I wish I’d never watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I’m stood in the same underpass where Lisbeth Salander hurried home, and might actually be the most sinister place in Stockholm. It also happens to be where the entrance to Kolingsborg club is located, and I’m here as dusk settles in. Strangely enough, it seems a lot less threatening at night, when more people are around.
I’m lurking about waiting to be let in well before the punters arrive for the annual post-Melodifestivalen party at Paradise, because Jenny Silver is about to do her soundcheck. I’ve been playing a game of cat-and-mouse with Jenny for some time, and I remind her of this when she settles down on the sofa in the back room.
“Yes, I know you!” she says, with a smile.
I can’t deny that I’m thrilled.
Jenny has had the most varied of careers in music. From dansband queen to rock chick, then popping off into musicals and flirting with funk. And all that was before the silver-clad (of course) electro diva arrived to confound expectations in last year’s Melodifestivalen.
Now she’s back, reinvented yet again as the darling of schlager after her performance of Something In Your Eyes. A firm favourite of the Eurovision crowd, the song went to andra chansen, where it had the unfortunate fate of being up against Love Generation’s Dance Alone. Then there was that voting fiasco, from which the dust is only just settling as we meet…
“Obviously, I would have preferred to be in the final,” she sighs, as I start off by asking her about the week before. “It’s okay, though. When it comes to music, it’s very hard to tell what’s going to happen with anything. This isn’t sports, or any form of exact science. You can never tell who the winner is going to be.
“Everything fell apart for a while with the voting,” Jenny continues. “There was so much confusion – everyone felt that. But, you know, things like that can happen. Melodifestivalen is a live show. Perhaps this is an indication that the voting system should be looked at, though…”
If Jenny sounds disappointed, however, it isn’t apparent from her demeanour. As she relaxes with a glass of water, she’s suddenly more animated when I discuss how popular Something In Your Eyes has been outside Sweden.
“I noticed!” she laughs. “It’s done really well. It would have been more fun to take the song to the final with all the international juries, wouldn’t it?”
You can’t deny Jenny has a point.
“But it’s a big enough reward to read all the comments on my Facebook page,” she adds. “I really love that.”
Jenny also loves her changes of image. No other artist has managed to pull off such different styles within the space of 12 months like Jenny has. Does this mean that in the future we shouldn’t expect to hear anything like A Place To Stay, with its…
“…Minimalistic electro,” says Jenny, finding the words for me. “I really loved that song – it was so different, wasn’t it?”
It certainly was. But while it was one of the highlights of 2010, it was most definitely not a Melodifestivalen song.
“No,” agrees Jenny. “Perhaps the show was a bit too… special. Maybe we went over peoples’ heads. Maybe we went over our own heads! It is a competition, after all. You have three minutes to present the song, so sometimes it’s easy to complicate things from a visual perspective.”
You certainly couldn’t say the same for Something In Your Eyes. What you see is what you get!
“It’s schlager all the way!” Jenny laughs. “I heard the song around September last year. I’m not sure if it had been sent to Melodifestivalen for consideration, but I loved it immediately. It was a bit of a surprise to be performing that song, but that’s what I love about music overall. If there’s something there you can connect to, then it’s great. For me, it doesn’t matter what style the music is. There’s a core in all types of music, and if that speaks to me, then I’m willing to give it a go.”
That is definitely Jenny’s guiding principle. Has she been listening to ABBA, as a lot of people suspect?
“This is a new direction,” she says. “Is it disco? Is it ABBA? I’m not sure. Something In Your Eyes is updated ABBA techno! And there are definitely references to ABBA there, in the harmonies especially. I love pop music. I grew up with pop in the eighties, and I absolutely love doing dance music. So this is what I’m looking for.”
So, an album full of ABBA techno. I like the sound of that…
“Actually, I’m concentrating on just releasing singles for now,” replies Jenny. “Just like they did in the old days. These days, it’s all about songs. When you have a handful of great songs, you can then put them together in an album. That gives you freedom as an artist, because you can change direction whenever you want. Traditionally, at least, you have to have the same feel or sound. But I prefer the thought of just working with individual songs. It’s a much better thing, and it’ll also produce better albums later on.”
So does Jenny have a particular song in mind to release next?
“No, I’ve no idea!” she smiles. “I’ve got lots of demos, but haven’t decided on the next single yet. Of course, I like electro, but I think whatever it is, it’s going to be something in between A Place To Stay and Something In Your Eyes – danceable electro-pop!”
We talk for a while about what Jenny’s listening to right now, and she tells me about the French-Canadian electro-funk pair Chromeo – most decidedly not schlager, the last time I listened to them!
“Totally not!” agrees Jenny. “But I love them. I’m also listening to some old stuff, like Daft Punk. I asked my dancers to make me a playlist of their favourite stuff to see if there’s anything I could be inspired by there.
“You know, I’m also working with a new computer programme so I can take the studio on the road with me between Gothenburg and Stockholm,” she adds. “So I’ve been working with that to see what comes out of it. All this is a really inspiring environment for me right now.”
As we’ve been talking, Dilba has been on the stage below us getting her levels right on Try Again for the performance later that evening, and as she’s ushered out (hang on, Dilba! Don’t go!), it’s time for Jenny to go downstairs. Before she goes, though, she’s got a question for me.
“It’s been a really pleasant surprise to have people outside Sweden like what I’m doing – why do you think that is?”
I answer that I think we’re all loving the transformation from last year’s number – which many us loved, despite knowing that it didn’t really fit into the Melodifestivalen contest – to the schlager we’ve got now. It’s been a shock, but a marvellous shock.
“I like that,” says Jenny. “I like giving pleasant surprises. There’s nothing more boring than being predictable. As long as I carry on putting good things out there, that’s what I do.”
Just before I leave, Jenny goes on stage, and as I stand on the balcony, I get my own private performance (almost) of Something In Your Eyes. Jenny looks up and smiles.
Photo: Janerik Henriksson / Scanpix