Transcript Jenny Berggren Interview 18/08/18 Hamburg
Transcript done by Sara West for The Jenny Source
Sara: I have a lot of questions, so I hope you have a lot of time. So the first thing we’ll start off with is what’s been happening today. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be on stage here in Hamburg?
Jenny: I’ve been…Should I talk to you? [looking at Sara]. Is that easier for you? Well, I’m here. Well, where do you start? It’s fantastic people. There’s been a lot of (imitating dance music sounds). The German (dance music sounds). And I come on stage with my soft songs and it’s like, how’s it gonna work? They really love those. They love the melodies. They sing along. And you can feel like you’re…It’s like you… Sometimes when you’re on stage it feels like you’re playing like piano or guitar and you’re actually treating something and you try to get a stroke of your own soul. That becomes a pattern on people who you actually talk to. It’s very strange, I know. It couldn’t be more flower-ish, the language, probably, but it’s the only way to express it. And we always pray before we go on stage. And sometimes you just – it’s like drawing. I don’t know how you do it but it’s like an extra part of your soul. And it happened today and I was very happy for it.
I’ve been traveling all night, as more of here, this place here, right [meaning traveling from Karlskoga, Sweden to Hamburg, Germany], so we didn’t sleep so much. And that made us a bit self-confident in a way–that you didn’t have time or that you didn’t have all these things that you needed to be scared of. It’s like, yep, let’s take a look. So today, the audience was brilliant I think and I was very happy.
Jessi: Why did you decide to change the set list?
Jenny: I’ve been doing it…It was one of my goals for the German shows to show that I could do different things, so I decided to try „Dying to Stay Alive“. I decided to try an ABBA song. I decided to try… cut very short, to do a very short show. To add musicians. And things I’ve been doing with my show so far has worked. So the optimal thing to do here I’d say would be have musicians, have a bit longer set so they actually see the great stuff that we do. But at first they just wanted three songs. It’s like, we’ve been fighting our way through and they like what we do. So that’s good. That’s a good thing that’s been working. So, well, we’ve been changing it and turning it a bit. And it’s like fine, just trying. So they trust us now. They didn’t in the beginning.
Sara; What songs have you considered adding to the set list that you have not yet added to the set list, or we have not yet heard?
Jenny: Well, they wouldn’t give me two hours so…No, I’ve been trying to really… I wanted to get the „Happy Nation“ feeling but since it’s daylight and it’s Germany they want more uptempo maybe and „Happy Nation“ is a bit depressing. So it..yeah, well, I mean I get it. We come with our Army rock, like Army feeling and showing pictures of dead seals and yeah. But I think it’s important anyway and there is always someone who likes it, but we need a longer time and we need a light show. So, in daylight let’s just make it fun and get through whatever you can.
Sara: You do a lot of different shows in a lot of different places with different set ups. So how do you tailor each set list to these different set ups because each concert has its own feeling…
Jenny: Well, we had actually one challenge last year. We were doing the Swedish airspace. The warfare there. The luftwaffe. How do you say it in English? (Air Force). The Air Force, thank you. (Well, your German’s still good.) We were there and they wanted to… They sold our disco party show and I was sitting in front of the head of NATO and the head of I don’t know and the head of something else in Korea, and it was like military men and their wives in their long dressy gowns and it’s like, ok, so we’ve gotta do something. So I called in a violinist I know, Greger [Siljebo], that Jakob works with a lot. And I was also calling in Erik, another piano player. And I was calling in two very talented choir and dance girls. Not for the dance show mainly but to do a very nice harmony show like that. So we did two sets with a fantastic thing around the material that was in Så Mycket Bättre, that TV show. And the thing was exactly when I was like, „Ok, so I’m just gonna get everything set for the show.“ And I had my own ballgown on. I got a real one. And I was sitting there in front of all these high position guys. And what they told me was just before the show, they said, „Your Godmother is dying…now. Do you have any last words?“ And they hand the phone over. And I was just heartbroken. Really heartbroken because on top of everything that has happened, I mean, don’t take my Godmother away. And I spoke to her with her frail voice over the phone. And I was just there crying and it’s like „You’re supposed to go on stage now, Jenny.“ It’s like, „Yeah, just take everybody and tell them a happy story cause I can’t and you do that job today cause I can’t“ and I just do whatever I can. I’m gonna make this show and I’m gonna make it happen. And then I was supposed to do „Så Skimrande…“ and that was her favourite. I know she loved that one.
And it was actually my father’s cousin who was my Godmother, Ingegerd Bäckström, a fantastic woman, and she’s really been so kind to me all these years and always so supportive and, you know, everything. She’s been great. She’s really been a Godmother. I don’t know what picture you have in mind with a picture of a Godmother but she was one. I had another Godmother and she was really not that… This one was amazing. So I was going on stage with my heart in pieces and I was supposed to sing „Så Skimrande…“ that was actually talking about my father, about the last time I kissed him. And it’s like, ahhh, that was really hard but I did it. And it’s just one of those things that you realise, I am so happy that I’ve got these talented people around me that can help me through doing a show that is really, really difficult. You’ve got all these prominent people. And you’re not supposed to make Sweden look really, really bad. You’re supposed to make Sweden look good. And buy our jet fighter. It’s very expensive. Buy sixteen. You know, that was me that day. And I wasn’t only like, „Oh, we got some chewing gum for you here.“ It’s like, „We’ve got some jet fighters here for you to buy today.“ And my heart was broken. I was supposed to really pour out my soul and I did. And together with these guys and girls that I was on stage with and with Bengan and everybody, it just worked. I should show you a clip.
Sara: So you went through a lot of different things there: The people you worked with, the power of music, and the people in your life who have influenced you. There’s a lot going on there. So, what did your Godmother… I’m sorry what was her name?
Jenny: Ingegerd. I’m not expecting you to… It’s like a German image in the beginning [referring to the name Ingegerd]
Sara: So what was the biggest lesson she taught you?
Jenny: Oh, the biggest lesson I got.
Sara: Something that you most remember.
Jenny: Love is untouchable. You cannot really prove it. When it’s in your heart and your focus is on someone, it doesn’t change. It’s unchanging. Maybe growing but not changing. She was also having the source of the everlasting love that I have with God and everything. And she had me in her prayers. She told me at a very early age that „I have you in my prayers every night“. And I was like, „What?“ You’re not supposed to have that, like in another way. That’s supposed to be in another way. Then somebody goes up and tells you something nice. But this was like, every… She’s really doing this every night for me. Every night. And that was amazing. Really amazing. And I hope that… I’m a Godmother for four persons and I hope to be the same one for them.
Sara: Is that difficult for you to… because you have your professional life and your personal life and you have to balance those. Is that difficult for you to do? Sometimes they clash a little bit there. But then they also influence each other because you had to go on stage and sing that song.
Jenny: She loved Ace of Base. She was all about Ace of Base. She had a check on everything we did. She’s like, she’s my one fan. If you should pick one that is in her age, that would be her.
Sara: We’ll switch things around a bit here. What kind of projects are you working on? We want new music.
Jenny: Well, my projects I’m working on right now are these shows. Actually, I need to do more with the show. I wanna do more with the show. I’ve taken all the biggest hits and squeezed them into one little medley. I would like to take some material and get it up to „Life is a Flower“. Take some older material or other material or newer material and squeeze it into „Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry“. So I find other medleys. That is what I, just this weekend if you talk about right now. The project in general, actually with the book that you’ve been writing, I’m finding if there is any way that you can actually do more of it, like give it to my editor that I had with my book, for instance. I think she would love to read that book. She would be so.. She would be very proud to get the book. She’s one of the main persons of the book that I’ve been doing.
And then there’s another thing. I have all these desires. You know, you got all these things that you want to do but it’s impossible to do. And I’m constantly, as you know, I’m constantly thinking about my sister and my brother Jonas and it’s not working, so it will not be a work, but it’s so much work to get around it. And I would just like to do, like things around that and maybe bring it in my show, so I’ll see what happens. And then I’ve got my own ideas, my own music. How to develop that. And just this week we’ve been getting some openings with some other guys, but you will never know what that will lead to, obviously. You never know that.
Sara: You mentioned yesterday or the day before, one of these days, that you wrote a new song.
Jenny: Yeah, but I don’t do that a lot.
Sara: Do you just write them and then put them to the side?
Jenny: No, I don’t put them on the side but I put them in my idea folder. I’ve got them in my folder when I do them and then I save them. And I let them linger a bit because right now I don’t do music. That’s not like everybody’s saying what do you got. But that door just opened up. But let’s see what happens. Might be something interesting.
Jessi: If there was one song from all the albums Ace of Base did that wasn’t like a single, which one would you like to perform?
Jenny: „The Juvenile.“
Jessi: Why is that?
Jenny: It’s a good song. And it’s on the Bond theme. And it’s like… We just listened to the whole albums in the car going back and forth in Karlskoga. Me and the girls and everybody. It’s like, and it’s like „This one should be..“ and „This one is like that…“ And there were songs that they had never heard before. And „The Juvenile“, everyone was like, „Buckle up. This is a good song.“ It’s a good song, I think but it’s like maybe not so… Maybe not the most speedy one you could ever have. It’s more so, when you have some more, but… So, please give me information which songs do you like because it could be something. Just inform me because I’m not everybody. I just love all the songs.
Sara: Speaking of songs you have and written in your ideas folder, there were some that were performed live but were never put on an album or in a project like „Everywhere We Go“, „The Road“, and „For Your Blue Eyes‘ Sake“. So were these planned to be just live or were they also planned to be recorded?
Jenny: No, they were never planned to be anything but songs. It’s what me and Jakob do when we cook. That is what happens. But he had to focus on his thing and I was going into this constantly traveling thing and he kept going with me, so it’s been more of that. But there are so many nice, new songs that he’s been doing together with Greger that they’re out doing. And I got a song. I got lyrics to all of them. It’s like, ah yes. But they’re doing a really good thing on their own. It’s difficult. It’s always difficult because like they just say that this song is about this and then it’s instrumental. And you can really feel… you write your own lyrics to it. Ahh, so it’s really good. I cannot really do that since the only thing I do is sing. I can’t really play the violin.
Sara: All that you do is sing?!
Jenny:Yeah, but I mean, I don’t play an instrument so I can’t really perform instruments. Instrumental is what I mean. I can’t really say, „Listen to my violin, Greger. Author of all violins, what do you think about this?“ I’m not that good, so unfortunately. But I sing and that’s a good thing. But I need my lyrics. I cannot have (imitating instrumental music). I need the vocals and I need the words. I need to come up with them. But it’s not there yet. But there are so many things that are going on. Jakob has been writing two really nice, new pieces that they’ve been performing that’s really, really good.
Sara: Is it difficult to have your career and his career?
Jenny: No, it’s not difficult but it’s sometimes… Sometimes you…also in a life, especially when you live together and you’re so connected, it’s like sometimes you just need to say, „I love you“. That thing, when they actually create something. It doesn’t mean that „I know lyrics to your song.“ It’s not important. It’s just like, „I like you. I love what you do. I see what you do. And I see what you’re doing.“ Yeah, it’s another part. And it’s not difficult. It’s just like, It’s not that I’m waiting like, „Oh, ok, I’ll let him have that one for three years and then maybe I add my lyrics to it.“ It doesn’t work like that either. He’s just, yeah, he’s very, he’s very talented. He’s better. He’s better than that, than just me blurting out lyrics and everything else, but it doesn’t keep your heart from thinking.
Sara: I’m going to switch the topic a little bit. About your social media presence. A lot of..
Jenny: Oh my gosh.
Sara: A lot of fans have discussed that.
Jenny: Been amazed by my internet site.
Sara: Do you have plans for your social media side of your work, your career?
Jenny: There is a Spanish name for that and it’s ayuda. And in Italy, it’s aiuto. And in English, it’s help. And in German, it’s hilfe, bitte. I don’t know. I don’t know really where to go. And I’m not. It’s not that I’m not thinking about it. I know exactly what I want to do. But it’s…at the same time, I have to think it through, really. Because everything I do, it’s like, ok, so I put my finger down here. And then it’s supposed to mean something. Especially in the social media world. „Oh, she’s green. She’s a blue person. No, she’s yellow. I think she’s red.“ and it’s like, „No, I just put my finger down. It’s like no, I didn’t do that.“ So it’s difficult. I have a friend of mine who’s working with doing platforms for like when you travel in Sweden and when you go to the biggest amusement park, she’s the one who makes the platforms. And I was thinking like she’s the one I’m gonna call, like help me to get an idea to what I… If I just don’t want to do much and then people do the rest just to get that. Right now it’s just I need new pictures, yeah.
Sara: Do you ever think of people who have a lot of knowledge and experience, such as maybe these two ladies [Anja and Jessi]?
Jenny: I will think of that.
Sara: They have the idea of social media.
Jenny: Everything is growing all the time, Sara. Everything is growing all the time. It’s a friendship and it’s work.
Sara: Just had to get that in there. Just had to get that one in.
Jenny: Had to get that one.
Sara: So, I heard you messed up Jessi’s autograph on an album.
Jenny: You think so?
Sara: Yeah, so what happened?
Jenny: So, that’s Jessi with an A N J A. It’s Jessi.
Sara: You threatened to also sign her copy of the „Sing Me Forward“ book with Anja’s name.
Jenny: Yeah, I was making fun of… It wasn’t fun.
Sara: So, what other mean things have you done to fans?
Jenny: No, it’s just that, basically. And keep you waiting out in the cold yesterday, poor thing. But we work where it’s warmer, but anyway…
Well, what have I trashed so far? I think I’ve trashed a lot, to be sure. I mean, to be honest. There is being me and being like, I want to see everything and I want to do everything. That is, as everybody knows, an impossible way of doing things. But one nice memory I have is so recent, so fresh that I can actually still taste it. When you have your nostrils and you take a breath in, and ah yeah, this is what happened. I visited Jonas in The Barn and we just had so much fun. I love that. We just had fun together. It was really great. And it’s a good thing. And I didn’t trash that one.
Sara: What did you do together?
Jenny: Talked. He showed me things and asked me about things I have done. We had fun. And all these, we always crack up laughing at something you cannot explain to anyone else because it’s just the two of you in the world that know it. It’s good. It’s good.
Sara: A few Project Seven questions. What did you think about when you heard about that for the first time? The book idea. Stories that have a connection to you somehow.
Jenny: I was thinking that this is a very difficult project to put together, so I won’t put any pressure on someone because that is a very difficult thing because then you have to choose then to edit. You have to make it accessible to everybody, so you have to deal with all the emotions because I’ve been writing a book myself by myself. And now people have been writing about themselves. And it’s for giving the lyrics away. The closest ones can actually read your book. And reading your writing and what you’ve been thinking and it’s… You reveal yourself in a very, very big way. That’s why, I mean, we have to be very kind to each other. And really take care of ourselves because it takes precautions, especially when you’re on the internet and you talk about things: about the book, about how people express themselves. Because someone who writes in English but are not English and people who are English and write in English for persons who do not speak English as a first language. That is too, that is a complete clash.
I’ve been trying to write my book in English and it’s like I can’t do it. I need someone who’s native somewhere who has the same thinking as I have. And it’s really good. So I was facebooking a lot with Katie. And, so that’s how we did it. And that was really good and that’s the translation that came out. The thing is that I was Swedish. I was writing in my native language. And now you have been writing in your native language but you’ve been trying to translate it to English. So be kind to each other because sometimes when you try to express your inner feelings, and it’s just a source of joy, let it be that source of joy. Translate it into your own source of joy. And respect. And I am so thankful because the job got done. And it’s a huge and it’s a difficult job. And it actually happened, so that was…I was, I was. You saw me. I was crying when I got the book. It’s like, „What?!“ It happened and that was fantastic. Really amazing. And I think it’s going to be a lot of joy for everybody and this is like also a feeling for a follow-up. So it could be more. It could be more.
Sara: A lot of people have asked already. So what would you like to say to the fans who participated in the book, who wrote a story?
Jenny: [facing Anja’s camera] Where am I? Here?
I don’t know, but thank you so much for participating. I can’t say very much more. It’s your heart that’s out there. And I will do what I can to take care of it. But do take care of your own heart and we will help you.