The Alexander Bard Interview!

  • Reading time:17 mins read
  • Post category:Interviews

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From Army of Lovers, to the early days of Alcazar, to the reigning triumph of BWO – one man has been behind some of the most internationally successful pop music ever to come out of Sweden. He had his first UK and US hit fifteen years ago, and is again gearing up for the release of his latest single in the UK this summer – whilst maintaining a stronghold in the charts back home in Sweden, and over in Japan. For all his achievements he has every right to feel good about himself – but it’s his uncompromising confidence, often misinterpreted as arrogance, that has seen to it that controversy is never far from his outspoken comments and opinions! As a result, there’s probably no other Scandinavian musician that divides opinion like he does. Thankfully though, he hasn’t rested on the celebrity status awarded to him for his personality, and has instead continued to do what he loves most and what he does best – making absolutely brilliant music.

Here is scandipop’s interview with Alexander Bard…..


scandipop: Hello Alexander! BW0’s new album ‘Big Science’ is out in Sweden at the moment, the Greatest Hits collection is doing really well in Japan, so tell us – why are you in London right now?

Alexander: I’m here in London to see our UK record company Shell Records. We’re setting up the release of ‘Right Here Right Now’ in June, and then hopefully that’ll be followed by the ‘Big Science’ release. And I’m also here to see a Russian record label too, they have offices in both London and Moscow. So rather than going to Moscow, I can just see them whilst I’m here in London.

scandipop: That’s useful; two territories discussed in one visit!

Alexander: Actually, 18 territories in one visit! Because when you sign with Russia, you sign with Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, and lots of other countries too.

scandipop: Ah, I see. So BWO’s last two singles in the UK, ‘Sunshine In The Rain’ and ‘Lay Your Love On Me’ both reached number 69. Obviously you’d probably hoped for higher, but had you expected higher?

Alexander: I think it’s hard to get high in the UK singles chart, even with Radio 2 support, unless you have Radio 1 support. And I think that’s the key, it’s radio support that makes the difference. But obviously now the band is really big in Japan and we’ve managed to break Japan without having a top 10 hit in the UK, which is quite rare actually. So now, it’s not that necessary for us to be big in the UK because we can apparently make BWO successful in other countries anyway. Because the key to the UK is to see it not as a market, but as a key – to open the door to other territories. Because a lot of people are looking at the UK after all. Of course it would be nice to be successful in the UK, but there are other places we can go as well. And we’re fine with that. But of course we’d love it if Radio 1 started playing ‘Right Here Right Now’ and it became a bigger hit than the previous singles. That’s how it works.

scandipop: Ok. Well you’ve said in the past that you’re quite satisfied knowing that your music is enjoyed all around the world with something of a cult following, consumed through the internet. And that hitting the top 10 charts isn’t as important to you anymore. Do you still feel that way?

Alexander: I guess I do really because when you have a top 10 single it’s a lot more work, and it’s not necessarily fun! (laughs). I can definitely see a quality of life where you don’t have to chase hit records all the time. I think Madonna is a very unhappy person, and I would never want to be like Madonna. I’m a happy person and I’m proud being a happy person. I’m good to myself and I’m living a good life. Having said that, having a big success, especially having a big success in a country where you’ve never had it before, is quite a lot of fun. Because it means you’re gonna go there, and tour, and see the country from the inside in a way you could never do as a tourist. That is something I love about this job, is that I’ve been successful in so many countries around the world and touring in places like Kazakhstan, and now Japan. Going to all these exciting countries is half the fun of this job.

scandipop: And of all these acts that do have these cult internet followings, BWO is probably one of the most well known.

Alexander: Well at the end of the day, if you accumulate the sales from all these different countries around the world then it’s a very nice number! And in that sense it’s more fun to have a cult following that’s more global than to try to be very successful in just one country. And I definitely prefer that.

scandipop: How does it feel to be taught of by so many people as being a genius?!

Alexander: Oh, I always dreamed of being the Godfather of scandipop! That’s been a dream of mine all my life – that I could be the Godfather of scandipop. I love the idea of being a genius! I love the idea of being a genius of something small – being good at something considered small and niche. That suits me perfectly, it suits my personality. I’m not a very grandiose person.

scandipop: So you like to be a big fish in a small pond then?!

Alexander: Big fish in a small pond is very me, yes! That’s why I like small record companies. I like to have a close knit family of people around me. I like the fact that BWO travel light! We’re a very tight, small crew and we travel around on tour and everybody is really good at what they do. And they’re given a lot of responsibility, they’re paid well, and they enjoy it. I like to keep it small like that.


scandipop: Ok. So your fans adore you for your uncensored and uncompromising confidence. But equally, a lot of pop fans dislike you because of your arrogance. How would you address the latter?

Alexander: (laughs) I like arrogant people myself, so I think of that as a quality. But I think people can mix up the two things – self confidence is absolutely necessary. The music industry is a very tough world, it’s a very political world, and the competition is really really tough. And I’ve never ever pretended that it would be easy to make a record, where you could actually convince people to go to record stores to pay for it. I always imagine that it’s a very tough thing to do. And I think the respect I have for music users and consumers of music is great. I have a lot of respect for the consumer but I also have a lot of respect for myself because I’ve actually succeeded in that type of environment. And if you succeed in that type of environment then you’re worth respect. Especially when you’ve been around for 25 years and continue to be successful, which is really hard. It’s not that hard to have one hit because that’s usually luck. But when you’re successful for a 25 year period, then that’s a different story altogether.

scandipop: Ok. Well the next question is quite difficult, and you might not be able to answer it. But please do try! Out of all the music you’ve made through the years with Army of Lovers, Vacuum, Alcazar, and BWO etc, if you could pick one song that’s your absolute favourite little baby, what would it be?

Alexander: I could not, I just couldn’t, It’s like asking a Mother which is her favourite child.

scandipop: C’mon, try! Please!

Alexander: Even if you subconsciously had a favourite child as a Mother, there is no way you would ever publicly admit it. No way, I could not pick a favourite song. The songs are written for the audience, they’re not written for me. Even if they’re from the heart and heart-felt, and I love the song myself – the songs are for the audience and the audience should decide the best song I wrote, not me! I’m the last person in the world you should ask that question to.

scandipop: Well which song has the most special place in your heart then, or gives you the happiest memories?

Alexander: Erm…..(thinks)……No, I don’t have a song like that.

scandipop: OK, fair enough! You wrote one of my favourite songs of this year’s Melodifestivalen, ‘It’s My Life’ by Amy Diamond. Did you write that specifically for her, with her in mind? Or did you finish it and think ”this would be good for Amy Diamond”, or did you just pitch a load of songs to her record label and they chose that one?

Alexander: The song was written exactly for her, it was written in one day. I met Amy and I talked to her. I thought that she would do well doing a ballad, but she wanted to do something similar to the year before. And I followed her – if you’re a songwriter then you follow the artist. So my job as a songwriter for somebody else, is to write a song that they’re comfortable with. And this was the kind of song she wanted to do. And she wanted to do the kind of lyrics that I wrote for her as well – so that’s the song she wanted.

scandipop: It’s a great song – that intro, the middle eight, and those lyrics! Although it has been speculated that your alternative sense of humour prompted you to write lyrics that sounded like she was singing about her definance of being a prostitute!

Alexander: Hey, she’s a teenage girl! Teenage girls think about getting laid. They’ve done her too girly girly before, so I thought I should at least give her a chance to look like a 17 year old and sound like a 17 year old, and sing a theme that a 17 year old could do. I was thinking more like a young Robyn, what Robyn did in the 90s. I wanted her to do something more along that line. But that she’d still be comfortable with.

scandipop: So after the success you’ve had writing for Amy, which other Swedish artists would you like to write for?

Alexander: None.

scandipop: Really?

Alexander: Yeah.

scandipop: So how come you decided on only doing Amy then?

Alexander: I was just asked. The key they needed for that song was to give it a theme, which is something that I’m good at. Normally I don’t sit and write for other artists, I don’t like writing for established artists. I find it boring to work with an artist that’s already established and they come through the door and ask me to write a song that will renew their career. I’d much rather find an unknown talent somewhere and work that talent all the way. Like I did with Andreas from Alcazar and Martin from BWO. I much prefer that. To find a singer who’s totally unknown and then develop the artist, is far more interesting.

scandipop: As mentioned before, BWO are currently doing very well in Japan. The Greatest Hits album has been released as the first album over there and there are three songs from it in their singles chart. How did that Japanese success come about all of a sudden then?

Alexander: A really good record company. I think what they did was unique – they took BWO, took us exactly for what we are, and used it as an advantage. They pushed the unusual image we have, and used it in our favour rather than against us. They came up with a work out video, the BWO dance, the BWO diet, and all these funny little things on the Japanese website. And all this created a great vibe around the band. It was done by the record company. They set it up over a year and they did a fantastic job. And once they pushed the button, they had it all ready, and that’s why it took off so quickly. The music was already there and the music was great, but they also made BWO into something more interesting, something more than the music.

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scandipop: So aside from Japan, Sweden, UK and Russia, what other territories are you planning on releasing in this year?

Alexander: We’re gonna work all of Europe with this record, definitely. We’re just trying to find the right deal for us in Germany. The way it works in continental Europe is that you’ve got to get the deal in Germany right, and then you can look at the other territories from that. And we have a really good label in Poland too. Poland has been the home of scandipop for years. They love Swedish pop music so they import Swedish pop every year. Every summer, lots of new Swedish acts  go to Poland to release their music.

scandipop: Ok. Would you do Melodifestivalen again after this year or are you gonna take a break for a while?

Alexander: We’ll take a break for a while. Let’s be realistic about it, I’m not gonna say that BWO will never take part again. It depends on what happens with Melodifestivalen. Personally, I’d like to see it seperated from Eurovision. It should be the San Remo festival of Scandinavia, maybe with the other Scandinavian countries involved. I would like the Eurovision Sonf Contest to be a seperate competition. I think that most artists taking part in Melodifestivalen are like BWO – they’re not interested in winning the competition or going to Eurovision. They’re interested in the enormous exposure they get in Sweden and Scandinavia. So it depends on the format – if they were to seperate the two events, then BWO would be there next year. If they don’t seperate the events, then I think that we should wait until maybe three years before we should get involved again. But it would be great if they seperated the two. Because Scandinavia needs its own San Remo festival, and Melodifestivalen could be it. And it would be taken more seriously for it.

scandipop: Have there been discussions ever, to seperate it from Eurovision?

Alexander: There are constant discussions. To begin with, a lot of the new stuff that they introduced this year were not popular with artists, especially the duos. And they have to scrap those for next year because if they don’t, then established artists will not participate. What happened with the duos was that people actually voted against an act rather than for an act. That’s what happened with BWO – we should have been in the final in Globen. And Caroline Af Ugglas should have qualified right away too. So the duo thing isn’t working. They’re not about who you like the most, they’re about who you dislike the most. So, whoever you think it’s fun to vote against. And the voting has taken over and music has taken a back seat, and that’s really dangerous. So that’s something that they’ll have to scrap for next year, otherwise no established artists will participate.

scandipop: And do you think that they will?

Alexander: I think that they have to! Because they can’t go on unless the big artists are performing – nobody would watch it. It’s the big names that pull in the crowd.

scandipop: So this year, aside from yourselves and Amy Diamond, what was your favourite Melodifestivalen entry?

Alexander: Alcazar. They should have won. And they would have done a wonderful job in Moscow as well. And it’s finally number one in the radio airplay chart in Sweden this week.

scandipop: And finally, one last question. At the next scandipop club night, I’m going to play five BWO tracks. Which five would you like me to play?

Alexander: Oh that’s so nice of you! ‘Right Here Right Now’………….what’s danceable?………oh I don’t know…….are people tired of ‘Lay Your Love On Me’?

scandipop: Nope, they always scream when it comes on!

Alexander: Yes, it’s so instant!…..ummm……..

scandipop: C’mon, Velvet answered this in  less than 10 seconds!

Alexander: Yeah but I don’t wanna be predictable………’Say I Love You’ from Prototype……………um…….’Juggernaut’ from Halcyon Days……..and…..’Gimme The Night’. That’s five!

scandipop: Well thank you very much for your time Alexander:

Alexander: Thank YOU very much for your time!

scandipop: And hopefully we’ll be seeing and hearing more from you in the UK soon.

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