all the sunny afternoons I am delighted to bring you a little surprise from the David Myhr record label head quarters at Lojinx, England. Soundshine is available as of TODAY on vinyl. Yes indeed! A real 33 13 rpm microgroove vinyl record. An LP (Long Play)! Get your copy now by clicking this link: http://ljx.cc/soundshine

Up until now I’ve been watching the whole vinyl revival thing from a distance. I’ve remained a digital guy, fascinated as I am with streaming services like Spotify. Having said that, there’s a particular magic about the old LP format that not even I can resist. It obviously has a lot to do with nostalgia. As a small kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s the LP was the medium on which I discovered music (alongside the cassette). I’ll never forget when my sister-in-law Agneta borrowed me her copies of The Beatles red and blue albums. Or how I went to the local record store and bought my own copy of Paul McCartney’s then brand new Tug of war. Not to mention browsing through my brother Niklas record collection discovering David Bowie, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and other “hip and happening” artists (as you can see I was retro even as a twelve-year-old).
In a (very) old blog post I wrote about how I miss record stores and now the time has come to admit that I also miss the smell, the sound, and above all the look of the LP format. And finally, the longing after something “real” became so strong that I decided to put some hard-earned money into making a vinyl version of Soundshine in hope there’s at least a few people out there that just like me are looking forward to opening it up in the new format, to enjoy the artwork (now bigger than ever!), read the lyrics, the never-ending thank you list, the credits, and everything on the inner sleeve. (Stuff that seems to be completely forgotten these days but which for us music nerds is half the fun). And then to put down the needle and enjoy listening to something so old-fashioned as a “Side A”, flip it over, and then “Side B”.
The two last songs will differ from the digital version. The backwards mumbo jumbo at the end of “Icy Tracks” is gone and the never-ending outro of “Ride Along” is somewhat shortened. This is due to the physical limitations of the LP format. But funnily enough I think it (if possible?) actually may increase the listening experience.
Included with the album is a digital download in case you (just like me) don’t yet have your vinyl player set up. In other words you can still enjoy the packaging and hang it on the wall alongside your Nickelback, and Michael Bolton album covers (they’re the ones you’re supposed to mention when you’re being ironic, right?).
If you didn’t yet familiarize yourself with the album Soundshine from 2012 (see release blog post here) – please check out some quotes here.
I know you’re in the middle of your summer cocktail right now, but hey – a copy of this very exclusive edition is  just a click away at the Lojinx store for 15£ (including V.A.T.).
Peace and love!

Soundshine LP