By Noah Michelson
Andreas Kleerup -- most commonly known by just his last name -- is responsible for some of the most thrilling music currently being beamed out of Sweden. In the last several years the producer/DJ/recording artist/drummer has worked with a who's who of dance and pop including Robyn, with whom he collaborated on the smash hit "With Every Heartbeat," Lykke Li, Cyndi Lauper, Neneh Cherry, and her younger sister Titiyo, who sings on the single "Longing For Lullabies" (see video). He's also remixed tracks for the Cardigans, Mika, Roxette, and the Shout Out Louds.
Kleerup's self-titled album -- filled with cerebral, undeniably catchy tracks -- was released in Sweden last year, and a new, reconfigured version recently hit record stores in the U.K. and the U.S. We caught up with him to find out how he wandered into the kingdom of dance, how he discovers his divas, and why Sweden is king when it comes to pop.
Out: Anytime I interview Swedish musicians I always grill them on why they think such a tiny country produces such an incredible amount of amazing music. What's your take?
Kleerup: It's the common tradition. If you have a country that's famous for doing something really well -- like the Swiss are famous for their banks -- then people get the confidence that they too can do that thing really well. We've become a music-making nation. We've become the leading music making country in Scandinavia and then when we started taking over Germany and the U.S. and England, that's when people started to see this was for real.
Did you grow up listening to dance music?
No. Not at all. I listened to hair metal like Skid Row, Kiss, M'tley Cr'e, and Van Halen. But then on the radio when you went to take a swim it was Fleetwood Mac and contemporary hit songs, But really, I don't know what got me into it. I'm a drummer and it comes natural. I enjoy the whole rhythm thing. If you do good pop music and you package it in a dance production way it can come pretty far. All dance music more about the clubby thing but you can always take it to a more poppy thing. And you can do it with your own computer -- you don't have to rely on other people. Dance is one of those genres that gets people to hang out with each other, but the people who actually make it do it by themselves in their bedrooms. It's a paradox.
The album has been out for over a year in Sweden but it's just being released now in the U.K. and the U.S. Have you noticed a different reception to it?
It seems to be getting good reception everywhere. I don't know how much it's sold, but I can't really control that. The American bloggers, up to this point, have been better than the English bloggers. It might be because in England they know me from the Robyn track ['With Every Heartbeat'] but in the States it isn't like there's a producer on every block.
You tweaked the track listing for the new release. Why?
It's an international promotion so you don't just want to have someone download it and get the exact same songs. I think it became a better album. The first version was made with me in Sweden and then my management in England and I felt [the new version] was a bit more diverse -- not as pop. I'd rather have it come out everywhere all at once, but because of the politics regarding a big major label, that's how you have to do it. Hopefully, next time around I'll release it at the same time everywhere. I'm having a kid in November and I'm just chilling out in Glastonbury in Sweden, so it's kind of weird to be having it released in the States right now when I'm just taking it easy. Being a producer-slash-artist is probably the only sort of artist that doesn't have to do things everyday because your job is just to make music. But I would like to go and play and tour.
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