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Hedonistic Bliss

Alcazar Interview

I am really confused.  Just one week ago, I had no reservations in scoffing at any sound resembling the Mainstream din, and the fact is that I am rather chauvinistic when it comes to my opposition to the propagated Trends of those foul waters.  Then I was asked to interview Alcazar, the Swedish sensation that has swept Europe with their mixture of Pop and Disco.  Easy enough, I figured; if anything, it will give me insight into the Enemy, as well as a bit of practice for another interview/attack I have in mind with a band who I'll not name at this moment, for obvious reasons.


I was terribly mistaken, and this whole assignment has completely backfired on me.  In speaking with Alcazar, every argument I had for despising what they represent was shot down, and now the stereotype I held so firmly to has proven to be nothing more than naive…at best.

“This is a very ominous assignment- with undertones of extreme personal danger.”

(Hunter S. Thompson)

Alcazar is a threesome, consisting of two incredibly sexy women, Annikafiore Johansson and Tess Merkel, and fronted by the flamboyant Andreas Lundstedt.   As it were, I spoke with them the night following their first performance in the U.S.- the ninth annual Billboard Dance Music Summit.  They were the final act, and according to all accounts, they were the best.  Four years ago, all they had to show was one single, called “Crying At The Discotheque.”


“We actually recorded the first version of that song in '98,” Tess says.  “We just waited, didn't quit our day jobs.”


“Yeah, we ate a lot of noodles for a while,” laughs Annikafiore.  “It's actually a pretty good diet, if you want to stay thin.”


While they were surviving off of pasta, their song found its way into Napster, where it was picked up by a DJ in Cyprus, who started playing it at his club.  “Then his DJ friends from Italy and Greece came over and heard it,” Andreas relays, “and they loved it.  They started playing it at their clubs, then tourists would hear it, and go home and want to hear Alcazar.”  Ironically, this Fever seemed to make it back to their homeland last, and when BMG Sweden finally signed the group in 1999, they were already a hit in almost every club in Europe.


Geographical boundaries don't apply to the Internet, and consequently the Mediterranean Sea wasn't the only water that the sound of Alcazar sailed across.  American clubs began playing “Crying At The Discotheque,” and each time the group recorded another track, DJ's would find it and share with their colleagues.  “Yeah,” Andreas admits, “the record company was a little pissed, but it was great.”  Apparently, Alcazar wasn't aware of their songs being spread around, and in fact were quite surprised to find an impressive number of fans at the Billboard show.


All that said, I still went into this thing with my prejudices in full gear.  I assumed they'd be arrogant Trend freaks, too good to play at a bar mitzvah.  “We'd love to play at a bar mitzvah!  That would be really cool!” Annikafiore says.


OK…well, so they're not pompous, but nonetheless these guys don't write their own songs.  “We have the greatest songwriter and lyric writer, Alexander Bard.  He writes very intelligent lyrics, perfect for Alcazar,” praises Tess.


“Our lyrics are really good,” Andreas continues.  “They're smart lyrics, and they're fun.  There's even some tragic lyrics as well.  We try to stay away from the really deep shit.  I don't think people want to analyze when it comes to disco music.”


The fact is that it's nothing new for musicians to be praised for music they didn't write.  The Grateful Dead didn't write most of their lyrics, and the same goes for Elton John, albeit to a smaller degree.  On that note, Alcazar's lyrics are quite impressive, often painting scenes of irony amid the landscape of everyday Life.


Even so, they don't play any instruments, so how can they call themselves musicians?!  Actually, they don't.  What they offer is a performance, an energetic party to which everyone is invited.  Of course, I had to find out the hard way:

Do you consider yourselves Musicians or Performers?

Annikafiore: Well, we don't play any instruments, so we're not musicians in that sense.  We love to be on stage.  I would say performers.

Tess: Performers, absolutely, no doubt.

Andreas: Performers.  We know how to do a fun show (hopefully).  We're very energetic and visual.  We're like a play, a big musical act, like a cabaret thing.

I felt like someone whacked me across the face, breast, chest, neck, and head with a 2x4.  Think of the film Moulin Rouge, a musical story that is based on using popular songs in a different setting.  I recently went to see Miss Saigon, a PLAY, and it was nothing short of incredible.  The only real difference with that and Alcazar is personal preference.


Although their Thing may be what the Mainstream keeps flooding us with, “we're not a product,” states Andreas.  “We arrange everything ourselves.”


“We didn't audition for this group,” says Tess.  “This is our very own concept.  We're very involved with everything- songs, production, clothes.”


Annikafiore adds “We weren't in search so much for the Fame, we just want to have a fun time.  We like when people laugh with us…or if they laugh at us, that's ok too.”


Slap me in the face and call me what you may.  I've proven myself a jackass once again.  Now, I'm going to go listen to Mr. Bungle and Rob Zombie until my ears bleed.

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