Past and present
Being an artist is being part of a constant evolution. It's also as much about looking inwards as being able to communicate. After almost ten years as a creative force in Swedish popular music, Meja is about to reach the peak of her artistry. Of course, many would argue that she has already reached it. Having started in 1992, Meja is one of Sweden's best selling artists as well as being one of the biggest musical exports on the international scene.
Her career choice was not a coincidence. Being brought up in a musical and artistic family, Meja early on realized that creativity was nothing strange but, on the contrary, something to encourage.
- "My mother was recording when she was younger, before deciding that she wanted to decicate her life to art and painting, and my grandfather was a known classical composer and director here in Sweden.
Also, my father has been writing his own songs since he was a young man".
So, you could say Meja had it in her. After having looked for suitable collaborators, Meja founded, sang in and co-wrote the music for the dance project Legacy of Sound, formed by talented songwriter/ producer Anders "Bag" Bagge and Meja in 1992. In 1993, the project released their dance floor hit "Happy", which - among other things - climbed the Billboard chart.
But Meja felt it was time to move on and realise her own musical visions. Having teamed up with Sweden-based manager Lasse Karlsson and producer Douglas Carr, Meja started to mould her first solo album, "Meja" (Sony Music, 1996). This marked the start of an amazing solo career.
Soon Meja found her home away from home in Japan, where she enjoyed enourmous success, including selling nearly one million albums, and receiving awards such as "Best Selling Female Artist of the Year" and "Best Pop Album".
Her second "baby", named "Seven Sisters" (Sony Music, 1998), also repeated its predecessor's remarkable sales figures. In addition to that the doors to Europe were opening up. Soon, her huge radio hit "All About The Money" was being played simulateously on radio stations world-wide. In the spring of 1999 Meja hooked up with Ricky Martin, with whom she performed the duet "Private Emotion" on Ricky's album, single and video. (Meja was in good company, Ricky's other duet partner on the album was Madonna).
After having shot the "Private Emotion" video in Los Angeles with director Francis Lawrence, Meja went home to Sweden to start writing on her new creation; a tale that turned out to be ...
- "This album focusses on the world that can be found between what we accept as reality, and what we believe are fairytales", says Meja. - "I have always been fascinated by dreams, day dreams as well as the ones you have when you're fast asleep. I have always wondered what can make them feel so real, when sometimes life itself feels like a dream".
On this album, Meja has chosen to use the theme of a tale, in the sense that a person's life could be a tale, a story.
The songs all, in one way or another, have connections to her life. Some are highly personal - for example "Scum like Me", where Meja shows a previously hidden side of herself.
- "I have always felt I have to be a good girl to deserve being loved, but being and behaving good all the time can be draining. So... to be good you need to know you're bad...", explains Meja. During the production and writing process she has chosen to bring in some new faces. One is American Marty Fredriksen, a California based writer/producer who has worked with the likes of Aerosmith, The Cult and Ozzy Osbourne. Not exactly the kind of names you associate with Meja, she admits.
- "I was introduced to Marty by Billy Steinberg in Los Angeles. We went to Marty's house outside LA, wrote "Hippies in the 60's" in two hours, had the best Thai lunch, and then we went home". "Inspiration is a funny thing - it just strikes, like love hits you when you least expect it. It's often during these free-flowing moments I write my best songs". The single "Spirits" was created in the same, easy way... Meja and her team went to "El Cortijo" studio in Spain to work on the album.
- "I will never forget the evening when Douglas and I were sitting under the clear sky with millions of stars shining in the night, accompanied by a full moon. We wrote "Spirits" on the spot, as a symbol of life and that we are all a part of it, including fun as well as responsibilities". They recorded the vocals down by the pool after dinner one night. "That was also a magical moment; all dark, except for the candle lights. All I could hear was the crickets, the rest was pure silence. Not to get too sentimental, but I would guess that is what you feel when you say you are close to God".
The photographs for this album were shot by Jonas 舓erlund, one of the worlds best music video directors (his clients including Madonna, U2, Metallica, Macy Gray and others). - "As I wanted a "realitale" feeling for the cover and booklet, I explained my vision to Jonas, and he could picture ideas within himself as well. Luckily, we turned out to share the same visions. I never had any doubt these sessions were going to result in the best photographs I've done so far". Hand in hand with the modern fairytale photos, Meja was introduced to a song written many years ago by Denniz Pop and Douglas Carr. Incidentally, the songs title already was "The Land of Make Believe". - "This song, to me, is the ultimate realitale song, where the lyrics will encourage you to use your imagination, and the power in believing that what you believe and feel is so strong that nobody can tell you it's wrong..."..
Meja and Douglas also flew to London to meet up with Stephen Lipson (Annie Lennox, Simple Minds a.o.) This resulted in two songs: "Ready" and "Present Delay". - "Since I was brought up listening to David Bowie, and later finding inspiration in Led Zeppelin's work, it felt natural that this album would have a rockier vibe, mixed up with my fascination for Eastern music and philosophy. I wanted to bring the two worlds together, into what I call "Ambient Pop". Meja is fully aware that this is something that certain artists have experimented with before.
- "Yeah, and they have for some eons now - it's just new to me", she laughs. As a multi-faceted artist Meja is involved in the writing and production processes, as well as writing poetry, short stories and taking photographs. "I have come to realise that writing is my drive - I just love it, and have done since I wrote my first poems at the age of five".
To Meja, the most important thing in life is creativity. The longing of wanting to create and being able to encourage it. - "Creation is included in every part of our life, we create in school, at home, in our work. In the end, without human creativity there would be no life whatsoever...".
Still, being the basically joyful artist that she is, the journey that led to "Realitales" has not been entirely easy. - "I went through some difficult times of both a private and professional nature.
The best thing with going through the bad is that after rain comes sunshine. I have learned so much from just letting go and accepting the way things are, trusting that there's a time for everything". Something has clearly happened and it is obvious that Meja is stretching out on this album, cutting loose and freeing herself from boundaries that may have existed, even if they have at times been created by herself. Many of the world's biggest artists have produced their best work after a period of transition and self-doubt. Now it is Meja's time.
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