So I have already posted about my obsession with Swedish Techno. And Basshunter has come up in other posts. But here is a more in depth look at the dance music coming out of the EDM hotbed of Sweden.
Sweden has historically dominated the Scandinavian music scene so perhaps its not surprising I assumed most of my music was in Swedish. Once I started teaching myself Swedish I learned otherwise… Scandinavia, including Sweden, is often considered the bubblegum dance capital of the world. An example of this type of music is the hit “Butterfly” featured in the videogame Dance Dance Revolution (16).
SMiLE.dk – “Butterfly”
Sweden is also one of top producers of bitpop and chiptune music (chiptunes are music for old game consoles like Game Boy or Amiga). This link between computers and EDM music in Sweden is a recurrent theme. For example Basshunter first became popular in computer centric culture in the mid 2000s, with his music then becoming popular internationally in 2005 and putting Swedish EDM in the international arena (16).
Here are two examples from my personal collection which exemplify the blend between bitpop/chiptunes and more conventional eurorave and EDM music.
Today, some of the biggest EDM producers hail from Sweden. Names like Avicii (Tim Berg), Hon Dahlback, Eric Prydz, Dada Life, Adrian Lux, Basshunter, Otto Knows, Alesso, Cazette, Icona Pop, Steerner, Tjernberg and Swedish House Mafia are know around the globe (16). While some people, myself included might refer to this collectively as Swedish Techno, no surprise given record shops will often have Swedish Techno sections consisting of a wide range of genres, (14) a specific Swedish subgenre of techno actually exists. It was made popular by artists like Henrik B and Adam Beyer’s (a techno scene pioneer in Sweden) (15) label Drumcode (16).
Adam Beyer – “Be Quiet”
Many consider Cari Lekebusch, Adam Beyer and Joel Mull to be representative of the Swedish subgenre. Their music was characterized by loops and compressed beats and percussive elements unlike German or US techno which emphasized staccato synths and raw bass lines (14). A good example of this “compressed” sound is Cari Lekebusch’s “De Sju Skenande Kompressorerna” which became known as the “Stolckholm Sound” (14), later known as “Swedish Techno Sound” (14).
Cari Lekebusch – “De Sju Skenande Kompressorerna
Noteably, women were missing from this scene – in part because of “gendered informal structures and hierarchies” (14). Moreover, for Swedish Techno as a whole, while it was successful internationally and commercially, it had a hard time in Stolckholm and Sweden as a scene because it was heavily policed by the authorities which “deemed it unacceptable” (14). This makes sense therefore that much of the music I have in my collection is from (presumably amateur) producers who shared their music with audiences via Youtube.
Today however, there is a thriving underground techno scene in Sweden featuring women performers. Some have compared this scene to the Chicago House scene 30 years ago where the music brought people together in a free space that promoted a sense of community regardless or gender, sexual orientation or race: “reminding everyone that we are all human and connected” (15).
Basshunter, real name Jonas Erik Altberg, is a singer-songwriter, producer and DJ who first began producing under the name Basshunter in 2001 using Fruity Loops Studio software. In 2006 he was signed with Extensive Music and released the hit single “Boten Anna” in 2006 which was released and re-recorded as the english language “Now You’re Gone” to appeal to global (American and English-speaking) audiences. The lyrics were entirely rewritten so that they were no longer about a female robot – typical of the nerdy computer themed Swedish lyrics of Basshunter’s music.
Additionally, his entire first studio album, LOL <(^^,)> which was released in 2006 through Warner Music, was released as a special international Christmas edition in December of 2006. It featured the same Swedish songs (but translated the names to English), switched up the track order, and included a bonus Christmas song “Jingle Bells” to appeal to the new audience. This is representative of how “global sounds” music is often changed in order to appeal to a mass western audience. Notably, the track titled “Sverige” (Sweden) was left off of the international edition (35).
As eluded to above, Basshunter is a self proclaimed computer nerd who got into EDM music production because of his interest in gaming. DotA, the hit song that was so influential in my discovery of EDM music, is a song about playing the videogame Warcraft III. The songs full title is “Vi Sitter I Ventrilo Och Spela DotA” (“We’re seitting in Ventrilo playing DotA” but has been shortened to DotA in many countries. Similar to World Music 2.0 and DotA is actually the legacy of an earlier French track titled “Daddy DJ” performed by the eponymous DJ (35). DotA is a remix of “Daddy DJ” which incorporates samples from the World of Warcaft III game and includes lyrics about using the chat program Ventrilo while playing the game (35). This is a good example of how EDM is ingrained in remixes and sampling, especially in the context of my own (albeit non-EDM) interpretation of the song on guitar.
Daddy DJ Version
Further, following the trend of making the original “global music” version of Basshunter’s “DotA” (global in this case, in that it’s in Swedish language) more accessible to an American and english-speaking audience, the track was released with newly written lyrics (just like “Now You’re Gone”) and released as “All I Ever Wanted.” All I Ever Wanted and Now You’re Gone were both featured on Basshunter’s 2007 album “Now You’re Gone – The Album” which went platinum in the UK and hit number 1 on the album charts. The album was an english remake of the earlier LOL <(^^,)> album.