Submitted by Don Graham
Long ago in a land far away, musical magic was being created. The long ago was the 1970s, the faraway was Sweden and the musical magic was created at Polar Studios in Stockholm.
Polar Studios was a recording studio in Stockholm, Sweden, which operated from 1978 through 2004 and was formed by ABBA musicians Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and the band’s manager Stig Andersson and housed, the band’s Polar Music recording label.
The studio was used to record each of the last three ABBA albums, Voulez-Vous, Super Trouper and The Visitors, as well as their two non-LP singles “The Day Before You Came” and “Under Attack”. Following the demise of ABBA, all members of the group continued using the studio to record their solo projects.
ABBA had been looking for a modern studio with a good, spacious live sound where they would be able to work at their own leisure and decided that the best solution was to build their own.
Along with the legendary ABBA, other legendary names who graced the halls of Polar Studios were Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Joan Armatrading, Big Country, Backstreet Boys, Björn Skifs, Rolling Stones, Chic, Roxette, Orup, ELO, Lisa Nilsson, Rammstein, Ted Gärdestad , Chess, Ramones, Titioy, Pretenders, Frida, Tomas Ledin, Roxy Music , Thåström, Tina Turner, GES Tony Banks, Eva Dahlgren, Rainbow, Brian Robertson, Mirelle Mathieu, Agnetha Fältskog, Mike and the Mechanics, Adam Ant, Candlemass, Esa Pekka Salonen, Magnus Uggla, Cardigans, Trust, Backyard Babies, Uno Sveningsson , Alice Cooper, Gemini, Wu-Li, Marie Fredriksson, Orsa spelmän, Therion, Hurriganes , Finn Kalvik, Ofra Haza, Westlife, Allanah Myles, Lee Kerslake (Uriah Heep), Imperiet, Bob Hope, Hanna Marsh, Europe, Louise Hoffsten, Celine Dion, Dr. Alban, Scorpions, Ratata, Kent, Bo Kaspers orkester, Kristina från Duvemåla, Nicklas Strömstedt, Sahara Hotnights, Kaipa, Electric Banana Band, Kim Larsen, Def Leppard, Yngve Malmsten, Saxon, Ralph Ravencraft, Electric Boys, Kayo, Nomads, Josefin Nilsson, Ebbe Jularbo, Simon Rowe, Lill-Babs, Pugh Rogefeldt, West of Mars.
The centerpiece of the studio was a Harrison mixing console, which was modified by technician Leif Mases to give it a unique sound that in some respects resembled a Neve desk. ABBA’s 1981 album The Visitors marked a turning point for Polar, as it was recorded on the studio’s new 3M digital recorder – thus becoming one of the first digital mainstream pop records. And at the center of this was engineer Lennart Ostlund.
Lennart started out as a musician, picking up his mother’s guitar at age 6 and by 10 years old he started a band with his cousin. And then at 13 he heard the Beatles and everything changed for him musically. The fresh sound lit a fire in the young guitar player’s heart.
This was interrupted by a four-year mandatory stint in the Swedish military which saw Lennart’s interest in engineering blossom and he started exploring the technical end of creating music. He built his own flangers and compressors and found he had a talent for engineering.
His position at Polar Studios allowed him to cement his legacy in pop music production.
And it was his work with Swedish superstar Ted Gardestad that will live on. Working with producers Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus as an engineer they turned the young singer into the label’s best-selling artist after ABBA.
And although Ted has tragically passed, this summer Lennart will be reunited with his legacy through an appearance with Canadian legend Lisa Hartt who did a musical exchange with Gardestad on television shows both in Stockholm, Sweden, and Toronto, Canada in the late ’70s. Hartt will appear at the same festival that Lennart is appearing at with his new band West of Mars, performing Ted’s most famous song “För Kärlekens Skull” as their finale reprise with Lisa Hartt joining them on the chorus.
Lennart Ostlund’s newest venture, West of Mars will be featured on the main stage as one of their debuts to accompany the release of their new album.
West of Mars is Lennart Östlund, Daniel John, and Jessica Grenholm, all talented artists and musicians in their own right. The band was formed during the Pandemic; they produced a Rock musical and a “One-minute-song” Musical operetta. The new album release features that are Rock/Pop in the Fantasy genre and we are looking forward to reviewing it in the near future.
With what has already been a legendary career, it will be amazing to witness the latest venture as Lennart Ostlund Goes West of Mars.