"All About The Album - 15 Questions" - a brand new section at the RockUnited site where a recording artist with an recently released CD is confronted with 'album' questions (15 of them, duh!). If you'd like to have your material up here, email: urban "at" rockunited.com (simply replace "at" with your standard @ )
SONIC STATION: "Sonic Station"
Sonic Station is a new Westcoast AOR Project put together by Alexander Kronbrink (a swedish guitarist, composer and producer). Alexander is a young musician who learned his skills working with smooth Jazz star Jonathan Fritzén – who lived in his neighborhood. Later on – after being introduced to Lee Ritenour - Alexander started to see a clearer direction in his playing. Through Ritenour he discovered the music of such giants as Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, composer and producer David Foster and guitarist Jay Graydon, to mention a few. While studying music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, he teamed up with Marika Willstedt, a singer and piano player and they started writing music and playing together. Marika is today a well known artist and session musician in Sweden after appearing as pianist and teamleader in a prime time tv-show on national television. Here to answer the Q's and to inform us about the album, ALEXANDER KRONBRINK...
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
It will be released on the 24th of February so so far not that much. But people from all over the world have contacted me and saying they are very excited about the forthcoming release – so I'm hoping everybody will like it! I have had some good reviews with quotes like: "the Toto of the new Millennium" and "...one of the best in this genre I've heard for a while now."
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
I started recording the first demos in 2007. But the first serious recordings were made in 2008, together with my drummer Aron Mellergĺrdh (from the hyped band 'Dirty Loops'). Then I worked on the songs on and off, until the summer of 2010 when I got the time to finish it up. I'm also working as a freelancing guitarist so unfortunately I haven't been able to focus on this project only. But from the summer of 2010 to fall of 2011 I worked with full concentration and the last recording was finished in November 2011.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
Actually a few different sounds. Some songs were in the soft westcoast style, and a few others were more like the 80's AOR and some even in the 70's rock sound. But rather early in the process I decided to put all the music in the same frame, that being the westcoast/AOR of the 80's. But I think you can find lot of traces of me and my own expressions on the record too. But I guess you would have to ask somebody else to describe what that is!
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
Because I'm the songwriter, arranger and also the producer I was in total control of the whole process. I guess there is not a single tone or a note on this record that I do not know.
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
Yes, I'm very satisfied. I wanted that 80's sound and I definitely think we made it, or at least as close as you can possibly get. To my help I hade the very talented engineer and bass player Erik Metall. But of course you live and you learn so there are a few things I will do better on the next album.
Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
No, not really. There are surprisingly few electric guitar tracks recorded with a microphone – but that's not so unusual regarding to the preferences we have.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound' in the studio, or perhaps you didn't
No, haha... I don't think we did. It will take a lot of musicians on stage to recreate the sound of the album correctly. But I did see the Swedish group Roxette on their reunion tour in fall 2011 and got really inspired by the approach of their guitarist Christoffer Lundquist. It was all about output and just hitting that guitar real hard! I went back home and recorded an outro-solo on "Never let thesunshine die" with that "live"-feeling.
Please inform us about your favourite songs and lyrical highlights and why?
I love all the songs on the album and I have a special relationship to them all. Every
song has something that sticks out and makes it special. "Love's gonna show the way" is in form and
performance a true westcoast/AOR song and it is also my absolute favorite on the album, if I have to
choose one. It has an interesting harmony, a moving melody on the verses, a powerful catchy chorus
that sticks to your head, a guitar solo with stems and Magnus Bäcklund's great voice. "I wish I
could lie" is also a favorite. This is the only one where I came up with a few lines of lyrics too.
It's one of the first songs written for this project and it's definitely the most simple song
harmony wise. But I really like that catchy refrain and the big
AOR/80's sound we managed to deliver.
Any overall theme of mood that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
I like to listen to music that makes me feel good. Doesn't mean every song has to be in a major key, but I don't like it too sad and sentimental. A catchy melody combined with an interesting harmony is what I try to find! Also a straight ahead rock tune with a pumping bass and distorted guitars does it for me.
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
I guess I was born in the wrong decade. I listen a lot to music from the late 70s to the mid 90s. Everybody's talking about discovering new music - I do it all the time, it's just that most of the times it is 25 years old. But of course, I believe that everything you hear, including modern music, affects you, one way or the other. But I wouldn't say it gets to me commercially... then I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing, music in the 80's genre. But after all, a good song is always a good song, it's just a matter of which clothes you dress it up in.
Did the record company interfere with anything on your "sound" and songs?
No, not at all actually.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
No. We behaved very well in the studio...
How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
In my ears it's basically good, singable melodies with influences from hard rock, jazz and westcoast rock with an 80's touch. The meticulous arrangements are crucial to the sound of the music, and it's performed by a line of really skilled musicians.
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
In my early years I listened a lot to Michael Jackson. His strong melodies and Quincy Jones' productions was a match made in heaven. In my teenage years I listened a lot to what was really hot then, grunge music. Soundgarden is still one of my favorite rock bands. One of my earliest and best friends, the pianist Jonathan Fritzén (smooth jazz star with several billboard number 1's who also plays on the Sonic Station record ) introduced me to the world of jazz. I got into jazz guitar heroes like Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour. I've always had a fondness for the smoother sound so by way of Lee Ritenour I came across artists like Steely Dan, Toto and Kenny Loggins. And then in my early 20s I discovered Jay Graydon's Airplay and that opened the doors to a lot of his work with Al Jarreau and so on... But you can always find bands like the Beatles and the Beach Boys in my Ipod too.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
If you like guitars, top notch
production and nice, catchy melodies you should listen to Sonic Station. You won't be
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom,