INTERVIEW: John de Sohn (2012)

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With strong dance pop (Abba, Ace of Base, Robyn) and influential producers (the Mafia trio, Max Martin, Alexander Bard), Sweden is well-known for a heritage of top-notch electronic dance music. The next Swedish producer to hear is Björn Johnsson, aka John de Sohn.  Starting off playing with Mixxmeister before training as a DJ, he’s made the move to production with the debut single “Unleash My Love,” which went platinum and got major support from Tiesto. Now signed to Sony for the world, his new single with Andreas Moe, “Long Time,” is quickly getting support from radio and clubs everywhere. We spoke to him after the remixer panel at Promo Only Summer Sessions 2012 in Atlantic City.

Ron Slomowicz: Welcome to the US, is this your first time here in the United States?
John de Sohn: Thank you. No it isn’t, I have been here a couple of times before, but this is the first time doing promo work as an artist. I have been here as tourist, and also worked as a camp tennis trainer in North Carolina for a couple of months.

RS: So you are Swedish, why do you think that Swedes have such a history with pop music?
John de Sohn: It is hard to say, but everyone seems to think that since the weather is so cold people just stay inside and create music. Sweden has a lot of music culture from artists like Abba, who have given us a lot of inspiration.

RS: Congratulations on “Unleash My Love,” which was your first single that went platinum. How did that song come about, did you produce the track yourself?
John de Sohn: I actually created the melody in my head, but I couldn’t play it out on the keyboard. I asked my friend Nick Wall to do the chorus and we made a really good melody of the track, and from there we started to make arrangements. I had done a track with Christina Skaar that was never released, and she was in the studio doing something else, heard the track and liked it. We actually got together and did everything in a day.

RS: So you and Nick work together as a team, is Alex part of the team also?
John de Sohn: No, not on that track.

RS: Now with your current music, do the three of you work together?
John de Sohn: Yes, they are my managers and help me out with everything.

RS: How did it feel when Tiesto picked up your track?
John de Sohn: It was crazy; almost every remix that I have done he has played in his shows. It has been really cool. I got some mail from my manager Alex and he told me that Tiesto wanted my track on ‘Club Life.’ I was shocked, I thought that my music was too much pop for him, but he really liked it and has played it a lot.

RS: Congratulations. So how does a Swede end up on Sony in the US?
John de Sohn: I went to ADE in Amsterdam last fall and my manager and Nick Wall met up with an old friend that currently works on Sony. They started to talk one day over coffee and he mentioned that we had a track. He loved it and they signed it right away. Sony’s business is worldwide and that’s how I ended up here.

RS: So that is the track “Long Time” with Andreas Moe, did that song start as a track and then vocals were added?
John de Sohn: It is actually really embarrassing, because I was sitting on the couch in my underwear watching TV and I came up with that melody. I brought it to the studio and started to work on it more and more. Through a friend I met Andreas Moe, who was living in Stockholm as well. We started to work on the vibes and write the lyrics and finished after a while.

RS: Your real name is Bjorn Johnson, is that how you got John de Sohn?
John de Sohn: Yes, Bjorn is a Swedish name and not very international. We sat down and tried to find something international and came up with John de Sohn which is like my first and last name.

RS: Tell us about your radio show.
John de Sohn: I actually used to have a radio show, but they shut the station down so I am not involved in it anymore. When I was involved I had a radio mix show that was on twice a day with two twenty-minute remixes. It was doing well; I was getting my tracks out and playing my own remixes. It actually ended up working out really well for me here in Sweden.

RS: Were you a DJ or a producer first?
John de Sohn: The first time that I ever did anything regarding music was with a program called MixMeister about fifteen years ago. You could only mix two tracks at the same time and only had two channels. I was putting so much effort into the program and I thought it was so much fun. I worked about twelve hours a day, I wasn’t making any money, but I met a DJ that invited me to go play in clubs. I didn’t know how to mix on a live set, though, and actually followed him for two years learning how to do it. I have been a DJ for over ten years and then I started to produce. DJs in Sweden don’t usually get a lot of attention, because there are so many of them. There are so many DJs playing for a couple of beers just to get in the club and have their friends there. I was tired of not being appreciated for what I was doing because I always put so much more effort into it than the attention I got. I started to do tracks by myself, but never played an instrument and knew that I needed to if I wanted to go anywhere, and here I am now.

RS: What software do you use for production?
John de Sohn: I use Logic.

RS: You said a quote on the panel that got my attention; remixers, as you say in your country, are called producers in the US.
John de Sohn: Well, a remix is a production as well, for me it is a production when you are a producer, I am not sure if it is the same thing in the US.

RS: What’s the best way to keep up with you  –  Twitter or Facebook?
John de Sohn: Yeah, I use everything. Twitter.com/johndesohn or Facebook.com/johndesohn, you can see all of my work and upcoming events on there.

RS: Okay, is there anything that you would like to say to your fans out there?
John de Sohn: I am really happy that everything worked out so well today; it is because of a lot of work and my fans. Today I am growing in the states and we have a lot more coming, so stay tuned…

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