ART OF ILLUSION is a new Swedish AOR project formed around songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Anders Rydholm (PROMOTION, GRAND ILLUSION)

I like Lars voice a lot and I was just curious of how my songs would sound like with him as a singer. So much of the music is...

Interview by: Gabor Kleinbloesem


Great to be in touch again with you Anders, for the readers can you tell us please more about your music past, because it all started with the fantastic band PROMOTION in the 1980s?

Nice to talk with you too, Gabor. I have known and played with Per Svensson since 1980 and Peter Sundell since 1982, so it’s a long time. In 1985 we three formed Promotion and Peter’s younger brother, Christian, joined on drums. We were active until around 1990, but then things cooled down since we all started new daytime job careers. After I built my house and studio in 1995, we slowly started the band again and the result were two albums in 1998 and 1999. “Not for sale” and Yeah Yeah”.

I absolutely loved PROMOTION, a somewhat more westcoast/funkier AOR/Poprock orientated band, why did this band end and can we see a return in the future?

We had horns as well and the music was a mixture of westcoast, pop and AOR, but when we tried a couple of songs in a more AOR-focused style and without horns, things took of. The same core of people with me, Per, Peter and Christian and Ola (the lyric writer). We signed with a record label in England and that label also wanted us to change name, so that’s why Promotion became Grand Illusion, before the release of the third album, “The Book Of How TO Make It”.

You got in touch with Lars and founded ART OF ILLUSION, can you tell us all about this new band?

I like Lars voice a lot and I was just curious of how my songs would sound like with him as a singer. So much of the music is the singer, the voice, the emotions and the dynamics. I sent Lars 4 songs and we both liked the end result. “Catch You If I Can” is the only song of those 4 that’s on the album. No fault with the rest, but the more we have worked, the more we have found new common grounds and the confidence to tweak and adapt the music has grown. The last songs recorded are “My Loveless Lullaby”, “Snakebite Charm” and “Let The Games Begin” so the album moved more and more in another direction. If you listen to these song’s, you will understand what I mean

I discovered some theatrical influences on the album, QUEEN/ROBBY VALENTINE- ish parts here and there, any chance you’re going to explore this is in the future and step away a bit from the pure AOR?

Queen for sure and also a Swedish 90’s band named Big Money. Great melodies, superb vocals, lots of twisted background vocals and a lot of humor is also the trademark for Big Money and Lars and myself are huge fans of both them and Queen. Freddie Mercury was unique in both phrasing and how he wrote his songs. Huge inspiration for us. I am sorry to say that I have never listened to Robby Valentine, but many people seem to compare AOI with him as well. I know he is from your country, so I am sorry for my lack of knowledge. I have to check out his music!

Yes, I would definitely recommend you to do so, but how do you describe the music style yourself on this first album?

That’s so hard because what I hear as an influence, some other people don’t hear at all. So, I will list my influences. Queen for the songwriting, choirs and for Freddie’s vocal style. Giant for the songwriting and guitar playing. Dann Huff is the best guitar player in my world. David Foster for the arranging and producing. Toto for the songwriting and musicianship. Earth, Wind and Fire for the showmanship and happiness they transmit live. Lars is also a huge Queen and Toto fan, but he has so many other heroes as well. I want our music to be catchy, well arranged and tight. I also like to twist things around, so even if the main ideas are quite simple, there’s a lot of textures, twists and tweaks in the music to make it interesting. We also have tried to bring back more dynamics and variation than in a lot of the modern AOR. It’s ok that things take of in different directions as long as its melodic and interesting. In the 70’s and 80’s albums the songs were much more diverse and interesting.

The concept of making an album was almost like the dynamics of a great movie. Today the music is more streamlined and concept oriented. Not so many bands that dare to deviate from a small narrow path and that’s why a lot of albums come out and all the songs seems to be written from the same template. I like albums that build and grows on you. For each listening you hear something new or could start interpreting the meaning of the lyrics.

What do your covid days look like since we are all going into a lockdown here in Europe?

Sweden has not had a strict lockdown as in Belgium and the UK, for example, but we are restricted of course. It’s been tough and for me it’s been a bad music year. Too much work with my normal day time work, due to Covid, I’m a senior lecturer in Music Production at the Linnaeus University, has both prevented me and also taken away inspiration. Even if I have had time the inspiration has not been there. Probably my least productive year for many years and I am hoping that 2021 will be a much better music year.  It has at least started well, cause I have been working on a lot of new ideas the last weeks.

Back to the album, what do you consider the strongest songs?

I usually like the songs I have most recently worked on, but I would say that I think that “My Loveless Lullaby”, “Snakebite Charm” and “4 AM” will stand the test of time for me. Well written songs that has a twist on their own and a really good melody. Itss strange, but If I go back to some old Grand Illusion songs, I could not even remember the songs or when and how I wrote them. Well written songs stand the test of time.

Will it depend on the success if this will be a one-off record or do you want to continue ART OF ILLUSION for over a longer period?

It depends on if people like it and want more, but I hope to continue in a slow pace and write more music for myself and Lars. We both have enjoyed it a lot and we are very proud of our music. But since we both work a lot it will be no rush or stress to do a follow up. I think that we will challenge ourselves even more if will be a second album. So important to have fun and enjoy the process. If I am going to spend as much time as I takes do an album I want to be 100% happy with it . No compromises!

Finally, a few short questions:
– Favorite band of all times:
Queen or Giant depending on mood
– Favorite album of all times:
Giant – Last Of The Runaways
– Favorite music genre besides AOR:
WestCoast – yes, I am a softy
– Best concert ever:
Earth, Wind and Fire, Queen as number two
– First bought record (or CD):
Sweet – Desolation Boulevard
– Last bought record (or CD):
So long ago, so I can’t even remember
– Most precious moment in your life (could be non-music related):
The birth of my two boy’s, Daniel and Michael
– 2020 is… finally over
– 2021 will be… great

Good luck with your bands/projects, I am sure the ART OF ILLUSION CD will find its way to the AOR fans
Thanks Gabor. Be safe and let’s hope that we soon be able to see and hear live music again….

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