Niclas Frisk – from artist to famed popsmith

Published: 2008-03-04 by Karin Heurling

Niclas Frisk made a name for himself as an artist with Atomic Swing, but has for the past ten years established himself as a reliable producer, songwriter, and collaborator. Titiyo, Jerry Williams, and Peter Jöback have all sung songs composed by Frisk. He is more than a little involved with Nina Persson’s A Camp project, which will release a new CD this spring. Most of his greatest successes as a songwriter have been written together with the former Popsicle singer Andreas Mattsson.

“It started sometime around 1995,” says Frisk about their collaboration. ”We were competitors—not Beatles and Stones, but at least Oasis and Blur in a Swedish format. I thought he was irritating... because he was damn good. I was surprised when I was asked to produce something for Popsicle, and then we started working together. Our tastes are entirely different, so we complement one another well.

”When we work together it’s as if we were car manufacturers. If I come up with the idea and the design, Andreas might supply function and logic, and we try to come to an agreement. One has different roles depending on who has the initial idea.”

The songwriting duo has come to be perhaps the foremost keepers of classically cut pop music in Sweden. This became clearest when they took on Peter Jöback. The ”Guldet Blev Till Sand”(Gold Turned to Sand) singer had had a superficial pop career, but together with Frisk and Mattsson he found a mature, introspective voice in songs such as ”Stockholm i Natt”(Stockholm Tonight).

“’Stockholm i Natt’ was about having the Raskolnikov perspective from Dostojevskijs ’Crime and Punishment’ when he walks through Moscow, but where the murder perspective is transformed into a rush of love.

Does one write differently when one writes for someone other than oneself?

”Not so much really. That’s where many people make the mistake of distancing themselves too much from the song. One has to know oneself in some way where on the line to put the float to get an emotional catch. In my case, I usually wrote for myself. But I have discovered that I am limited as a singer, so I had a bunch of ideas over that weren’t doing anything useful

But don’t you get different sorts of ideas when writing for different people?

“Maybe somewhere it’s about a satisfaction in putting oneself in another’s shoes. There, one can erase the boundary surrounding who one is. It might also be a little about the way one would like to hear other artists perform.”

In today’s musical climate, where everyone has the chance to put together basically entire songs in home studios, Niclas Frisk has an unusually old-fashioned attitude. Instead of professional Pro Tools demos, he and Mattsson present their songs in skeletal form.

” We just make pencil sketches. We never finish anything before we bounce the idea off the artist with an acoustic guitar. If someone else is going to sing, he has to fit himself into another person’s arrangement.

Frisk belongs to the growing circle of professional songwriters who choose to record their demos in the simplest possible manner—and he is quite conscious of the drawbacks when one’s demos are too well-produced.

”One misses out on a random element. It is poor pedagogy when one works with musicians, because one can only get what one has thought out oneself. In my case, there is a lot of luck involved when it comes to arranging. It’s dangerous, all those possibilities when you work with Logic and Garageband and whatever they’re called. I have bought programs that are so difficult that I have only learned audio recording with them.”

Sebastian Suarez-Golborne


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