Isabel Guzman first appeared on myspace a few months ago. She's done a few live gigs, drenched herself in music and loves pop. When I first discovered her, it was like opening a treasure chest of brilliant pop music. From then on, DontStopThePop featured Isabel and her amazing song LoveSong became available to legally download. Within days she ended up on Popjustice, her material was picked as part of their Song Of The Week feature and they interviewed her on washing machines! Naturally comparisons with other Swedish singers have flourished but as DontStopthePop learnt in earlier conversations with Isabel she actually went to the same school as Robyn (before Ms.Carlsson left to become the pop princess she is today) so its understandable. However as she begins the process of deciding what crown the newest pop princess should wear, Lady Isabel is securing her position as the one female singer in Europe to place your bets on. Her amazing songs do most of her bidding and they've picked up a gantry of fierce supporters from the likes of Steve Anderson of Rent and Kylie Minogue, PopJustice, record companies and of course DontStopthePop! I, Bobpop (or Robpop) spoke to the singer about her music, her new album, garlic and sad movies in what is perhaps her most intimate interview yet!
The reaction to your song Love Song on DontStopthePop has been huge and very positive. A lot of interest and feedback has centered around the question of an album! Is it in the works?
Yes it is! We are actually working day and night right now to finish it.
What will be its the key themes and influences?
I want to make an album that will blow your mind away. It is important to me to do a pop album and at the same time not be afraid to mix it with other genres. I don’t want it to be boring.
Only days after you appeared on this blog, the same song became the song of the day on the famous music site PopJustice. Things are certainly steam-rolling! How does it feel?
That is great!! I am so thankful. I always felt I could have a place on the UK pop scene.
Returning to your music, its clear your into your pop! It comes thick and fast. Right into the ear-drums and nestles there forever. It seems to be your modus operandi! Is that your intention? To keep pop bubbling away?
Very much so! I love working with different producers and flirt with other genres but I always want to maintain a pop core.
I’ve spoken to some Swedes who’ve luckily caught you live. They said you were amazing. Whats it like performing AND will your new U.K fans see you on the stage soon?
They did? Well, I love performing. When I first started out when I was younger I was in a rockband. I think it’s hard to do anything else when a bunch of friends get together with drums, bass and electric guitars. But, whenever I was on stage I felt uncomfortable. Didn’t exactly know what to do with myself. So when I started playing live with this dance related music and a different setup I was so relieved. I was home. I am sure I will come to the UK in the near future. Maybe sooner than you think.
I said on DontStopthepop that your sound crosses everything and yet you’ve managed to do something unusual for new acts-you have your sound. Yes theres something in your music that refers everyone from Grace Jones, to Kylie of 1988, Kylie of 2001 and Timberland of 2007. And yet the track Love Song could be anyone but Isabel Guzman. Where is this question going? I am not sure. Ok, would you agree with all that i said? Or do you think you’ve still got a lot to work on with regards to your typology of pop?
Well said!! ☺ And I agree. Finding your own sound is not something you can force. It takes a long time. This is the result of years of work. As I said before, I pretty much have tried it all. Always writing pop songs but with different packages. And now I have finally found myself and I think you can hear that.
Am I right in believing you were on board of Melodifestivalen? What experience did that teach you and did any of that Eurovision sound trickle into your sound?
Yea, I worked with Melodifestivalen for four years, selecting the songs that were in the contest. It was a lot of fun, because even though the music isn’t something I have in my iPod you get caught up in the moment and suddenly you find yourself fighting for the life of some silly schlager tune that never would have caught your attention otherwise. I think it is more a fenomenon than a collection of the best songs in Sweden. Fortunately, I think, it did not trickle into my sound.
The Swedish music scene is very healthy at the moment. You have September and Lucky Twice doing rather well in Spain, newer acts like Miss Match and B-Tween receiving brilliant reviews, BodiesWithoutOrgans scoring no.1’s and Robyn soaring up the UK charts. Many from places like the U.S listen to these acts and wonder whether something was put into the water at the Swedish schools. It can’t be all because of ABBA? Can it?
Good question! I wish I knew the answer… Maybe it has something to do with confidence. We have always considered Sweden to be a successful music country. Perhaps it all started with ABBA. With their success everyone thought: “Hey, we’re good!” Swedish acts making it abroad is everyday news here.
When you look at other Swedish acts at the moment-who do you think raises the standard for you to do better when you write your music?
To tell you the truth I don’t listen to Swedish music that much, but I have to say that Robyn is making me proud to be Swedish. Also The Knife, José Gonzales, The Sounds etc. I have so many friends who haven’t released anything yet but are really talented songwriters and artists. They always inspire me.
Your toning up your song All In Your Head at the moment. Its your proper first single? Any fears?
There’s nothing to be afraid of. If no one likes it I have so much more to give.
Hard question now-are you going to go through a major record company or pull a Robyn and release your music through your own label?
At the moment I don’t know. I am releasing All In Your Head through a major label and then we’ll see which way is the best to go. I am not in the same position as Robyn who has already released many albums successfully and already has her own fan base. When I am there I will surely do the same thing.
Easy question-what do you think you’ll name your first album? I always thought “I’m Back!” was a great yet quirky title for an debut album.
Great idea!! I think the title will reveal itself when the album is almost done. But I think I would like it to be something else than a song title. Ha ha…”I’m back!” is really good!
Can you describe that feeling of playing back a song like “When Your Were My Friend” and thinking “oh, this is good”?
I actually make music that I want to listen to myself. Sometimes when I look through my iPod to see what I want to listen to I end playing one of my own songs.
Cool but whats it like reading reviews of your music?
Well, when they are as positive and full of love as the one at dontstopthepop it is nothing but inspiring. Bad reviews could also lower your self esteem for an hour or so before you realize that the person does not know what he or she talks about.
You’ve personally told me that your ready to “take the world by storm.” That mirrors most of the lyrics on the storming single ‘All In Your Head’-i mean how else can I interpret the line “I’m a girl with big plans on my mind/and i refuse to sit quiet and wait in line”? Listening to the songs on your site, each one has that potential to be absolutely massive. Are you ready for that?
Never been more ready. As I mentioned before I have worked many years to find myself in my music, and now I have. Actually that song is about people who sit down on their butts and complain about how they never have any luck and that nothing ever happens to them. I have friends who don’t have the courage to believe in themselves because they think you are not allowed to fail if you do.
Dont Stop the Pop is ready!! I mean when I first came by the song Love Song I was stunned. All of its production, music and lyrical content are revolutionary in the pop scene. I’ve got pop bands from Colombia to Ghana - I’d much do a phd in pop music than philosophy. I really would. Anyway, when Love Song (amongst others) got into my head I felt all strange. Your songs are just good pop tracks but really different. In my collection there are only two other Cd’s that have made me go “woah”-that’s With Every Heartbeat and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. I feel your being greedy with the fact that you’ve done not one amazing pop song but your the owner three! I will go to U.N. if by this time next year you are not queen of pop! Seriously though, how did you write and construct the addictive songs that are currently in your myspace music player?
Actually, I am the owner of more than three ☺. And I am so glad you like them that much! I have written a whole bunch of crappy songs as well but those are in the garbage can. I wish I knew the recipe but I don’t. Maybe the angels are good to me.
Your songs are very versatile though. Let me explain. I had a balmy picnic in the park with some friends. I played Love Song as the sun set and it didnt spoil the moment. Other pop songs can sometimes do that. Yet LoveSong still very much a pop song. Its both relaxing and yet also makes you want to dance! How is that?
That is so great! That is exactly what I want. Even though it is a pop song and you might also listen to the lyrics you can’t sit still. That’s my plan!
LoveSong also forces you to listen to the lyrics. Is loveSong about someone special?
I could say that all of my songs are about someone I know. All though, Love Song is more about a common feeling you get at some time in every relationship. When you are not sure of the other person’s feelings and you start to regret you ever got involved. I could think about everyone I ever had a crush on and it fits right in.
So what was the love song that was on repeat?
"Lover, you should’ve come over” with Jeff Buckley makes me cry almost every time.
And what was the sad film that made ya cry?
Some chic flick, but I cry to all kinds of films.
Ok, but is there any chic flick in particular?
When Harry Met Sally ( Don't actually know the exact number of times I have watched it...must be over 30...:-)
What song in your growing repertoire are you most excited about?
I love doing Love Song live and I really like When You Were My Friend. Right now I am recording a song called “The Shiver” and I am really excited about it. It could turn out great!
Oh my, "The Shiver" sounds amazing. Can you give us fans a tiny tiny tiny snippet of its lyrics?
It's easier to say that it's about meeting someone you haven't met before and feeling an instant connection you can't explain..a bit spiritual. (This interview was posted before The Shiver appeared on her myspace which you can access here)
And lastly is garlic overrated?
Garlics are great...in moderation. Don't kill the food with garlic...just add a touch!
Very important links
Isabel Guzman Official Myspace
Buy Isabel on Itunes
DontStopthePop's review of LoveSong
DontStopthePop's earlier interview with Robyn (and Isabel!)
And there you have it! Ms.Guzman is one to watch out for. Songs like “The Shiver” are on the way, Jeff Buckley makes Isabel cry and the album is on the way. No wait, let me shout it out: “THE ISABEL GUZMAN ALBUM IS ON ITS WAY!!!!!!”. YAY!
Other things we learned? She keeps to a “pop core”, she was once in a rockband, judged Melodifestivalen for four years and she might come to the UK! She has more great pop songs in her handbag and I can’t wait!