Sally Shapiro Interview
One day, tragic I know, I will shuffle of this 'ere mortal coil and, if I'm lucky, go upstairs rather than downstairs. Yes I'll be goin' on up to the Spirit In The Sky to hang out with Elvis & Marilyn. So whilst I practice Stairway to Heaven on my harp in anticipation of that day, I can be sure of only one other thing. When I'm queuing up at the Pearly Gates trying to get St. Peter's attention and blag my way into the VIP section, I know what music will be playing. It will be Sweden's Sally Shapiro. There's simply no other way to describe the music, it's just heavenly, divine, heavenly, celestial and heavenly again. So in advance, it may be worth checking them out and learning the words. Oh my Cherubs, walk this way and mind the step...
Hello Sally Shapiro! For our readers new to your music can you give us a little introduction into the wonderful world of Sally Shapiro?
Sally Shapiro is both a project and an pseudonyme, that express all the most romantic and melancholic sides in me and Johan, (Agebjörn, the producer). We want to put music and words to that inner feeling of bittersweet loving and heartbreak in a way that most people probably would express it in a diary. Maybe close to pathetic, but still not, since it´s the true feeling. The productions are inspired by 80s Italo disco, although flirting with other styles. It´s sugary sweet, but it´s meant seriously, and maybe the perfect time to listen to it for the first time is when you are in a melancholic mode all by yourself. The first album, Disco Romance came in 2006, and now comes the follow-up My Guilty Pleasure.
“It feels so sweet when you're rejected”. If Rap is said to glamorise violence and Grunge to glamorise Heroin, it could be said Sally Shapiro glamorises heartbreak! How do you plead guilty or not guilty and what is your defence?
Well that song (Dying In Africa) is a Nicolas Makelberge cover, but of course we chose it since we think it suits our own music, both the music and the lyrics. I think sweet here should be thought of as bittersweet. Somehow you experience love the strongest when you’re unhappily in love. When you’re happily in love you just take it for granted. Then when you lose someone you realize how much you loved him/her. I don’t want to glamourise it but there is a need to sing about it, and in one way those are one of the moments when you really feel alive. And it’s good if the music makes rejected people sense a strength of glamour in the middle of their sorrow.
Who or what happened in your life to make you realise you simply had to make music?
I don’t remember. I grew up with Swedish pop and disco and the Eurovision Song Contest. I have lots of tapes from when I was a child singing. But releasing an album wasn´t really more than a child dream. Then, when Johan asked me to sing on I´ll Be By Your Side, I agreed and then it just came along.
What has been the most rewarding or heartstopping moment of your time so far in Sally Shapiro?
Maybe the first time I heard the final produced version of I’ll Be By Your Side and it really sounded good. And the first time that song was played on P3 (like Radio 1 but in Sweden) and the radio DJ said something like it was maybe the best thing she had ever heard. In terms of sales or career, what happens in Sweden doesn’t mean that much (Sweden is a very small country) but when the music is played on the radio station you have grown up to it’s still very special.
You're influenced by Italo-disco – can you tell us what are the typical ingredients in an italo-disco track, why this genre is so appealing and perhaps recommend a track for beginners?
At its best it’s a certain appealing electronic sound but what I like about it is that it often has very good and catchy melodies and it’s often melancholic in a good way. One of my favourite songs is Valerie Dore's Get Closer.
You've described Sally Shapiro as a studio project and you prefer not to tour – If you had to construct a 'dreamband' to go on tour for you to perform SS songs live, who would be in the band?
I don’t know, it would be nice with just Johan and me. I don’t think it will happen though. Some nice male dancers to hide behind maybe, but I´m not sure it would fit the music and feeling. Maybe if I got to open for some artist I really like, so I just can’t say no.
There's a lot of sadness – albeit beautiful, cathartic sadness – on the album, what cheers you up when you're down in real life?
Hugh Grant movies, seen together with some nice friend, preferable in the same situation.
You've released two remix albums – what's your favourite mix so far and what track / artist would you love (dead or alive) to remix or collaborate with?
My favourite of the remixes is the Jon Brooks remix of Skating In the Moonshine. It would be nice if Pet Shop Boys made a remix. Or maybe Ladytron.
If our readers had 24 hrs in your native Sweden – where would you recommend they go and what should they do?
They should go to the deep forests and use the Right of Public Access. Pick blueberries and lingonberries, swim in a lake and sleep in a tent.
Sounds perfect. So, you've been on DJ tours across the globe – do you have any invincible 'secret weapon' tunes that are guaranteed to get people dancing?
Catchy '80s disco classics like Fancy's Slice Me Nice and in Sweden, Lili & Susie's Oh Mama.
Finally, you recently 'twittered' that you're contemplating a non-electronic album inspired by Belle & Sebastian – Will we see a Sally Shapiro 'unplugged' record and if not, what are the plans for the future?
Probably not. It was just a feel, something that made me feel inspired at the moment. I do like the thought of some acoustic tracks with flutes and strings, but no structured idea has yet come along. Johan is mostly into disco and electronic music and I’m not really into working with some other producer at the moment. Maybe some time in the future, who knows? Right now we’re busy promoting this album and also doing remixes together for some other artists.
God bless Sally Shapiro and with that, I'm off to find some Lingonberries. Sally Shapiro folks, music made in heaven, but luckily for us available on Earth too.
The album My Guilty Pleasure is released on 24th August and the single Love In July is out now. For more info check out the Sally Shapiro website.
Photo courtesy Frida Klingberg.