Friday, 20 June 2014 23:44

More popular than the President

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They have already been there three times this year; which is proof Dirty Loops are big in Japan. The success has brought them a lot of new experiences, for example, they have learnt how their fans behave in Japan.

- It’s a lot of cueing, and then when it’s finally their turn to get an autograph they get all excited and scream only to be totally calm the second after and leave to make room for the next person in line, tells the bass player Henrik Linder.

The lead singer Jonah Nilsson continues:
- I’ve noticed that when they applaud after a song and you step away from the microphone just to meet their appreciation, then if you take one step back towards the mic; it gets all quiet again.

Before they went on their first showcase in Japan someone told them that if they move their heads a little bit it is very good, but if they do not like the music, they stand completely still. If one would measure success like that it would mean that it was a tremendous success because the crowd was moving a lot. Another strong sign is the fact that when they were in Japan at the same time as the president of USA, Barack Obama, more people on twitter were mentioning Dirty Loops than the president of the world’s most powerful country. So to claim that Dirty Loops are popular over there is no understatement.

Now we are sitting in a conference room at Universal Music Stockholm headquarters. On the table in front of them there is coffee, mineral water and a huge bowl of candy. There is a drawing of Metallica covering one of the walls. Although their popularity, and the fact that they are now signed with a huge record company, they clearly feel that their creativity and spontaneous vibe, which is key to everything, is not being choked by the demands and expectations now laying on their shoulders. The music is totally in their control.

Dirty Loops consists of the singer, Jonah Nilsson, the drummer Aron Mellergårdh, and the bass player Henrik Linder.

The three are close friends and studied together at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm were they initially formed the band. As for many artists that make it today it all begun with YouTube. For them it started with a video where they performed a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance”. The video rapidly gained a lot of viewers and triggered a viral success that got even bigger after they released a second video with a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”.

- It has been in different stages, the first video created one type of hype, and then the Justin Bieber video took it to the next level, says Henrik Linder.

They were not prepared or expecting it at all. The reason for making the video was first and foremost simply for the fun of it, but also to maybe use the video to try to eventually get a simple gig or two. However, it got bigger than they could ever have imagined.

- I remember when we uploaded the Bieber video; we were wondering what people would think about it, says Aron Mellergårdh. The day after uploading that video, Jonah Nilsson had barely woken up when the other guys called to tell him that the amount of views on the video were quite high.

The key to their immediate success, they didn’t know for sure.

- What we did was redo everything. That was the whole thing; we removed everything but the melody and put the song in a totally different context. We just went with our feelings at the moment and just did it, and we had fun with the songs, tells Jonah Nilsson.

The first thing they often do is to sit, look at each other without instruments, just trying to find the vibe from which to base everything else. After finding that, they start with the instruments, trying different things out.

- There has been some kind of taboo surrounding fusion music, it wasn’t considered to be very sexy. I think that many people were listening to fusion in secret. But people like when something old is mixed with some new stuff.

The band’s creative and joyful covers went viral and from there it just boomed and now they are sitting at the headquarters of Universal Music Sweden and after our interview they are taking part in a Google hangout with a music blog in the States.

When reading about Dirty Loops, one is immediately struck by the names of the people that have praised them. Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones are two of them.

- It meant a lot to me when Brian McKnight said that I was one of the best singers he’s heard, because he was the reason for me starting to sing in the style I do. He’s been a huge role model (idol) for me, says Jonah Nilsson.

Henrik Linder nods while listening intently to his friend.

- I have a similar thing with a keyboard player named George Whitty who used to play with the Brecker Brothers who first got me into the jazz thing. He wrote something really nice on our wall and that felt incredibly special.

Aron Mellergårdh says that he used to listen to Toto a lot growing up and they’ve also said that they like Dirty Loops a lot.

- But it feels special every time someone says something like that, he further underlines.

Soul lies a lot in the voice

The style of Dirty Loops is maybe best described as fusion, and they themselves talk about the fact that they mix everything they like. But what about the soul connection?

On, one of the most searched for bands are Dirty Loops and you can definitely hear the soul element in their music. For example, all of them like Stevie Wonder.

- I’ve been listening a lot to soul singers, because soul’s about expressing a feeling and a text, and for me it has been about the singing. Soul lies a lot in the voice.

loopifiedA door is opening behind us; someone is reminding them that it is soon time for the Google hangout with the American blog. Their first full album “Loopified” has just been released containing both original songs and some new covers. First it was released in Japan, where it has been received very well and they have gained valuable tv-slots with over 15 million viewers. And now the album is out here back home, and at the time for our interview the promotion is just about to begin.

On the 26th of June they are performing at the Bråvalla festival, and on the 3rd of July they are off to Gullbrannegården in Halmstad, and sometime in August they are performing here in Stockholm, where it all began.

- I´ll be nervous, says Jonah.

The other two agree with him.

- I think you get more nervous for a thing where all the people you know will be at, as it’s at our home ground. In other places you can always keep another distance.

The future plan for Dirty Loops is to keep on what they have been doing: to have fun and not to plan too much or too far ahead. They want to base it on pure feeling.

- That’s how this band started and it has proven to be a good formula/strategy and it’s always fun when you don’t plan too much. To keep it a little bit open so that it can go in any direction. If we have any concept it’s that. It should be fun.

Theodor Lundgren

I´m a writer and freelance journalist living in Stockholm. I mainly write narrative journalism, but I also produce and edit other types of media projects. Soul music hits my emotional core like nothing else and I believe that the Scandinavian soul music scene needs recognition.

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