After eight years of silence, the band "Ace Of Base" returns with a vengeance. In a special interview with band founder Ulf Ekberg, he reveals why the original members left, why he’s flattered by the gesture of Lady Gaga, and recalls a visit to Israel: "It was a bad night".

by Amit Cotler of Ynet, Israel.  [source]
Translation by Google and KiwiAcer.

20:10:10, 08:54

When on the phone with a Swede, you cannot start without a few words about the weather. Indeed, while it’s 30 degrees in Tel-Aviv in mid-October, even when talking with an artist who hasn’t spoken with the media – let alone Israel – in a very long time, even before asking about his safety.  But Ekberg, a member of the old "Ace Of Base" is not envious. "It’s about nine degrees right now, in Stockholm. I remember how hot your place is," he says, recalling the band’s visit to Israel for a performance in "Dancing independence" in 1994.

What isn’t mentioned is references about his dark past. Yes, we know that you know the great days of "Ace Of Base" speaking about his past involvement in a Neo-Nazi youth movement . From the beginning of his career in the band, Ekberg refused to speak on the subject. "It’s a matter that belongs in the past – it closed in 1987 – I learned my lesson and I’m someone else today." This is the only sentence he would say about it.

Eight years have passed since the last time we heard the band in Sweden. After huge success in the ’90s, which brought them to the top of the charts  in Europe and even a few hits topped charts in Asia, the United States and South America, it seemed that one of the greatest pop compositions of the previous decade had simply disappeared from the face of music, until now.

For reasons why, do not look outside the band; It’s not the musical style that has changed, or the last music consumption culture reversals. According to Ekberg, it was the human factor -  fatigue if you will – that overcame the fate of Ace Of Base in its original incarnation. "We had to disengage from each other. The four of us were very cohesive and worked well together for a long time, but eventually we reached a situation where we had to disconnect. You see, the work and pressure put on us during the ’90s was very difficult."

The band formed in 1993 with Ekberg, Jonas Berggren and sisters of Jonas, Malin and Jenny, keeping it all in the family. "Malin wanted to leave many years before she actually did," Ekberg reveals. "Already in 1995 she did not want to continue, but  she remained in the band. She never liked the whole matter of shows, advertising and going out into the audience. But she could hang all day in the studio and sing songs. This situation deteriorated to a point that in 2002 we released an album with her on the cover, despite her having hardly participated in it."

"The case of Jenny was different. She has a family and wanted to just focus on family life. We made an offer to her to take part in our comeback, but she chose not to. Today she is promoting her solo career and being a mother, and I can understand she is more comfortable."

After the band broke up, Ekberg has been busy.   "I worked on music TV shows, commercials and for the cellular industry." While working on music television in his late 30s, he fell in love with this medium, and over the years found himself as a judge in Yedol (Sweden’s version of American Idol) and several other reality shows were also produced .

Not a circus audition

The return of "Ace Of Base" working together first occurred in 2006, when the original band members reunited for a few appearances throughout Europe on Night of the Proms, which took place in Antwerp, Belgium. "We could not have imagined such a great interest in our music, even after all this time since the greatest hits,". He recalls a crowd of tens of thousands who came to the performances.  However, because of the previous separation, four of them were afraid to unite officially, making life impossible for themselves and each other again.


Now this is happening. After three years of work, 50 songs written by Ulf and Jonas and 13 that made it onto the new album in total,  "The Golden Ratio" is the return of "Ace Of Base". But for this return, they recruited two young ladies to replace Jenny and Linn.


Much time for pop album.

"We knew that if if we didn’t do the best that we could do, the comeback should be skipped.  We were very strict -  much stricter than before. One of the biggest challenges was to understand and redefine what Ace Of Base is in 2010 and how it should sound. I think that the combination finally came out good – I’m satisfied with it. The final production was one of the hard parts."

One of your new singers is Clara Hagman, whom you knew from his job as a judge on the reality music show.

"True, but she did not reach the advanced stages of the competition. It was important to take someone talented, but this was not prominent in the competition. This project, for me, is not disposable. We wanted to revive the band, to re-establish it, so we did not want to make the choice on a reality show. The media circus would be unnecessary. We did auditions for singers – but they did not know what band it was for. She was surprised that it was for Ace Of Base," he laughs.

Honourable Lady Gaga

Even before release of the new album, if anyone needed proof of the band’s sound being updated for 2010, they got it in the form of "Alejandro", a huge hit for Lady Gaga and clearly based on the sound of Ace of Base from the 90s. "It was clear from the first chorus that Alejandro was taken, almost line by line from our version of ‘Don’t Turn Around’. In addition, the whole production and feel of this song was very Ace of Base-ish."

Were you surprised by this song?

"Absolutely not.  The producer of Gaga, Richard Wan, is a cool Swede that I’ve got to know over the years. It’s unclear what exactly happened here and where he drew his inspiration, but he never denied it."

Were you flattered, or did you feel he stole it from under your hands and the sound?

"It was very flattering, because he did not just take the sounds, but also produced a huge hit, a very successful and  beautiful song with the wonderful Lady Gaga. His song combines the sounds of the time with contemporary touches. It’s just amazing. I’m very proud and honoured that she recorded the song. It’s huge."

What do you remember about your visit as part of "Dancing independence" in Israel?

"When was that? 1994 or 1995? I remember four or five shows in a row in Tel Aviv, Haifa and other places. Oh, that was 1994, I remember. Oh, it was a bad night. Fun but hard. Our last show starting at eight in the morning or something like that. The truth is, now that you mention it, we want to go back and I hope it will happen in the near future. I’m pretty sure we’ll go back on tour following this album, and quite sure that we’ll get to Israel.