Today's birthday boy Axel Ehnström gave an interview to Helsingin Sanomat last month, being part of the new generation of artists/songwriters reaching out and having success abroad.
He shot to the spotlight after wining the last Euroviisut (before it was rebranded and revamped as UMK) with Da da dam, and had a very succesful Eurovision song contest 2011 adventure all the way to the final where he was drawn to sing first. Busted! He had already won the Marcel Bezençon Press award and placed third in the semifinal, but in the final dropped to 21st. Da da dam certainly wasn't a song to open the show.
After Eurovision he got to release his solo album as Paradise Oskar but soon he realized writing songs is what he really wants to do. He studied music, and especially studied how to write hits reading interviews by succesful writers and practised writing techniques forcing himself to write a song every day. For inspiration he might go to library and check the book covers and build stories around the titles. He says once the technique is on spot, one can write songs easier when the feeling is right and one has inspiration.
And to become a succesful songwriter one needs contacts. He was lucky enought to be included in Music Finland's Fact Track program that includes also Alma, Isac Elliot and Saara. Music Finland is funding their export efforts. They also have songwriting camps and Axel has been even to Los Angeles but having a few Eurohits under your belt isn't enough. "In America it's all about names. Only once you have written a hit to some big name, they notice you" he says.
He has written mostly electronic pop to other artists but he would most preferably write country music! He says his musical roots are in Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and JImmy Webb. "A song must have a good story, good lines, a great punch line to come early enough and a lot of feeling" Maybe that's why most Ehnström songs sound like EMD arranged Americana, standing out from the generic Europop.
He also says it's not artist's fauult if every artists today sounds the same. "Record label may ask you to write a song in Finnish to an artist that sounds like Brithey's Toxic. Who does it best without sounding like a copy but is close enough is the winner." He's not into copying but admitss the best songs are those that sound instantly familiar but haven't been copied in any way from other song. "On the other hand if I try to create something new, but someone else writes a Despacito copy that one will be a hit, not my song."
Despite having already over 20 songs published abroad, mainly in Germany, he says he goes on by loans, grants and scholarships. "Even if I get my song on some big artist's album, it won't even pay my one month's rent" he says. "But this is what I want to do. One day it will pay off!"This blogger sends best wishes for Axel on his birthday and is confident he will hit the big one any time soon now.....