I was listening to the wonderful Larry Flick show on Sirius Radio today and heard his brilliant discussion with the singer Matt Zarley about certain pop acts who happen to be male & the difficulties many face within the industry. I thought it was time I posted this interview with the amazingly refreshing Jonah Hedqvist. He hails from Sweden so already he's fantastic. He's been on Dontstopthepop before to promote his hit single Summer High (hear it here). But with an impending summer tour & subsequent album he's back. He's not only a proper gentleman he's also a real gem. Rare too. Below we talk about his new album, the one that will follow that release and his life growing up & the fears that entailed. He stands-up for what he is, believes in his freedoms, hopes and dreams. This boy is different. As such, this interview is slightly different from my others. I hope you enjoy..
Lets get right to it! How is the recording of the album “Welcome To My World” coming along?
Oh yeah... well it's intense but a bit slowly... We’re really working on finding me in it. We already re-recorded the songs and I re-written a bunch of them to make them more me.
Excellent! How do you feel about them as they currently stand?
I’m very happy with the way things is moving and I love the people I work with on this project.
Emil Hellman (He's had Billboard Dance no.1 singles) and Peter Hägerås (He's been involved with Eurovision winner Charlotte Pirelli and more). And my publisher David of course... they are a really big part of the album.
What songs so far are definitely confirmed to be on the album?
Its a work in progress, changing everyday right now haha. Today I feel to include the title track, Welcome to my world, The Chosen (thats my favorite song right now) the duet Dont Stop, This Fire (could have been a Eurovision winner hehe), Released and hmmm...maybe Wear our love with pride and Matt Zarleys All that Matters.
I love Matt!
Yes, he's such a inspiration.
I also think that if I had to do the final selection today; I would include Why do I have to live. I’m also having an artistic creative crisis going on trying to decide if to include some of my favorite 80´s covers or not!
Will it be club? Or pop? Or a mixture of both genres?
Its club darling! Well pop-ish club. Like an everyday dancefloor.
Ya know what I always say: every floor makes an excellent dancefloor!
It’s a bit like how I like to live my life; "Casual Luxury".
And some sad songs as well of course...
Its got a lotta different influences. Last year Ive been traveling/touring NYC, Miami, Paris, Barcelona, Bangkok - Well you name it... and the clubs and the parties and the people from different parts of the world is kinda what made a big impact on the songs... as well as the up’s on the way (laughs)... and the loneliness that only can be reminded when you are all alone in a totally new big scary city.
I think one of the lines that I wrote for Don't Stop says it all:
(Sings out)-All the cities I have cruised, all the nights that I have wasted, All that bad confines karma of the million souls I’ve tasted….Kinda...
Please say you’ve kept If You Really Wanna Dance! I love that track. Its something special!
Well right now its in the "no thank you" folder in my Ipod. Dunno why...I liked the demo but then I just think it lost all that old school 80s-wise in the production....
Now, I hear your also exposing another side of you. Something rather great. When I was in Sweden, met and saw you perform you did the songs I expected from you-but you also covered Feel. Is it true there will be another album that is more swingtastic? A more jazztastic album?
Well. Were working on it. But its kinda far from now... But its a thing I’m looking forward to. According to plans I will fly out to Bulgaria (or what they call one of those eastern European countries anyway hahaha) a record it with a full orchestra with amongst other 56 strings!!!
So right know I’m choosing songs, finding the right tracks etc...readers please send Dontstopthepop suggestions for me to record!
Despite the economic crisis and the general gloom throughout the music industry, the Swedish music industry is huge at the moment. Some have said that it might be small internally and domestically but there is a real thirst for power pop acts internationally at the moment-and it would seem so with the likes of Basehunter, Robyn, September and so forth… What are your thoughts on these acts and where do you see yourself fitting in this climate?
Oh My God. That's a tricky one... I adore Agnes so I'm very happy for her right now.
I also think Velvet is one of our best acts.. but sadly not to many has realized that yet. Where do I fit... Well I find Swedish music biz is incredibly stuck up...I rather see me as not taking to be a big part of that.
Talking of which tell me about Melodifestivalen. It’s a brilliant source of fun. Are you ever going to make it on that particular stage?
I dunno if I wanna do it to be honest.
Yes its highly competitive. Sometimes I wonder whether unsigned acts or performers on smaller labels get a chance. Do you think a young singer without all the critical connections could appear on the show even if she had an amazing track?
No, probably not. It's too much politics nowadays.
Is it true…that the mighty Fredrik Kempe has provided a song on the album?
There is one song that maybe will make it to the final stage of my selections. Its called Round and Round.
I have to say the song Heaven Is A Sin Away is amazing!!!!! That has to be your lead single!!!
Sorry to break your heart……
Now you’ve done a fantastic duet with a glorious fellow European popstar that you can’t completely talk about at the moment. Can you at least give us a clue on the sound and direction?
It's still a secret who will join me on the duet. The song is an up-lifting dance anthem that makes you to dance, party and get high on love. And of course its about fear... which makes it a gay anthem as well... since most gay men including my self, constantly walk around with some kind of emotional disorder making us fear everything that could be good in life.
This fear, for you Jonah…what removes it?
Hmm.. I dunno.. Sex? Drugs? Rock n Roll?! Well Im not sure. Somethings you need to learn to live with... I mean... there is so much to fear in life. Emotions, war, HIV, pollution, love, heartache... you name it...
You're afraid to be alone and at the same time you are totally terrified to commit to another person because you're afraid to get hurt...
I think its so fucking important to care about every day and to live fully out. Live your dreams. It's ok to get hurt. Its ok to fuck up. That's what makes life...Life.
To play the lead in your own life instead of becoming an extra in somebody else's...
You've taken a big step to talk about sex, identity and love. Many pop stars are afraid of being open about such stuff. Was there a moment when you were a teenager when you decided to be so free?
Well... as you get older….
What do you mean?
The thing is that when you are in your twenties your not walking around being afraid all the time... you don't fear anything... it gets different!
But was that always the case?
I come from a really small village. The smallest community in Sweden really. I left home at a really early age - 13 - so I had a lot of confusion going on those years. But I didn't really know about homosexuality until I was 15/16 and moved thousands and thousands of kilometers away from my hometown to study musical theatre where I met a whole new world.
Gosh! So what was it like for the first time.
Heheh my first time with a girl was really exiting (ooopps and there I lost all your readers). My first time with a guy was terrible. Really cruel and mean from his side. But I fell in love with him anyway because he was the most beautiful person I ever seen and he brought out all those feelings in me that had filled my every vain and inch of my body until that day. I understood so much more of myself the day after. Even if some parts of my body were in pain hahaha!
Do you bring all these emotions to your music then?
Well... I don't record so much of the music I write yet... I still don't think it's good enough. But of course all the things that you "live" gives you the emotional possibility to tell your story in the songs. No matter who wrote them. Cos you put your own feelings into them. I think that is one of the things that makes me more of a performer and an artist than just a voice on a record or a radio hit.
Okay cool. What would you say to an individual going through the same situations as you did when you were a teenager?
Oh.... just trust yourself. Don't feel forced to do anything. If you wanna take it slow... well do so... explore... talk with those you really can trust first so you have a "net" if there still are idiots rejecting you when you tell them. Its good to have like your own support group. Don't be afraid. And don't underestimate people.
When I told my mom she cried for weeks and she made me promise I wouldn't tell my granny because she wouldn't understand. When my mom was crying for the 12th day and my granny forced her to tell why she was crying it all got a different turn. After my mom telling, granny slapped her face and told her that she was an idiot walking around being sad for such a thing.
She yelled at her and told her that she should be happy for having me as her son and the fact that I told her was something to be proud of... not to cry over! Not at all what anyone expected.
So don't underestimate your loved ones.
Your grandmother is a legend!
So what next for you Jonah?
Hmmm there is so much going on right now... which is fab! My show in Sweden this summer has become such a huge success that its been extended for august. I'm working on my album -as always!
Anything outside Sweden…...
And I'm preparing for my tour this autumn which I really hope can take me to London as well!
Posted by Robpop at Thursday, August 06, 2009