Interview by Miriam C.
I’m fully aware that many of our readers are not familiar with the AOR music genre but Swedish singer Erika Norberg (former Mrs.Malmsteen) deserves her rightful place in an imaginary Walk of Fame because back in the 80s, along with Romeo’s Daughter, Fiona and Robin Beck, was one of the few female singer in this musical genre. Her debut album, “Cold Winter Night”, released back in 1990, it’s one of the many AOR underrated gems. Now, after 18 years from her last album “Ripe” published in Japan only, she’s back with her 6th album “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde” via Escape Music. Personally speaking, it’s not false modesty, believe me, but it’s a real honor to give some well-deserved space to one of the most popular rock Swedish singer and well, if you don’t know her, it’s a good occasion to read her words and get acquainted with a different musical genre.
Hi Erika, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine! How are you? It’s a real pleasure to have you here and thank you for finding some time to reply to my questions!
If we exclude your last album “Ripe”, released in Japan only on 1998, 18 years have passed since your latest release: what prompted your return on the scene?
Several well-known producers and songwriters have asked me to collaborate on my comeback album but it wasn’t until I met Jesper Strömblad, who had then just left In Flames, that I felt this spark of “hell yeah, this could be fun” again.
And here we’re talking about your new album “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde” out now via Escape Music. What you can tell us about its genesis?
When I had recorded the demo for “Suckerpunch” with Jesper Strömblad and Daniel Flores I started listening to songs I had co-written previously, with an album in mind. Jens Lundberg of Blue Lemon management, whom I knew of through Mikkey Dee, then in Motörhead, arranged a meeting with Alex Angleflod of RedDoor studio. Alex became my co-producer and here we are..!
I’ve got the chance to listen your album and I think it’s very good because it’s quite balanced between old (the AOR imprint) and new sonorities (the metal-ish sound). What were your musical influences during the recording process?
I actually listen to very little metal or rock during the recording process itself. You sort of tune out after being in the studio for hours on end. So I mostly listened to French cafe jazz, to clear my head ….
If you could draw a parallel between your “Ripe” and “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde”, how do you think your approach changed since then?
“Ripe” has some good songs but I was at a stage in my life then where I was questioning being a touring musician. I was a single mom and the entire situation felt overwhelming, which is pretty fuxxing sad at our day and age. (You never hear male rockstars say that, huh..?). “Ripe” was a good product, but definitely not a labour of love. “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde” on the other hand, is very much ME! I was given totally free range from management and label.
Tommy Denander, Jesper Strömblad and Mic Michaeli features here, respectively, as sessions guitarists, bassist and keyboards. To what extent should we consider their input? Were they involved in the creative process or should we consider their effort as mere session members?
The people who contributed to the album were crucial! I love collaborating in the studio and as a songwriter. The backbone of the session musician were Mike Palace, Oscar Bromvall, Marcus Blomberg and Sebastian Qvarfordt. Also the guestmusicians Tomas Emblad of Fatal Smile and Johan Flodqvist of The Poodles brought their vibe. The main contributers such as Matti Alfonzetti of Skintrade was of course very important to the process, also guitar guru Tommy Denander, Leif Edling of Candlemass, Mic Michaeli of Europe and mainly Jesper Strömblad, who was my number one supporter in the entire process. I have a thing for successful guitarplayers as you might know, ha ha!
Instead, what can you disclose about “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde”‘s lyrics? Would you like to analyze the songs in more detail?
They are grown up lyrics, all based on my own experiences. But no names mentioned, yet, at least;)
Your title album “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde” seems to stigmatise in a funny way a sad cliché towards woman. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously, but what meaning does this album title have for you?
It is very much tongue in cheek! I was one of the pioneers for women in hard rock/AOR/metal and even if the climate has changed a bit since the 1980’s (when I got my first record deal) it is still heavily male dominated genres. I have never felt the need to neither cut my hair off and growl or lip synch in hooker outfits to advance my career. I am a femine person but that does not contradict the fact that I am decisive and bossy at times. “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde” is a word play.
The mastering was handled by Mats Lindfors at the Cutting Room and the mixing by Willem Bleeker at the X-Level Studios. There’s a specific reason why you have chosen to make use of these legendaries facilities and how did the collaboration start?
I was offered to mix at the legendary studio 1 at X Level, it was set up by Tommy Denander and I was thrilled of course! When it came to mastering I had always wanted to work with Mats Lindfors so I just called him. Simple as that. Stockholm is a rather close knit music community, you always know someone who knows someone….
Where can your fans catch you in the next days? Do you have any plans for a full EU tour?
Sorry, no plans for touring as of know. I do hope later though! For legal reasons the album was delayed and the releasedate was finalized so late that no bookings of a tour was possible. Also, I am old school and only tour when my crew and musicians are paid decent wages. I don’t expect making shitloads of money myself, of course, like I did 15-20 years ago, but at least my staff must get paid. If the bartenders and bouncers in the club get paid, why should the musicians and front of house etc work for free in that same club?!? To promote an album that downloads for next to nothing?! That is just bullshit and it starves the music business to death.
So, Erika, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
Thank you so much for the mindblowingly amazing response to “Deaf, Dumb & Blonde”!
Please follow my personal adventures on Facebook and Instagram: erikaerika666 …and I hope to hear from you!