Songwriter Spotlight: Jonas Thander

jonasthanderLast year, we had the chance to interview Eurovision-winning lyricist Charlie Mason for our website, which got us to thinking that we’d like to do a regular feature interviewing the songwriters, who are the under-appreciated lifeblood of the Eurovision Song Contest.

We weren’t trying to make an annual feature, per se, but there you go.

This year we’re shining a spotlight on Jonas Thander,  who with Beatrice Robertsson co-wrote Donny Montell’s “I’ve Been Waiting for This Night,” Lithuania’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016. His credits as a songwriter, producer, and arranger include work for Arianda Grande, Demi Lovato, Jessie J and Pastora Soler. He also arranged the horns for and played saxophone on Taylor Swift’s massive hit “Shake It Off.”

Thander says the music of Stevie Wonder motivated him to become a songwriter. “The melodies, lyrics, his musicianship and the emotions that comes with that” inspired him to follow his career path.

Like Charlie Mason, Thander began selling songs and meeting collaborators through a website that connected songwriters with publishers. The first song he sold, “TV or Radio,” was to Sergey Lazarev, Russia’s representative at this year’s Song Contest.

Since then, he has collaborated with a number of songwriters and artists from around the world, which requires a lot of flexibility. “I do it in all ways possible. Sometimes alone, writing lyrics, melodies and producing,” he said. “Sometimes via Skype, sometimes five people in the same room. Sometimes just singing out loud in the bathroom…”

Thander has worked with Donny Montell before, and he and Robertsson had Montell in mind when they wrote “I’ve Been Waiting for Tonight.” He said, “We knew he was looking for a song to compete with in Eurovision.”

When asked what he thought of the Song Contest, he said, “I like it a lot. It’s a great party and a chance to get Europe together for one night. As a kid I used to sing along to Johnny Logan’s ‘Hold Me Now’ looking in the mirror.”

Thander has some experience with other big pan-European events. He had the opportunity to write the music for the opening ceremony of the 2013 UEFA Women’s Euro. “I got the mission to write and produce for the Women’s Euro through an old musician friend of mine,” he said. “It was a challenge but I had a clear vision from the start how I wanted it to sound like.”

When asked about Sweden’s dominance at Eurovision and in pop music worldwide, Thander said, “I guess we’re in a big flow at the moment. Success brings more success.” He added, “Younger people get inspired by older songwriters and producers and the hits keep [on] coming.”