Over the holidays, Symphony of Sweden not only unveiled a beautiful new song but, treated fans to a Christmas unlike any other. This time, however, it wasn’t Linus “Lee” Wester clutching the microphone in his hands but, the band’s producer and keyboardist Pontus “Evan” Hagberg.
Evan’s statement:”It all started when Lee and I were in the studio, playing some random YouTube videos for each other, and suddenly Lee showed me Tommy Johansson’s (Majestica, Sabaton) one-octave challenge version of “You Raise Me Up” where he sings well, pretty high… I found it really cool and said to Lee, I can sing that high as well easily, I added with a smile…
However, to be honest, it was not that easy but starting more like a joke we decided to go on and have me for the lead vocal on this particular track, and the timing was great as Lee is still recovering from some vocal issues he has had for the last couple of weeks. But needless to say, this is a one-time only thing that I am singing the lead. Then I will be happy doing backing vocals behind Lee again. So don’t worry, Lee will keep singing the lead on all forthcoming Symphony Of Sweden tracks. I promise!
Originally written by the Norwegian-Irish duo Secret Garden, it became popular after Josh Groban‘s early 2000’s cover of the song and has, since, become one of the most popular songs covered by artists across the globe.
This gentle, yet raspy singular octave version is both odd and astounding. To reach the vocal level required to properly express this song’s power is a skill all its own; however, to then see it done on another level, such as in a single octave higher challenge, is another skill to behold. Evan maximizes and pushes his own vocal capabilities on this track, backed by a heavier and melodic beat that cranks this classic song to new heights.
Actually, ‘You Raise Me Up’ has a very interesting story that I have been mesmerized about over the years. The melody for the verses is identical to an Icelandic song called Söknuður even though the original Icelandic composer Jóhann Helgason got no credits for it. Also, a friend of mine Åsa Jinder did very beautiful Swedish lyrics to the song which has been released by several popular Swedish artists. So, ‘You Raise Me Up’ has been circulating around my mind for years!
I started recording the song with the vocals and I didn’t take it too seriously, however after listening to the vocal took the day after I thought, maybe this could be something. I sent an e-mail to Henrik Bodin-Sköld that eventually, he must help me add electric guitars to a cover song in the coming days if the vocals will sound good…
I listened to the vocals once again and decided I could do it better… So, I did it better and sent a version to Henrik with some instructions that I wanted him to go wild in the last choruses, with shredding and all kinds of metal power…
First I used pre-recorded drum loops but now that the arrangement turned out to be pretty serious I wanted to record our own drums of course. I wanted the fastest metal drummer in Sweden for the task but I had no idea who to call, so I asked Henrik, and he said to give Jon Skäre a call, he is really fast! Lo and behold, I already had Jon Skäre as a Facebook friend and I sent him the track and asked if he was about to visit my town in the near future to record the drums in my studio. He replied he could record it himself in Stockholm and also include a video take… Wow, what a service! So, being short of time if releasing it before Xmas, Jon Skäre should have all the credits for being super fast and helping us out with this unique cover!
Speaking of Christmas, yes this is a Xmas present to all our followers and fans! You raise us all up! Happy Christmas from Symphony Of Sweden!”
Nevertheless, this was a one-time only deal while Lee recovers his vocal prowess, and Evan has no issues returning to backing vocals but, it was fun, and quite stunning to witness that Evan can truly see his vocals “raise up” should they ever become necessary.
Hailing from the North of Sweden where the frigid hand of winter rules over all, the music that Symphony of Sweden brings forth is quite the opposite. Utilizing enormous arrangements, and bringing together the missing elements of pop and metal, Symphony of Sweden link the powerful voice of Linus “Lee” Wester” and the creative skill of Pontus “Evan” Hagberg to bring the world a concept that takes you on a journey from the frigid lands of the north, and beyond eternity.
Evan and Lee both resided in the same small town in Northern Sweden. Lee, having his own little stop with betting and a tobacco store nearby happened to be Evan’s local stop where he went to pick up his parcels. After greeting each other for a few years, one day Evan had a parcel to pick up – one that was musical in nature. The two quickly picked up a conversation on the topic, and a few short days later they were in Lee’s studio.
Evan: “He had found one of my instrumental tracks on Youtube and sang it with a new melody on top and lyrics for me in the studio, right there when he just arrived! I was blown away, and a week later we had our first ever track produced and completed. As soon he sang his first two words in the studio I wanted to work with him!“
The band released their first album, Inner Demons in January of 2021, and their second album, Saints Of Yesterday came out on the 3rd of February in 2022.
You can find out more about Symphony of Sweden via their website and Bandcamp, and don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, and Instagram for news, updates, and much more!