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BRIT Award-Winning Writers and Producers Erfjord and Michelsen are “Electric”

Posted in News on April 3, 2017 by
Pictured (L-R): Henrik Michelsen and Edvard Erfjord
Pictured (L-R): Henrik Michelsen and Edvard Erfjord

The Norwegian songwriting and production team, Electric, comprised of Edvard Erfjord and Henrik Michelsen, are sending shock waves through the U.K., and now the U.S., with their own unique brand of pop/rhythmic infectious music. Having just won Single of the Year at the BRIT Awards for their Little Mix single, “Shout Out to My Ex,” and penning and producing “Black Magic,” which went multiplatinum (also for Little Mix), they’ve also produced and written choice singles for artists including Fleur East (“Sax” – which went platinum), The Wanted (“Walks Like Rihanna” – U.K. Top 5), and more. In addition to these dazzling spins, their new Machine Gun Kelly single ft. Hailee Steinfeld is already approaching Top 30 on U.S. pop radio.

BMI caught up with the electrifying duo to ask them about their story and their success. Here’s what they said.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in the industry?
Henrik:
I started playing guitar when I was 10 and it just snowballed from there. I didn’t know the job of a producer /songwriter existed, I just knew that music was the one thing I was really passionate about.

Edvard:
I started off playing in metal and punk bands on the west coast of Norway. After doing that for many years I got a small home studio setup and started writing across different genres. It was a very amazing experience to not be restricted to only guitar/bass/drums, which was the line up of every band I played in. I started using synths and instruments on the computer and it was very exciting to me.

What jumpstarted your career?
Edvard:
Meeting Alastair Kinross and Celia McCamley at San Remo and subsequently being offered a publishing deal. I was completely broke at the time, so it was such a relief to get an advance and be able to focus on music full-time without getting a part time job. I actually Googled ‘how to get a publishing deal’ the week before we got one. The whole publishing deal thing was very cryptic to me; I had no idea how to get signed and what it entailed.

How did you meet and when and why did you start working together? What made you click?
Henrik:
We met at a music school in Liverpool where we were both studying. I’d heard some of the music Ed was making and thought it was awesome and we shared a flat in the 2nd year and eventually started writing together. Music is the glue that’s kept us together.

What’s your writing process and how does it differ from producing?
Edvard:
Sometimes a cool production comes while writing a song, and sometimes we produced it up later. It usually has some strong elements that we keep in the final production. We don’t normally start from backing tracks. It sometimes feels like it limits us. Just maybe some cool drums or a chord progression or riff with a cool sound.

Henrik:
I think the lines blur between the two, but in the end the writing should lead. Writing for me usually starts with finding an inspiring musical idea, but lyrics are really important to me, they’re the bridge between the listener and the music and that’s the hardest part, making that connection.

Do you write with particular artists in mind?
Henrik:
Sometimes, it varies depending on who we’re working with and in what setting, but either way I think it’s important not to get boxed into an idea of what a specific artist should be doing. My favorite artists have all had various stages of styles in their careers and I love it when an artist can surprise you with a new direction, so we try to allow ourselves a lot of freedom in that regard.

How did you get into producing?
Henrik:
I started recording my own stuff on a Zoom multitrack and eventually moved on to recording bands then learning how to program. I always wanted to learn how to make things sound exactly how I wanted them to and I’m still learning.

Edvard:
I’ve always been into production, ever since I started playing in bands. I used to mic up the kick and snare with a guitar amp while I was playing drums at home to get a more processed sound and some reverb on the snare. It probably sounded awful, but I loved it. I really wanted the kick drum to sound like the records I liked while I was playing, so I was very into the sonics from a very early stage.

What was the turning point in your careers?
Edvard:
I’d say when “Black Magic” reached #1 in the U.K. everything changed.  It was a pretty “magical” feeling. It sort of validated us as producer/writers and it opened the door to new opportunities and to be able to work with  artists that we’ve always wanted to work with.

You’ve done quite a bit of work with Little Mix. Tell us about that relationship.
Henrik:
They’re such a lovely bunch and they’ve worked so hard to get to where they are. It’s been fun seeing them change and grow as a band and as people and being a part of that means so much to me.

Edvard:
We also have a great relationship with their A&R’s at Syco. They’re an incredible team. Very on it and encouraging, and they really know what the girls will gravitate toward.

Tell us about winning Single of the Year at the 2017 BRIT Awards.
Henrik:
It was totally unexpected! There were so many great songs nominated and we were truly shocked when the winner was announced. We really couldn’t have done this without our cowriters, everyone at Syco and of course Little mix.

Edvard:
I still can’t believe it. Of all the songs written and released last year to be picked as song of the year is such a validating and humbling experience.

In your opinion, does the music in the U.K. differ from what’s coming out of the U.S. or are the global lines blurred musically?
Henrik:
They definitely differ. There’s music that works in the U.S. that doesn’t work here and visa versa. It’s always interesting to see what travels and what doesn’t; the relationship between U.K. and U.S. music is fascinating. There’s a lot of influence going both ways and it’s like they’re constantly inspiring each other!

Edvard:
I think streaming and the way we consume music today maybe blur the lines, but there is definitely different sonics  in the U.K. and U.S.

How did your recent collaboration with MGK & Hailee Steinfeld come about?
Edvard:
It’s a funny story as we had written “At My Best” with our friend Maiday a while back, then Benny Blanco and Happy Perez gave it new life. They kept the chorus and built a new hip-hop leaning track. Eventually the song made its way to MGK and later to Hailee!

What’s next for you?
Edvard:
Continuing to work with great songwriters and artists. We have some exciting releases coming up, so looking forward to sharing those with the world.