In the mid-1990’s Swedish pop-sensations Ace of Base were indeed living the “Beautiful Life” with a string of chart topping singles and albums. The quartet, siblings Jonas, Jenny and Linn Berggren along with Ulf Ekberg, were a global phenomenon with the third highest selling group debut album of all time with 1993’s Happy Nation. Playing to massive audiences and mobbed wherever they went, they were living the pop-star’s dream life. A crashing reality check came in 1995 when a crazed knife wielding fan broke into Jenny’s home. As the nineties wrapped the band members priorities changed, children and families took their attention, with Linn leaving the group, Jonas spending time with his new family. As the new decade continued the band wasn’t able to duplicate it’s chart topping status of the mid-nineties but kept writing, producing and performing as a trio. Jenny eventually concentrated more on her solo work making Ace of Base a lesser priority. Jonas and Ulf recruited new singers for their 5th studio album, The Golden Ratio. Clara Hagman, a semi-finalist of Sweden Idol, of which Ulf was a judge, and Julie Williamson came on board to continue the pop legacy.
At a recent performance in Vancouver, to begin a short Canadian tour, Ulf talked about how it was for the new singers to seemingly fill the very big shoes of the singer before them Being only in their 20’s Julia and Clara are a full generation younger than Ulf and Jonas which in itself can create some issues but Ulf says they are learning and growing into their roles quickly. He said “they were performing ‘virgins’ when they started”…but soon after were thrust into the big time when the band played a concert in Poland for 200,000 people. The transition has been eased by the organic nature with which the girls were found. As mentioned Ulf knew Clara from their time on Idol and he knew she suited the band. Julia originally was a solo artist who was working with Swedish super producer/writer Max Martin. Martin had worked with Ace of Base in the early days and when he heard the band might be looking for a new singer, he correctly thought Julia fit the bill. “Currently,” Ulf states, “the girls work ‘for’ us [he and Jonas] but they are slowly growing to become part of the band”. They have found their niche with which of the classic songs suit them best as well they have rearranged some of the older songs to new stylings that suit one of the new voices better.
A big advocate of social media Ulf was very enthusiastic in embracing new media as the way forward for music artists. “A Facebook fan page can ultimately lead to the demise of the record label” Ulf says “…allowing bands to create albums directly for fans” In their heyday the band received 200000 pieces of mail each week, it was impossible for them to respond or even read all of it. Nowadays, they have their website, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace pages to help keep in direct contact with 100000’s of fans instantly.
Even with all of this new technology, getting out, meeting and performing for the fans is still very important, especially as they all get used to the new line-up. The short Canadian tour was just a warm up, we can expect more from Ace of Base in the near future…stay tuned.