Two years ago, the album pictured above by the delightful Swedish girlgroup Cosmo4 was reviewed by this blog here. Sadly the release was shelved! Today, I got to speak to the lovely Ulrika of the band about everything from the amazing album, the singles, performing at Melodifestivalen when they knew they wouldn't win, the music industry and her new career as part of a wonderful duo Molly Ban....
What drew you into the world of pop?
It started when I was very young. I stared to dance when I was 3 years old. I took flute lessons when I was 6 and then I stared to play the piano, singing lessons, choirs you name it. I did almost everything you could do at the music school in Karlstad. That is where I grew up.
And since my parents had the same interest, and still have, they always been very supportive.
So you were in the the amazing girlband Cosmo4. They had some great singles. Especially What’s Your Name. You were signed with Lionheart. What was it like working and touring with the girls?
Oh it was so much fun! Especially after the Melodifestival and with Whats your name...thats when people recognized us a bit more, but even the time before that too.
Cause when you are in a group its different from being a solo artist, you work and live together almost 24 hours a day so you get to know each other pretty well. Both in a good and in a bad way! Haha! But also you get to share all the moments together not just on stage but with the fans, in the dressing room and at dinners. Well everything.
You still get on?
Oh yes! I love the girls and we had a really good time together.
What was like performing at Melodifestivalen?
Its was amazing! Its the biggest thing I've done in my career so far and it was a great opportunity for us in C4. We did our best and we had a lot of fun and we are so pleased that people voted for us!
Everything but that haha! In that moment we where so focused to look in the right camera and have the right positions on stage, sing the right lyric etc etc. First, afterward when we came home and got out of the "bubble" we talked about how C4 did and we got to feel the response from our fans.
Your song was a lot better than the Arks who ultimately completely flopped when they performed their tragic song at Eurovision (yes, I am being bitchy..but it needs to be said…the Ark-who I usually love-really were not that good with that song). What was the feeling on the night? Your song had helicopter sound effects! That was amazing!
Well you know after all its a competition and we did'nt expect to win. The Ark was a big favorite that year and for us we just felt really happy that our song was chosen in the first place and that we got to show Sweden C4 at such a big event!
But performance wise, you were all vocally perfect. And incredibly amazing. Drag queens both here and in Sweden have done tributes to the Cosmo4! In the time you were doing your stuff, you girls made a musical impact especially on the gay community!
Well I don't know it can be a lot of reasons. But I think that since we are so different from each other in the group we created a positive feeling and energy. And that's also what C4 wanted to stand up for that no matter who you are, what colour your skin has, religion, culture, gay/straight we should all be able to live together and not have this unfriendly feeling around us just because you might be a little bit different from whats seems to be "normal".
But in the end we are just four happy girls that love to be on stage and perform and meet the audience. And Whats your name is a great song that is perfect on the dancefloor and in the end just to be frank; through music you can sometimes get through adversity and what the world throws at you. I think many in the gay community can relate to that and know how to have a good time!
Okay, lets talk about your album you did with Cosmo4 titled Around The World. I was lucky enough to hear it. Sadly it was never released but it is amazing. What was like recording it?
Actually it was rather hectic so we didn't have the time to enjoy the otherwise very nice recording session. I think we were out touring so we where not in Stockholm that many days. But with good planning we made it work!
Poor Romeo could have been a perfect song to come back with after What’s Your Name? Why wasn’t it released? It has an EPIC chorus!
Yes I like Poor Romeo it's a cool song and it was a bit different from what we had done before. I don't really know why it wasn't released but it was a lot that happened at the time so I guess we decided to wait.
Who did you work with for the album?
It was so many talented and great composers, producers, photographers you name it that Lionheart International had put together for us to be able to reach the best result!
I love the cover of I think We’re Alone Now. That was so much fun. Whose idea was it to cover that?
The album was suppose to be released in Russia first and they asked for a cover. So our A&R came up with the idea that we should record I think we're alone now and we liked it and the version of it so we decided to record it.
The album is incredibly fun. Like Shop Shop and the catchy Vida Loca. These songs could be massive hits even if released now. Would you consider getting the album released on Itunes or something?
Yes sure why not. Like you say its an album with great songs so if the demand was big enough and the fans wanted us back out there I think both me and the girls would consider getting back together.
It’s a very camp collection of songs. Vida Loca for example. Can ya remember the recording process?
We used to be in the studio all together not just because its fun and cosy but because its good for the result. We recorded one by one and the rest of us were listening and talking about the song and who would sing what part. So it was a process the whole time.
Ultimately why do you think it was never released?
Well that's a good question but at the time when the album was finished we felt that the demand wasn't big enough to release an album so we decided not to. Of course I felt sad but unfortunately that's reality.
And, what happened to Cosmo4? Fans were expecting a comeback!
We wanted different things with C4 in the end so simple we decided to take a break. We were not fighting or anything just being honest with each other and taking a very difficult decision whether we should continue or not. I too sometimes hear fans asking for a comeback and you never know....maybe someday we'll give it another try!
Do you still speak to other girls? And do you know what they’re up to these days?
Yes we're still very good friends and talking to each other but the one I have most contact with is Rudina. We're all up to and working with different things.
Me and Rudina work in musicals, Jenny has been studying and Yasmine moved abroad but is now moving back to Stockholm this spring.
Okay so enough Cosmo4! It appears like you took a little break after the band. What did you learn from your time with the girls and what did you do in-between your current project.
After my time with C4 I did a lot of different jobs but then a got the part Liesle in the musical "The sound of music" at Gota Lejon in Stockholm. And I did that for about 1 year.
It was great to do something totally different but also what 'Im trained to do. I was studying to became a musical artist at the Ballet-academy in Goteborg during and before my time in C4.
Now your in a new girlband. Very different though. With Molly Ban, your doing an interesting sound that bridges something in-between bluegrass and traditional country music. The sound is miles away from your previous direction. Why the leap?
Yes its a very different from what I've done before but I've always liked the genre and my great friend Alexandra Wickman, who is the composer and the other singer in Molly Ban, and I have known each other for 8 years now and always been singing together. We started to talk about doing something new one day and the idea of a bluegrass-country duo was born.
We just felt that it was time for us to get back together and do something totally from the heart!
Its an amazing leap. When will the album come out?
Actually we are in the recording process right now and we're planning a release of our album "Adventures" May 12 at Mosebacke in Stockholm.
Is country music relatively that big in Sweden?
It depends on who you're asking. If you like country music and listen to it you know where to go and you probably hang out with that kind of people. Also I think that its more common to find country music if you go out to the countryside and the small towns where that culture still lives on in another way then in a big city. But there is absolutely an interest and a lot of people that like country music in Sweden.
How important to you is this more soulful adventure into music?
Its very important for me, not only like an artist but as a person, because I can reach another level of my artistry working with Molly Ban. Also I get inspired, I can develop and I think variation is so important when you have this job.
Ulrika, I really like how your exploring what your voice can do. Are you also song writing now?
Thank you so much! Not right now but I did before and I do sometimes when I have the right feeling and something to write about.
I Love Where Love Leads. It really reveals a story. Will the album include more of these narratives?
I would say that every song on the album have a story. I think Alexandra is a great writer and you can really relate to her lyrics in so many ways cause love, that is the theme in our songs, never goes out of date and every person has been in love sometime in their life in some way.
Some of my favourite country music is when it goes beyond stereotype and cliche’s. I am thinking of the work of Dolly Parton. Her song Little Sparrow is amazing and A Tender Lie is earth-shattering. Will you be covering any of these darker elements of blue grass music.
Yes some of our songs are really truly honest and very simple, this is how I feel, nothing affected.
As a band, will you explore the darker side of country music?
For us its difficult to split up bluegrass and country like that cause our music is very mixed. Its not just bluegrass in one song and country in another, its in the different music styles together, bluegrass,country and pop, that we find our sound.
Also our singing, the vocal parts, is not maybe like they normal should be but we're trying to find Molly Ban, so that people recognize us when they hear our music. We're tryin to think quite modern to make our music interesting and fresh but at the same time we not want to be too commercial.
You could cover the chilling Me and Little Andy by Dolly Parton?
Oh I love that song its so sweet and sad at the same time! At the moment we're not doing any covers since we're working with the record. But its a good idea and maybe we'll take it up and do a Molly Ban version of it (big big smile).
Sweden has a growing country music scene. Do Jill Johnson, Calaisa and The Abalone Dots influence you and of course Molly Ban in any way?
Well yes of course. They are all great musicians and Im a big fan of all of them. When it comes to Molly Ban we get most of our inspiration from Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Rascal Flats, Keith Urban and of course Dixie Chicks.
Where do you see Molly Ban in that wave of country Swedish music?
Thats a hard one....I don't think you can compare us with any other bands or duets because our sound and the fact that we, again, mix different styles. And also Molly Ban is a new group and we're trying our wings to see if the country world like us and our music so I think its to early to say where we are on that wave. But time will tell!
There is a massive wave of Swedish musicians coming over the UK at the moment. Rosanna, Robyn, Kleerup, Titiyo, Isabel Guzman, Alcazar, Gathania, Velvet, September, Agnes Carlsson…the list is endless. Do you think Molly Ban would consider going international. Even to the US?
Of course!! We're going were the music is gonna take us. We want people to know Molly Ban but also we're very curious to see how far this can take us since its our own project and therefore we put our heart and soul into it! We don't have a record company behind us, we're doing everything on our own and that's both hard and difficult but also very good cause there's no third party telling us what and how to do things.
What is next for Molly Ban?
We had a fantastic release party for our debut album "Adventures" 12th of May at Mosebacke in Stockholm so since then we've been working to promote Molly Ban. We want to get our music out there, get gigs and show people what we do and what makes Molly Ban special and hopefully people like it!
One last question, how did you come to that name?
Molly Bawn is a folk song from the beginner and there are over 88 different versions over the world of this song that is called everything from "Molly Bawn" to "The shooting of his Dear".
The first printed version of this song was found in 1799 but that was a copy of the song "Peggy Baun" so its even older then that, but how old no one knows. Alison Krauss and The Union Station are doing a wonderful version of this song and we listen to it and just loved the story.
Its so beautiful and at the same time so sad and we just thought; well thats life. Don't make quick decisions, think things through! Cause you only live once...
In the end we felt not just only that Molly Ban was a great name but also that its what our music is about, life, and that life can be both painful and beautiful.
So, there you have it! Although Ulrika is concentrating on the release of "Adventures" with her new country music project with MollyBan, there is scope of a comeback somewhere downline under her old girlband Cosmo4. She's such a star & I cannot wait to hear more from her! Coming up on monday? The Bananarama review of their new album!