In mid October of 2014 I met Emil in his studio in the basement of an apartment building in the southern suburbs of Stockholm. I was greeted by him and his qute little badger-dog when I entered through the massive steel door. It was a nice and cosy little place, but still spacious. We sat down by his large computer screen, this is really where all the magic happens, and we started the interview...
[Discoguy]: So Emil, when and where were you born?
"I was born in Trondheim in Norway, and we moved to Sweden when I was around five."
OK, wasn't Dagge [the late DJ, remixer, writer and Producer - Dag Volle] also from Norway?
"Yes he was, and we actually thought a little about if there could be some kind of relationship between us, because I have Volle's in my family as well."
Oh, I see!
"Somewhere there in the family line. It was a relative who had done a massive genealogical research and had created a whole A4 booklet, it was thick like this [Emil shows around 5-6 centimeters / 2 inches, with thumb and forefinger] with the whole family history and then I saw some Volle in the midst of everything."
"Yeah, it was kind of funny actually. But it's so long ago now, so I don't recall all of it."
When were you born, what year?
I'm old too, so don't you worry...
"But I am much older! Hahaha! [both laugh] I was born in 1958."
How did you became a DJ and remixer? Was it something you had always dreamt of, or was it more of a coincidence?
"No, not really... I terrorized people already when I went to school. On Friday afternoons, during the 'fun hour', I always used to play records in the classroom. Oh my gosh, I'm that old! Hahaha! [both laughing] Eh... and as I bought so much records all the time, it naturally became me who got to be responsible for the music at class parties and events like that. That's how it kind of started and then I started remixing sometime around the age of 15.
Because around that time we should get job experience via school, and I got a job at Sveriges Radio [Swedish National Radio] in Östersund and there I realized that one could actually cut in tape. And if you could cut the tape with people's dialogue, then I realized you should be able cut tape containing music. The people at the radio said it couldn't be done, but I proved them wrong.
The first thing I think I ever did, was a David Bowie song that I extended in some way. Then it just started...
I had a Tandberg cassette tape recorded with this incredible millimeter precision when using the pause button. I could then use it to cut and it was so super tight and I did that for a long time. I even did that when I had started as real Disc Jockey and when I could not get hold of songs that were long enough, then I recorded the song on cassette and sat and cut and cut and cut. That was also how I got my first remix job actually...
That was back when I lived in Ljusdal, and during the summer we rebuilt the club where I played and put in a new lights, new Cerwin Wega speakers, huge like trucks, and stuff like that. We set it all up and just plugged in everything but I had nothing to test the system with, because I didn't bring any records, that was something I had forgotten. So my friend had her car there and she had a cassette in the car which I had made for her. Amongst other tracks on the cassette there was one of her favorite songs which I had slaughtered. It was some damn disgusting Freestyle [an extremely popular Swedish group in the early 80's] song - 'Ögon Som Glittrar'.
So she ran out to the car and fetched that tape, and we pushed it into the tape recorder and let the sound start pounding. It was around four in the afternoon on a Saturday and it was a hotel in the same building and then that damn song comes on while we play the hell out of the system. I was making some adjustments and when I suddenly turn around I see Christer Sandelin [the writer of the track] in the door into the disco. He looks like a mix between thunderclouds and question marks. I just; 'Oh, my GodI' Because I had really butchered his song, literally. Because I really hated that track and I had cut it apart into bits and pieces. So I ran and pulled down the volume and said; 'Hello!' He said; 'What is this thing? Who did this?' I went; 'Uh, I've done it.' Christer replied; 'Ah, this is so cool, you have to do our next single.' I replied; 'Yes, sure. OK!' And that's how it all started..."
Which was the song you got to do for them?
"I one I did was 'Musiken gör mig vild' ["The music makes me wild"] which actually became Freestyle's last single. Hahaha! [Both Laughing] Then everything went downhill for them. But the remix became quite good actually."
That's quite a different and funny way to get your first remix job. But which was your first DJ gig? You mentioned playing in that club at this hotel in Ljusdal.
"Yes but the first gigs were at school dances and stuff like that, and I also worked as a mobile DJ traveling around a lot..."
Bringing your own equipment and stuff?
"Yes I did. So I played kind of everywhere in mid-Sweden. Around Östersund, Härnösand, Sundsvall, Hudiksvall, Ljusdal, Sveg, Bollnäs, down almost to Gävle. But I actually never played in Gävle during that time. But then I also played gigs in all the ski resorts and stuff like that. Yikes! Oh, damn."
It sounds like you're not longing back to that time at all...
"No, no, no! Absolutely not! Oh no!"
So when did you move to Stockholm?
"I moved here in November '83."
Did you get a job here right away?
"Yes, I moved because I got a job. I would actually have moved down much earlier but I enjoyed living in Ljusdal so damn much, so I stayed there. But it was actually the company I bought records from in Stockholm, you know, I used to call them up and they played all the new records over the phone. Then I would go; 'Yes I should have this one and that one, not that one.'
What happened was that the company I bought the records from, Record Pool, some of the people who had worked there took off and started another store, Vinyl Mania, so all of a sudden they were left without people. I worked at a record store in Ljusdal and they knew that, so they just called me and asked if I wanted to come down and start working for them. And I just; 'Yes, yes, yes. It's absolutely no problem. When do you want me to start?' They went; 'Can you start on Monday?' And I just; 'Yes, sure, damn it!' And this was on a Thursday, so everything happened quickly."
Did you start DJ'ing here in Stockholm at that time as well?
"No! At that time I went up North every weekend to play. Because I played both in Hudiksvall and Ljusdal. Fridays in Ljusdal and Saturdays in Hudiksvall. But it was a lot of people I knew from up there who now lived here in Stockholm and the word spread in some strange ways, and all of a sudden I received a call from Sydney who asked if I wanted to come play for him."
Sydney was a legendary club owner and DJ profile in Stockholm since the early 70's, who ran clubs like Big Brother, 1984 and Confetti. He titled himself "the Hard Working DJ" and it was quite a show to see him in action, with maracas and tambourines, colorful clothes and spectacular glasses which would even make Sir Elton John jealous.
Was it the 1984, or which club did he have at that time?
"The 1984 club had just closed, so it was for his new club, Confetti. It had just opened, and it was someone who had followed me up North some weekend who had talked to him and had said; 'You must listen to this guy!'. That's when he called and asked me if I could come. And I went; 'Yes, I guess I can do that!' and then I remained there.
But I got to sign a fucking contract, and still I have it somewhere, it stated that I could not play anywhere else in town because then it would cost me 250 000 SEK. If I played within a 150 kilometers radius from Stockholm, then I would be fined 100 000 SEK. And you know, it was crazy like that, but still I signed it like a moron. It was totally crazy and the contract was three or four pages long."
So how long did you play there?
"Until they closed. Until Sturegallerian [posh shoppingmall] came and destroyed everything."
Yes, because his address at Grev Turegatan was really a classic address in the Stockholm nightlife and it was special as it had it's private courtyard and everything.
"Oh, yes. And whenever I enter Sturegallerian from that end, everything comes back to me. I know exactly where the DJ booth were situated and everything. You know, I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Ah, things happened there all the time. It was the time of my life."
Which clubs have you played since?
"Oh, I have played them all... I've played Confetti, Make Up, Ritz, Bat Club, Paradise, Yellow Press, Oz, Huset, Squeeze, Propaganda, Tip Top, Connection, G, Paradise 2, at Kolingsborg. Paradise 1 was of course in Medborgarplatsen at the Ritz."
Yeah. Massive list. Do you currently play somewhere?
"Yes, now I DJ at Candy and I also do some extra gigs at Patricia sometimes."
So you keep yourself busy, so to say!?
"Oh, yes! One must, of course. Because otherwise you can not do this I think." [pointing toward the monitors showing an open Logic Pro session with extensive song arrangements]
I can understand that. Because when you work with this, [remixing songs] then I guess you need to be able to test things to see what works.
"Yes exactly, and most of the time I get a chance to try the mixes before I have to hand them over. So... then you have time to take some notes and then go back to make adjustments or changes, which is pretty great. Because you hear stuff one way here in the studio, but you can hear quite different things when playing it to a dance floor."
But what about the music in these different clubs, has it been in the same kind of style? I mean, you mentioned Bat Club among others, and it was actually a little harder, huh?
"Oh yes, it was."
I assume most of the other clubs were a bit more happy and gay disco-like!?
"Yes. Many of them, though... I've always wanted to teach people new good music, which I've received a lot of spanking for sometimes. But what the hell... At least before, now I think it's a very strange musical climate in this country. But before you could actually get people to start loving obscure French songs that were made for the French clubs, and long, long before it actually became popular with French club music. There were cool groups like Les Rita Mitsouko and others like that. And you know, then, when I played songs like that for the first few times folks just 'Ehhh? And 'swosch', [Makes a Sound Effect] the floor was empty. Completely empty! No one understood a thing. But then I played it again about half an hour later, and kept on like that."
Haha! You're stubborn!
"Yes, and you know, I just played like one minute of the intro just to make them get used to it and it became a huge hit in the end. It was the same thing with 'French Kiss' by Lil Louis when you played that one for the first time. People just looked at you - thinking you were a complete moron. And I just looked back like; 'This is great - believe me!' I had seen the whole Tunnel [famous club in New York] lie down on the floor when the song stops. I almost peed my pants, it was the coolest thing I've ever seen. All just sagged down together on the floor and lay like in a gigantic snake pit and it's all pitch black with only a strobe light blinking. Oh, that was so cool!"
Yes, I can imagine, because that part is probably the coolest thing in the whole song.
"Yes, exactly! That was the whole gimmick. But the beat was great as well."
Yes, it was really a great song. Absolutely. It's in my collection too...
Do you have any special memories from any of these clubs? Something special that has happened or similar, I was thinking from a DJ perspective.
"Uh, yes there's so much I remember..."
And maybe some stuff you might not want to remember either?!
"Once at Paradise, the first one at the Ritz, then it was someone... It was back at that time when people still were allowed to smoke in the clubs and it was someone who did like this [shows that someone snaps away something with his fingers] with a cigarette butt and I saw it coming flying towards me and right down on the turntable, and then the butt hits the needle and 'scratch', the needle flew off and it became dead quiet. We had three turntables there, so I just threw something on the next and then jump over the whole DJ booth. How the hell I could do it I really don't know, but I did. I ran up to this guy and got hold of him and lifted him up. Then I just used him as a plow through the jam packed place all the way up and out on the street. I told the guards; 'He never comes in here again!' And then rushed down again, the song were still playing as it was probably around seven minutes. Still it was tight to make it back though, and then I just continued playing as if nothing had happened."
Haha, well done!
"Yes, but - God! Sometimes you become so fucking mad at people. People are, unfortunately, so damn stupid sometimes."
Do you have some "best gig"? Some that you still remember?
"Many! Though I may not be able to pin-point one..."
I understand you may have too many good memories...
"At last Paradise there were many really good evenings. And the old Paradise at the Ritz was damn good too. And... Uh, there are so many..."
I understand that it can be difficult...
"They are countless. But the most boring places where you really can't remember anything that where really fun, that was at Atlantic and Alexandra's and those kind of places. They were always a bit boring."
Like a little stiffer crowd or?
"Yes, but what the hell, if you just would have had a lot of boring evenings, then I would have quit playing a long time ago."
Exactly. I understand that.
"Still I think many evenings are so freaking fun."
That's great. I'm glad to hear that you still, after so many years behind the turntables, still think it's fun.
"Yes, but then sometimes you become like this; 'Oh God, I really don't feel like going to work today!' But then you drag yourself over there and then after the first song, 'Yihaa!' and then it's full speed ahead. It's entirely clear that something happens when I get into the booth."
It's most likely your "DJ mood" that gets turned on again.
What do you think has made you one of the best and most wanted DJ's in Sweden? Do you have any special signature characteristics or something else you think have made you popular and able to stay on top for so long?
"Ehhh... No, I don't know. I have no idea."
There must surely be something, right ?! Because otherwise you would not still be constantly booked...
"I don't know. I never thought about it. I just think it's fun to spin."
But perhaps THAT's really the thing, that you think it's fun to play! Because you often sense if the DJ thinks it's fun or if they only stand there and switch tunes, so to speak.
"Right! That's why I seldom go out when I don't play. Because I get so annoyed at DJ's who think they're so cool and just stand there like; 'Oh God, I'm so cool, I put this record on.'"
Mmmm...I know what you mean.
"Aaaahhh! No, but... I think it's a feeling I've got, it comes from within in somehow. I can't really explain!"
Yes, I understand. It's difficult to know... Some people know they have some gimmicks they do, or that they always do this or that...
"Well, I've had so many tricks over the years, some stuff can not even be done anymore now when you play CD's. I play CD's. When you played vinyl then you were playing with double copies and other stuff. Among things I figured out how to remove the drums in a song."
OK?! How did you do that?
"I synced them up fast as hell..."
You used two copies in other words?
"Yes, then I slowed one of them down a little bit so that it came in, what could it be, that it came around one-eighth [1/8] too late and then you just; 'Tou-tou-tou-tou-tou' [Shows with his hand that he quickly move the crossfader back and forth]. Then you get rid of the kick-drum."
"Then you hear everything else except the kick-drum, because you fade out the drum all the time. It was very good during instrumental sections. If you did it during vocals, it sounded like 'Ba-ba-ba-bo-bo-bu-bu-bo-ba', which was also cool but not as fun. Some Disc Jockeys didn't understand how you did it, they just stood there listening and wondered; 'Which version is this? Because my record doesn't sound like this!' Haha!"
Cool. That's awesome!
"Yes, it was a bit funny!"
You've been around for so long, have you got any comments on how the work of the DJ has transformed from back then up to now? I mean, first of all, we have gone from vinyl to people standing and playing sound files on computers...
"Right, but now it feels like they just play stuff that everyone else has mixed together for them, and some probably just pretend they play. No, but in some ways it's much much easier to mix now, but it's not easier to be a Disc Jockey! Because some of those standing and mixing songs or playing complete playlists on a computer, I really don't call them Disc Jockeys. But it seems to be much easier these days because of programs like Traktor and others which is doing all the job, syncs up the songs and follow the BPM's slavishly and so on. It's a little more difficult to do stuff like that when you are still playing CD's, as it's more similar to spinning vinyl."
Exactly. And in the vinyl days with the old 70's Disco 12" inches, the musicians never kept a steady beat...
"Yes yes yes! Oh ... Good Gosh! Studio musicians really couldn't play in beat. I actually sat and did a thing for Christer Lindarw [famous Swedish designer and Drag queen, who has even been elected 'Most Beautiful Woman of the Year' twice in Sweden] the other day, because he should model at a fashion show and then he would walk to 'Fashion Pack' by Amanda Lear. But it's so thin, dull and miserable. So he came to me and asked me if I could fix it up a bit. And I just; 'Yeah, well. I guess I can do that.' I had to cut up every single beat and then sit and sync them with new drums. But it worked."
But it took some time I guess!?
"Yes, it took a day just to cut it, but I thought I would go crazy in the end, damn, the musicians didn't play tight at all."
We have already talked a little about how it's easier to be a DJ these days, since everything in the music is in sync and the drums are so darn tight.
"Oh yes! Not even Rock Jockeys have problems anymore, because almost all the rock bands are programming the drums in a computer today actually. Haha!"
But what have you done to be able to keep on top for so long, or do you think it's just this glow and passion you have for what you do?
"Yes, I think that's probably it. And I always think it's been fun and interesting with new music and new music styles and stuff. Except for... Now comes a long list... R'n'B, Hip Hop, Drum'n'Bass, Speed Garage, Trip Hop and you know, those kind of styles."
No, I've never really understood those either.
"But then, seriously. Uuhh... I heard something yesterday... Kayo is going on tour, so I helped her with a lot of old DAT's and then she had a song and, you know, it was like this 'dum-di-bra-bo-ka', you know, that kind of drums. I only; 'What is this shit?! Seriously. You can't really use this! That's not possible! So fucking bad. Damn. Yikes!'
But thankfully, Sweden has gone from... being single minded with only R'n'B and Hip Hop which made me go crazy. I mean, all music where you have time to fall sleep between each drum beat is just boring as hell. But damn, I think it's just pathetic. But on the other hand, I love ballads, that is more of my personal taste in music."
You're a DJ and remixer, you have also worked with other stuff - I know you worked at Record Pool and later at Mega etc. Have you done anything else, or has it always been music related?
"I have worked for SJ [Swedish Rail] and at a bus garage where I changed gearboxes on buses, changed tires and things like that, but that was a thousand years ago. And I've worked at Posten, [Swedish Postal services] but that was only for like six months or something like that though."
But otherwise, has it been all music related?
"Since then there have been music, in one way or another, all the time. Record store, music store - you know, selling guitars and keyboards and other instruments. And also... In another store I worked, I got to sell everything; records, musical instruments, TV, radio, video, cameras, which was great fun. I just love to work in stores. I miss it really. It's so fun to see what people want, figure out what they need and sell them things they don't even know they want. I think I'm a little Steve Jobs there, like; 'I know you will come to need this!'."
Hahaha! [both laughing]
But what do you think now with the death of all the record stores, and all the ones that don't exist anymore?
"Bhuuuu ... But thank goodness for Pet Sounds. [record store in Stockholm] I Love Pet Sounds."
But otherwise it's so sad, I think you get a tear in your eye every time you think about it.
"Yes! But vinyl sales is going up more and more."
Yes it does and it's great to see.
"I have even actually bought a record player on Blocket. [Swedish web-portal for second hand goods] One of these old B&O [Bang & Olofsen] players, square shaped in wood and with the round Concord needle. Though the one I've got is actually not called B&O, it is called His Masters Voice which is what it was called in England from the beginning. But it's a B&O 1000, I think it's called. But it's really cool and I only paid like 250 Swedish bucks for it. When I found it on Blocket I just; 'That one I must have!'."
Great! And what a bargain.
"Yes it is great fun."
I have seen you when you've bee working in various stores and so on throughout the years. For example I remember that you were working in the Record Pool store in the corner at Birger Jarlsgatan. That was at the time when there were two Record Pool shops in Stockholm, with the other one located in Malmskillnadsgatan. It was during that time when Frankie Goes to Hollywood was peaking.
"Yes. Oh God! Those were fun times."
Yes, and in the window you had, among other things, a sign... It was when this "Frankie Say..." were cited all the time, and I remember that in the window there was this sign saying something like 'Frankie Say Two Tribes Relaxing'. Then when entering the store you were playing some mix you had made yourself where you had mixed together "Two Tribes" and "Relax"...
"Aha - OK! I have no memory of it, but I have such a bad memory..."
But actually it was like this, I didn't know it was a mix you had made so I was actually looking for the mix a long time before I found out...
"Oh right! Damn!"
Yes, Damn! Because it was something you had put together for yourself.
But I remember you standing there playing it to some colleague.
"But how old are you then?"
I'll turn 48 soon...
"Oh! You can not believe that!"
Ah. Thanks... But that's why I do remember. We've been hanging out in the same places, to some extent anyway.
You said earlier that you started to get into this with remixing and stuff already when you were around 15 years old. I have also tried pausing the tape recorder but not quite with the same success as you.
"It did not work on any other tape recorders. My friends were trying as well, but it was just that Tandberg tape recorder which managed to do it properly."
You did not use reel to reel or something like that?
"No! That came later. It didn't happen until I came down here actually. Then I started using reel tapes and things like that."
But if you compare now with back then, then it must be a massive difference to sit and work with a computer...
"Yes yes yes! It's like night and day!"
I can imagine that during the SweMix years it was pretty fun because you could experiment quite much, now I assume it becomes a bit more...
"Oh yes! Also... I think that if you have limited resources then you create a lot more miracles than if you have everything at your disposal. Because then you take everything for granted, you become damn lazy. But... You were so busy sometimes trying to fulfill your ideas, that it was insane. I think I sat like for two straight days sometimes just to complete stuff. And you know, you were so tired that everything just floated around. It was like an LSD trip without the drugs. You were so tired that you could hardly see anything. And you really got completely stupid as well. But thankfully I don't do stuff like that anymore."
But how did you work back then? Did you use reel to reel, and then got some computers and and so on?
"Correct. From the beginning we sat with one of those four-channel reel machines and recorded the song, cut it up and then they made overdubs or mixed in something else on the other channels. Or you synced it up two records, recorded it and then synced up another record over it and you know... We kept on like that... and we cut tape... Sometimes when you looked at the tape that went past the audio head, it was more splicing tape than the actual brown tape. [recording tape] And Björne at Cutting Room, he was like; 'You guys are insane!', Because it just rattled in his machine 'kr-kr-kr-kr-kr' when the tape passed by. And I remember I did one mix, then Björne just said like this; 'Now you have truly gone too far!'. In other words, there were so many cuts in the song, I really cut down everything in small fragments and moved all the bits and pieces around like crazy, moved, repeated and rebuilt all of it... I still have it in fact, it's a really funny mix."
Do you recall which song it was?
"Yes, I know. Oh, it's called - wait, I have it here... [looking in his computer] No... [can't find it in the computer] Then it's on one of these. [pulls up a keyring with several UBS memory sticks and starts looking for the file on them] I have saved down all the old work on these so you have them readily available. I have gone through all my old DAT tapes and downloaded everything so now I'll release everything there is."
Wow, that's exciting.
"So the SoundFactory record, I will release all instrumental versions and all mixes that have not been available. We released a few, but I rejected almost all mixes. I rejected Snap and lots of others, but now everything is being released, it will be great. So, I have done it for a few weeks now and you just go; 'Oh God!' when you hear certain things. Let's see here [clicks around among the files on the computer] Da-da-da-da... 'The Look' ugh..."
"The Look", is that the Roxette track you did for Remixed but which was never released? Because I would love to hear that one.
"What, you've never heard it?"
No. I have never heard it.
"My God!" [Clicks the mouse and a male accapella rap performed by Martin Carboo, aka MC II Fresh, kicks off the 'One Two Three Four Walking Like A Man Hitting Like A Hammer...' intro and after the first verse the song starts with a characteristic SweMix beat].
This one I've only heard about!
"OK. But I know it is on some bootleg record."
I know some copies were pressed, which then were withdrawn.
"I think it was some 10-15 copies pressed."
Was it Per Gessle and his crew that stopped the release?
"No, it was the record label boss. Gessle thought it was great fun. But the company boss thought it was enough with one remix."
This is really great!
"Yes, it's really funny. Listen here... [jumps in the song to the break where Per and Marie kind of responds to one another]
"It is very 'dubby' in any way and very stripped down. So it was kind of funny. But we'll see... Here it is... [Emil starts an 80's Italo song with Evelyn Barry called "Take It As A Game".] And just to show people what I had done to it I left it just as it was from the beginning and then when the second verse starts, then all hell breaks loose. And the song is pretty good. [jumps forward in the song] 'Stay! Oh, oh, oh, oh! Stay! Stay together!' [Evelyn sings and Emil sings along.] It goes on like this... [song plays on for a while until Emil says:] Now the madness begins..." [isolated words and fragments are fired off like ping pong balls back and forth in a crazy pace]
Oops, I understand that there were a lot of cuts there.
"Oh, this is nothing yet, because then when she starts singing again, then things gets completely deranged. It's really fun and yet it's so damn tight. Now... [Evelyn starts singing again and now you hear that Emil really must have cut down the audio tape to constituents. If it sounded like a ping pong match earlier, then it sounds like a pinball ball on speed now - but it's tight and great!]
I used the instrumentals too and it keeps on like this indefinitely... Good gosh!"
It was great to hear it.
"Yes, it is a bit funny actually."
Now we get into SweMix. We talked's a bit about it before and I've heard and read the story about how you, a bunch of Stockholm's best DJ's, were gathered together for an interview, and how you then discover that you had things in common and a vision of wanting to do something like what DMC had done in the UK and Disconet in the US.
"Yes. But actually me and Rene [Hedemyr] had talked about it before we met the others."
OK?! So did the two of you knew each other before the interview?
"Yes. Because I needed his help at one time, or actually his tape recorder. Hahaha! He had a reel to reel at home and I should do some remix for Virgin and needed to borrow a reel to reel recorder. And then someone suggested I should check with Rene as he had one. And then I became friends with Rene, and I got to borrow his tape recorder, and then we started talking about this with a 'Swedish DMC' and things like that. This must have been sometime in the Spring or early Summer, then in the Fall or late in the Summer we were all rounded up together. But then we, me and Rene, had already talked a bit about that."
Did you know any of the other guys before this interview?
"No! I didn't know any of them. But I've never been one who go out a lot or who talks to all people. I've been working and then it was fine with that. Plus that I played like crazy; Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
I understand - so when would you have had the time to go out?!
And at that time, you played the entire evenings. Now it seems that many DJ's play like two hours gigs in certain clubs.
But the SweMix years, what have you got to say about them?
"OH! It was great fun. It really was... But it was very much drama as well. Haha! We had a blast and we disagreed on a lot but agreed on even more. Now, when looking at this time in a rearview mirror, we were part of something that a very few people have been through. But you couldn't understand it yourself at that time. Because at that time it was just fun to do all this stuff. For some it became dead serious pretty quickly, and it was noticeable that it became frictions sometimes."
But it is understandable when there are a bunch of people sitting and working together, you were quite numerous as well.
"Yes, and we became like family. We hung out all the time. Around the clock for several days. It was sort of like a season of the TV show Big Brother, though it lasted for 5-6 years around the clock. Completely deranged. And it was all about music instead of drinking and fucking."
Well, that might be healthier. Haha!
"Haha! Well, I just don't know."
How did you choose songs to remix and which one that would be included in the Remixed Records releases?
"Everyone selected his own favorites and then you had to fight get get your songs featured, when there were much material to choose from. Sometimes several of us wanted to remix the same song, then we either collaborated or had to draw. Haha!"
As you mentioned, sometimes you collaborated on some remixes... How did those cooperations work out?
"They worked good, for the most times!"
But it feels as if you still had a lot of fun when you created all of this!
"Yes, yes, yes! We really had. But after a while it became... I remember when we had bought the 24-channel mixer and all that. And other people would then start hiring the studio. It finally became so bad that you could not even get slots to use it yourself."
No, that's sad.
"Yes. And once I had to threw people out from there. Because very much hashish was smoked down there from time to time, and I came down one evening and you could literally cut through the smoke and I just through them out, head first. I said; 'Take your fucking stuff and get the hell out of here! Fuck you, you should not smoke your shit down here!' Yikes, it was so damn sickening. No, I don't like it!"
But have you still got contact with any of the guys?
"No! I hate them all and I never want to see them! Hahaha! I hate them all! NO! Yes, absolutely! Stene [Sten "Stonebridge" Hallström] and I talk from time to times. Järpen [Johan "JJ" Järpsten] and I talk sometimes. Rene and I talk sometimes and Robban [Robert "Mopz Below" Broman] I talk to as well. Dagge [Dag "Denniz PoP" Volle] I think about sometimes. Yes!"
Yes, it's harder to talk to him unfortunately! ["Dagge" died from cancer in 1998]
"But, I managed to get everyone together for the first time in 10 years right here. [Emil pointing to the sofa which is put on the about 1 meter elevated shelf that runs along the room] Everyone sat here!
Oh, that's cool.
"There is photographic evidence. It was 2 years ago, when I was contacted by the Swedish Grammis jury [Swedish Grammy Awards] as they wanted all of us to play at the Grammis after party. Someone said; 'NO - I don't do stuff like that!', someone else went; 'Yes, that will be fun!'. And someone else went; 'No, I won't do it unless XX is participating.' You know, silly like that! But I just; 'I'll fix this. No problem! I will get my will through.'"
So all of you ended up playing the party?
"Oh yes! And it was great fun. Besides that YY became so drunk. So totally wasted..."
OK. Let's talk quietly about that then!
Find the full SweMix story here!
How would you say the remixers job has changed from when you started? Because a remix was a completely different thing at that time, I would say.
"Yes, but I think it has gone slightly back and forth in a way. From the beginning it was just an extended version and then things shifted and you would start change everything and replace the drums and stuff like that, but the song was still reasonably intact. But then, after a while, people threw it all out and all that remained was maybe a word or beat and then everyone thought that was great for a while. But now it's like a little bit back to basics, and the songs are back, if it is based on a real song and not just a groove. Now we're back to retaining the song but throwing away everything else and create something new. So, it has become a lot more simple and clear today. Because, for a while things were so freaked out that you just could not even believe it was the same song."
Exactly. Sometimes when you bought a 12" single a couple of years ago, then you would not even get the original version of the song, all the remixes were just completely different songs.
Personally I don't think it's so fun if I like a certain song and the remixers have pulled out everything - all the original elements. OK, some complete alternate version might be fun, but not all...
"Yes, absolutely. But for the most part these versions are not even funny for a very long time... Hahaha! I wonder if it's an age thing. No, but I think it's quite nice that it has like reverted to some kind of song-based remixes for the most parts. If it is not a song that is built upon a disco sample or whatever."
How many remixes have you done over the years, have you got any idea?
"No, I don't know. I really don't know. I have tried to make a list somewhere... [looking through files on his computer] I have no idea. [Emil finds the document with pages and pages of songs he has remixed] This is probably pretty much, but it's not complete at all. Far from."
OK, I understand. Because you were the one who probably was the most productive within SweMix, because you often had 2 or 3, or maybe more songs sometimes, on many of the Remixed Records releases. [He had 27 remixes on the first 10 Remixed Records releases only... And then numerous of more going forward...]
"Yes, it was, after all, at least a couple on each release, but they are not really what I classify as remixes these days. Sure, some of them are on the list, but certainly not all. Some are just pure edits and then they can't be on the list."
So they don't count?
"No, they don't count. Hahaha! But I have also done so many versions just for my own use, stuff that never ever was released."
Exactly, I have understood that you like to create your own versions...
"Yes, but when you get some crazy idea it's fun to go through with it. It's kind of like this... [Emil starts looking through the computer again and suddenly Madonna's "Music" burst out of the speakers but with elements of "Vogue" in it]
Wow, this is really fantastic!
"This one became quite cool actually."
Did you do this one just for yourself?
"Yes, but it is available in two copies, as she [Madonna] actually has the other one."
Oh, that's something! What did she think of it? Do you know?
"No, I haven't got a clue. My friend at Warner heard it and went; 'My God! I have to send it to her!', so he did."
Awesome. This was brilliant!
"Yeah, that one was kind of funny actually."
Yes, it was great to get to hear it. We saw the list, but what do you think? Approximately how many remixes have passed your hands?
"Nah, it's probably... Good God! I don't know..." [sigh]
You are still active and keep remixing!
Yes, but for a really long time ago I think it was around 700-800 remixes, so there must be something..."
Almost a thousand then?
"Yes, it must be. I think so."
Is there some remix you regret you didn't do? Because when I interviewed Tom Moulton he regretted that he never did ABBA's "Dancing Queen" when Atlantic asked him to. Instead he told them; "That record doesn't need me!" Have you got some track like that?
"Not that I can recall, but I've got a few which I never should have done! Hahaha!"
You've been credited as both Emil and SoundFactory as your alias'.
"Yes, that's two of them, but there are actually a whole bunch."
OK - which else have you used then?
"Hysteria, Coma, H20, Two Guys and A Rat... B something... what the hell was it... Uh... Beat Bangers, no..."
Was it something you used on any of the Remixed Records releases?
"No. No. No... I have only been using these for official stuff. Good God, I don't remember."
"YES! It's me! But what the hell. Beat something too. But I can't remember. And Lime, as it's Emil backwards. Uh... I think I might have it on some record, [walking away in the studio and starts digging through a bunch of records] because I did covers too. Where is it? Yeah here it is. [Rips out a 12 "vinyl and shows me one credited to Lime]
But have you been using different alias' for different type of songs?
"Yes! Actually. I started working a lot with Lionheart [Swedish record label] for a while and then I did a lot of remixes for them and used lots of strange names just because I simply did so many remixes for them. It became too much... and at that time everyone was supposed to all have all their Schlager songs remixed and then I thought it would be a little embarrassing to have my name on all those remixes. But it was kind of like in the beginning when I started out, then nothing was mentioned on the records. I refused to display my name. Hahaha!"
Alias' Emil used during this period (2003-2004) was for example Bountyhead, Trigger Happy, PVC One 5, Megalomaniacs, Ultraleague and 2 Guys and No Rat.
But that might be the reason as why you're not that very well know, outside of the industry?
"Well, maybe, yes."
Now, if we may call you "unknown" in the sense that common people wouldn't know who you are, but if we look at who you've remixed, then we've got a list of EVERYONE who is something in Swedish music. Like a "who's who" and all of them have you in common. If mentioning only a few of them; Agnetha Fältskog [of ABBA fame], Tomas Ledin, Roxette, Agnes, Carola, Alcazar, Army Of Lovers, DaYeene and virtually all new Melodifestival songs - more or less... And the list just goes on! You've worked with everyone!
"Hmmm... I've also worked with Pet Shop Boys and Erasure."
Yes, as I say, you have been working with everything and everyone.
"No, not at all."
Well, now you are being modest.
"But I have done a lot of Swedish acts, which has been great fun."
The list of acts just keeps adding up and besides the above you find other Swedish artists and groups like; Barbie [Alexander Bard], Secret Service, Paul Rein, Easy Action, Style, Christer Sandelin, Tommy Ekman, BWO, Trance Dance, Sha-Boom, Snowstorm, Factory, Dr. Alban, Kayo, Anders Glenmark, Izabella, Afro-Dite, Magnus Carlsson, Jill Johnson, Shirley Clamp, Sanna Nielsen, Nanne, After Dark, Sarah Dawn Finer, Garvitonas, Lili & Sussie, Lena Philpsson, Helena Paparizou,
Barbados, Linda Bentzing, Eric Saade and Ace Wilder...
He has also done work for International stars like; Kraze - "Let's Play House", Jamie Principle - "Scream", Frankie Knuckles - "Your Love", Terry Leigh - "H.A.P.P.Y.", Martha Wash - "Catch The Light", Taylor Dayne - "Facing A Miracle" and a special Culture Club remix CD single...
However, has it been intentional to keep yourself out of the spotlight?
"Yes, but then I'm not one of those who is forcing my way and use elbows to get to the front. I'm from Ljusdal and there you don't do stuff like that."
But how did it go when you got a number 1 hit with SoundFactory in the US, then?
"Well, then I had to go... I lived there for a year and a half and toured and everything... It was really fun, it was great fun to ride a limo the first two times, but then it's not such great fun any longer. And I understand why all the people in the music industry over there starts doing drugs. Because it is such a fucking pace all the time... I did a lot more gigs than any other Swedish act have done over there. Though there was none over here who knew, which was quite nice, because then when I came back home it was just kind of going back to normal again and I was so fed up with everything that I didn't do a damn thing in two years. Then I just sat at home and watched TV, it was really nice. Hahaha!"
Emil's SoundFactory project was created with vocalist James Gicho aka St. James.
Their first single, "Understand This Groove" peaked at #13 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music - Club Play charts in October 1992 and was followed by the "2 The Rhythm" and Number 1 hit "Good Time" in April 1994. The same year they also released the album Product and the single "Come Take Control".
Even if it was a hectic time, it must still have been very enjoyable nonetheless to have a number 1 in the US.
But I can imagine that there may be downsides as well, as you say.
"Yes, but you got so tired of everything. You made gigs like Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week. And it was large venues as well, not small clubs with 200 people, it was the good places. And you did newspapers, local TV, National TV and when we were in Canada, among other things, we did two of their largest Top list shows, kind of like Top of the Pops, and we played there three times I think. We did the same in Germany, and more newspapers, radio, TV and stuff... Well, what the hell, what can you say in the end..."
Yes, I understand. It was the same questions over and over.
"Sure, the exact same questions, so in the end it was just like this; 'Oh my God, this is really not fun any longer.' But I really would not like to have it undone. It was like what I dreamed of when I was little, to do an album, touring, doing television and newspapers and all that. Then when you've done it, it was just; 'Yes, that was it!' Hahaha! It was lots of tiresome work, but still a blast. But in the end all you wanted was to go home. But God, one was so tired of many of the people in the music industry in the US, the record labels they are really fucking awful. But what the hell... We had good people around us, lots of nice people who I still have contact with, so that's great fun."
Where did you live this year and a half?
"I lived in New York on 16th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenue, in which was then the Barney's house but now it's a branch of Loehmann's or something at the bottom there. [When doing research I found that Loehmann's have closed their business in the building and that Barney's actually is moving back in again.] It was an extremely nice house. Tidily and posh, and with the world's best pizzeria across the street. Hahaha!"
Well, then you can manage. Haha!
"Yes, it was these real American New York pizzas, with slices and everything."
We've talked a lot about remixes, have you got one or two that you think are your best, some you are most satisfied with?
"Ohhhh, Good God what a difficult question."
It should not be easy...
"The Taylor Dayne remix I think became very good. The dub version of it, well, the regular also, although it is more like a standard version. The dub version became a whole different thing, it has all these freaky sounds and it really became a cooler version. Ehhh... What else have I done? I forget what I've done... Damn!"
It is fortunate that you have that list there then.
"Yes, let's see." [Scrolls up and down the list on the screen]
I was thinking more if it was someone you felt stood out, but when someone has made as many remixes as you have, then I guess it's not that easy to remember everything.
"I don't know. It's so hard. Well, 'This Is the World We Live In' with Alcazar I think was very good."
Yes, it's good!
"Yes, and then I like 'Prayer For The Weekend' by The Ark. Or is 'Breaking Up With God' better? I don't know...
'When You Walk in the Room' with Agnetha was really cool because I had to create a chorus as there's no chorus in the original song.
Much of the BWO stuff was fun. 'Rhythm Drives Me Crazy' was cool. 'Sixteen Tons Of Hardware', 'Sunshine in the Rain', one version was cool, the other one we made very poppy. And we also did a very cool one that had a much more New York kind of sound.
Gravitonas 'Kites' was very good I think."
Is there some remixes you thought were good when you did them, that you feel you would like to do in a completely different way when listening to them today?
"Yes, yes. That happens all the time. But that's why I want to have at least a week to do a remix, because then you can test it in the club and then I can put it away for some days and then I'll go in and just; 'Ah! Let's change this or that as it was really bad.' So I keep on like that. But you will never ever be totally satisfied either, I think. There is always something that you hear afterwards and just; 'Seriously! Didn't I notice that this thing just disappeared in the middle of the song. What?' So, you know, you get..."
Into it too much, or?
I can understand that.
"But, I also want much to happen in a remix. Most regular club tunes they just beats along and then it's a breakdown, a buildup and then gets the beat back and then they end. And it's the same kind of instrumentation all the way. I try to have something that is special just for the intro, then comes the song, breakup and breakdown and everything like that and then towards the end I always try to add something extra which haven't existed anywhere else in the song. That might be a synth loop or some synth sounds or whatever, which often becomes the foundation of the dub.
So, if you listen to the versions after each other you'll notice it, here comes this and here comes that. To create some drama. It has to happen new things to keep it interesting."
Yes, I perfectly understand what you mean.
"Sometimes one succeed, but sometimes you absolutely don't. But that's life."
Have you ever had any remixer role models? Like someone... as soon as this person releases a remix then I'll got to have it.
"No. No. Not at all. The only thing I listen to, except when I play, which has inspired me, is stuff that has nothing to do with what I do really, but music that makes you think in a little more strange ways than you would otherwise. So for example, I love Tori Amos and have very often thought in 'Tori Amos ways' when I make mixes."
"But then, I always thought that the Latin Rascals were very cool. When the whole House music wave started I thought Todd Terry was very innovative because he didn't really know music but he had these records he sampled from and he managed to do new fun things with them all the time, even though he basically always used the same stuff.
And then when the House was good in the US, then I liked Peter Rauhofer and Offer Nissim as well. I have even met Offer Nissim and it's a little funny story around that... He's from Israel and his career began as a producer for Dana International, before winning the Eurovision with 'Diva' and all that. I think she did six records before that and it was really clubby stuff. But one of the songs is a total rip-off of one of mine. He just stole everything. So I met him when Dana International was here, it must have been at Europride in 1999 and I just kind of walked up to Offer; 'Hi, I love your work.'
He went; 'Ah, cool. What's Your Name?'
I replied; 'Emil - Sound Factory.'
He just; 'Ohh!' and his jaw dropped...
I said; 'But it's OK, you can have it.'
I thought that was great fun. But you know, he just fainted because he understood that I know what he had done. Then I said; 'I love all the records you have done.' Then he immediately knew that I had heard his rip-off. But he nearly peed his pants. It was great fun. But he has done lots of great stuff, but I don't know what he's up to these days. He has completely disappeared."
Yes, but it seems like many people come and then they disappear after a while. It's hard to stay on top.
"Yes. I haven't had enough to do all the time either. Some years there have been less to do and then other years there have been almost too much work. It has always been like it's going in waves."
We were talking records... You've got some here, but what about all your records you had when you played, have you got rid of them?
"The vinyl stuff?"
"I sold them off a long time ago, at that time when you still got something for your vinyl records."
Yes, correct because now you don't get much.
"Well, now one can get some money for them again! But, up in the attic, I have my two flight cases full of the last stuff I played on vinyl. And they've been there up since... probably '92 or '93..."
But you have some left here as well.
"Yes, but here's the stuff that I've done [shows a large section of the shelf]. Then there's that kind of stuff you collect; Madonna and a lot of old sampling records and there's some Mylene Farmer and loads of Robbie Williams 12-inches. Here's Billie Ray Martin and Electron 101 and here I've got all the Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Propaganda releases and Culture Club and stuff like that. And then some obscure things and here I have all Remixed Records releases and all the stuff I've done as well... Oh God, what have we got here, several Trance Dance and Easy Action."
So it's mostly things that you've been involved in?
"Yes, this is just stuff I've done. [points to a large section filled with records] There is one 12" I'm looking for... I don't have it and I don't think I have it in the attic either, and it is the 'Fuck That Pussy' 12-inch with this drawn label I made. Because I did the label for it too. But then when we released it, we changed the last track to another one so the labels were changed. But I really want that original 12" single."
But some day you might find it...
"Yes, exactly! One can hope."
Do you have any kind of "signature song", meaning any song that has followed you, some you could play 10-20 years ago and still think that you can play today?
"Yes, both 'Understand This Groove' and 'Good Time' you may play today."
They're both classics and the sound still works as great as back then.
"Yes. Magnus Carlsson once called me from some giant disco in Mexico shouting; 'Listen...' and it was 'Good Time' playing.
People call me all the time, as soon as they are in the USA, and tells me; 'Oh, now they play your song' or 'Now they're showing your video.' Oh, God!"
Cool, but it's nice nonetheless that the music is still alive."
Oh yes, of course.
Awesome. Really fun.
"Actually, it's great!"
But, have you still got all the SweMix releases? By the look it seems it's not all of them, huh?
"Not everything. No. Though I don't know how much I might have in the attic. I have no idea. But I've got all the ones from the first, from number 1 and onwards, I'm not sure about the red ones there in the end."
It looks like the later releases.
"Yes, right. At that time they became ugly and we had nothing to do with them anymore. Hahaha!"
Maybe it was good when you guys decided to let the Remixed Records releases go?
"Yes, it really was."
I can imagine that it became lots of work with every release in the end."
"Yes, finally everything else took over. At that time we should be a real record label and we should make real songs with real artists and you know. So then it became..."
It became business?
"Yes, and then the Remixed releases got suffering. So in the end, then we started throwing in things that we had featured a long time ago and called it 'Back By Popular Demand' and 'Greatest Hits' and so on..."
Have you got copies of all your remixes, either digitally or on record?
"Well, I think I have most of them. But then, I was cleaning up among my discs and threw away a lot and found things that I just asked myself; 'Why have I got this?' and flips it and check; 'Oops. Well! Aha!'"
Have I done this?!
"Yes, exactly. I had no idea. I just, 'What!?' I didn't recall anything. It was still a little funny though. It has actually happened sometimes that you have no memory at all of what you have done."
Yes, but on the other hand, perhaps that is fortunate too, what if you would remember everything you have done.
"Yeah, but then, you know, the reason that I reacted was that I found like a whole bunch of the same CD single. It was Dag Finn. He was the lead singer of ShaBoom, and I fully remembered I had done some stuff for ShaBoom, but why did I have a bunch of Dag Finn singles? I just throw them all away, but then I felt I should pick one up and check. And; 'Oh! OK! Oops!', guess I did this one... Hahaha!"
As you know, my site is all about Disco, but then it has developed and spread to cover even other stuff.
"But I have done Disco! Do you know that I have made some real Disco." [starts looking through the files on his computer]
No, I didn't know that. I assume you like Disco in that case, now when you tell us that you have done real Disco.
"YES! God yes! Of course! Let's see here... I'm actually very pleased with this, it's a track I actually think became very funny. [Clicks a file and the into to "Disco Inferno" starts]. I made it for an animated movie called Sunshine Barry And The Disco Worms."
Well, Awesome! What a groovy beat.
"I did this one and I also did..." ["Burn Baby Burn" thunders out the speakers and Emil is singing along a bit before he clicks on a another file and "Blame It On The Boogie" pounds out of the speakers]
This is a little fun, I've actually interviewed Mick Jackson who wrote the song, because it was not Michael Jackson and his brothers who made the original version, which most people thinks.
"That's fun, and as you say, it's not many people who knows that."
No, there are not many who are aware of that.
"There's another song that is quite brilliant. Uh... This is it... [Clicks a file on the PC and an intro starts] Listen to this! Listen to the text... [A female vocal comes on and I can see on the screen that it's Sandra Oxenryd singing. The song contains song titles or text lines from old Disco classics like; "Aaaahhh - Freak Out... Hot Stuff... Disco Inferno - Burn Baby Burn" plus all the typical Disco element like syndrums etc.] Hahaha! It's just titles or text lines."
It's really really good!
"Oh, it's just so good that you would die! It's like everything Disco in just one single song."
I never heard this before.
"This was sent to Melodifestivalen and SVT [Swedish National TV] wanted Alcazar to do it, but they didn't, but then eventually Magnus Carlsson did it, but this is how it sounded from the beginning. [jumps in the song] The "stick" [middle 8] is so good [sings along; "Welcome To Funky Town, past Boogie Wonderland, Ring My Bell... Ho - Ha"] Haha! Even that old one!"
Even "Genghis Khan" you managed to squeeze in there... This would really have been great for Alcazar, all their stuff is always very Disco.
"Oh yes! It's called 'This Is Disco', it's so good. [Emil starts searching through the files and then starts Magnus Carlsson's version of the same song] Here is a remix of it, but it's not nearly as good... This is a version by those who produced Magnus' version, but this sounded so bad..."
No, this doesn't sound as good as the Sandra Oxenryd version...
"No, and then..." [click start another Magnus Carlsson version of the song which is more in line with the demo version, but still not as good.]
I really think this version you had with Sandra was so much more enjoyable!
"Yes, yes! It's so good! That's how it should be heard!"
"It can't sound in any other way. Sadly, his version was not as good I must say."
But then I assume that you liked disco in the 70's...
"Yes, God yes! I just LOVE Disco."
"And some of the favorite songs were stuff like; 'Hit'n'Run Lover' by Carol Jiani was the fantastic and as well as 'Ring My Bell' [Anita Ward] when it was released, it sounded like nothing had ever done before."
Yes, exactly. With all these "Boooo" [Syndrum] sounds.
"Yes, but then, I remember when you heard Boney M for the first time. It was just; 'But God, what is this?!', because it sounded so different. But, it seems like all the stuff that really lasts does not sound like anything else."
Exactly. I totally agree!
But do you have any favorite Disco songs, you have mentioned a few here already but...
"Yes, there are many, but some are so over-played like 'Got To Be Real' by Cheryl Lynn - it's fantastic and 'Boogie Wonderland' by Earth, Wind & Fire is also fantastic. Oh, and 'You Gave Me Love' by Crown Heights Affair, that's a great song! But then 'I'm An Indian Too', [Don Armando's 2'nd Avenue Rhumba Band] do you know that one?
"It's totally awesome. I remember when Lotta, my friend who lived down here i Stockholm when I still lived up in Ljusdal, came home and said; 'Oh, Emil, you've got to hear this, it's the best you've ever heard!' And it was so good, just because it was so strange. It's really incredibly weird, but it's so damn cool and I eventually found out not so long ago that it's from a musical."
Well, I did not know that.
"I think it is from Oklahoma or something like that. [Apparently the song is from Annie Get Your Gun] And that's why it's so fucking weird. Because the structure and everything is just totally different.
But, God, what other songs do I love... Oh, there are so many good ones."
Yes, there are!
[Emil gets up and walks over to a large pile of CD's and begins to scroll through them...] "I like... 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' by Boys Town Gang. 'Shake Your Groove Thing' [Peaches & Herb] is good! ALL Grace Jones songs are good. 'Hot Shot' by Karen Young and 'In the Bush' [Musique] are both fantastic. 'Groove Me' by Fern Kinney, Oh, it's so good that I die. Uh, Amanda Lear was good and EVERYTHING Giorgio Moroder did was great."
Yes, everything he touched was fantastic.
"Yes! 'I'm A Model' by Valerie Claire. Haha!"
"Haha! Oh, I thought it was so good back then, but now... I also loved Sparks in the beginning, but then they became a bit too Americanized for awhile and then they did a record together with Giorgio Moroder and I think that one is a masterpiece. I think it's absolutely fantastic."
Yes, it was when they did "When I'm With You" and "Beat the Clock" and those, right?!
"Yes, 'Beat the Clock' and 'Number One Song In Heaven'. It's like with the Pet Shop Boys and Robbie Williams, the lyrics are so damn clever. They are so intelligent, so most people don't get them. They're very smart and clever lyrics. Haha!"
If you were to choose some song that sums up the Disco era for you...
"Ahhhhh ... Good God!" [Long pause]
Many would say; "I Will Survive". [Gloria Gaynor]
"Yes, but I'm not going to do that, and I'm not going to say 'YMCA' neither. Though I thought that the maxi-single of 'YMCA', [Village People] when the break starts, which include stuff that were not on any other version, that was absolutely amazing! But then, 'Hit'n'Run Lover' recurs in my head. But then... can you really call it Disco? It's a bit more mechanical."
Yes, you have entered the 80's really, though early 80's...
"Though it was late 70's... But it's very much "Synth-pop" in a way."
Hmm, maybe it came that early, sometimes one mix up the years...
"Yes, the years are often like that ... Wooow! [Clicking on the computer again. Humming to different songs] Let's see here... No, it was '81! Shit! I thought it was older."
I thought it was the early 80s.
"Yes, yes. But then it doesn't count!"
Haha! But you don't have to mention one. It was only if there was some you spontaneously thought of...
"But then... I can't say 'Boogie Wonderland' either because I want to say something that is a bit obscure."
Hahaha! But it's a damn good song "Boogie Wonderland".
"Yes, but over-played and a bit boring."
Well, sure, some songs are over-played but on the other hand...
"'Disco Duck'! Hahahaha!" [Both laughing our asses off]
"Yes exactly. Oh my God! And 'In Zaire' with Johnny Wakelin was good and 'Rock The Boat'... [Hues Corporation]
No! 'I Need A Man' by Grace Jones. Or 'Suffer' by Grace Jones or something like that. Yes, because I have a friend who is one of these Disco Maniacs, he has EVERYTHING! And every week he buy even more and he goes to all weird show and everything like that ... He even saw Moroder recently. Anyhow, I realized that the first three Grace Jones Disco era records were mixed together for about 70% and then you had to turn to the B side and there were some tracks which were not mixed together. Now I have remastered them and mixed everything together and made new covers and everything. Though I'm not all done with that yet as it was one song that I could not get hold of until he managed to obtain it from some colleague in San Francisco who had collected everything and who had some obscure copy. So now I will complete it..."
The Grace Jones 'Disco' box was released in early May 2015 and includes the original albums; Portfolio, Fame and Muse, but with loads of extra materials, B-sides, edits and other alternate versions.
Emil continues; "But again, there are so many good songs. Damn! But then, Grace Jones' 'I Need A Man' is really Studio 54 in a nutshell. There are drugs, porn, sex and everything."
Yes, EVERYTHING! That's a good choice...
"Yes, but then, she was so cool. Or is still cool! She is actually doing a new album now."
Oh, I hadn't heard that!
"And the last one was fucking great. So, Oh! Can't wait..."
I later received a text message from Emil saying; Hello. Thanks for last. It was great meeting you. Came up with a favorite Disco song after all; "Vertigo / Relight My Fire" [Dan Hartman] :-) Plus "I Need A Man" of course. :-). Have a good one. Emil
He immediately got a reply back where I told him that "Vertigo / Relight My Fire" is one of my all-time favorites as well, it's a tune I always play when I DJ.
But what kind of music do you prefer yourself? You mentioned Tori Amos and ballads earlier.
"Yes, I am very much for singer / songwriter stuff. It's what I listen to, if I listen to music myself. Or David Bowie, Japan, Queen, Marilyn Manson... Everything besides..."
Anything that is not what you are working with?!
"Yes exactly. Everything that doesn't thud... Hahaha!"
Marilyn Mason beats on quite well I would say, but maybe not in the same way!
"No right, he's really cool. Though it was a pity that the Americans did not understand what he did there for a while. Then he went back to his old style. For a while he was a bit more like Bowie and with a little more synths and a little glamorous in some way. It was when he looked like one of those alien bodies with strange breasts and such. And the Americans only; 'Oh, it's a girl!' and you know, then he became the excommunicated. He was very controversial before, but he went back to the more dark, harder rock music again. Unfortunately! But whatever, he's a little cool anyway.
But otherwise, then it's much I like. I like the Marianas Trench. They are four 20+ years old guys from Vancouver, who make music you never thought people would make at that age, nor you would ever hear after Freddie Mercury died. [Starts the song "Masterpiece Theatre" on the computer which begins in a "Bohemian Rhapsody" style with an accapella choir] They are so talented that you would die." [Starts singing along]
Yes it really is Queen-like.
"Yes, yes, and then all of a sudden... [a quieter vocal part gets going before the piece gets rockier again, and Emil jumps to the end where it is once again a fantastic vocal part a la "Bohemian Rhapsody"] and it is so beautiful that you would just die!"
So that's the kind of music you like...
"Yes, but then, everything that has something to say in any way."
Much lyrics and feelings in other words, songs that say something with feelings too?
CLICK to hear some SoundFactory songs;
2 the Rhythm
Come Take Control (Holy Percentage Mix)
Come Take Control (Smooth Airwave Mix)
Come Take Control (Total Airwave Mix)
Get On The Floor
Take Me 2 the Top
Take Me Back
Understand This Groove
Take Me Higher
CLICK to hear some Emil Hellman remixed songs;
* Not the Emil remix played here
I'm Gay (Stockholm Pride 2007)
6 AM feat. Cissi Ramsby
Never Let It Go*
Turn It Up
Let's Go Party
When You Walk In The Room
This Is The World We Live In
Sing For Me
We Can Work It Out
Breaking Up With God*
Prayer For The Weekend
Give My Life*
Army Of Lovers
Ride the Bullet*
Army Of Lovers
Rockin' the Ride
Army Of Lovers
Army Of Lovers
Destiny of Love
Give Me The Night
Lay Your Love On Me
Rhythm Drives Me Crazy (SoundFactory New York Anthem Remix)
Rhythm Drives Me Crazy (SoundFactory Munich Machine Remix)
Rhythm Drives Me Crazy (SoundFactory Stockholm Syndrome Mix)
Right Here Right Now
Save MY Pride
Sixteen Tons Of Hardware
Sunshine In The Rain (SoundFactory Glamourama Anthem)
Sunshine In The Rain (SoundFactory New York Anthem Remix)
Temple Of Love
We Could Be Heroes
You're Not Alone
I Believe In Love*
Finger & Thumbs
Popular (SoundFactory Mix)
Popular (SoundFactory Dub Mix)
Will You Love Me Forever
Take It As A Game*
Gravitonas & Roma Kenga
People Are Lonely
Gravitonas feat. Army Of Lovers
Save Me (This Is An SOS)
I Write You A Love Song*
Change of Attitude
Let's Play House*
We Are the Drums
Du Följer Väl Med? (SoundFactory Pride Mix, Stockholm Pride 2012)
Du Följer Väl Med? (SoundFactory Club Mix)
Idiot (SoundFactory Paradise Anthem)
Idiot (SoundFactory Dark Club Mix)
Les Rita Mitsouko
This Is Disco*
Take It Off
Catch the Light
Stop (Give It Up)*
Pet Shop Boys
the Look [SweMix remix]
I'm In Love
Sarah Dawn Finer
Let Us Dance Just A Little Bit More
Run For Your Life
Blame It On the Boogie
Sunshine Barry & the Disco Worms
Sunshine Barry & the Disco Worms
Facing A Miracle
I Only Want To Be With You*
You're Gonna Get It*
CLICK to hear some Emil Hellman favorites or interview related songs;
Ring My Bell
Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Boys Town Gang
Hit 'n Run Lover
Got To Be Real
You Gave Me Love
Crown Heights Affair
Vertigo / Relight My Fire
I'm An Indian Too
Don Armando's 2'nd Avenue Rhumba Band
I Feel Love
Earth, Wind & Fire
Ögon Som Glittrar
From Here To Eternity
I Need A Man
Rock the Boat
Blame It On the Boogie
Masterpiece Theatre I
Blame It On the Boogie
In the Bush
Shake Your Groove Thing
Peaches & Herb
Beat the Clock
Number One Song In Heave
When I'm With You
A Sorta Fairytale
I'm A Model
Click to buy from
Send In The Clowns
What I Did For Love
La Vie En Rose
That's The Trouble
I Need A Man
Sorry (Long Version)
That's The Trouble (Long Version)
I Need A Man (Long Version)
I Need a Man (Instrumental Version)
Sorry (Instrumental Version)
That's the Trouble (Instrumental Version)
La Vie En Rose (Instrumental Version)
Do Or Die
All On A Summer's Night
Am I Ever Gonna Fall In Love In New York City
Below The Belt
Do Or Die (12" Disco Version)
Comme Un Oiseau Qui S'Envole (Long Version)
Anema E Core (Long Version)
Do Or Die (Instrumental Version)
Comme Un Oiseau Qui S'Envole (Instrumental Version)
Am I Ever Gonna Fall In Love In New York City (Instrumental Version)
Anema E Core (Instrumental Version)
Repentance (Forgive Me)
Atlantic City Gambler
I'll Find My Way To You
Don't Mess With The Messer
On Your Knees
Don't Mess With The Messer (Long Version)
La Vie En Rose (Short Version)
Do Or Die (Short Version)
Comme Un Oiseau Qui S'Envole (Short Version)
Am I Ever Gonna Fall In Love In New York City (Short Version)
On Your Knees (Edit)
Don't Mess With The Messer (Edit)
Click to buy from
Give My Life
Venus & Mars
My Army Of Lovers
Ride The Bullet
Everytime You Lie
La Plage De Saint Tropez
Lit De Parade
Life Is Fantastic
What are you working on right now? Is it Melodifestivalen songs already?
"No, God no. Now it's back to basics, you see, this is... [Starts playing a song in Logic Pro with loads of different audio tracks] Now it's ACID... This is the new Ace Wilder single - 'Riot'."
You're making the remix of it?
When you get a request to do a remix of a song, what happens? What do they send over? Do they send you all the audio tracks, or...
"First, they send over this... [A fairly "thin" tune, compared to the remix Emil just played, comes out of the speakers] This is how the original sounds."
Do you have free hands then to do what you want?
"Oh yes! And then... [Starts his remix again] The guy who's working with her said; 'Don't you think you could make an ACID remix of it?' And I just; 'Eh??? Send me the song so I can hear it.' And it was possible, no one has made an ACID remix in a thousand years. So this is just it..." [Raises his hands to the beat of the music]
How long do you have complete this kind of remix then?
"About a week."
And how long time do you usually need? Because I mean, if you have a week, do you use the full week then?
"Yes, I'm a bit lazy. I don't want to work too many hours a day. I usually go down here around 12 and work to around 18."
As a job as well? You have your "set" times.
"Yes, but you have to get a feeling, otherwise it is impossible."
I understand that, since this is a creative work, then one have to get a feeling you can follow.
"Oh yes! Absolutely."
Do you have any special sounds or anything like that you always like to throw into a remix or anything like that?
Or are some of this stuff, the sounds you have used, something that you recycle?
"Some kick-drums may well be reused at times, but it depends on whether you think they sound good on the dance floor or not."
Have you tried this on the dance floor yet?
"No, I have not actually. I'll surely try to do that this weekend."
So you'll never deliver stuff until after the weekend? Haha...
"No, I rather not! But sometimes I have actually been forced to do it, but mostly I want to try them before. But sometimes there's not time and sometimes I don't play, so if I have a free weekend then I can't test it. OK, of course I can run to the club anyway and test it right when they open, but what the hell, I'm a bit too lazy for that. Hahahaha!"
Yeah, but do you have any other memories from your DJ or remixing career, something special that has happened or that you want to share?
"No, but - God that's hard... Some gigs in the US when we did SoundFactory, they were rocking because it was so much people showing up. Among other things, it was in Boston... I think... there Crystal Waters opened for us. That was kind of funny. I think it was at least 35,000 people at one of these outdoor festivals."
Yes, that must be a good memory.
"Yes, but I've done a lot of fun stuff over the years. It's so hard to say. It's really difficult."
Some artists you've met or helped to break? If I remember correctly, Kayo was your "find"?
"Yes, we found Kayo, but among the most fun I've helped break was Agnes. Because it was right when she had recorded 'Release Me', I was at the record company and they played it for me; 'But God, it's damn good! Will you be doing any mixes?'
'Not really, what do we need that for?'
'But you need to have mixes, my God, this will surely get attention abroad!'
'Do you think?'
'YES! I really do!'
'Yes, but can you make some mixes then?'
'Yes, sure I can do that!'
So I got the material and started working with and then he calls in the middle of everything and just; 'Uh, we sent the song to France and they're really really ecstatic about it, but they asked for mixes.'
'Yes, exactly. Exactly! They do that abroad!'
'When are they ready?'
'You'll get them next week!'
And then they got the mixes and it went up the charts and became number one on the French Dance chart and that woke the Englishmen and then the Americans and it became a big hit."
Yes. Great memory!
"YES, so I actually feel I've got a little part in it's success somehow."
That's really something. Is there any other artists you have worked with that you have some special memories of, or have you got some favorites who you like working with?
"Both BWO and Gravitonas are great to work with, because I've worked with Alexander [Bard] for like a thousand years, since single number one."
When he released stuff as Barbie!?
"Yes and the entire Army of Lovers period and then we ended up in disgrace with each other for a while."
"Yes! Then he got megalomania, you see. I didn't like that. But then we got back on track again! So I was on in the beginning of Army. I co-wrote, produced and mixed the first album. And then some songs on the second record, after that nothing with them until the last album. But it was probably a good thing really. And then there was Alcazar... I never did anything with Vacuum, but I actually loved Vacuum."
Yes, it was a bit different from the others.
"Yes, as was BWO in the beginning, before Alexander decided that they should be more Pop, but from the beginning BWO was not Pop at all. BWO was pretty weird at first. Same thing with Gravitonas too. Gravitonas was more like Vacuum... dark! Because I like dark things and think that glamour sometime can be a bit boring. But lately Gravitonas has also become a bit more into the Pop side of things and in the midst of everything he began working with Anders Bagge. So now it's no fun at all, but then one can always try to make it fun instead! Then I'll have to reshape it the way I want it with my remixes. Hahaha! And that's the nice part, it's much more fun to remix than to sit and record vocals and all that kind of things. It's much nicer to be able to say; 'Here's the finished song, all remixed and ready!' And be able to add, keep and remove anything you want."
Yes, because then you get to create yourself.
"Yes, exactly. Because then you can do it after your own head."
Yes, it must be really fun.
"Yes, it is."
It must be great to be able to make a living out of ones interest.
"Yes, yes, exactly. It truly is."
"Oh it just struck me... Charanga 'Music Trance'. Do you know that one?"
I can't recall it on top of my head.
"It's great! Wait, let's see... I have just ripped it to the computer. [Looking amongst the vinyl records and pulls one out and comes back with a 12" single on TR Records which he shows me.]
Ah, yes Charanga 76...
"It was really great." [Puts it on the record player and plays it]
They also made some great covers of "Good Times" [Chic] and "We Are Family" [Sister Sledge] with some Spanish lyrics and so on.
"Oh!? But this was kind of the first times one got hold of some stuff with Spanish in the midst of everything too. All these kinds of strange languages has always appealed to me and I always thought that was a blast."
I know you like a little different stuff and I remember on the first SweMix release, there you had done a remix of a Tourists song...
"I Only Wanna Be With You".
"Yes, I loved the Tourists."
Because I also liked it a lot at the time and as it was quite different from most of the other tracks on that release, that's why it was even more fun to hear it on that record.
"Cool, I'm happy to hear.
Oh, Listen to this... [Starts a new song on his computer - Amanda Lear's "Fashion Pack"]
Is this the one you did for Lindarw?
How do you keep track of all the cuts? Because you have so damn many cuts there... [On the screen I see the full song more or less cut up beat by beat]
"You put the song in the window and then you start cutting and sync up everything in tracks. Here's just the bass [breaks down the song and plays only individual tracks]
"Yes, this is fun."
But how does it feel doing a thing like this to Lindarw and then knowing it might not be heard again?
"When I did it, he only needed a 2 minutes version, so I created it. But since then I have realized that I now will do a full version so I can play it in clubs. Then some people will come to hear it sometimes!"
That's great, I mean, so you don't put down all this work to know it's played for 2 minutes and then never heard again.
"No, but then sometimes you're hired to do that kind of stuff too, but what the hell, you still have them somewhere on disk."
Yes, and you can dust them off at some time.
Is there anything else that you think we haven't covered that you would like bring up?
"No, I think we have well covered most of everything!"
Yes, I think we have poked at a bit of everything. Hahaha! If you come up with anything at all, just let me know!
Thanks for your time. It has been great meeting you!
"Thanks, it's been a pleasure. Let's meet up again when the piece is done and go out celebrate it."
Yes, that would be great!
Since our interview, Emil and the crew behind the nightclub Candy, received the Nightclub of the Year award at the Swedish QX Galan 2015, held at Circus in mid Febrary 2015.
During the awards Alcazar performed (among many others) and most ovations was heard when former ABBA member, Anni-Frid 'Frida' Lyngstad entered the stage to present the 'Gay/Bi/Trans of the year' award.
Emil Hellman is the guy who more than well
"Understand This Groove"
and can turn any mediocre track into a floorfiller,
even if he personally doesn't prefer Dance music.
He's been remixing and DJ'ing for close to 40 years
and is still going strong!
He keeps giving us a