Monday, July 16, 2012

Andreas Ohrn - A Pop, Rinse, Repeat Exclusive Interview

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Andreas Öhrn, the charismatic lead singer of the amazing Swedish group, Gravitonas and we had a brilliant conversation.  He is man of many words and all of them impeccably chosen.

PRR: I hope all is going well.  First off I want to thank you for taking time out of your schedule for this interview.   I have been a fan since I first heard “Kites” and have eagerly waited for each new release.  I think that you and Alexander are one of the most dynamic duos in music today.  You always are incredibly creative and cause your fans to actually think and hear your music.  I love being pushed to new levels by artists and thank you for that.  Is that something you set out to do initially or is it just a byproduct of the immense music you create?

AÖ: We always wanna push it to new levels both musically and visually. Me and Alexander had pretty much the same ideas when we started Gravitonas. Predictability is boring. When people watch our videos and listen to our songs they realize that we never repeat ourselves and that we always experiment with different looks, styles and sounds. You'll always recognize it's Gravitonas but you'll never get bored.

PRR: Many of my readers may not know about Gravitonas. If you had only one sentence to explain who Gravitonas was, what would it be?

AÖ: A dramatic, dangerous and danceable mixture of guitars, beats and electronica.

PRR: Your music has such depth of character and range, is it your overall intention to craft music that is not only thought provoking but emotionally challenging as well?

AÖ: We are indeed suckers for drama and I think the whole thing about songwriting is to touch and move the listener in some way. It's the coolest thing when you can communicate a feeling through a song and let someone into your brain for a while. Even cooler when you manage to intensify that feeling with your video, pictures and so on. A song that that leaves you completely untouched is just waste of time.

PRR: You both have an amazing visual presence.  You've cited The KLF (among others) as an influence in your style.  Do you think that it's important to also challenge people through visual means as well?

AÖ:Hell yes. It's important to connect the music with the visual presence. Otherwise it would be like drinking an alcohol free drink or smoking a joint underwater. And that sucks.

PRR: What drives you to create the art that you do.  The songs seem to have a tremendous amount of emotion channeled into them.  I would think that creation of this level would be exhausting.  Do you ever finish a song and just need to take a nap? (Lol)

AÖ: When I was a kid my mom took me to a Motley Crue concert and from that day I knew what I wanted to do. I love this job. I don't need a shrink. I just jump on a stage or go to one of our studios here in Stockholm and spew it all out. All the members of Gravitonas are producers and songwriters so if it's not a Gravitonas track it's a track for another artist or maybe a movie or a computer game. Pure fun. Exhausting sometimes, yes. But if you think of it, all funny things leaves you exhausted.

PRR: With Alexander having such a rich past with Army Of Lovers, Vacuum, Alcazar, and BWO I would imagine his experience to be invaluable.  How is it to work with someone who has been in the industry for so long?

AÖ: We come from different backgrounds. I was in a Punk band with 8 members and Alexander was the king of gay disco. Haha. But it didn't take long until we discovered that we had the same ideas about many things, especially melodies and music. Two hours after our first meeting we were in the studio recording our first song. I have learned incredibly much from Alexander and I hope he has learned one or two things from me as well.

PRR: You guys have amazing chemistry together.  It seems like you've been making music for longer than 2 years.  What do you credit for your success so far?

To be honest I was a bit skeptic before our first meeting and the record company had some trouble to convince me before I decided to go (being a snot nosed punk rocker and all). But when we started to talk I changed my mind right away and in the studio everything just clicked. I don't know what the secret formula is. Put a punk rocker and a disco man in the same room and magic happens?

PRR: From my perspective, Sweden has an amazing music scene and does pop music better than most artists in the US.  But at the same time, I have heard that it can be very difficult to get into the mainstream scene in Sweden.  Do you feel that it is a difficult market to crack? What were your experiences like?

AÖ: There's a lot of great music coming from Sweden but the mainstream radio in Sweden is pretty damn boring. They play the same 10 songs over and over again for a year and when they wanna be a little bit wild and crazy they throw in Nickleback's latest single. But I think that's about to change now when streaming services like Spotify is growing bigger. People share their own playlists and don't have to listen to the radio stations same old playlist over and over again. Then the radio stations loose listeners and hopefully realize they have to do something about it.

PRR: What would you like to leave as your musical legacy?

AÖ: The national anthem for planet Mars.

PRR: If you could collaborate with any other Swedish artist right now, who would it be?

AÖ: Right now we're focusing on collaborations with Swedish song writers, dj's and producers so the artist collaborations will have to wait.

PRR: What about internationally?

AÖ: There's this guru guy in India who can whistle with his eyes. I happen to have that very same skill so a collaboration with him would be nice. An eye whistle duet.

PRR: Who are you listening to right now?  If you pressed shuffle on your media library what would be the next song to come up?

AÖ: Probably something Japanese or Korean. Me and Ben Smith (Gravitonas guitarist) are writing a lot of music for K-pop and J-pop artists right now.

PRR: You have a tremendous fan base in Eastern Europe.  How important is building a fanbase in the US? Would you ever do a US tour?

AÖ: I'd love to do a US tour and hopefully we will soon. They're launching the US club campaign for our latest single "Call Your Name" any day now!

PRR: I am a huge fan of music from around the world.  The internet has made it where I can expand my interests much further than ever before.  Do you think about being a member of a global music community and does that influence you at all?

AÖ: I'd say we already are since we write songs with people from all over the world and also do collaborations with different artists and DJ's around the globe. Our latest collaboration was made entirely on Skype!

PRR: Because you are so connected with your fans, have you run into any situations where fans had difficult respecting boundaries between your personal life and Gravitonas?

AÖ: No not really. We chose to play this game. We love our fans and our boundaries are very stretchable.

PRR: In an interview with Pro Motion, Alexander said that you are very interactive with your fans and very keen on interactivity over the internet.  How has being so close with the fans affected your process for making music?

AÖ: It's cool in every way! Our first 1000 Facebook fans were from 40 different countries. There are a lot of great things about being close to your fans. One thing is that it definitely gives you a fast feedback on your work. Just a couple minutes after a release you get your first reviews. And they're brutally honest too!

PRR: Gravitonas is one of the growing number of bands that have made their material for people in the United States available for purchase.  It can sometimes be very frustrating to support artists that have not embraced this.  Was it a simple decision to do this or is it more difficult than it appears?

AÖ: We decided from the start that every release should be available for everyone at the same time. It's not a complicated thing to do and I think it's fair to the fans.

PRR: Has music piracy touched you?  I read an article with a British artist who didn't necessarily justify piracy but he did understand how it could be beneficial to expand his fan base.  How do you feel about this type of sentiment?

AÖ: Music piracy is dying now when the streaming services are growing. There's no use in downloading stuff and fill up your hard drive when you can have it streamed into your phone for a fair amount of money. And think about it, if don't pay for your music you'll probably have to pay a whole lot more to see the live show or it won't even be a live show at all, maybe not even a video or even an artist. Just a bunch of crappy low budget homemade YouTube videos. And that's just fun for 10 minutes.

PRR: Are you guys working on a new EP?  I read where you were fans of the EP format much more than just releasing an album a year.  Do you think the move from physical media (CDs, LPs, cassettes) to digital downloads has encouraged artists to make similar moves?

AÖ: We love the EP format, it's like a mini album and you can release like 4 EP's a year which is a lot more fun than the traditional album release once a year. People don't buy albums anymore anyway. They pick out the songs they like and make their own playlist. We have tons of new stuff coming up and probably a new EP. I can't tell you any details yet but if you join our Facebook group and tune into you'll get the news first.

PRR: You've been amazing, Andreas.  Thank you for your time, it's been incredible.  I can't wait to see what's next for Gravitonas and can't wait to attend a show in the US.


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