Thomas G:son, Eurovision 2012 winner with Euphoria and writer of many Eurovision, Melodifestivalen and other national final songs - 66 of them, or is it 69? how to count them? let's say nearly 70. Seventy - sits down under a Waterfall and has a chat with the Bicycling Reporter Robert. Would you think his roots are in hair metal rock and grunge? That he was big in Japan? How he got started with MF? Where he gets his inspiration? Does Malmö isnpire him? Does he ever write a song outside ESC/MF circuits? Has he had a Milli Vanilli experience? How euphoric he was actually when he won last year? What's Danny Saucedo to do with it?
Hello Thomas! You have an incredible track in Eurovision. We at Blogilkar were trying to count up your national selection songs and came up to at least 66. What do you think of that?
I get tired when I hear it..... Are there so many? What's happening here?
Ha ha ha, but let's go back in time first. What's your background, did you get an education in music or did you learn by yourself....
Both. When I was young I always taped all the music my cousin had, he lived in Gothenberg... Remember those music cassettes you could tape?
Oh yes, I'm old school, too... ha ha ha (So am I! Oh those live recordings on tape from Eurovision in 1970's and 1980's with real orchestra! Ed.note)
I taped all that music, it was mainly hard rock in those days, late 1970's and 1980's. But I listened to all kinds of music. I also went to a music school and learned to play classical guitar. At some point I thought it was very boring and I started playing electric guitar myself and listening to Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Kiss ... and tried to copy then and played guitar every day. My intention was to become a musician and play in a band. I had several bands until Masquerade, with whom I released my first CD in 1992. Another one followed in 1994 and a small tour in Japan. We had some success with this melodic "hair metal" in style of Def Leppard, Whitesnake... But early 90's when the first CD was released grunge was already here and we were a bit out of fashion, ha ha. The second album was a bit more grunge. Melodic with a lot of guitars.
Did you like touring?
No, I didn't actually. In Sweden we were playing in very small places and then when we went to Japan it was very strange. We had a crew, screaming fans... everything. We were like "okey...."... When we got back to Sweden it was back to reality: We travelled 700 kms with our old van to the north and there were 3 people in audience, ha ha ha! That was the point I said: "If it's like in Japan, ok! if it's like this, not ok!"
And you dediced to stop?
At the same time my brother had built a studio in Skövde. All the time for me the main thing had been the studio work, to write all the songs. making demos... I realized that in the studio I could write any kind of music. Then I met Bert Karlsson in 1995, the Swedish schlager music mogul and ... well, it was easy to write and he could place these songs to any of his artists.... It wasn't music I was listening to but it was fun and when you realized like "oh, they're recording my song!" I just wanted more...
Let's go back to 1999 and your first Melodifestivalen. How did you get involved in that?
Well, like any new writer I guess. Then it was just one show and previous years I had been always too late, like a week before deadline without a song. In 1999 it was pretty much the same but I was living with Cleo Nilsson, my partner at the time and we had that demo ready and sent it off. I was sitting at home on sofa when they were publishing the names on live TV and I was like "OMG, we're in!" It was crazy! The first time, I was like "OMG, my song!"
Did you write this especially for MF?
No, I don't think it was so much planned. Cleo was singing in a danseband at the time so she was an artist... I don't actually remember, I guess SVT wanted her to sing it. And she wanted to sing it of course.
Tell us a little bit how do you write a MF song? What's the recipe?
It's not easy to explain but it's different. Time to time I do it myself, sometimes with other writers and producers. I have often melodies in my head and I just have to write them down immediately. It happens a lot.
What comes first: the artist or the song? Or both?
Usually we have an artist in mind first. It's good way to start the process. It can also end up fitting another artist. Or sometimes we try several artists and make demos with them and see who fits best for it. It differs time to time. (Sounds a lot like good old Motown! Ed.note)
How do you get an inspiration? Is there a certain trick to write a MF songs?
No, there are no tricks. Only that it has to be 3 minutes. You learn things by working, what's best for the format, but... You always need to be inspired to write a song or whatever.
Is it easier to create a new song after all these years or is it getting harder?
Sometimes it's easier, sometimes harder. Experience makes it sometimes easier... you always need some input to get the process started. It can be just the artist.
And is Malmö inspiring you?
Yes, I wrote a song two days ago! It just came when I was walking the street!
When are you at most productive?
It would be perfect if I could start working right after my morning coffee but it isn't always like that. It has happened. Sometimes it's at night or late evening.... it changes.... I like variation so even I make my habits change.
Do you write only for MF and Eurovision and artists related to them?
No, I write other stuff, too. For example in Spain for the very succesful boyband Auryn.
Weren't they also in the preselection?
Ha ha ha oh yes, they were! This is not a good example, ha ha ha. But they have moved on from that now. Ok, I have written songs to Japan, I even had a number one in Japan A few years ago. I have also written to the Jonas Brothers, they are huge in the States.
What would you estimate in percentage writing to Eurovision artists and not? 50-50?
I think it's more. It doesn't look like it but I do. I'm known for Eurovision and that's totally ok, but I try different things. They don't always work out, ha ha!
Do you also write under pseudonym sometimes to try these other things out?
No... I did sometimes but for other reasons..... Once I was singing the lead vocals but the "real" artist was a DJ so it was a bit Milli Vanilli really. He was in the pictures and I was singing. Oh, it was so strange! This was for some Ibiza summer hit thing....
Out of the nearly 70 songs you have written for MF/ESC, what comes to mind that you thought would do great and was a glorious flop?
As if tomorrow will never come, sung by Katrina & The Nameless. I had a very good feeling about that song. (only 6th in Second chance round Ed.note)
And the other way around?
Yes! Sanna Nielsen with Hela världen för mig. It was doing very bad in semifinal odds and predictions and all of sudden it went straight to the final and finished 5th. It's very nice when you have success when you don't expect it! It's so much more fun, unlike Euphoria foe example.
So you know both sides of this. Euphoria was your first ESC win. Describe your feelings when it was finally clear that you've won it.....
It was more like "Phew, it's over! We did it" Ha ha ha. Because ever since it was presented in MF semifinal I got hundreds of SMS telling I'm gonna win the whole thing. We were the favorites in bettings and odds all the time. It was a lot of pressure for a long time, 3-4 months.
Were you afraid people might lose interest in such a long time?
Yes, you're always afraid of that. That something's going to happen. It was a long night in Baku and of course we were so happy.
But did you believe yourself that with Loreen and Euphoria you had a winner in your hands?
Yes, since the first time she sung it. I had a good feeling.
And did you write this for Loreen especially?
No, we wrote it already in May 2011. We were thinking about Danny Saucedo because Loreen wasn't happening in Sweden yet. Nothing happened with Danny and we tried several demo singers for MF and then actually SVT suggested we try Loreen with this one? "Oh great idea!" we thought and when she sung it with her voice for the first time it was like "OMG"...
And you were like Why did I think about this first?
No, I had contacted her through her record company but they said she's not interested taking part this year. But when she heard the song.....
Great story! But now this year and Georgia. You wrote Waterfall for them. What's the story behind this and what do you expect from this?
They contacted me. Actually I got an email like we have these artists and we want you to write the song. A ballad. I got some Youtube clips and listened to them, they have great voices. I had an idea what kind of song it should be, a song that lets them sing. I had a part of the song ready and developed it from there. They gave me some ideas and advice how they wanted to sing and... it was quite quick! Also because I was contacted quite late, we had to be fast. (Nodi & Sophie interview)
But maybe you were better under the pressure?
Yeah, I am! I also contacted Eric Bernholm. I thought he was the man to help me out with this.
I think the song has a bit of a bolero in it, starting slowly and growing up to a climax...
Yes, it's a challenge! To have a ballad with explosion in the end and all that in 3 minutes! It's much harder to write 3-minute ballads than up tempo songs. I hardly write ballads, you check the list. Only for Spain for some reason!
Will you write more for Nodi & Sophie in the future?
I don't know. We will see what happens.
Let's change subject. You have a hardrock background and the songs you write for MF/ESC aren't exactly you favorite kind of music. How come you don't write hard rock music?
I've done it. I wrote songs for my band. Nowadays I listen mostly my own songs, demos that aren't finished... Other than that I don't listen to music so much. Maybe when I'm cooking or so. I was stuck on the last album by The Hurts lately. It's great. And some new music. Or old from the 1980's maybe. Mostly pop, not hardrock anymore.
What is your favorite MF song? Yours or any?
Mine's of course Euphoria. It's special. When you are in this you of course listen to lot of these songs and like some more and some less. This year for example I like The Netherlands a lot. And Italy. Here are good songs this year. Hungary and Iceland, too.
Is there a song that you got you thinking "Oh, I would have wanted to write that one!"?
Hmmm... of course there are.... can't remember now.... every winning song! Ha ha!
What is your main motivation to write for MF/ESC?
My main motivation is not to write MF/ESC songs. It's a good place to place the songs, give them home. I will continue so long it's fun to write.
Can we expect a different style from you in the future and have it in MF/ESC for some country?
I've been writing different things. It also depends a bit with who you are writing with.
Do you think a jazz song would fir into Eurovision?
Maybe, if it was done in some interesting way. I don't know!
Is there an artist you would like to work with, a new one for you?
All of them! Rihanna. Pink. They are amazing having hit after hit with Swedish writers.
When you really want to work with an artist, do you contact them or....
Yes, if it's possible. Me or my publicer. But sometimes it's difficult, sometimes their answers can be.... well... it's difficult.
Last question: Who would you like to see on Eurovision stage for Sweden next year?
Hmm... I'd like a newcomer like Robin this year, all the big names have been there already.... or someone like Agnes, Darin...
Ok Thomas, we'll see. Good luck with Georgia on Thursday and see you all in final!