If your knee-jerk response to the name “Orup” would be “bless you”, then you are in serious need of a Sweducation. So settle down class – because this week YLC’s Kirsten Smart is introducing a Swedish national treasure.
Thomas “Orup” Eriksson is a Swedish pop singer, songwriter and guitarist whose career has spanned over a quarter of a century. And, like a lot of things made in the 50’s, he’s still going strong. Having started his career in the 70s, he got his big break in the late 80s with the hit Jag blir hellre jagad av vargar (“I’d rather be hunted down by wolves”).
Orup’s successes continued in early 1990s with songs like Då står pojkarna på rad, Magaluf, Stockholm and Regn hos mej, many of which are still played on Swedish radio. In his 90s heyday, he toured with Swedish pop greats like Roxette and he has written several succesful hits for other Swedish performers.
Today, Orup is a household name and there is no Swede (born before 1995) who wouldn’t know who he is. Hence – this introduction. One would think this busy man would have an ego the size of Madonna’s shoulder pad collection by now, but he took time out of his schedule to have a surprisingly frank chat with us about everything from fame to mullets.
YourLivingCity: As we know, fame is a fickle pickle. With a career as lengthy as yours, you must have had quite some ups and downs.
When you have been in this business for as long as I, you have highs and you have lows. The highs are to have great successes and the lows are to lose that success. Being a success and then losing it is the worst kind of low, but overcoming those lows makes the next upturn sweeter.
YLC: You’ve come a long way; that’s quite an accomplishment.
(Laughs) Yes, I’ve been doing this for a while. I see that as an accomplishment in itself because there aren’t so many musicians like me who have been in this game for so long; perhaps three or four.
YLC: Yeah, it’s hard to see today’s teenage stars going on to have such an extensive and steadily successful career…
Today you see these 17 year olds and they suddenly become really famous, but one year later the world has found another 17 year old to adore and by the time that kid is 20, his career is over. I was 28 when I finally broke into the music business. That’s quite rare for music standards. I’m grateful that I was older when I found success. I knew who I was and I was surer of myself. I had experienced life and reality before finding fame and I think it helped me build my career into something long-term.
YLC: So what has been the definitive highlight of your career?
There have been many! Obviously the first time my music was played on the radio was a huge highlight for me. It’s something you never forget. When you are new to the business, everything excites you. The beginning is full of highlights.
Another great highpoint of mine was in the US in 1994 when I teamed up with Anders Glenmark and Niklas Strömstedt and sang När vi gräver guld i USA (“When we dig for gold in the US”) for the Swedish soccer team. Sweden came third that year, which was a great victory for us. It came at a time of uncertainty in Sweden, so the song became something of an anthem of hope.
YLC: And of course you wrote that Eurovision song for Lena Philipsson…
Yes, that is another highlight for me. I wrote Det gör ont (“It hurts”) for Lena, which won Melodifestivalen in 2004 and went on to win fifth place in the Eurovision contest that year (The song was also released as a single in 2004, which reached number one in the Swedish singles chart and gained platinum status in 2007, ed’s. note). From there Lena and I began to collaborate. Together we made three albums and 250 songs.
Further interesting facts:
- Has three kids, one of whom is in fact named Kid. No kidding.
- Went international in 1991 when he released his English-language album Orupean Songs. 20,000 copies were sold in the United States.
- Stutters, which he thinks is embarrassing, but really only makes him more endearing. His singing is unaffected by his stutter, which is actually quite common, but this is not a biology lesson!
- Had a stint in prison. Wait! It’s not what you think! He refused to do his military service and so was sentenced to two weeks in the slammer. It wasn’t so bad though; he later told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that “it was an open prison and I was there for two weeks. It was not like we were afraid to bend down for the soap.”
For extra credit, you can see Orup in the flesh at the Grand Hotel Christmas Show from the 27th of November to the 21st of December. He’ll be singing a mix of Christmas favourites along with his own stuff, so it’s sure to be a unique show. Tickets are selling from 995 sek per person, inclusive of the Grand’s scrumptious Julbord.
Watch the inspirational music video for När vi gräver guld i USA below:
Kirsten blindly followed her husband from South Africa to the land of snow and snus in 2011 and proceeded to procreate. When she isn’t discovering the 101st use of the humble wet wipe, she can be found writing adjective-laden articles for YLC.