By Linnéa Mitchell
For someone who has enjoyed tremendous success in her home country and is only just embarking on an international career, Agnes Carlsson – or simply Agnes as she is known in the UK – is remarkably relaxed and down to earth. In fact, it is hard to notice her slim figure, tucked up in a huge armchair at the trendy London Hospital Club where Scan Magazine meets her. Quite different to what you would expect from someone with such a powerful voice, somewhat reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s.
The Swedish 21-year old singer is just about to release her second single in the UK I need you now, shortly followed by her first UK album release with Dance Love Pop. The expectations are high after the screaming success of Release Me earlier this year, which reached number one in the UK radio airplay chart, number one on iTunes UK and number one in the US billboard dance chart. The smash hit also just picked up an award for song of the year in Sweden and it has had over ten million plays on You Tube. “I’m incredibly lucky it has gone so well on my first attempt,” says Agnes, smiling.
It cannot all be down to luck though. Something else must play a part in the career of someone who only four years ago was completely unknown, living in the small town Vänersborg in western Sweden.
Pursuing the passion
Although music has always been an integral part of Agnes’ life it was not until she was 16 that she first sang a solo, one year before her break-through. “Before that I had only sung at home and in choirs, which I never felt was my thing,” she says. But with her first singing lesson came the first solo. “I was so nervous I nearly died,” she laughs. /MF
The day Agnes was more or less dragged by her friend to the Swedish Pop Idol audition in 2005 changed her life forever. Not only did she get in, she won the entire competition. Agnes herself mainly sees the time at Pop Idol as a “great school”. “I really learned a lot there, which helped not least my nerves,” she says. She still gets nervous though, but often when she least expects it. “I was recently in France where I was asked to sing in front of 200 specifically invited fans of mine and I was so incredibly nervous. But then the next day I sang in front of 200,000 people in Morocco and did not feel a thing! It is very strange.”
The road to success
After Pop Idol there was no going back. She was quickly signed by Sony BMG and released Right here right now one of many hits to come over the next year, as well as three gold, platinum and double platinum selling albums. It was Release Me from her third and latest album that brought Agnes international success. Starting in Denmark, it quickly reached the UK charts and after that the door opened to the rest of Europe. Next target is the USA from where Agnes has just returned on her first promotional tour.
What is different about her latest album is that it comes under a new record company, Roxy Recordings, and she has teamed up with producer and song writer Anders Hanson. “I am very happy with the change. Anders is very inspiring and this time I have really had time to sit down and properly work on the writing with him.” And the result speaks for itself, as Release me recently was awarded song of the year at the Swedish Music Publisher Awards. “It makes you so happy when you are appreciated for who you are and what you have written,” she says. Perhaps that is why she tends to stick to her preference for small record companies in Europe, such as 3 Beat Blue in the UK. “It is nicer when the entire team is enthusiastic and not just a few as is often the case with bigger corporations.”
Dance Love Pop
The title of the new album, released in UK on 7 December, is just what it says: up-beat pop tunes about love, which make you want to hit the dance floor. When asked where she finds inspiration she simply says “from life” and smiles. “Even though they can have a deep subject (such as un-returned love in Release Me) I want my songs to inspire people to have fun and dance,” she says. “But,” she adds, “in five years time I might feel like something completely different. Things change.”
Agnes herself keeps things pretty quiet during her time off. Family and friends are really important. “I spend so much time performing in club environments that in my time off I would much rather stay at home with a cup of tea – which makes me sound very boring as I am only 21,” she adds with a bubbly laugh.
Agnes is already traveling most of her time and, depending on what happens with her recent promotional tour in America and ongoing success all across Europe, she might have to consider moving abroad. “That is something I would definitely do if it made my work easier,” she say, “but Sweden will always be home.”
Before the end of the year she will have seen the UK release of her second single, followed by her first UK album release, as well as gone on an arena/club tour throughout England. Hectic times, but none of this will stop her from taking two weeks off to spend Christmas with her family in Vänersborg. “Christmas is very important and I’m glad it is so easy to take time off during that time in Sweden, because everyone else does!”
She should enjoy the holidays as much as she can, as the following months, years and perhaps even decades will only get busier. And as we say goodbye it strikes me how this young woman has simply found her tune in life – with the world stage on her doorstep, she is ready to be released.
Dance Love Pop is released on December 7.
Quirky facts about Agnes
What is the most important thing you have learnt so far?
Always to trust my gut feeling. It is weird how right it is.
Rumours say you prefer gay clubs?
Haha, well yes. In Stockholm the club scene can often be so stale and boring. I’d rather go somewhere people let their hair down, dance and simply have fun.
Who is your role model?
Whitney Houston and Beyoncé.
What would you do if you were not doing this?
That is a very difficult question… I think I would be a “bullfarmor” (roughly translated bun-grandma).