This time last year we were already fully enamoured with ‘Dance! Love! Pop!’. The third album from Swedish poppet Agnes, it was her first on an independent record label, and the first to feature a brand new musical direction for her – pure unashamed pop music that sounds like dance music. So naturally, we loved it from day one. Lead single ‘On And On’ was enough to convince us that we were gonna love this record. But when we listened to it, there was one song in particular that well and truly stunned us with its actual genius – the now worldwide famous ‘Release Me’.
We raved about it, lots of other music websites raved about it, and internet messageboards discussed it – and as a result, Agnes was talked about more than she’d ever been in her four year pop career. And that was even before any plans were made to release the track internationally! So we weren’t surprised when we found out that it had been signed to a UK record label. Obviously we were hopeful of it being a hit, as it so deserved to be, but unfortunately it’s somewhat rare for a Scandinavian pop song to cross over to huge success in the UK – so despite its quality, there was still no way of knowing if it was going to work over here. For every ‘Cry For You’ and ‘With Every Heartbeat’, there’s a ‘Discotheque’ and ‘Chemistry’.
We interviewed Agnes a couple of days before the single’s release over here. It was clear by then that the song was going down quite well in the UK, but nobody could have imagined what was to happen in the following weeks. In short, it’s become one of the biggest selling singles of the year in this country (350,000 units and still counting), launched her in just about every other European country (not just ‘Release Me’ but also ‘On And On’ and the album), got her a record deal in the US (with Interscope, who shot a brand new video for ‘Release Me’, which has just been a number one on the Billboard Club charts), and given her a hit all around the world, as far as Australia!
Back here in the UK, follow up single ‘I Need You Now’ is released tomorrow, the album comes out next month, and she commences her stint on Clubland 3 – the nationwide arena tour. Plus, there are some mega plans in store for her next year, which we can’t yet reveal. How very exciting!
So we just HAD to meet up with her for an interview again. And here it is;
scandipop: So, the last time we met it was just a couple of days before ‘Release Me’ came out. And I don’t think either of us knew just how big it was to become the following week. It went insane didn’t it?!
Agnes: Yes, it’s been crazy actually, this last five months. But it’s been so wonderful. I’ve been touring and performing and done a lot of interviews around the world. So yeah, it’s been really great.
scandipop: And how did you feel when in the middle of that week, you first got told that you were number one on iTunes and number 3 in our midweek charts?
Agnes: Actually the first time they told me, my record company they called me and they were like (puts on excited, shouty voice!) ”do you know you’re number one on British iTunes?!!!” And I was like, oh! At first I didn’t realise just how big it was, but then I saw all the reactions from the record company, and all the journalists in Sweden and until then I had now idea how important it was. But then all these people from around Europe started to call my management and my record company, and everything happened after that.
scandipop: And how does it feel to now have one of the biggest selling songs of the year so far?!
Agnes: You know, I’m just happy. I’ve been working really really hard, so when you know that people like what I’m doing, I’m happy!
scandipop: It’s taken you all over the world now. What’s your favourite place that it’s taken you to?
Agnes: Hmmm…….I really enjoy being here in the UK because a lot of people know this song. When I perform they go ”aaaaahhhhh” and sing along! And a week ago I was in the US, in San Francisco and I really liked that. And also Paris! It’s so romantic and beautiful. (laughs)
scandipop: Ah, romantic and beautiful…..so were you there with someone special, to soak in the romance?!
Agnes: I was there with my record company (laughs)! So there was no romance this time!
scandipop: Ok, but it would be nice to go back there some day with someone special, yeah?
Agnes: Yes, definitely.
scandipop: And what are your thoughts on being back in Britain? And having all these new fans over here?
Agnes: Every time I perform over here the audience is so lovely. I’m going to do the Clubland tour next month, and I’m really very excited about that.
scandipop: That was going to be my next question actually! How you’re feeling about the Clubland tour! Totally excited, or a little nervous too?
Agnes: Not nervous yet, ha ha! But I know I’m going to be when it comes closer to the start. But I’m more excited. Right now we’re preparing for it, how we’re going to have it. I’m going to have a lot of dancers and right now I’m working out what clothes I’m going to wear too.
scandipop: Ok. And how many songs will you do? Do you know which ones yet?
Agnes: Yes, I’m going to do three songs. ‘I Need You Now’, ‘On And On’, and ‘Release Me’.
scandipop: Good choice! I’ve been to something similar to the Clubland tour before, it was the Dance Nation tour – and they had September, Basshunter, Velvet, and lot of other acts there. And the crowd are just so much fun. All they’ve come along for is to go crazy to really good dance music. They go mental! So I think you’re going to go down very well there. With those three songs especially.
Agnes: Thank you, I hope so!
scandipop: And of course you’re performing at G-A-Y next weekend too. Which songs will you be treating us to there?
Agnes: I’m not sure yet how many songs I wanna do. But maybe three – and it’ll probably be the same three songs that I’m doing on the Clubland tour.
scandipop: Cool. Well I’ll see you there, I’m gonna come along.
Agnes: Oh nice. Were you at the last one I did?
scandipop: No, unfortunately not. I wasn’t in London that weekend.
Agnes: Oh that’s a shame.
scandipop: Yeah but I’ll be there next week. And besides it’s gonna be better next week because you’re headlining your own show. Whereas last time, you were just one of a line up of a few other acts.
Agnes: Yes, true. Exactly, it’ll be good.
scandipop: So….the last time we met, we had no idea what the follow up single to ‘Release Me’ was gonna be. But of course now we know that it’s ‘I Need You Now’, released on Sunday. Were you surprised at that choice?
Agnes: Well for the Swedish album release it was a ballad. So the record company asked me, do I want to do a remix. When we first recorded it for the album, I didn’t think that it would be a single. I just never thought it. But then when they played me the uptempo version of it, I was like ”hmm, maybe this is something”! And we all thought that.
scandipop: Ok. The majortity of your fans really love it now. But at the time they were really surprised, because you’ve got all of these uptempo songs ready to go anyway – like ‘On And On’ and ‘How Do You Know’ and ‘Love Love Love’. You’ve got all these uptempo songs, so why remix a ballad. But it’s actually turned out to be quite a good idea. The finished result is great. And your fans like it.
Agnes: Yeah, I love the ballad version but I also love the uptempo version. And actually we’re going to do a new version for the Clubland tour, just to make it more big!
scandipop: Oh wonderful! Now….the video! That looks like it was a lot of fun to make, and that’s just trying on all those clothes, never mind the fact that it was in the desert! Was it really fun, or was it just really hot and uncomfortable?
Agnes: It was fun, but (laughs) we started really early in the morning, at like 4 o clock. We went out into the desert. We started that early because we wanted to catch the sunrise. But it was so cold, it was freezing cold! And I was there trying to smile for the camera, ha ha. And then in the middle of the day of course it was really really hot. But we really had a good time.
scandipop: And you had three outfits for the duration of the video. Which one was your favourite?
Agnes: You know, I love gold. So maybe the gold one!
scandipop: Ok. So, the album – ‘Dance Love Pop’. Obviously your longtime fans have had it for over a year now, but it’s only coming out in the UK on December 7th. We saw the tracklisting yesterday and there’s three new tracks on there. The duet with Erik Hassle which we’ve heard, ‘You Rain’ which we’ve heard, but what’s ‘Secret Love’ like? Uptempo or a ballad?
Agnes: It’s uptempo. Yes.
scandipop. Cool. Which of your other songs would you say it’s most like?
Agnes: ‘Release Me’ I think.
scandipop: Ok, good. Are there lots of strings on there?
Agnes: Yes, lots of strings. I love strings!
scandipop: Me too, especially on dance music!
Agnes: Yeah! (laughs)
scandipop: And is the original ‘On And On’ on there, or is the same version as on the German release?
Agnes: It’s the same as on the German release. So it’s a little bit different to the original, but still very very uptempo.
scandipop: Cool. And I know that you’ve only just gotten around to releasing your album in the UK now, but our Swedish readers and your fans are already thinking about your next album and wondering what it’s gonna be like! Have you started thinking about it yet?
Agnes: (laughs) Of course, I’m always thinking about it. I haven’t decided everything yet, but I’m gonna keep going with the uptempo songs.
scandipop: Ah so it’s gonna be dance music still. Good.
Agnes: Yeah, I love it, so…
scandipop: And will you be working with Anders Hansson again?
Agnes: Yes, definitely!
scandipop: Because you guys have won so many songwriting awards now for ‘Release Me’, haven’t you?
Agnes: Yeah I was home in Sweden a few weeks back for a couple of days, and I won two prizes, so that was really nice to come home to! We got the MTV prize and we got the music publisher prize too. I really want to continue working with him.
scandipop: Ok. So…..it’s Melodifestivalen season soon…..
Agnes: (laughs lots!)
scandipop: and this time last year, even though it hadn’t been announced publicly, you knew that you had your first participation in Melodifestivalen coming up. How were you feeling? Nervous, excited?
Agnes: It’s such a big thing in Sweden, and I did it for fun really. I didn’t think too much about it, I just did it. And it ended up being a fun night. My gold catsuit (laughs)!
scandipop: Have you worn it since?
Agnes: No, actually I haven’t!
scandipop: Did you see over the summer on one of those outdoor shows, I can’t remember which one, Arja Saijonmaa performed a cover of ‘Love Love Love’ whilst wearing a sequinned gold catsuit just like yours?!
Agnes: Who, sorry?
scandipop: Arja Saijonmaa
Agnes: OH MY GOD, SHE DID?!!!! Oh my God, I didn’t know that.
scandipop: Yeah it’s on youtube. Just go on there and search for it and you’ll see it. And she wears a gold catsuit too.
Agnes: Oh how funny! And how does she look in the catsuit?
scandipop: Well…….she’s got a good body for her age….
scandipop: …..but of course people are only going to compare it with how you looked, so….
Agnes: Yes (laughs). Awww.
scandipop: So, back to Melodifestivalen. Do you have any advice for those participants next year?
Agnes: It’s really crazy in Sweden. But just focus on your thing. And don’t read the newspapers. Because they lie so much!
scandipop: But it’s hard to avoid them isn’t it? They write about it so much every day while it’s happening.
Agnes: Yeah but I never did. Because I know that sometimes they can be so kind, but sometimes they can be so bad. So I never did read them.
scandipop: Darin’s been confirmed to be taking part next year…
Agnes: Oh really, I didn’t know that!
scandipop: And I guess he’s followed a similar career path to you – from Idol, to many albums, to a UK release much later on, to Melodifestivalen. How do you think he’ll go down at Melodifestivalen?
Agnes: I think if he wants to do it, he should do it. I really like Darin, he’s a really nice guy and he’s always done his own thing. He’s great.
scandipop: You’ve had success all around the world now. What’s the reaction been like in the Swedish media, and from the Swedish people?
Agnes: It is something that I’m very happy about – they have been writing about me so much, all the time. Writing things like, ”the national star”. And my Mom and Dad call me every day and are like, ”we’re so proud of you”! And on TV4 on the news when they’re talking about what’s going on around the world, they talk about what’s happening with me too! They’re really talking about me a lot and everyone is so positive. And it’s so nice to have that. Because I remember when I first entered Idol, my home town were so supportive. And now it’s the same, but it’s the whole of Sweden.
scandipop: That’s good to hear! Well thank you very much for your time Agnes. And best of luck with ‘I Need You Now’ next week.
Agnes: Thank you so much!
What a darling!