Published Feb 19, 2014Be it as a member of the defunct cult duo the Tough Alliance, a co-founder of the anarchic Sincerely Yours label, or solo in CEO, Eric Berglund considers everything he does a singular effort. "For me, my life is my expression and it doesn't matter what I call it at the time. There are no such boundaries for me, between CEO, TTA, Sincerely Yours or whatever," he says. "The only 'project' I have is my life."
In the wake of TTA's demise in 2010, Berglund formed CEO, a solo outlet for his innovative pop. His debut, White Magic, was a logical transition from TTA, following a similar path as the Balearic dance pop on their final album, A New Chance. And while Berglund describes new album Wonderland as "the next leg of the same journey, the next level of this fucking game," it transcends that.
Co-produced again with Kendal Johnsson, along with Studio's Dan Lissvik (Young Galaxy, Taken By Trees), Wonderland takes a much larger step forward than Berglund did on White Magic. The surreptitious Swede has built a sonic paradise rich in vivid colours, nursery rhyme melodies, unbridled production and lyrics ostensibly steeped in celebration and melancholy.
"The first thing I see are images inside," Berglund explains. "They are tightly connected with spiritual revelations and they are what inspire me to make music. And girls, of course. If I didn't have these revelations, which I feel kind of forced to pass on, I'm not sure I would be motivated enough for the effort that making a record is for me."
For Berglund, the freedom to work by his own rules has always been integral. Whether it be releasing a bulletproof vest as a catalogued item through Sincerely Yours, or nonchalantly forgetting to tour, there is no compromise.
"Compromise in this case would mean, to me, to do something that doesn't feel right, something that could hurt my art," he explains. "I don't often feel tempted to do that, just sometimes when I'm insecure and destructive. But those impulses are always nipped in the bud by something far stronger inside of me. I can put my body in danger sometimes, but it's impossible with my art, however much parts of me would like to."
As for a revelation about the record's title, how would he best describe his own personal wonderland? "If you put a gun to my head, I'd say parts Harajuku, wolf dens, Taylor Swift's lips, the octagon, fields of poppies and daisies and my Gucci goggles," he admits, grudgingly. "It's all a wonderland baby, if you can just quiet your mind."