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Introducing the teams behind the Danish selection - Part 1

05 January 2012 at 22:43 CET

Earlier on today DR announced the 10 acts participating in the 2012 edition of Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. Not only did we list the acts but we also brought some exciting news about how the winner will be selected with the use of an international jury for the first time. 

But now we take a much more detailed look into the artists, songwriters and producers behind each of the 10 participants so why not grab yourself a drink and enjoy. Today we look at songs 1 to 5 so remember to stay tuned to for part two tomorrow! 

Song 1 - Take Our Hearts

Artist: Jesper Nohrstedt

Music & Lyrics: Morten Hampenberg, Engelina, Mads B. B. Krog 

Jesper became a household name in Denmark when he melted the judges’ hearts and sang himself into third place in X Factor in 2010. Now the 17-year-old music talent with the surname Nohrstedt is going after victory when he will sing the wildcard-song “Take Our Hearts” at Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2012.

“X Factor and Melodi Grand Prix are two very different things. Back then it was all about singing cover tracks. But now I can be myself and do what I want to do. It will be really great” says Jesper Nohrsted who now is in the first year of sixth form at N. Zahles Secondary School in Copenhagen.

After X Factor finished, Jesper has amongst other things performed at the Skanderborg and Langeland festivals together with the X Factor orchestra and Thomas Ring and Tine Midtgaard from the TV show. Take Our Hearts is Jesper’s first single and he promises there is more in the pipeline because as he says: “I’m throwing up music”.

“I hope people will think: Wow, what is that song doing in Melodi Grand Prix? Melodi Grand Prix is being turned on its head and I want to be a part of that”, he says.

DJ and producer Morten Hampenberg had his big break in 1999 where he had hits with the dance singles Grab that thing and Ducktoy, which were played at clubs all over the world. Since then he has released a series of hits with the best foreign House companies and has been a much sought after producer and mixer in Denmark. Amongst other things he has produced remixes to acts like L.O.C, Nik & Jay and Private and has won the Year’s Remix Award at the Danish DJ Awards in both 2008 and 2009. Most recently Morten Hampenberg has had a hit with Skub til taget, which he created in cooperation with producer Alexander Brown and rapper Yepha. Especially Radio P3’s listeners have been able to swing to Stine Bramsen’s hit I want you, which Morten Hampenberg wrote together with Engelina and Mads B.B. Krog. The same team are behind Take Our Hearts.

Mads B.B Krog and Morten Hampenberg are old friends and have studied together for the past 12 years. Mads has written and produced music for various genres right from electronic music to jazz. Recently, he has written and produced two albums for soul and R&B singer Ayoe Angelica as well as releasing lounge-electronica under the pseudonym Plateaux Techniques. The singer and songwriter Engelina became a hit for the first time in 2001 together with DJ Encore with the song I See Right Through You, which was the title song to Denmark’s first reality series Big Brother. Since then she has written songs for a plethora artists – amongst other things she has written the hits Dybt vand together with Svenstrup & Vendelboe and Lost in the fire together with The Storm. Also, together with Cutfather she wrote Like a drug for Kylie Minogue’s album X. Engelina is also Anne Linnet’s permanent backing singer.

At Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2012 the views can put their dancing shoes on when the songwriter trio’s song is performed on stage at Gigantium.

“The club genre is not strongly represented in Melodi Grand Prix. That’s why we wanted to change that with this wildcard”, says Morten Hampenberg. 

Song 2 - Nowhere

Artist: Valen:tine

Music & Lyrics:  Søren Itenov, Christoffer Stjerne, Tine Lynggaard

As one third of the songwriter team, Tine Lynggaard has not just co-written the song, she will also perform the song on stage under the pseudonym VALEN:TINE. She has previously performed covers but it is the first time that she will sing her own material, and she is looking forward to showing all of Demark who she is when she takes to the stage at Gigantium in Aalborg. The 23 year old singer was brought up in Præstø in a very musical family that has always watched Dansk Melodi Grand Prix and she is looking forward to being a part of that tradition.

“I have really big ambitions and work hard to fulfil them. With Dansk Melodi Grand Prix I can get a really good start and I am really looking forwad to it. It will be a real tap on the shoulder to be able to represent Denmark in Azerbaijan so I hope that the audience will rock along and enjoy the song”, says Tine Lynggaard, who loves pop/rock with a proper American sound and is in the process of writing songs for her debut album together with Søren Itenov and Christoffer Stjerne.

Søren Itenov is the only member of the team with Grand Prix experience. He was previously the guitarist in Johnny Deluxe, who took part as a wildcard in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix in 2009. Here they finished in joint third with the girls from Sukkerchok. Søren Itenov finished playing in Johnny Deluxe in 2010 and has since concentrated on the band The Army with whom he plays in with Christoffer Stjerne. Moreover he has been working as a live and session guitarist for a great wealth of musicians. Him and Christoffer Stjerne are in the process of creating a music factory where one can turn up at their CSI studio in Copenhagen with a song and acoustic guitar and go home with a finished product ready for release.

Christoffer Stjerne got his first drum kit at the age of 4 and has played ever since and later on also the base and guitar. For the past 10 years he has written songs and he also works as a technician and producer at the CSI studio in Copenhagen. Christoffer describes himself as a rock musician and can’t be called a pronounced Grand Prix fan. When he saw Søren take part in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix in 2009, he wrote him and SMS straight away with the text: “What are you doing?”. Since then he has, however, become better natured about the competition. 

Song 3 - Best Thing I Got

Artist: Aya

Music & Lyrics: John Gordon & Julie Frost

“Well done!”. That’s what Aya though when she saw Lena from Germany win the Eurovision Song Contest with Satellite, written by the American Julie Frost and Dane John Gordon, who are well known. Now she is going to sing a song by the same songwriter pair.

“When I was presented with Best Thing I Got I was sold on the spot. I am really looking forward to performing the song at Melodi Grand Prix”, says Yanne Friis who is taking part as Aya. 

The Odense girl has been singing all her life and formed her first band – a country group that especially played the songs of Patsy cline – when she attended the song academy in her hometown. In 2004 she sang Denmark’s Olympic song Going For Gold as a duet with James Sampson and in the same year she met Søren Rasted in London and became the vocalist in his project Lazy Boy. Here she sang amongst other things the hit Underwear Goes Inside The Pants which went to number 5 in the Australian charts and which she performed at the Zulu Awards.

“I live and breathe music and hope that my participation in Melodi Grand Prix will have a positive effect on my solo carrier” says Aya who presently is working on putting the finishing touches to her debut album.

Dane John Gordon and Amiercan Julie Frost know about the sweet taste of victory. They were the songwriter team behind the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2010. With the song Satellite performed by Lena Meyer-Landrut they first took gold at the German national selection and then were voted to the top at the international final, held in Oslo – an experience that John Gordon describes as surreal.

“We sat amongst the audience in the hall with a flock of drunk Norwegians around us. When they realised that we had written the German song, they began to cheer for us so it was very festive. Later on that night we walked around Oslo’s streets with the giant glass trophy and tried muster a beer to celebrate our victory with but it can be quite difficult in Norway”, tells John Gordon, who later on was celebrated in style in Germany.

John Gordon and Julie Frost met for the first time five years ago, where John was invited to contribute to Julie’s own projects. Since then they have worked together permanently. In addition to writing Grand Prix songs, the team has also sent in songs to among others the German pop star Lena. Julie Frost has also written for big names like Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas and Ed Sheeran. 

Song 4 - Reach For The Sky

Artist: Kenneth Potempa

Music & Lyrics: Peter Bjørnskov, Lene Dissing, Sune Haansbæk

You’re still the star of me played on Denmark’s radio stations in 2008. Now the lead singer of Neeva is back and ready to stand on his own two feet as a soloist when he will sing, Reach for the Sky at Dansk Melodi Grand Prix.

“It is definitely the right song for me. So even thought it can be a little scary having to perform for so many people on live TV, it was a challenge that I just had to take up”, says Kenneth Potempa.

Kenneth Potempa broke through as the front figure of the Århus band Neeva, where Peter Bjørnskov played the drums. They had hits with the songs Cold, Doors and especially, Star of Me from the album Where To Start in 2008, before they went their separate ways in 2010.  In the same year, Kenneth Potempa started his solo carrier off with the single Secret Life. Today he commutes between his home in Horsens an Startone Music in Århus where he records demos and potters around with his own songs, which one day will become his first solo album.

Melodi Grand Prix has developed so much during the last few years and the majority of songs will today be played on all Danish radio stations. The music has become more contemporary and that development is something I would like to contribute to”, says Kenneth Potempa who isn’t in any doubt that Reach for the Sky is a song with international hit potential.

Behind the song Reach for the Sky is a tight knit team from Århus. Together Peter Bjørnskov, Lene Dissing and Sune Haansbæk make up the producer/songwriter team Startone Music, who amongst other things has sent in music to names such as Sanne Salomonsen, Thomas Ring, Bryan Rice and many foreign artists.

All three songwriters have taken part in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix before. Peter Bjørnskov wrote the song Breathing, performed by Bryan Rice and came second in 2010. At last year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix Peter Bjørnskov and Lene Dissing together with John Gordon wrote the song Sleepless which also finished in second place. At the same time Sune Haansbæk took part with the song Hollywood Girl, which he wrote together with Matilde Kühl and Ian Mack.

“It is super cool to be able to take part in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix and we all have the feeling that we are taking part with the right song”, says Lene Dissing. She describes the song as a happy up-tempo song with high ceilings. 

Song 5 - Overflow

Artist: Ditte Marie

Music & Lyrics: Mike Eriksson, Johnny Sanchez, Hanif Sabzevari

Disco band Le Freak had their break through at Dansk Melodi Grand Prix last year and sang their way into joint third place. It was also here that Swedish songwriter Hanif Sabzevari noticed lead singer Ditte Marie, who now will perform the new Grand Prix hit Overflow.

“When I heard Overflow I was in no doubt that I of course would say yes because the song is definitely me”, she says.

Ditte Marie was quite young when she first entered the recording studio and recorded her first single under the pseudonym Maria Martin, a project that among other things exposed her to the German music scene. When she wasn’t studying or in Germany, she performed in various bands or on the musical stage in Ikast and Herning until 2007 when she became the lead singer of one of the country’s most popular live bands, Le Freak. Together they have held a wealth of concerts in many of Denmark’s largest music venues and even been voted as the years live name at the Skanderborg festival. After Melodi Grand Prix 2011 they released the album Le Freak and Ditte Marie also graduated with a master’s in aesthetics and culture from Århus University. Now she is ready to jump into the role of Grand Prix soloist.

“It is going to be both fantastic and scary to stand alone on stage - Fantastic, because can now finally stand on my own two feet and show who I am musically and performance wise - Scary because I am used to being part of a team in Le Freak and I will feel very naked standing all by myself with the song on stage. I am going to miss the boys because there is nothing like being part of a team. So now I hope that all of Denmark will be my team”, she says.

The Swedish songwriter team behind the love song, Overflow is completely unanimous as to why they are taking part in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix: The reaction from the audience is fantastic.

“As a songwriter, Melodi Grand Prix is a fantastic opportunity to meet the audience live and experience their reaction to the song you have created. When you have tried it once, you just want to experience it again and again”, explains Hanif Sabzevari, who himself has taken part in Sweden’s answer to Melodi Grand Prix, Melodifestivalen with the song Unstoppable, performed by Ola in 2010. Last year he took part in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix with the song You’ll Get Me Through. The song, which he wrote with Henrik Janson was performed by Sine Vig Kjærgaard.

Hanif Sabzevari has busied himself with music since he was a child. He began to sing in the local church and started to play the drums and guitar during his teenage years. He was the lead singer and guitarist in the band The Academy, which released its first album in 2004. Since then he began to write and produce music for others. Genre wise his tastes are broad, moving from hard rock, blues and reggae to country, r’n’b and pop. He has submitted songs to amongst others Jimi Jamison (USA) and former Toto lead singer Bobby Kimball (USA). For Danish artists he wrote the single De 1000 drømmes nat for Sukkerchok and the song Lissabon for Sanne Salomonsen’s latest album.

Mike Eriksson has worked as a professional musician and conductor for a long line of artists in Sweden and the Nordic region during the last 10 years with names like Carola Häggkvist, Kurt Nielsen, E-Type, Lene Marlin and Jo Nesbø. Mike toured a few years ago around the Nordic Region and USA with his former band Blue Eyes Soul. During the last year he has written songs such as Can’t Shut Up for Anthem Lights (USA), Genom Alt for Carola Häggkvist (Sweden) and Till livets slut for Cecilia Vennersten (Sweden).

Johnny Sanchez started his music career at the age of 12 and composed his first song on an Amiga 500. Later he began to produce club music and toured around Sweden with it. Three years ago he began to write to other artists representing many different genres and has produced music for artists such as Venus, Alan Connor and Man Meadow. Moreover he has sent in songs to the national selections of Portugal and Iceland.