• Sweden's news in English

Canadian makes sweet music for Swedish ears

Paul O'Mahony · 2 Mar 2007, 10:16

Published: 02 Mar 2007 10:16 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

His ambition is clear and his focus impressive. With no budget to speak of, he has recorded one of the more interesting albums to come out of Sweden in recent times.

But had he done things the right way round he would probably be talking politics on Canadian public radio right now.

Instead he is working at the check-counter of a Stockholm supermarket and making music at home in his spare time. Just like any teenager. Except he's 38.

And, besides, he got journalism out of his system a long time ago.

"I worked with current affairs on CBC from the age of 12. I went in there in sixth grade with my school and asked this really cool producer if I could work there.

"I couldn't believe it when he just told me to put my wishes down on paper and he'd see what he could do," Reagh told The Local.

The producer came up trumps and the new cub reporter was to spend plenty of time at the station in the years to follow.

"I got some work there and stayed until I was 22. I had a job for life if I wanted it. But there wasn't enough time to make music, so I left," said Reagh.

And so a promising career was cast aside to make time for his musical aspirations.

"I must have some form of dyslexia because I've really done things backwards," said Reagh.

He gradually crossed the continent from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Vancouver on the west coast and began settling down to writing songs and selling guitars.

He might still be there now had not a trip to the Grand Canyon led to a chance encounter with a Swedish woman. The pair soon began sending each other postcards and before he knew it he was bringing up a child in Värmdö on the outskirts of Stockholm.

Despite a subsequent break-up, Reagh was determined to stay close to his daughter in Europe's great white north. He currently lives in a small house just across the yard from his child and her mother.

It is an arrangement that suits him just fine. He gets to see his daughter on a regular basis and can work in his home studio in his spare time. There he recently spent fourteen months putting together a new collection of songs.

The resultant album, 'Is this the blues I'm singing?', was released at the end of last year to a warm reception by the Swedish press.

Songs like 'Color of the birds', 'Boo Backe' and 'Winter Light', early versions of which were available on his MySpace page, brought him to the attention of the Swedish electronica cognoscenti.

And Reagh is grateful for their support. They helped him push his songs onto national radio, and many of the country's top names in the genre have remixed his work. But it is not where he wants to stay.

"Songs are where it's at. I've done all this on a low budget, but I'd really like to hear my songs produced in a big studio. I would be willing to dance with the devil for the sake of the songs."

Who might that be?

"I don't know. Max Martin maybe," said Reagh.

While he is clearly joking about the identity of the dark one, he is serious about his songs.

And as if to cement the move away from "blip-blop electronica", he now intends touring with just an old-fashioned piano and guitar.

With this new, pared-down approach, there is more than a slight possibility that some old Neil Young comparisons will come rushing back to the surface. But while there is an undeniable similarity to their voices, Reagh prefers to put a different slant on the likeness.

"I think what we most have in common is our inability to hold a band together," he said.

Story continues below…

The first time I saw Richard Reagh play he was backed by two of his co-workers dressed as toffs and playing the maracas. But those times are long gone and he now prefers to go it alone.

Back behind the till at the city centre supermarket, he is dreaming up songs that land on the right side of a Duke Ellington maxim.

"There are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music," said the jazz composer.

Reagh's is good, but he is hell bent on making it better.

Richard Reagh will be performing on March 3 @ Mega, Sergelstorg

at 13:00 and 15:00. Entrance free.

Listen to Richard Reagh at MySpace.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission- free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Swedish terror suspect ‘planned airport attack’
Swedish terror suspect Osama Krayem. Photo: Facebook

Swedish national Osama Krayem, linked to the deadly attacks in Paris on November 13 and in Brussels on March 22, is now suspected of having plotted to attack also the Schiphol airport in the Netherlands.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden