Sally Shapiro

My Pop Pleasure

Sep 01, 2009 Issue #27 Summer 2009 - Jarvis Cocker Bookmark and Share


"Sorry for interrupting the chat, I'm just like that, it was late and didn't feel prepared. Love Sally," read an email message from elusive Italo-disco ingénue Sally Shapiro after breaking off a phone interview mid-sentence due to exhaustion. After a pregnant pause, songwriter/ producer Johan Agebjörn, picks up the phone to explain the break in conversation: "She doesn't think her English is good enough."

Though the Swedish native's grasp of English seemed quite good, you can't expect someone who refuses to sing live, rarely gives interviews, won't allow her songwriting partner into his own Gothenburg home when she lays down vocal tracks, and declines to reveal her real name, to immediately jump out of her comfort zone for too long.

After the truncated transatlantic chat, Agebjörn and Shapiro planned on filming part of the video for "Miracle," the thunderclap lead single from Shapiro's sparkling sophomore album My Guilty Pleasure. Shapiro thought it would be an apt title for the new LP after scouring her nom de plume on the Internet. "When we Googled Sally Shapiro we saw that a lot of people had our music as their guilty pleasure," she explains. "We thought it would be nice to call the album this so that they can go into the record shop and say, 'Have you got My Guilty Pleasure, Sally Shapiro?'"

Italo chanteuses Valerie Dore and Katy Gray and even the Godfather of Italo-disco, Giorgio Moroder remain mainstay influences for Shapiro and Agebjörn's permafrost masterpieces. Beats per minute on My Guilty Pleasure hover around 128, the standard for Italo-disco circa 1984, but they also accelerate to sub-house levels, and Guilty's paeans to love venture beyond rote homage. "We are still influenced by that music but we wanted to try something new," Shapiro murmurs. "I really love Suzanne Vega, Mylène Farmer, Marit Bergman, Stina Nordenstam."

Dancefloor-ready tracks such as "Save Your Love" and "Moonlight Dance" are terminally romantic, but leave behind some of the last-call Chromatics daze of 2007's Disco Romance. Agebjörn's production is less sedate and even bombastic in these new environs, the best examples being the train-ride-home electro track "Let It Show" and "The NeverEnding Story"-esque "Miracle." Agebjörn enjoys the DJ-like experimentation on the latter. "I thought that since the strings and the piano have a lot of power, we wanted that track to have a dramatic musical type of sound, like ABBA tracks or Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's Chess. In a sonic way, I like tracks that start with a sound effect and then music."

As much as fans will dissect these brilliant new tracks, the reasons behind Shapiro's debilitating bashfulness will continue to draw a level of scrutiny that eclipses her knack for transforming dawdling, homemade experiments into brilliant pop gems. Before her break from the interview, the audibly nervous Shapiro explains that her reasons for recording at home are clear-cut: "It's more secure and with this type of music we're able to record it straight to Johan's computer. I feel like I'm more self-confident on [My Guilty Pleasure] versus the last record." 



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Ewans
March 21st 2010
9:30am

What a well written great piece of information. I remember that I was looking for something like this from a couple of months. I am glad that I found my way here by coincidence!