Owais Masood 31st July 2018
Now you’re gone.
Those three words are synonymous with Basshunter. In 2007, it was almost impossible to escape the surging synths and throbbing basslines of the smash hit single from the Swedish DJ’s sophomore album of the same name. An overnight success, it topped UK charts and stuck there for five long weeks. You probably had Now You’re Gone as your ringtone, bought with real money on your Nokia N95 or Motorola Razr.
It was proceeded by the similarly impressive All I Ever Wanted, and for a while, it seemed like Basshunter would continue to pump out commercially appealing club anthems from his computer, for years to come.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The album’s third single, Angel in the Night, was only moderately successful in comparison to its predecessors, peaking at #14 on the UK singles chart. After that, Basshunter seemed to drop off the map. His subsequent albums, The Early Bedroom Sessions and Calling Time, failed to have much impact, and you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d given up on making music, altogether.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to Basshunter? He cranked out some right good choons,” don’t worry. We got you. The Overtake sat down with the DJ, real name Jonas Erik Altberg, to talk about his career, what he thinks about modern dance music and why he hates being categorised as Eurodance.
Now you’re eurodance
You might be interested to learn that Basshunter’s UK success didn’t come as a surprise to him, at all. Now You’re Gone was developed from the instrumental track from his first Swedish hit, Boten Anna, although the lyrics and theme are dramatically different — Boten Anna is about an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) bot, while Now You’re Gone is about a break-up.
“The original was already huge in lots of countries,” says Altberg. “I was, of course, happy that I had a huge hit in the UK.”
A good record is a good record
He describes this period of his life as “crazy”, and it’s easy to see why. Now You’re Gone was, at one point, the third most-viewed music video on YouTube, which helped catapult it to even further popularity. Today it has over 200 million views. The platinum-selling single remains a favourite of dance fans, Basshunter fans and club regulars, alike.
“Now, I love the reaction of crowds to that song. People sing along to it and it’s special.”
Along with artists like Cascada and Inna, Basshunter is a face of noughties Eurodance music — a genre that originated in ’80s Europe, and combines elements of techno, disco and house music. But it turns out, Altberg isn’t the biggest fan of that categorisation. “It’s just dance music from Europe. I don’t like the title. It’s silly, really. You don’t always have to label music as this style or that style. A good record is a good record.”
The World Music Award winner might have a point. What is the difference between a single by Basshunter and a track by the musically similar but differently categorised German DJ, Zedd?
Despite not venturing outside of the dance genre, himself, Altberg insists that he has an appreciation for all types of music — something he considers vital in order to be successful in the music industry.
“The more styles of music you listen to and embrace, the more you open your ears to new things,” he explains. In particular, Altberg is a fan of US rock bands like Green Day. “It’s not what you’d expect a DJ to listen to, but they really connect with different people from different backgrounds. It reminds me of the power of music — that it’s universal and flexible.”
Electronic dance is arguably one of the most popular genres of music in the world, right now. Over the past decade, DJs like Calvin Harris and David Guetta have managed to infiltrate the mainstream US and other established markets, and dominate the charts. Guetta is currently the seventh most-followed artist on Spotify, racking up 15 million fans and beating out Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift.
Thanks to Guetta and Harris, colossal growth in music streaming and increased interest from Asia and South America, EDM is now worth $7.1 million — roughly 60% more than it was four years ago. But, how does Altberg feel about the world of modern dance music?
Altberg’s favourite dance music is ‘the cheesy stuff’ like Vengaboys
“Dance music is everywhere, now,” he says. “When it became big in America, that seemed to give it another life. I’m so happy that so many different acts have been able to find success.”
With that being said, Altberg’s favourite dance music is still “the cheesy stuff like Vengaboys and Eiffel 65” — a respectable notion, because everyone knows that Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom! absolutely goes off, to this day.
The Swedish sensation also touches on the impact technology has had on dance music. “More advances help more people experiment with styles and sounds, which is a cool thing,” he says.
With all the love the dance genre is receiving, as of late, Basshunter seems primed to make a comeback. Currently, he’s finishing up the second leg of a summer tour that started in the UK, and has since expanded to cities in Ireland, Denmark and Finland. In November, he’ll be taking the show to Australia, backed by an entourage of international acts, from Belgian singer-songwriter Edmee to German dance band Groove Coverage.
There’s a big difference between this tour and some of his throwback ones, too: Altberg has suspended his singing career to focus on DJ’ing. “I just wanted a break from that side. It’s hard to focus on all things when you sing, produce, write and also tour. There is only one of me.”
When asked how the tour is going, Altberg exclaims: “It’s great! Sold out shows and crazy crowds. I love to create a party vibe at all my shows — if you have fun, I have fun.”
But, if you’re starting to worry that this means you’ll never hear a banger of Now You’re Gone-calibre ever again, fear not. Altberg is still writing and producing music in his spare time. In fact, a new single, called Masterpiece, is slated to be released in just a few months.
“It’s a new track that I play as the closing song at shows, now,” Altberg explains. “I hope to have news on its release later in the year.”
Basshunter’s manager Scott Simons adds that the reaction from the crowds has been overwhelmingly positive, so far.
We don’t know if Altberg will be able to recapture the early success of Basshunter, but the future looks optimistic. If so many people have remained loyal to the Swede-J over a decade after the release of the song that made him a European legend, then surely there’s enough space between Diplo and Major Lazer for an old trailblazer.
Owais Masood 31st July 2018