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OUT ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Featuring gay front man Andreas Lundstedt, Swedish export Alcazar lands in the States

Ever since Abba, the world has been aware of the Swedish affinity for disco. With "Crying at the Discoteque," from their self-titled domestic debut (E-Magine Music), Alcazar, the latest Swedish disco export, proves that they can also "dance" and "jive" and "watch that scene." Openly gay front man Andreas Lundstedt and fellow group members Annikafiore and Tess are poised to meet the needs of queer club culture via the dance floor ("Tears Of A Clone," for example, includes the lyrics "A room with a hundred men/The design of a perfect blend/Identical strains of code/Dressed up in the fashion mode").

Gregg Shapiro: Many of the songs on Casino, including "Paris in the Rain," have a vintage disco energy. That is especially true in the case of "Sexual Guarantee" and "Crying at the Discoteque," which feature Chic samples. Do you have a favorite period of dance music?

Andreas Lundstedt: Actually [laughs], it's hard to decide, because I love them all. I must say for me, the '70s crossing over to the '80s disco music I kind of like the most, because when it was really hip in the '70s, with disco and everything, I was too young to go out clubbing. I never got to go out dancing to that music. I did it in my living room. Now that I'm older [laughs], I can kind of take it back, do it real, full out, and record it and sing it.

So, you're reclaiming it for yourself?

Yeah, definitely, and for people who love the disco.

"Crying at the Discoteque" was included on the original soundtrack to the Showtime production of Queer as Folk. What did it mean to you to be included on the CD?

A lot. We've never had one of our songs on any kind of soundtrack. I've never seen the series, though. I've seen the English version.

Dance music is very popular within the queer community, and it's refreshing to hear these songs sung by a gay man, as opposed to a big disco diva.

[Laughs]

There are the Pet Shop Boys and Jimmy Somerville, to name two, but there aren't that many openly gay men singing in the realm of disco. How does it feel to have that distinction?

That's something that I don't really reflect on. I don't think about that really. It's just my sexuality. I don't think it comes across in the music-my sexuality-maybe because I like disco and that's very queer music. Other than that, I'm just a singer like other singers, straight or bi, or gay. I don't see it as a big thing. I think there's more gay singers, but they just aren't saying they are.

Speaking of Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant of that group had words of praise for Alcazar.

Yeah!

Does Alcazar have any plans to ever cover a Pet Shop Boys song?

Well, not to cover a Pet Shop Boys song, but we would love to work with them. That would be a great thing, if they had a song for us or something like that. You never know. Maybe we will do a cover, because their songs are so great. I don't think we would do it as good as they do, actually. It's kind of like doing a cover of a song of Abba. Abba does it so good themselves. You can't really top it. If Neil Tennant or Chris Lowe would call us and say, "Hey, we just wrote a song that would really suit you," we would definitely be there in a second.

Alcazar does do a cover of the Human League song "Don't You Want Me." Why was that song selected?

It was actually one of our producers, Alexander Bard, who got the idea for us to sing the song and record it. When he asked us, "What do you feel about doing a cover of 'Don't You Want Me'?," we immediately got all of these memories from the '80s. The song is so kind of funny-fun lyrics. They're very desperate-"Don't you want me?"-and we love desperate lyrics. Maybe that goes hand in hand with the gay thing, the queer thing, like "I Will Survive," "Disco Inferno."

Alcazar will be performing live at the Billboard Music Summit in New York City in October. What are you most looking forward to about that event?

Oh, my God! We are so psyched. We can't really believe it yet. I used to live in New York from '93 to '95. When I lived there, I didn't work with music or anything. I was hoping and dreaming that one day it would be so cool to come back to New York and actually be on a stage and perform. It's really hard to believe. Because we're Swedish, typical Swedish people, we don't take anything for granted.

The predominant musical trends currently emerging from Sweden appear to be dance music, such as the songs on Casino, or garage rock, performed by bands such as the Hives and Sahara Hotnights. What do you think about those musical extremes?

I think that it has to do with in the winter Swedish people don't have a lot to do because it's so freaking cold. What to do? We go down in the basement and write songs. Or when we were in school, we had a lot of music classes. We were always in different choirs. It's the way that we were brought up, we Swedish people-choir practice, and you always learn some kind of instrument. I just wanted to sing.

Pop culture journalist Gregg Shapiro, a 1999 inductee into Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, is also a published fiction writer and poet.



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