In the Footsteps of Bergman
Like a musical chameleon Andreas Kleerup is equally adept behind a jazz drumkit as he is making electronic hit singles, in April he gets to take over the Royal Dramatic Theatre for one night.
Lunchtime at Urban Deli in the hipster paradise of Nytorget in Södermalm, and we’re at the bar with similar outfits and more or less the same look, Andreas Kleerup is in a well-worn Goat t-shirt, I’m in my frayed Watain hoodie. Kleerup orders a Cidraie and, to his great enjoyment, I follow suit. The deli is busy and the volume is high, but despite a child emitting a primal scream right behind us,,we decide to go ahead with the interview, recording it on my trusty iPhone.
I’m curious about a few things, especially his upcoming gig at Dramaten on the April 27, and Andreas’ enthusiasm is obvious when I ask him how that project came to be.
”I got asked some time ago via my booker and since then there has been a few meetings at the site. I’m still not sure what to make out of this, I just want to play live, perhaps even acoustic, although I have put a real nice band together. It might be with backing track, but hopefully mostly purely live. I can’t really spill more information than that since I simply don’t know yet.”
“First I have the ‘Live and Evil’ fusion gig at Fasching to take care of, I have a son and there’s other stuff too in between, so I really have to take everything on a day-to-day basis”.
Andreas is no virgin when it comes to the world of theatre. He has written music for plays (of which *Aniara* is probably the most successful) and has an fledgling acting career going, although his appearances to date have taken place on the silver screen, rather than the stage.
But first and foremost, it is the chance to deepen his relationship with the legacy of Ingmar Bergman that attracts him to performing on Sweden’s most famous stage.
”Since I’m a big Ingmar Bergman fan I find this opportunity great, and very much in the line of the other trails I’ve followed him in. I spent some time in his house at Fårö and our paths have already crossed elsewhere..For the rest, yeah, I have been working with music and dance so this sort of venue is not completely new for me. Dramaten holds some extra magic and we can obviously use some of their set decors and work a lot with lighting. It’s fun really, Bergman has used the bathroom there and I will too, you know – I like those kind of things with places like this.”
Kleerup follows in the footsteps of other musical artists like Seinabo Sei, JJ and Linda Pira, all of whom have been invited by Dramaten to take over the stage for one night. To make it a special occasion, a lot of guest performances are expected, and the idea of merging the pop zeitgeist with this great cultural venue leads to high hopes.
Something of a musical wonder boy, Andreas travels easily between musical genres. He adopted jazz early in life before moving through hard rock and metal to more popular tunes, dance and electronic beats.
With a history in bands like Teddybears STHLM and collaborating with artists as diverse as Robyn and Jon Rekdal among many others, it won’t be easy to predict what he might have in the pipeline.
Rest assured, his passion and love of music and performing will make it a night to remember.
”Not everyone might know that I have a background as a drummer first and foremost. I’ve met so many kids that think I’m just a DJ or such, but playing music, drums, guitar and composing, writing and producing is really what I do,“ he explains.
“I started my musical journey really young, maybe at the age of four. My older brother Jonas and my older cousins played a lot of great stuff for me as a kid and I remember listening to Mötley Crüe, riding my BMX daydreaming of a rock star life in LA.
“My grandparents have a cultural background too and belonged to the same group of friends as Evert Taube and Nils Ferlin at Gyllene Freden. My aunts have always sung beautifully and my parents always played nice music at home and was early to encourage me to play, so there has been so many ways for me to go into this full on.”
Despite a back catalogue that oozes cool, his roots are firmly in a more decadent decade.
“I grew up in the 80s so that kind of music has had a great impact on me. Since VHS was the big thing and watching movies and trading films with others was the main pastime, I got a lot of early influences from films like Blade Runner, Commando and The Escape from New York.
“I sort of saw the world during the 80s through the eyes of older friends I had around me. Soundtracks to those movies still haunt and influence my music today.”
And when Andreas made the switch from listener to player, he chose perhaps the least discreet instrument available to him.
“It was drumming that took up most of my teenage years, even though I played guitar too. I started a band and got a chance to jam with my school music teacher and the older students, playing for an audience quite early on – and that was the point of no return.”
Through a gig with jazz musician Jon Rekdal, Andreas got introduced via singer Paola Bruna to the producer and the brains behind Teddybears STHLM, Klas Åhlund, joining them as their drummer.
This was another springboard for Andreas – all of a sudden, the whole of Stockholm’s music scene was opened up to him. Working and playing with guys slightly older than himself, all sharing the same influences he had grown up with, was a match made in heaven.
Later, his solo career got off to a flying start in 2007 with Robyn singing on their collaboration *With Every Heartbeat* that made it to number one on the UK charts. His life became the rock star existence he had dreamed of, and a few blurry years later he came out the other side of a great eponymous album, a slew of Grammy awards and a rough-and-tumble life that was partially spent in Gothenburg.
Where does one go from there? For Andreas, it was time to start his acclaimed side project band, *Me and My Army*. Just recently, he released his latest EP *As If We Never Won* with great reception from the press. With a string of great songs, thrilling collaborations and successful albums behind him, he is in this very moment fulfilling another long-lasting dream – working in the studio with musician and producer William Orbit.
”William is flying in tonight to work on a few tracks. Of course I hope there will be magic since he is such a hero for me, but I can’t be nervous or star-struck in a situation like this. It’s work now. I’m keen to make an extra effort and to take time to build up the right material for the next upcoming album. I’ve also been working with producer and songwriter Joacim Persson whom I met during one of my many stays in L.A. He is a great personality, a fantastic songwriter and of great importance for this coming album.”
He recently sat behind the drumkit again to team up with trombone virtuoso Nils Landgren live at Kulturhuset, and his next performance after our interview is the fusion night at Fasching Jazz Club. Having worked with so many of the greats in the Swedish jazz scene, it will surely be another night to remember. ”Some of the musicians from those gigs will form my band for the Dramaten performance. I can’t really say what the full line-up will look like, or who else will show up for that evening’s program.
“One thing is for certain though – I really want to play. I want to play my own material, some of the music I’ve written and performed in all sorts of different constellations, from the early years of jazz via rock to the more electro-pop tunes. This might look and sound straggly to others, but it is far from unclear to me. You’ll see!”
We get to the end of our meeting and Andreas has to rush away for another interview focussing on the gig at Fasching.
Despite all of his past success, the Kleerup of the present is very much looking to the future, and in particular that gig at Dramaten.
”I’d like to present my music at Dramaten in a new way, a new package and it will surely be awesome,” he says as he leaves.
Andreas Kleerup plays Saturday March 7th at Fasching.
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