SOLILOQUY

/səˈlɪləkwi/
A theatre device, the act of speaking one's thoughts aloud to oneself. From Latin 'solo' (to oneself) + 'loquor' (I talk).



To be or not to be, that was never the question.

I was a quiet child with a loud heartbeat. When I was about four years old, Swedish TV was airing a Spanish cartoon called Don Quixote, and I fell in love with the dramatic first 8 bars of the the theme tune. I spent hours sitting at my family's electric organ, playing that same melody, discovering the magical world of music. About the same time, I learned to read. I'm not from a religious family, but the first book I tried to read was the Bible, simply because it appealed to me.

After talking my parents into buying me a toy drum kit, at the age of 7 I found an acoustic guitar in a dumpster. I wanted so badly to learn how to play it that I taught myself how to play by ear, despite the fact that the guitar was missing three strings. I saw it as a gift from God, and it changed my life. I decided to dedicate my life to music.

At 9, I bought a real drum kit from a friend and started a pop band, and after writing about 2 songs we booked our one and only live performance in front of the class at Friday Fun, but it was cancelled after I locked myself up in the toilet where I had a nervous breakdown. I discovered stage fright.

Despite that, the following year, I participated in a school musical, playing a small role, something I took very seriously and really enjoyed. Music, drawing, writing, creating was always at the centre of my attention, and I lived a solitary life.

With the intention to study Fine Arts, I entered Kungshögaskolan Secondary School in Mjölby, but found myself bored to death. I returned to music and spent the rest of my time in school studying music; composition, arranging, music history, singing, playing different instruments. We had a passionate music teacher, and with his guidance I found myself writing and recording my first songs, and performing live. During these years, I also discovered Hermann Hesse's novels and after reading Siddhartha, my lifelong fascination with buddhism and meditation was born. The similarities between Jesus and the Buddha were obvious, and I wanted to be like them.

I played in quite a few different bands as a teenager, and aged 21 I started Punch and Judy Show with Johan Pettersson. We didn't know it at the time, but the songs we wrote together during this time, would later inspire a musical based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Johan wrote a libretto with extensive dialogues, we translated the songs to Swedish, but we were never pushed to really finish it. At that time.

I left the band in late 1998 and moved to London to develop my songwriting in January 1999, after receiving a songwriting grant from Swedish royalty collection society STIM. My time in London changed my life. I performed live at open mic nights several nights a week and made new friends. I discovered there was a world outside my small home town, and everything seemed possible.

After literally writing hundreds of songs in different genres since I first registered with STIM in 1995, back in Sweden I finally released my first official album in 2004, Passion. I had discovered Brazilian music the year before and had developed strong bossa nova influences, and suddenly a Japanese record label emailed me saying they wanted to release it in Japan, and I started exporting large boxes of CDs right out of my living room. Passion became an indie bestseller in Japanese record shops like Tower Records and HMV, the title song was played on the radio, and it all happened by word of mouth.

Whilst working on my second album Blissa Nova, with a more authentic Brazilian sound, I moved to Stockholm. Inspired by my wish to understand my favourite Brazilian song lyrics, I started to study Portuguese at Stockholm University and ended up with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I wrote my dissertation on the political content of songwriter Chico Buarque's song lyrics. When Blissa Nova was released in 2007, along with a new Japanese edition of Passion, I was invited to Japan to do a two-week acoustic tour. Finally, my stage fright started to ease.

After two albums that had received pretty good reviews, I decided to write and sing in Swedish on my third album C'est La Vie, and at the same time my song Passion was licensed by Japanese musical theatre production company Takarazuka Revue for one of their lavish Broadway-style shows, and I suddenly realised how well suited my music was for the theatre. How my melodies already back then were mimicking speech. Maybe it's my background in the Swedish ballad tradition where the performance of the lyrics are just as important as the lyrics themselves.

In 2011, whilst living in Tokyo, Japan, I released my fourth album under the pseudonym Peacebird. The first song on the album, Slow Down, became the most played song by a foreign artist in Japanese radio during the whole month of October 2011. I was doing 100 gigs a year and started to feel burnt out.

Then in 2013, I received a sudden Skype call from my old friend Johan Pettersson. He told me that theatre producer Robin Karlsson, a renowned makeup and hair designer on the Scandinavian opera and theatre scene, wanted us to stage that old musical we had written 15 years earlier, at his theatre Arbisteatern. I agreed, under the condition that I could rewrite all the song lyrics and we would work on improving the script. I started writing that very day, and even wrote a couple of new songs. We gave it a new setting, a travelling carnival, and changed the whole second act. At the same time, I finished my fifth album, Beautiful Place.

Back in Sweden, we renamed the show Tivolisaga (Carnival Tale) and it premiered in August 2013 at Arbisteatern in Norrköping, which is one of Sweden's oldest still running amateur theatres where professional actors have performed alongside amateurs since 1865, Zarah Leander was one of the most famous. The two months we used to audition, rehearse and work on the show, and the actual performances at the theatre, was one of the best times of my life. Seeing all our hard work come to life on the stage through the joint efforts of the performers, director, choreographer, lighting engineer and producer Robin, was truly magical. I realised I had found what I was meant to do. My life had come full circle, and I suddenly remembered something I had said to a friend when I was living in London in 1999 - "I want to write songs that resemble the way people speak". Without even knowing, I had been talking about musical theatre. → Tivolisaga website

After Tivolisaga, we went on to stage a new production of Jonathan Larson's rock musical RENT. Robin acquired the shut-down Skandiateatern, which we rebuilt into resembling a lower Manhattan crossing. We had local graffiti artists cover the foyer and the façade of the 19th century building in 1980's style graffiti. Again, Johan directed. I was the Musical Director, Conductor and played the piano. These months under Robin's producing supervision was an amazing learning experience.

In 2015, I wrote the music for a Swedish indie documentary about the life of a Bulgarian man begging in the streets of Sweden, and I later released that music on the instrumental album Bull Rider Boy. Later that year, I moved to the UK, and since 2016 I'm a member of the BML workshop for musical theatre songwriting in London, modelled after the Lehman Engel BMI workshop in New York.

In 2016, on a sunny day on the English south coast, I met the love of my life, Tara. A beautiful and incredibly intelligent person, she helps me make sense of life and of the path we have both walked to come this far. We will never know, but something tells me our roads crossed in London already in spring 1999 when I used to walk down to Greenwich Park and spend whole days sitting on a bench by the pond, writing song lyrics. She's told me that she used to come there too, and the thought of us having already met without knowing is mind-blowing. I'm convinced that the only reason I felt such a strong urge to move back to the UK, was for us to be able to meet. It was meant to be, and I consider myself the luckiest man in the world.

In 2017, I received the Löf Foundation Culture Award for my musical theatre songwriting, and in 2018 we released the long overdue album Tivolisaga - Original Swedish Cast Recording, recorded years before.

I'm currently working on a new musical and am also writing songs for a brand new solo album.


J.C. SCHÜTZ
July 2019





Discography

ALBUMS:

2019      

Bull Rider Boy

2018      

Tivolisaga (Original Swedish Cast Recording)

2013      

Beautiful Place

2011

Peacebird

2009

C'est La Vie

2007

Blissa Nova

2004

Passion

SINGLES:

2018

Let the Sunlight In (Extended Radio Edit)

2017

Difficult (Impossible Remix)

2017

Love This World

2016

Changes Changes (Nujabes Tribute Remix)

2015

I'm Here

2014

Möten och avsked

2014

Det kunde lika gärna varit vi

2014

I Guess It's Ok (Vai Ficar Tudo Bem) - with Vanessa Pinheiro

2012

Christmas Time (We can change the world)

2011

Hold On Now

2011

Peace (Give the people the power back) [Peacebird Edit]

2009

Balans (bossa remix)

2009

Se solen gå upp

2009

Dröm

» Click here for Full Discography

 

GRANTS & RECOGNITIONS


2017      

The Löf Foundation Culture Award (Sweden)

2011

Development grant for new musical from The Japan Foundation

2010

Initial development grant for new musical from The Japan Foundation

2008

Culture Grant from the Swedish Arts Council

2007

Culture Grant from the Swedish Arts Council

1998

Songwriting Grant from The Swedish Performing Rights Society [STIM]

 

FILM MUSIC


2017      

Hajimete no Kimochi (The First Feeling in My Life) (Japan)

2015

Bull Rider Boy (Sweden)

2007

Grälmakar (Sweden)

2004

The Miracle (Czech Republic)

2003

Marcus & Medelhavet (Sweden)