Windswept had arranged a 5 day songwriting trip for me in Norway, Denmark & Sweden, and this time Andy would be joining me as guitarist and co-writer. I was happy about that – not just because he’s my playmate and beau, but also because we work well together, he knows me musically and his presence can help steer things should they take a turn for the pop-tastic worse. We were all set to go, Emily had arranged our transport and accommodation, all we had to do was show up.
We were going to be working with three different songwriters on this trip, the first was Espen Lind: a Norwegian record producer, songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Oslo who is also one half of the production team Espionage. The second would be the production team Deadmono who are based in Stockholm – you’ll be hearing a lot more about them soon. Then lastly David Eriksen; a Norwegian producer and songwriter based in Denmark.
Andy and I roll up to our first nights accommodation in Oslo, Norway. Emily has been trying to reign in the budget, which is why Andy and I are now staring openmouthed, at the stationary ship before us. Andy looks at me doubtfully “A ship?” I throw a positive spin on it, “ah it looks cosy and romantic!” and cosy it is, but romantic it is not. We are led to a tiny cabin, that consists of a small porthole, and two narrow bunk beds. The boat creaks, and rocks gently from side to side – I can also feel my lunch lurching from side to side. I’m immediately convinced the ship is haunted, and I feel seasick. Andy looks concerned “Jode – you’re green, and we’ve only been aboard for 5 minutes!” It was going to be a long night.
It was with great relief that we disembarked that ship the next morning. The bunks were so narrow, so turning from one side to the other was impossible and every time we attempted to sit up we would smack our heads on the ceiling … I also couldn’t stop thinking about the terrifying ghost story The upper berth – suffice to say I had the bottom bunk, and I didn’t sleep a wink.
On our first full day of songwriting with Espen Linde we wrote, recorded and finished a lung-buster of a rock song … I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to book into our hotel and collapse. But first we had to travel to Stockholm in Sweden. I looked at our itinerary and only then did I notice that Emily had booked us into a Bed & Breakfast. Now as we all know, B&B’s in the UK function in a similar way to hotels: guest are shown to a clean, freshly laundered guest room, with basic facilities and en-suite (or shared bathroom). However, as we were about to discover, the B&B’s equivalent in Sweden often functions more like a homestay, which basically means you move into a persons house, and sample their way of life, living alongside them, like a family member.
Now I have nothing against homestays, and I agree with the statement that ‘a stranger is simply a friend you haven’t met yet’ (well, providing you like them of course, and providing they’re not a knob / murderer / rapist etc) HOWEVER, after the night we had just had, all we wanted was a quiet relaxing evening, in a nice, clean, comfortable room. We eventually arrive, and knock on the door of what looks like a really small house.
“This can’t be a B&B can it?” Andy asks, “It’s a tiny bungalow … where are all the rooms?” Andy assumes we’re at the wrong house, but Emily’s good at budgeting, so I suspect we’re not.
We hear heavy footsteps approach the door, and we stiffen. The door swings open and a tall, broad, stern looking figure looms over us … she’s wearing a dark green polo neck and chunky knit cardi (I do forget names, but I never forget knitwear.) She fills the entire doorway, and peers down over the rim of her horn-rimmed spectacles like a formidable Mrs Doubtfire, except her hair is not a coiffed blonde do, it is scraped back into a sever bun, and it is fading to grey. She clasps her butcher-sized fingers under her ample bosom and speaks in broken english “Aha! we have been expecting you!”