Journalist and Author John Seabrook has been very generous and kind and shared with us three vignettes about Denniz Pop. These are condensed bits from Mr Seabrook’s book “The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory” – go check the entire exciting read out, here. We are thrilled to share the first of three parts with you!
“Ah, Mr. Pop!”
So Californian-looking he could only be Swedish, Dag Krister Volle—Denniz PoP’s given name; friends called him Dagge—wore his long blond hair with plenty of volumizer, loosely parted in the middle, Jon Bon Jovi–style, a reminder that the New Jersey rocker had started his career as a hair dresser. When it hung down in his eyes, as it usually did, Denniz would blow upward, puffing aside hair strands with wheezy gouts of smoky breath; he always had a Marlboro Menthol going. Denniz dressed like a teenager, in T-shirts and jeans, or in large green military-style trousers, and hoodies, everything worn loose. Seated in front of his Apple computer—he always had the latest Macs— his cigarette would stick straight up between the fingers of his right hand as he moved the mouse. He had a licentious-looking gap between his two front teeth that showed when he smiled. And he was always smiling.
At Ritz, Stockholm’s premier gay club, Denniz was much in demand as a DJ. Unlike his SweMix colleagues, who spun house and acid house at the Bat Club—as Thursday nights at Ritz were called—Denniz loved funk and soul. Parliament-Funkadelic, Cameo. StoneBridge says, “I grew up with Chic and Nile Rodgers, but Denniz was never into disco; he was a bit younger than us.” In 1986, when Stonebridge showed up with a stack of house records he’d gotten from Stax in Chicago, Denniz didn’t like it; it threatened the funk and soul that was his true love. StoneBridge: “Denniz also hated jazz. It wasn’t simple enough. He liked chords you could play with three fingers. Whenever I would play my complicated jazzy chords, Denniz would make a face. That was the thing that drew him to pop—the simplicity of it.” Denniz much preferred the synth-pop bands coming out of London in the early ’80s—Depeche Mode, Human League, OMD. He also adored Def Leppard, especially the production work by super producer Mutt Lange. As Jan Gradvall notes, “Def Leppard were used as a blueprint when they made their own Swedish pop/R&B-mashups.”
“Gimme Some Mo’ (Bass on Me)” is the first track to have “Denniz PoP” listed as the artist. PoP was a double entendre: an acronym for “Prince of Pick-ups,” which was a reference to his prowess with a stylus arm, and also a sardonic jibe at his colleagues’ rarefied musical tastes.
“During that time ‘pop’ was almost like a swear word,” he said in a 1998 interview on Swedish Radio. “Everything was hip-hop and break, and you weren’t allowed to say ‘pop.’ It was no fun at all.” And Dagge was all about fun. So “I took ‘Denniz’ from the cartoon character”—Dennis the Menace, whose refusal to do anything that didn’t strike him as fun echoed Dagge’s spirit—“and then I just added Pop to that. And now I’ve had to live with it. Overseas they only call me “Denniz.” But here, ‘Ah, Mr. Pop!’ is what I get when I register at the hotel under that name.”
Denniz loved games almost as much as he loved music. Not just computer games, although he was certainly devoted to those, and would spend hours playing Broken Sword, an adventure game, and Marathon, an early first-person shooter, producing detailed walk throughs for his buddies; gaming would become a big part of Cheiron culture. He also delighted in board games and practical jokes. One time, Denniz turned all the lights in the studio off, wrapped himself in toilet paper like a mummy, and spent three hours waiting for his best friend Anders (“Snake”) to come downstairs so that he could scare him to death.
Each year Denniz would organize an elaborate annual scavenger hunt for colleagues and friends, hiding clues all over Stockholm. E-Type, one of the artists Denniz would eventually produce, remembered in the documentary The Cheiron Saga by Fredrik Eliasson on Swedish Radio, “We’d run around town like clowns, counting the number of wine bottles at the liquor stores, say, and driving cars too fast and ending up with were boats, and we’d borrow things, and try to mess each other up. And then Dagge would sit there for hours trying to determine the winner.”