| Is it something in the water that makes Sweden such a headland for pop? After introducing ABBA in the '70s, Roxette in the '80s, and Ace Of Base in the '90s, Sweden is as hot as ever, with Stockholm-based producer Max Martin crafting hits at his Cheiron Studios for the likes of 'N Sync, Britney Spears, and Backstreet Boys. Now the stage is set for a new face to emerge from the musical hotbed of northern Europe.
Audiences across America are finding out what their counterparts in such exotic marketplaces as Scandinavia, Brazil and Japan have already learned. A brash young master has arrived with the kind of instinctive genetic understanding of pop that arrives perhaps once in a decade. From Sweden comes 25-year old Staffan Olsson, known to fans and friends as Bosson(pronounced b/-sahn'). He first worked his way into the hearts and minds (and phone-in request lines) of KIIS-FM radio listeners in Los Angeles, when the track entitled "We Live" jumped off a copy of the import CD single.
"We live and we die," Bosson sings, "and we learn to find the things we live and die for." With its percolating mix of pop melody, choral harmony, techno beats and solid R& B groove, "We Live" is a microcosm of the artist's personality. "It's about taking care of the things that are valuable to you in life, about taking chances," he says. "You need to have dreams and try to fulfill them - life is too short to stand there and ask yourself what you did with the time you had." Bosson has developed his abilities as a composer, lyricist, programmer and vocalist while recording at his home apartment studio in Gothenburg, the largest city in the southwest of Sweden.
| And where does this passion come from? If song production is one-half of Bosson's universe, then live performance is the other half. "I love to perform onstage," he says, "to get to an audience, to entertain them, joke with them - it doesn't matter what I have to do to make them happy, make them feel good. The kick I get back when they sing my song, that response is worth everything."
He credits his family for the enormous support they gave him while he was growing up. He spent his childhood in the sleepy countryside town of Saro (in the very same 'hood as Ulf Ekberg of Ace Of Base), some 20 km to the south of Gothenburg by the Kattegat Sea. Bosson-lore has it that he got the music bug at age six, performing Christmas carols for a small, enthusiastic audience. Early fascination with radio-friendly, melody-driven domestic Swedish pop turned into an all-out obsession with modern R&B as a teenager in the early '90s: Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Babyface ("For me it's always been about the vocals"); though he does confess a weakness for the "simple melodies."
His first group (with two other musicians) was called Elevate; their winning prize in a local music competition was recording time at Jam Lab Studios. The group's demo tape landed them a deal with Virgin Records, and they went on to release three CD singles and tour extensively through southern Europe, Scandinavia, and Lithuania between 1993 and '96. Aching for a solo career, Bosson convinced his friends at Jam Lab to let him record a new song, "Baby Don't Cry." An uplifting house music track, it caught the ears of indie label MNW, who released it in autumn '97.
More than a year later, Bosson promises that his new album will surprise many people, as it evolves from the Euro-dance format (with its heavy reliance on house and techno beats) into the more worldly guitar pop of "One In a Million" and, of course, the 'phenomenon' of "We Live." "I'm very lucky," he says. "I'm working with music and I get to entertain people. I love to write songs and perform onstage. I am very fortunate."
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