Page - Swedish is a part of Page. It is part of the package, the concept.
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The Swedish synthpop band Page is often credited with being the first band to bring synthpop music to Sweden. Their music and band members (particularly Eddie Bengtsson) influenced many subsequent Swedish synthpop acts, including Elegant Machinery, S.P.O.C.K, Sista Mannen Pa Jorden and KieTheVez. Formed in 1980 by Eddie Bengtsson and Marina Schiptjenko, soon joined by Anders Eliasson, the band quickly gained underground cult-status releasing many singles such as "Dansande man", "Som skjuten ur en kanon", "Bla fotter" and "Som en vind".
Though most of their important influential work was released in the 1980s, their first album, the self titled "Page" was only released in 1991. Though the band has never officially disbanded, it had been remarkably quiet since a performance at SEMA (Swedish Electronic Music Awards) in 1999 when the band promised nothing new would ever be released under the name Page. A compilation covering their two decades of work was released in 2000 and that was it.
But after a decade of silence, in 2010 Page released an album of newly recorded material called "Nu", and even performed two tracks live on the Swedish TV show "Nyhetsmorgon" in May 2010. The band played in Stockholm the day our chief editor was in town and tipped by our local correspondent Petra Rönnholm, decided to get both Eddie Bengtsson and Anna Marina Schiptjenko behind the mic for a quick chat in the backstage area of the Ultrafoxx/Sugar Bar. (By Petra Rönnholm and Bernard Van Isacker)
SL: Is the album published by the Malmö based label SubSpace Communication or another label?
E: It's published by Bonnieramigo. They distribute outside Scandinavia but they don't know if they will do it with this album.
SL: If you are going to release this album outside Scandinavia you always have a problem with the language.
E: Yes, I know. On the other side I listen to Telex and they sing sometimes in French.
SL: Let's hop to another question before we continue with language. Eurovision Song Contest - why did you never participate in that? Telex did it, they made a joke of it with the track "Eurovision" in 1980.
E: yeah, Hmm...how many points did they get...? It's a brilliant song. I love it!
SL: There is no plan to actually have a go (smile).
E: No, not really but if people like it and they can take it with the swedish lyrics...
M: Yes, cause there is no plans in translating them
SL: Why? I'm just curious why you always sing in swedish?
E: Because we are from Sweden.
M: It's a part of Page. It's part of the package, the concept.
SL: But it limits the possibilities to reach a wider public.
M: Yes, but you know it's not all about reaching a huge audience. For us it's about the sound. Look at Kent. When they tried to take out their package outside the nordic countries it kind of died. I think Kent is more nordic in the temperament, but I also think Page. But saying that we have received really really good reviews from Scandipop.
E: They are from England.
SL: I remember when "Dansande Man" was played in the clubs in Belgium and everybody was singing all kinds of words to it because we didn't know them. Then a group covered it in english and then that song was played a lot.
E: Nice! So you mean they actually like "oh, this is nice" and they danced?
SL: The song is known. "Dansande man" is known.
M: I heard it in New York, when I went to a club.
SL: In Swedish?
M: Yes. THE Dansande man. And I was like "what!?"
SL: Actually, dansande man is used a lot in youtube videos. If you check you have people playbacking on it and doing stuff on it. We actually made news on that because we found it very interesting that a song that old could still...
M: (Laughs), in swedish!
SL: It's become a club anthem. I'm sure that if you guys would have done a couple of things in english you could have... But maybe it's not your target?
M: well, as I say you should never say never. Maybe that is the next step, to translate it into english.
E: If someone would suggest it then maybe but there are no plans.
SL: Ok, we tried, we failed. Next question then, why did you actually return this year? Is it because of the 30 years?
E: Yeah, it's part of it. 30 years since we started and 10 years since we ended. And, Marina she....
M: Yeah, I will stop with my other band - BWO - and I felt I still want to play but I want to play with Eddie. (Laughs)
SL: But these are difﬁcult times for music.
M: Yes, but we are not fulltime musicians, we have other professions. I think that's the key. You can't just play music because then you would get really frustrated. (Laughs)!
E: Yes, it's great to do something just for fun.
M: Hmm, and this is for fun because we love it! Not for like "hmmm, it's premier we want to sell a lot of albums". We just love it.
E: Or to make more money
M: Because we never did. (Laughs)
SL: I'm more looking from the label point of view. Running Alfa Matrix, I know a bit how the market works. It's quite difﬁcult nowadays to launch something, so how did you convince the label to take part in this?
M: Actually we spoke to our boss from the record company. They think that we... they wanted to work with us partly because we are so grounded on the scene already. And this is what it is all about, being on the ﬂoor. Selling albums. So instead of signing a new band they took up a band with a substantial history. And they like us, they like our sound. If you listen to other swedish music, Page is quite unique.
SL: Exactly. Deﬁnately. But why do you think that is the reason why Page goes so well in the music scene?
M: Do we? (Laughs)
M: I don't know if we have success but I do think that people who like us - the lyrics and the songs they are very melodic - but I also think people feel we are very genuine. This is who we are and I think you can't trick people. They feel it. It's really made with honesty and we are genuine.
SL: If you read wikipedia on Page it says that you guys are the founder of the synthpop music in Sweden plus you were behind groups and that without you bands like Kiethevez, Spock would never existed... bla bla bla.
M: Yes, you formed Spock (to Eddie). (Laughs).
SL: If you look at all this is it difﬁcult to stay all that modest, no?
E: I don't know
M: No, I don't think so because we took a break of 10 years. And as you can hear on the new album it was really important for us to recreate the Page sound, not to take new inﬂuence but also to be honest and the lyrics are about what we are today. We worked very hard to ﬁnd our genuine sound again.
E: At the same time you should hear there has been a progression. And I think you do.
M: In terms of lyrics and songwriting.
SL: Who are you guys? What are your occupations now?
M: We are older. (Laughs)...
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SL: I know you have an art gallery Marina...
M: Yes and Eddie is a teacher and has a family.
E: I teach swedish and history, religion and geography and social science.
SL: Are you working full time with your gallery?
M: Yes, I'm an art dealer since 20 years.
SL: It's here in Stockholm, right?
M: Yes in Hudiksvallsgatan, behind Vanadisplan.
SL: All kinds of art?
M: Contemporary art.
SL: You are also writing a book?
M: I haven't started yet.
SL: It's already on Bokus, but it is not possible ordering it.
M: I know. They said they had to register the title, that's why.
SL: Why do you want to write the book? Is it because you as a woman got lots of questions why you choose not to have children?
M: It was because when I understood that I don't want to have children I searched for literature, I wanted to talk to people. I recognized there was nothing. No discussions on internet. So that's why I wanted to do that cause that's a book that I wanted to have ﬁve years back cause I was quite conﬂictual, I was quite sad that I did not want to have children. It's a book I wanted to read myself.
SL: Women don't have it all that easy.
M: No, not that many, (Laughs). But now we shall talk about Page... (Laughs). You know I can talk a lot about that but I don't have the energy after a gig to talk about that, honestly.
SL: Fair enough. You said in an interview that Page is a very organic experience. What exactly did you mean?
M: You know, I phoned Eddie saying, should we do this again and he said yes and this creativity you started... and my boyfriend made the cover and it's my ex-husband who works with us too. It's like a family. It has been going so smoothly because everyone is like "yeah, let's do that". It's not a project, it's not calculating. Therefore I mean more organic.
E: And as a part, organiclike cause we are doing much of the stuff by hands.
M: Absolutely. No machines.
E: Instead of synthesizers. We try to do some of the stuff. Of course some things you can't do without synthesizers but most of the stuff we try to do with our hands.
SL: What exactly?
E: Like bases, sequencers and some melodies.
SL: But why?
M: Better sound.
E: Because it makes it more organic and I enjoy it of course.
M: It's slight imperfection that makes it come alive.
SL: Analog sound is already imperfect.
E: Yes, exactly.
SL: So you are making imperfect music in a perfect way? (Laughs)
E: Yes, thank you (Laughs) Sometimes electronic music tends to be too perfect and it almost gets boring.
SL: Well produced as well.
E: Yeah, you can tell what's going to happen. Everything is just like it should be. We try to surprise people.
SL: How did you end up working with Hammerfall?
M: Someone said that Hammerfall like us.
E: Ok, never heard that one.
M: But I don't know if that's even true.
SL: I read that they made a cover of one of your songs, but I don't know which one.
M: We have to ﬁnd out which one, cause we don't have a clue.
M: It's very cool if they did it!
SL: Very organic! (Laughs)
M: I mean, I think that's quite signiﬁcant for us as well because we are not part of the music industry, or business. We don't hang out. That's because we do other stuff and we are not so interested in that side of it. It's not calculating either but I do understand now that that's really our strength because we are sort of disconnected and we are not with the hip, cool types in Stockholm. We do our own stuff and it may sounds a bit boring but I do think it adds to us having our own bubble in a way. (Editor's note: Eddie is asked to move equipment and walks off but not before talking to Marina about the answer he was to give...) Eddie wanted me also to say that when it comes to Hammerfall... I mean, the structure of the songs are always made as that you can play them with a normal set. Base, guitar and drums. So if you listen to the songs the structure is leading guitar, they have a base. So the structure of the song is actually more sort of the traditional guitar/base pop.
SL: I actually think it's good that you maybe are not that hip so to speak, because that might actually add to the music in a positive way.
M: I think so too! Not hunting for the hippest or coolest sound. I'm not going to mention any names but some swedish bands are too preoccupied with being cool so it's almost like they don't believe it 's funny.
SL: I talk a lot to all kinds of bands from this scene and often some are really daft, so it's rather nice meeting people that think outside of the box as well.
M: (Laughs)! That's good! I love that word!
SL: What bands do you feel most connected to then? If you have to name a few who you say: 'they got it'?
M: Well, I like a lot of the new electronica ladies. Like Goldfrapp, Florence and the machine even if it's not our sound. I think they really are... Because when I started playing in 1980 there weren't that many girls.
SL: You were 15 years old then?
M: Yes. And now you have some really good, strong artists that are female. I didn't have any idol to look up to. I liked Ellen Ripley in "Alien". There were strong women like Siouxsie and the Banchees, but they were still very few. So I feel connected to those ladies even if we don't play the same music. And La Roux... Eddie doesn't like La Roux... well, he likes them but he thinks they are a bit over the top. No, I like it.
SL: I ﬁnd it a bit too confection.
M: Yeah, I think Eddie would agree with you.
SL: How do you look at the whole of the electronic scene? Or are you as far disconnected with them as with the image?
M: I feel very connected to the scene, even if I'm not a part of it. Physically I don't go out to that many clubs but I'm completely loyal to the scene because I grew up on it. Of course you have different branches - you have the daft, really serious people, you have the people who drink too much or you have etc etc. But I embrace them all because for me it's my roots. I have always been like that, I don't want to be too involved because I like to be more of a spectator.
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