Peter Busborg interview, February 2009

Interview by Georg Forchhammer, February 2009

It is a major task to get all the way around the musician, songwriter, singer and producer Peter Busborg. Throughout the years he has written songs for a lot of well-known Danish artists such as Sanne Salomonsen, Erann DD and Zididada. Last Busborg released a record was back in 1992 – “Busborg” – a series of songs written by both Peter and Stig Skovlind and 2 cover versions of Bob Dylan songs “Just like a woman” and “Mighty Quinn.” In addition, he participated in numerous recording sessions and worked as a backing singer in the Eurovision Song Contest lots of times.

Now Peter Busborg is back with a new solo album, 1:1, which is in Danish. First impression of this album is that the songs are lovely, Peter is still a fantastic singer, and the album is very well produced. Some critics have stated that the songs are naïve, but in my opinion they have forgotten to listen carefully. The texts may not be the most profound, but the expression on the album is very authentic, and therefore songs are also credible. Busborg himself describes his new record as timeless and long-lasting. He feels the same way about the debut album from 1992 – you can still listen to it.

It has been a great challenge to sing in Danish:

“I see my voice as an instrument, and in this new album I had some other possibilities available, but there were also some huge limitations. The Danish language is “square” and it doesn’t flow in the same way as English does. But at the same time it was also a challenge. I might express my feelings better in Danish, but there is much more energy in the English language.”

The new album has been promoted as Busborg’s 2nd album. He has, however, recorded a lot of songs during the years. “The new album is perhaps really no. 5, though the other songs have not been released. However, being in Danish, it is number 1! Many old fans compare the two albums even though “… There is a world of difference …” As singer Busborg defines himself as soul singer – though not in the traditional sense as a black soul singer. More in the sense ‘singer with soul’.

“In reality, I see myself as a singer, an instrument, a song writer and a performer all in one.”

We also talked about the texts on the album, and Busborg said:

“Each of my songs is really just 3 words, and then the mood is set for me – the rest doesn’t really matter. It’s the same thing when I sing in English.”

Busborg especially remembers a compliment he received for the first Busborg album.

“It was from a huge, black man who had every jazz and soul singer represented in his record collection, and also my album. Then he said: “You’ve got soul, man.” I almost gave him a big hug out of excitement, because I was well aware that it wasn’t about me being black or not, and I also hope that is what people relate to when they hear my new album. ”

Peter Busborg has gathered a great team of musicians on his new album. He calls them “My Band”-(Mit Orkester) and they consist of: Helge Solberg (bass), Henrik Askou (drums), Dan Hemmer (keyboards) and Lars Krarup (guitar). Both in the studio and live, it has been great to work with these musicians.

“They are all very competent and great at interpreting my songs live on stage.” “Besides being a bass player, Helge Solberg is also the one who controls the back up vocals when we play live. He is up front on the stage together with me and follows each phrase or change in the texts, I might make.”

The band is currently planning more live jobs, including a tour, but they are not specific with dates yet.

Guitarist Lars Krarup describes Busborg as being “incredibly easy to work with”, perhaps to some extent due to the fact that for many years he also worked as a backing vocalist and side man and therefore knows how a band works, unlike so many other solo artists.

Actually, the album seems more like a band project than an actual solo album, and there is also an explanation for that:

“I’m in a music club called “Club Klondyke” which holds about 10 concerts a year, and I joined the club in 2003 when I together with 15 other singers were invited to a Frank Sinatra jam, and they had a great big-band. In a way, that was my come back to the stage again. I had worked as a side man for many years, and not as a soloist, so I was very nervous. But when I came up on stage and sang my song, I really enjoyed it and realized what I basically love(d) the most: Being on stage singing! The artist in me was aroused again. ”

Since that time, Busborg has been several times in Klondyke Club, and at a time, a Bob Dylan jam was arranged.

“And together with Lars Krarup I gathered the team of musicians who later became “My Band.”

During these years, Busborg built a brand new studio in his own house. Since then, a lot of music has been recorded in the studio and of course, parts of the new album was recorded here.

“What’s special about my record is that the basic tracks and vocals are recorded live in the studio. Therefore, we also needed to practice the songs as a band before we recorded them. I wanted to sing the songs live together with the band and at the same time be engineer, etc. It was a little too much to keep track of, so we ended up recording the basic tracks over 3 days in the studio Mill Factory with Boe Larsen as an engineer.”

This has also given the album a special dynamic feeling. You can feel how the musicians play together and last but not least, the interaction between the musicians and Busborg’s vocals.

We talked a lot about Busborg’s song writing over the years, and after the first Busborg album in 92 and up to today.

“Actually, I recorded an album in 1996 in the Easy Sound studio, which then closed, so the album was not released. After that, I gathered a team of musicians, and we went to Sweden and rehearsed all the songs that had been discarded in the studio and then played a lot of live concerts and it was really great! At the same time the studio was about to close, I also had lost interest in the album, we had recorded there. However, I re-discovered the joy of playing live, when we were in Sweden. After that, I started to write new songs. As you know, I’ve been singing backing vocals in the Eurovision Song contests together with Kenny Lübcke, Lei and Lupe Moe for many years, and in 1998 we got the opportunity record an album. We called ourselves “Four Like Us”, and the album was called “The Job “.

In 2003, The famous Danish singer, Erann DD recorded a Busborg song, “Didn’t I tell you that I love you” for his 2nd solo album. The song was a great hit (double platinum), and after that, other artists suddenly started showing interest in Busborg’s songs and song writing.

“I actually had the song on the album from Easy Sound back in 1996, which was not released, and producer Poul Bruun said that he wanted to use this song for another artist. In fact, the Danish soul singer Hanne Boel also recorded a version of the song, but it was not released.”

Earlier, Busborg always said that he only wanted to sing, but the success of “Didn’t I tell you that I love you”, gave him the financial ability to establish his own studio. Although Busborg now both writes songs, produces albums for others and himself, he still claims just to be a singer and a musician.

The move to writing songs in Danish came in the period after “Didn’t I tell you that I love you” where a lot of artists such as Zididada, Søren Poppe and Stig Kreutzfeldt started working with Busborg.

“Then I started to work with Ole Kibsgaard and Jørgen Thorup, who wonderingly asked me if I had started writing songs in Danish. I then co-wrote with Jørgen Thorup and produced his album from 2007, “Kommer du med.”(“Are you coming along”). After having been in touch with the Danish language, my new songs started coming in Danish as well. However, please note that 4 or 5 of the songs on my new album actually originally were written in English, and when I presented them to my band, they thought the songs were great, so I wrote Danish lyrics for them.”

Busborg often writes songs in the way that he sits down with his guitar or by his keyboard. Mostly, the songs come in small fragments, which he records on his dictaphone.

“I don’t spend so much time on each song, but I often work on several songs at the same time.”

We also talked about Busborg’s many years as backing vocalist in the Eurovision Song Contest.

“I feel ok about it.  I had a lot of things going on, besides that. Of course, there is a lot of focus on the Eurovision, and it is certainly not boring to earn money, travel with a great show, come on television, etc.”

For many years, Busborg has worked together with singer and song writer, Arvid, who released his latest album, “Dedicated to the women”, back in 2006.

“We have contributed to each other’s albums, and a few years ago, Arvid said to me that he thought I was a country singer. I was somewhat surprised to hear that. Although I have listened to country music for many years, and my father also played country music for many years, I have never regarded myself as a country singer. Arvid also feels that there is a lot of country music style on my new album, and he has actually suggested that I should record all the songs in English – then he will try to promote them in the U.S. since he lives in Florida. ”

Time will tell whether Peter will try with the English versions.

Of course, we also talked about some of the songs from the new album. The song “Beslag på mit hjerte” is a beautiful ballad with an almost erotic aura, with a delicious, amorous slide guitar with an almost George Harrison-like feeling. The song “Så er livet godt” has an almost Marc Cohn-like atmosphere – despite the fact that Peter doesn’t really know his music.

“It is one of the songs, which actually was born in English, entitled” Life ain’t bad at all “and it had a much more kind of John Lennon-style from the start.”

I have paid particular attention to the song “Kørt over”, which says that once in a while you need to take a “time out” in your relationship. A sort of commentary on that people often choose to go leave each other instead of trying to accept that “all good things sometimes hurt”, as Peter puts it.

“I have received many comments on this particular song, and especially from men who say that the song must be written especially for them.”

Overall, Peters songs are inspired by American music, west coast as well as mainstream pop, but I think the song “Blind” has a British feeling about it – a little bit like Suede.

“That song in particular is somewhat different compared to the other ones, but I see it as an expression of the width in my song writing.”

There is also a real rock ‘n roll song on the album: “Tag og gem lidt.” When I heard it, it made me think of John Hiatt – a comparison Busborg has absolutely no regrets about.

“Well, you haven’t seen my collection of records, ha, ha … I feel really good about John Hiatt – he sings with expression.”

The final song on the album, “Det lover jeg dig,” is a duet with one of the best soul / gospel singers in Denmark, Marie Carmen Koppel. Busborg remembers about the recording of the song:

“I sang my part of the song live together with the band, as we talked about earlier. Many had told me, that the song was a kind of an anthem, but I didn’t want to have a big gospel choir in the middle of it. Maria’s first recording of her part was very different in style from mine, and then I said that I wanted to stick to the melody and it’s structure. But we both ended up being very satisfied with the final version of the song. ”

Finally, we talked about Busborg’s future plans. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait another 16 years for the next album.

“I’d really like to record a follow up album. I have a great band, good reactions and a taste for more, whether it will be in Danish or in English. It takes a hell of time and effort to go through the process, and economic benefits are not comparable with the personal satisfaction and the joy of reaching the goals and being on the way, so I must write, produce and record with / for other artists for a while, and I also enjoy that, so it’s OK. The important thing for me is to be in contact with people who have something to say and are capable and willing to work hard.”

Busborg has always had a dream about making a big hit abroad.

“I would really like to get some of my songs to the United States and even visit the country. I am currently working on a tour with other artists fromDPA (a Danish organization of singers and song writers). And I would very much like to make more recordings (and live band sessions) in my studio, with new state-of-the-art gear. I must admit, that making live studio recordings really turns me on, so I’d love to do more of that.”

Read more about Peter Busborg at his official website.