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. Whats your take?
Kleerup: Its the common tradition. If you have a country thats 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. Weve become a music-making nation. Weve become the leading music making country in Scandinavia and then when we started taking over Germany and the U.S. and England, thats 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, Mtley Cre, 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 dont know what got me into it. Im 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 dont 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. Its a paradox.
The album has been out for over a year in Sweden but its 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 dont know how much its sold, but I cant 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 isnt like theres a producer on every block.
You tweaked the track listing for the new release. Why?
Its an international promotion so you dont 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. Id rather have it come out everywhere all at once, but because of the politics regarding a big major label, thats how you have to do it. Hopefully, next time around Ill release it at the same time everywhere. Im having a kid in November and Im just chilling out in Glastonbury in Sweden, so its kind of weird to be having it released in the States right now when Im just taking it easy. Being a producer-slash-artist is probably the only sort of artist that doesnt have to do things everyday because your job is just to make music. But I would like to go and play and tour.
The album almost feels like a concept album -- it stands up to repeated listenings, there are recurring melodies and themes, the tracks play off one another. What were you thinking about when you made it?
Im glad you said that because thats exactly what it is -- it is a concept album about relationships. I made it about getting over all the stuff that happened between my girlfriend who lived in New York and me. Its coming from me being 20 years old to turning 30 and those years werent so fun for me. Its only in the last couple of years that things started to go my way. For a lot of people, especially in England, [an album] is like a one-trick pony. This album is supposed to be like the before-party, the party, the after-party. You can listen to it in the background but if you listen to it closely there are recurring themes all the way through. I just like showing people there is a light at the end of the tunnel -- it just might be really far away.
How do you pick the vocalists that you work with?
Its pretty easy: The people I work with are the people that I like. I think its nice to work with people who have a solid place on the Swedish music scene and not just go for the new singers. Lykke [Li] -- we did a song together two years ago before her album came out and she did really well. So now shes flying the flag for up-and-coming good Swedish pop singers. And then its just people Ive stumbled upon, either from being out or through friends. Im happy they say yes and I think it gives the album some diversity. And then there are a few instrumental tracks too, because I didnt want it to become too much of a guest starring record. When the singers are there, its a 50-50 collaboration -- its as much them as it is me. Funnily enough, Lykke wrote the lyrics for her song and even that song could be about me and my ex. So it was like everyone was on the same wavelength.
I heard a rumor that you wrote Thank You For Nothing about Cyndi Lauper after she refused to let you use the track you produced for her on your album. Is that true?
No. Thats absolutely not true. I get that question a lot. That track was made about my ex-girlfriend.
Whats up next for you? Are you coming to the U.S. anytime soon?
I used to go to NYC all the time. I used to go out with a fake ID when I was like 17, but were trying to solve all the visa issues, so, I dont know. Well see how the record goes. I might try and finish another record pretty soon and see what happens after that. My friend has a really nice studio in Glastonbury where my girlfriend lives. Were actually going to buy an apartment today -- weve been bidding on it. So, Ill have apartment here and one in Stockholm and Ill have a studio here so Im just trying to get it all ready because its a really big studio with different rooms. Im just trying not to stress and take it easy and wait for the baby but still work. Just trying to get people to the studio and having a good life and not stressing too much. Im still reinventing my whole being. I love going out and playing but I cant really do it everyday. Every night I go out I need one day of recovery.
Kleerup is now available in stores and on iTunes. For more information on Kleerup, head to his website.