A bittersweet melancholy runs through Grande Luxe’s every note and lyric. Is it Northern, is it Scandinavian, or is it only human?
The band, based in the university town of Umeå in northern Sweden, have just released their debut album, Time Measured In Bitter Chapters.
A collection of songs that show how a heartfelt glow can cause more effect than huge explosions.
Where a lot of today’s pop music is so loud and brash that it’s hard to separate from the radio commercials,
Grande Luxe are closer to the ingredients of music that everyone can feel: silence, pauses, hesitation.
Their music is majestic, beautiful, sparse, melancholic. And always moving. It doesn’t scream to get attention.
Instead, it entices you to enter its world. And when you’re there, you want to stay.
Because this is an album in the classic sense of the word: a journey through feelings, moods, and strong melodies.
Technically speaking, it’s easier today than it’s ever been to record an album. Maybe even too easy.
A lot of bands settle for mediocricy. Grande Luxe don’t. The songs that can be found on their first album have been through several incarnations.
The group have tried lots of different arrangements and types of production, in order to make sure that they create an album that will last.
Great band chemistry is often made up of members that share the same vision, but different types of talent. Grande Luxe consists of a combination of natural talent, skill and experience.
The ”rough diamond ”of the band is, without any doubt, the band’s lead vocalist, Anders Lidgren. He is a true rennaissance man.
He’s a certified flight engineer, has a Master’s Degree i bio medicine and a PH Degree in cancer research.
At the moment he’s working as a doctor. The fact that he lacks education in the field of music, probably adds to the band’s certain magic.
Anders’ words, melodies, and vibrato-free vocals have a presence that moves people. He does what he feels, and probably breaks a few rules in the process.
This is something that the other members of the band treasure. In fact, Anders hadn’t even set his foot in a recording studio before meeting guitarist Mattias Eklund.
The other members have been around, without being ”musician’s musicians”:
Mattis Eklund is a nuanced guitarist, a driven producer, and one of the founders of the internationally successful company Toontrack,
which has revolutionized the recording business with its drum samples.
Drummer Lars ”Larra” Lundström is the computer genius and multi instrumentalist of the band.
He can pick up any instrument and immediately make it sound like music.
In Grande Luxe he channels his creativity through drumming, but he also adds imaginative ideas for the rest of the music.
Lars has played in several bands, and always has a lot going on.
Bass player Per Lönnberg can look back at something as uncommon as a former career as dancer, at least for someone who works in the granite business!
Per is a charming party guy. A people person verging on social genius, whose commanding presence can be heard in his assured, but inventive playing.
The members of Grande Luxe first got together in 2007. Some of them were already friends, others knew of each other through school, girlfriends or siblings.
The sounds they made when first starting out were quite strange. Mattias and Lars had jazz roots, while the others came from the metal scene.
It sounded ”interesting”, but not necessarily good. But soon enough they started approaching their goal.
– Right from the start we had a vision of us playing melancholic pop music, says Mattias.
Radiohead and the Swedish band Kent figured somewhere in the background, albeit more as a general direction than obvious influences.
We had ideas of using lots of sampling. As we went on, we removed the samples. In the end there were no synthesizers, only piano.
The fact that the end result is very organic doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t have a lot of machines on our next album! he adds, smiling.
As of now, Grand Luxe create a sound that manages to be sparse, grand, and atmospheric at the same time. You can also sense a touch of the ”ambient country” that producer Daniel Lanois conjured from,the likes of U2 and Robbie Robertson.
Mattias is the man behind a lot of the production, but everyone colours and shapes chord sequences, grooves, arrangements and the overall sound, which is why the band is collectively credited with writing the music.
– Sometimes you hesitate a little before suggesting a change, since Mattias has spent so much time on the initial demo production, says Anders. But you never have to worry. He gets it immediately, and there’s no prestige involved. Also, he’s so incredibly fast with the equpiment, that he has no problem tearing down something that sounds great.
– Of course it can be a little annoying at times, but I cando it because I know that it usually turns out even better in the end, adds Mattias. Sometimes our American producer Allen Morgan (who has worked with artists like Nine Inch Nails, Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire and Jack Ingram) has redone the whole thing yet again.
This happened to the representative album opener Broken, one of the three songs Morgan produced. The album was mixed by Mattias together with the highly respected and Grammy nominated, mixing engineer Niklas Flyckt (who has worked with artists like Britney Spears and Swedish star Robyn, as well as several famous metal acts, but showed great understanding for Grande Luxe’s musical vision).
Anders wrote most of the melodies and all lyrics, the words being heartfelt incantations against the darkness we all carry somewhere inside. Some of us more than others.
– I’ve gone through some dark periods in my life, and I want to be honest in my expression, he explains. It’s not all about me, but a lot of it is. Sometimes friends and family are really worried after having listened to the lyrics. To me, this only confirms the power of the words. However, I don’t want to explain too much.
Sometimes, Anders comes up with a vocal line or phrase at 2.30 in the morning, gets on the phone and calls Mattias to say ”I’ve got it!”. Mattias is never annoyed. He only gets excited. That says something.
Grande Luxe have received praise for their live performances, which have so far mostly taken placein the north of Sweden. Their goal is nowto play a lot more live – in Sweden, USA, and the rest of the world. Be sure to catch them live if you get the chance.
Until then: enjoy the fact that the perfect autumn album has arrived. All you have to do is pour a glass of red wine, pull a blanket over your body, and wait for the goosebumps to appear.