Recording Date: August 16, 2009
Location: Svenska Grammofon Studion, Gothenburg, Sweden
This was an International episode of Studio Jams – taped at the Svenska Grammofon Studion in Gothenburg, Sweden. SGS is one of Scandinavia’s leading recording studios. (Interestingly, it is owned and operated by members of the band The Soundtrack of Our Lives.)
It was somewhat spontaneous how it all came to be. I knew I would be in Gothenburg taping at the Way Out West alt-rock festival for a different series. Traveling with me would be my crew and our host, violinist Tracy Silverman. So I thought, “while we are there, why not try to hook up with an old friend, Swedish guitarist Soren Reiff and look into the possibility of taping another episode of Studio Jams – this time with Tracy, Soren and, again, with some of his friends. (Soren also appeared on Episode #34.) So Soren and I used email to iron out the details so we could make it happen.
I knew Tracy and Soren would hit it off. Both are wonderful, experienced pros. Tracy, a good friend and one of my favorite musicians, has already appeared on a number of different Studio Jams episodes, so I knew what to expect from him. I again had to totally rely on Soren to line up and confirm the other musicians for the gig…specifically a bassist, drummer and keyboard player. I was very glad (and comforted) when I heard from Soren that he had arranged for bassist Jannik Jensen, a good friend of his who was also part of Episode #34 that we shot in Stockholm the year before, to join us. Jannik is a wonderful player as well. The two of them have worked together many times in the past.
I met the other musicians – Pontus Engborg on drums and keyboard player Mattias Bylund – for the first time that day in the studio. They, too, are A-list players with plenty of professional experience. I couldn’t have been more pleased with Soren. Once again, he delivered in a very big way. All of them had arrived and were already setting up, when my crew and I arrived at the studio that day. Everyone spoke fluent English, so effectively communicating with each other was not an issue at all.
There were, however, a couple of unexpected logistical and technical issues that we had to address. First of all, the studio space was long and narrow, making it a bit challenging for both musician set-up and camera placement. Plus – after almost a week of shooting around Sweden prior to the session – unfortunately 1 of our 3 cameras went on the fritz and died, creating a less than ideal situation for us. As a result we had to shoot this session with only 2 professional cameras. Luckily, one of my cameramen did have a personal digital video camera with him that we opted to use as a 3rd video source – just in case. We simply locked that down on a 2-shot of bass and drums.
After working through all of the technical kinks, we were ready to go. To get us started, Tracy suggested a cover of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature. It came together beautifully. We recorded 2 takes of the song – both with nice solo passages from Soren, Tracy and Mattias. Next, Soren introduced everyone to one of his originals, a song called Funky Mama. Great tune, with lots of interesting rhythm kicks. It took a while for everyone to get on the same page with it, but when they finally did, we recorded 2 great takes of the song.
After a short break, Tracy suggested they play a cover of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish. We recorded 2 complete takes of this song – 1 a bit faster tempo than the other. The session closed with another one of Soren’s original tunes, a beautiful ballad called Miss You. Tracy contributed a beautiful solo on this track.
I had to wrap quickly after Miss You. My crew and I had to hustle to make a train out of Gothenburg that would then get us to Stockholm in time for our overseas flight home. Looking back, it was yet another great afternoon of some fresh, new music. Music truly is a universal language. We proved it again that afternoon.
Big thanks go out to Soren. He has exposed me to some wonderful Scandinavian musicians – and for that I am thankful. I am also very thankful that he (and Jannik) both thought so much of our program to make the 3 hours trek from Stockholm to Gothenburg (and back again, too!) just for the gig. Thanks a million, guys. You’re the best. Until next time…!
– Tom Emmi / Producer