A couple of weeks ago, amidst an outcry over anti-gay legislation in Russia and the apathy displayed by world powers during the Olympics in Sochi, Annie released a protest track called “Russian Kiss” (below left). It was a solid symbolic move in the fight against homophobia, but it was only the beginning. Annie is now commissioning remixes from producers around the world, which, according to Annie’s website, are “reminders of the fight we initiated with ‘Russian Kiss.’ A fight for the right to kiss the one you love – regardless of sexual orientation. This is a global fight. It has to be fought in your own country; in your own town, village and city.”
This week, Johan Agebjörn, producer of the Swedish synth pop act Sally Shapiro, remixed the song into “Swedish Kiss” and DM'd it to Chart Attack. 140 characters wasn’t enough space, so we got him to explain it in an email. His words are more interesting than mine, so here’s that whole message:
Earlier in life I was a political activist and involved in various human rights issues, including anti-homophobia, and I've had the wish to have political issues reflected in my music, however usually I feel it's quite difficult, especially in the disco genre. It would be easier if I was doing punk for example. However the music video to "Starman" was deliberately a very queer video, upon Sally's and mine request - at that point we felt that many of our music videos had dealt with heterosexual love, so we wanted something different. (It turned out the music video director was gay so he was happy about our request!) Sally spoke a bit about it, and about her own bisexuality, in an interview with After Ellen.
About the remix: I think the original is quite hard rocking in its dance-oriented retro rave sound, so I wanted to do something different, not as hard, more atmospheric and melodic (but after a quite monotonous intro before it "opens up", to create some effect where you appreciate the harmonies more). The vocals, however, are quite monotonous, so to make them melt into the background I used two vocoders that turn the track into something sounding more like an electronic pop song with chord progressions. I kept Annie's original voice in the foreground as well since I thought it melted well with the rest of the soundscape.
I've been an Annie fan since "Heartbeat" in 2004 so I was really excited to be asked about it!
Listen to Johan Agebjörn of Sally Shapiro’s “Swedish Kiss” below, then go kiss whoever you feel like kissing.
"Swedish Kiss" is out now on Annie's label Totally. Buy it here. Parts of the proceeds go to LGBT-organization ALLOUT.