There was never any real doubt that Anneli Magnusson was destined to work with music. No one would have guessed the genre – techno/eurodance – though, because when she started her musical journey, it was with an obvious country vibe and a special love for American folkmusic Bob Dylan Style.
There was some singing and playing going on in Magnusson family home outside of Västerås and that’s where Anneli started playing the guitar. But her family understood already long before that, that they had a singer to be in their house. Just like the girl in the ABBA hit “Thank you for the music”, she was a singer before she could talk and a few years later, she “dressed” herself in curtain fabric and performed to her family, singing in make believe-French.
Her teenage years
In her teenage years, she started performing on stage, playing acoustic in various places, even as a streetmusician and she could also be seen with different bands, mostly singing rock covers.
After getting admitted into Carlforsska, the music college of Västerås, she started working on her future musical career for real. She had of course no idea that she’d started something that would affect the rest of her life.
The three guys behind the producer team Hit Vision were looking for a girl with an attitude in her voice, someone who could sing their melodic dance music. They turned to Carlforsska for help and the teacher had no doubt saying: “Talk to Anneli!”
She accepted their offer and started recording their songs, still just for fun and with no thoughts or expectations about where it could lead. In fact, all the demos were recorded in the bedroom of one of the songwriters. 2 Unlimited was the biggest inspiration.
Recorded an album
But then things started happening. One of the producers moved to Stockholm and started working for a small recordlabel there. They liked what they heard and wanted to release the songs but the big question was if it should be with the unknown demo singer Anneli? They decided to go for a famous model fronting the project, they even tried some of them in the studio.
Let’s just say that Anneli won the ”singing competition”.
She went to Stockholm to record another song. And another. And another. And it went on like that for a while until she had recorded an album!
Five years after she left music college, in October 1993, the first single was released under the artist name Pandora and if it’s ever been 100% true that someone became world news over night, this is as close as it gets. ”Trust me” was an instant monster hit, invading the charts all over Scandinavia and ending the No 1 Hit Single of the year in Sweden, among others beating Ace of Base.
840 km of Records
The rest is, as you say, history. And a long one too. Because since then, she has (so far) released 12 studio albums and a decent amount of singles. She has travelled around the world several times, performed in radio and tv, been seen on magazine covers in most countries and contexts and more than anything else she has sold records. Six million records made her one of Sweden’s best selling solo artists of all time.
If you were to line up these records one by one they would lead you 840 kilometers, from her hometown Västerås to the city of Piteå in the north of Sweden.
Big in Japan
”Trust me”, her first single from the debut album ”One of a kind”, was released in October 1993. It achieved gold status in both Sweden and Finland, making Pandora the best-selling dance act in Scandinavia.
Two years later Pandora landed yet another gold disc with her follow-up album "Tell The World". In Scandinavia sales of the album again exceeded the 100 000 mark. In addition, Japanese audiences turned out to be very enthusiastic about Pandora. "Tell The World" sold over amazing 700 000 copies in the land of the rising sun and this was just the beginning.
Pandora has visited Japan 20 times and made 3 sold out tours. The Japanese has given her the cute nickname “Panchan”. She has been invited twice as a guest artist in the popular Japanese TV-show “Yuromo Hippare” where she performed singing in Japanese.
Pandora has “the best-selling international artist” record for Universal Japan.
The smash hit “Tell the world” was number one at popular radio ZIP FM for unbelievable six months!
The Third Album
Her third album, "Changes", was Pandora's worldwide debut release with her new record company Universal Music. Sticking to the motto "never change a winning team", Pandora once again collaborated with her creative trio of Ankelius/Andersson/Johansson. The result was a brilliant album full of great dance tunes, which sold more than 360 000 copies in Japan and went platinum there.
What's more, the English Metro producer team, responsible for Gina G's international success, contributed with three remixes and two new songs to the European version of the album. It went gold in Finland with the singles taken from the album reaching the Top Ten of the Finnish charts.
Pandora went on tour through Scandinavia in the spring and summer of 1997 and did her first 2-week live tour through the main cities of Japan, where she always played to sold-out venues.
Then along came the next album "This Could Be Heaven", a fine collection of fourteen dance and up-tempo tracks, which went platinum in Japan within six weeks. Yet again produced mainly by her long-term partners, Hit Vision and Metro Productions.
"This Could Be Heaven" set a new course in Pandora's career. For the first time, she’d written three of the songs herself, arranged and produced by songwriter Mats Nyman, the keyboard player in Pandora's live band.
Germany's Official Olympics Song
In 1998, Pandora recorded and released the, for her specially written, official German TV ARD Olympic song "Spirit To Win” for the Winter Olympics in Nagano. During the games she was also flown in to perform it live to media from the whole world and the athletes i Nagano.
The same year her best-of album "Pandora's Hit Box" was released.
Tour in Australia
In September 1998 Universal Australia released the Pandora single "A Little Bit, Double M’s Radio Edit", which went gold in 1999.
As a result of this fantastic success in such a far-away place, Pandora went Down Under for the first time in her life, where she played all the big cities (Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane) and later released an "Australia only" album - entitled "Blue", a compilation of songs from the albums "Changes", "This Could Be Heaven" and "Breathe".
A Rougher Pandora
At the beginning of 1999 came the next studio album "Breathe", which due to unforseen circumstances was only released in Japan. This was a great shame, as "Breathe" presented a new, more rock-orientated Pandora, which was partly a result of working together with ex-Europe guitarist Kee Marcello.
At this point, she was searching for her musical identity. As a rock singer in her teenage years, she felt a need to express that side of herself but mixed with cool dance beats made by the producer Daniel Papalexis.
The Seventh Album
"No Regrets" was recorded between August and November 1999 and released in February 2000 in Japan. Because of all the hassle around the merge between Universal and Polygram, the album was never released anywhere else.
The day before Christmas the album was finally ready to be sent off to Japan and if it wouldn’t have snowed that much, and if she had switched to winter tires or if the plane could have landed so the taxi didn’t have to go all the way to Stockholm . . and cost a fortune ... she would have made it in exact time. So she made it only one day late.
Worthy of special mentioning are for example the songs "Close To You", a poem written by the Swedish journalist Björn Stenvall, which Pandora arranged for the guitar; "Be My Man", "Midnight Sun", Pandora's homage to winter in her home country, and “No Regrets” the title song of the album.
Songfight with Kylie Minogue
An interesting point is the song “On A Night Like This”. It was written during the recordings in the Metro Productions studio U.K for Pandora and the plan was to release it as a follow up single to her success in Australia with ”A Little Bit”.
About six months later she started to get mails from fans asking; how come Kylie Minogue has released your song?
Because of different contractual circumstances the writers had given it both to Kylie and another artist called Ana Vissi from Greece. That created some troubles for Pandora for a while and resulted in that both Pandora and Ana lost the game. However, Pandora is not, in her own words, a ”give upper”, so a few years later she recorded another smashing version of the song together with producer JS16, finishing the songfight winning on TKO.
A Tough Recording Session
After starting her first own record label, Westridge Music, together with her husband back then, it was time to start working on the next album. “A Little Closer” was born during the fall of 2000 and it was released on Universal in Japan February 2001.
“Big struggle from day one”; she says. “I use to have three writing/producing teams involved to be able to finish the record within four months. That’s how I have to work to keep the “one record a year” tradition, but this time everything seemed to be against me. From songwriters who disappeared, to songwriter's personal family tragedy, to a broken master tape etc, etc...
This is again another up-tempo Pandora album but with a stronger mix of club tracks, pop songs, some gospel influences and 2 step.
The Eight Album
“Won’t Look Back” is Pandora’s album number eight. She presented her best material to EMI - Finland in the spring of 2000 and they agreed on a deal. She was curious after a long musical history in Finland to, for the first time, collaborate with Finnish producers/writers. She did heavy promotion from September to March; which resulted in the mega radio hit called "Don’t Worry". The most played song that year on Radio Energy!
The album was released in February 2002. She followed up the success with six months of touring.
“I’m so overwhelmed by my fans! After four years of silence they welcome me with open arms. Mums and dads who's been growing up with my music say; we’ve missed you, it's great that you're back!”
"Won´t Look Back" contains songs from P. Barry, G. Stack, C. Lind, Kee Marcello, Maki Kolehmainen, Tracy Lipp, D. Pashley, Mats Nyman, Peter Bladh, D. Papalexis, and Pandora herself.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2003...
Pandora took a different and new step in her career joining the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest in February 2003. "You" was written by the famous Swedish singers Jan Johansen and Shirley Clamp.
Of course she was very excited since it’s the TV show of the year in Sweden. A spectacular competition watched by millions. It was her first official Swedish performance in six years and she looked like a pink techno queen dream in a dress and necklace made by the Swedish designer Thomas Malmros. Her 50 diamonds white gold ring, shaped as a P for Pandora, was made by the goldsmith Calle Norberg from her hometown Västerås.
Although she made an outstanding performance, she didn't make it to the final. She lost out to the group ending up winning the whole competition.
She entered the competition again the year after. This time 5 months pregnant with her son and singing "Runaway", written by the young Swedish guys behind Hurricane Productions.
She didn't make it to the final this year either, but put on yet another great show and - just like the year before - lost out to the entry ending up winning the whole Swedish competition.
Later that year she won something even better when she gave birth to her son Leon in August.
The Ninth Album
Of course she followed up with a new album, "9 Lives". Her ninth! She was in the studio recording on and off from October 2002 until August 2003.
The style of "9 Lives" is what she calls “pop with an attitude and personality”. Her personality, still on the journey of her musical identity.
“I’ve had this album in my head for years but I wasn’t ready until now. It takes a lot of courage and ideas to change” she says.
To be able to do the change she wanted soundwise, she this time worked with new songwriters/producers called Hurricane Productions from Sweden. Pandora met them at the Eurovision Song Contest in Gothenburg where they established a good relation.
“They are (for the business) a young team but extremely creative and open minded songwriters” she says.
They have also been co-producing with Pandora on "Best Friends" and "You & I", written by her. Here it’s pretty obvious where her country/folk music roots are.
"Chapter One" is a great radio rock/pop tune and "If Tomorrow Comes Too Soon" is the most beautiful ballad. Check out the gospel choir (named The Servants) in the end. ”One of the most difficult songs technically I’ve recorded”, she says.
She performed at a yearly Finnish tv gala Elämä Lapselle 2004 with the single "A Love Like This". Her first live performance after giving birth. Excited like never before on stage.
"Girl In A Daydream" once again an interesting mix with different genres like country & rock/pop. Written by the Finnish production team HeRe together with Jeanette Olsson. Jeanette is a very productive Swedish songwriter living in Miami working for no less than Desmond Child. "I’m the better Woman", written by Pandora/C Lind was produced by Pandora and recorded in HeRe´s studio in Helsinki. No rules, just music from the heart and a longing for the Swedish audience.
Truth Conquers All
While Pandora was participating in Melodifestivalen and recording "9 Lives", there were things going on in her private life that would temporary put a stop to her career. Her husband back then and partner in business turned out to be a fraud.
While divorcing him and trying to understand who she had actually been married to, trying to sort out his lies and the tax mess he had put her in, she met a new man and 9 months later she gave birth to a son and started an 8 years long process with criminal justice, as she was prosecuted.
This even though her ex-husband twice in court admitted to being the one responsible. The fact that she was the only boardmember made her the one to blame, according to the court, so she was convicted in 2010 for severe tax crime and evation of tax inspection. She was sentenced to 3 months of community service.
She appealed to the Highest Court but was rejected, which gave her no other chocie than to reluctantly accept her conviction. In her heart she never stopped believing that the truth would win in the end and, like a miracle, six years later she got a letter from, believe it or not, the Highest Court asking if she wanted them to raise her case.
Something in the Air
After years of lawsuits, raising a child and on the edge of personal bankruptcy, against all odds she felt something good in the air. For a while different DJ:s had contacted her wanting to remix and give her old hits new life. This gave her the brilliant idea of a conceptual and new album and an excellent new reason to tour.
"United DJ’s vs. Pandora", “Celebration”, is Pandora’s 10th album, released 2005/06. A unique celebration to her biggest hits on demand of DJ:s, containing 16 all new versions of the hits from her 1st & 2nd album. JS16, VINYLSHAKERZ & Playmaker are some of the, at the time, hot international DJ:s contributing to the album.
Pandora got in touch with a booking agent and step by step she worked her way back in business.
Head up High
Pandora has always chosen to name her albums after where she’s at in her life at the the moment. In 2010, shortly after finishing her three months of community service, she released her new album, "Head Up High". The years of lawsuits had taught her to keep her head up high even when life is falling apart.
The song "You believed", written by herself and Anders Nyman (Guru Josh Project, ”Infinity”), was meant to be another entry for the Swedish Melodifestivalen. However, the song didn't get selected but since it was one of the strongest songs of the album it deserved to be released with a great music video.
Not even the ash cloud from the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull on Iceland could stop her from making the release. She had to travel from Finland after a photo shoot one day to the video filming in Sweden the next. She was lucky to ge at boat ticket, since all flights were cancelled because of the ash cloud.
The album was telling the story of what she had been through after being deceived by her ex-husband, getting convicted for tax crime and having to take the blame for it all.
"Until the hurt is gone" tells the story about her feelings realising she was being lied to and the song "You believed" is her way of saying thank you to everyone believing in her through it all.
As usual, she was working with top class DJ:s and producers, like JS16 on "You Woke My heart", and Why- Magistral and Niclas King, who made a new version/remix of "Every 2nd Beat", the duet with Eric Martin from Mr. Big. She was also very much involved herself, in songwriting and producing.
Why - Magistal was her first single release in Russia and the Baltic’s. The song is a mash up between her own song Why and a russian song Magistral. The mash up idea came from one of Pandora’s stage DJ’s Oliver Paris. Pandora colaborated with a finnish/russian company on this project and they connected her with Stacy. A 17 year young singer from Lathvia . I was looking for a russian speaking singer who could rap with attitude and Stacy had all I wanted and more. The amazing feather dress Pandora is wearing in the video is made by finnish designer Mert Otsamo. The video was nominated as the best foreign music video at OE Music Awards 2012.
Drottningen Av Åland
After years of private issues, it was fantastic news to get a smash hit in Finland with "Drottningen av Åland" 2012. Pandora and Janne Grönroos from Radio X3M wrote the song that was produced by JS16 and it was the first song Pandora wrote and released in her own language. It was part of Radio YLE's campaign against racism.
"Drottningen av Åland" was the most played song of the year on YLE and voted the best song by the listeners. One of Åland's ministers said: "I'm sure no one has missed who's the Queen of Åland!"
I Feel Alive
In October 2013, her fans were excited to find out that Pandora was releasing a new single.
Pandora was more than ready to celebrate her first 20 years of being a proffessional artist. She wrote and recorded the single ”I Feel Alive” together with producer and songwriter Fredrik Sonefors as a gift to her fans, saying thank you for being there for her all these years, supporting her through ups and downs and sharing the magical music moments on stage with her.
She once said in an interview that "they supported me when I was 23, sang out of tune and said stupid things in interviews and they are supporting me just as much now".
In her private life she had reached a point where she felt the need to take back the power over her life and her career.
She was finding the situation with her partner in life and in business becoming impossible and unbearable mostly because of his unhealty relataion to alcohol. After many turbulent years, she made the decision to end the relationship. Later that autumn she met Mikko Peltonen, an extraordinary good man, in Finland.
2014 turned out to be one of the toughest separation years in Anneli’s life. Her ex-partner was doing his best to destroy whatever she was trying to build up and she felt like a prisoner in her own home, since he wouldn’t allow her to spend time downstairs and he refused to move out.
Pretty much locked in her bedroom and under tremendous fear and pressure, she used the time to express herself through music and she started writing new songs with lyrics coming straight from her heart. Songs and lyrics she had actually been waiting to write, express and perform all the time since she was a little girl in Björkbacken, dreaming of becoming a new Dylan, Johnny Cash or Bonnie Raitt.
At the same time she was ceating new music, she kept on performing, mostly in Finland, and meanwhile she was also breaking away from the company she was involved with during the years with her ex-partner. She was determined to become independent, in a personal way as well as in business, and with a little help from friends she trusted, she got the tools she needed to take the first step. To start a company of her own, a company that she of course named Pandora.
In 2014 the family also grew further with a new member as Glenn the cat moved in with them.
During 2015 she kept moving her business skills and positions forward, as she, step by step, made it her mission to learn about every detail in running a successful business in every way.
With every new piece of knowledge, she could see herself, her life and her company growing. ”You can’t change your history but you can affect your future” became somewhat of a mantra that she carried with her in every situation.
She started building up her own team with people she trusted, so that she could feel 100% confident that everything everyone did, every step everyone took, would do both business and life good.
During this year she also fulfilled a long time dream of recording a new album with her own music. The songs she wrote during that horrific year of 2014.
The first song she sang in public was ”Go with me” and the audience was none other than Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden, and some other potentials in a private performance in Västerås slott, the Västerås castle.
Since Pandora had her breakthrough in the 90’s, Finland has always been a special place to her and the relationship has grown stronger over the years.
First she was ”just” the star, the name on everyone’s lips, in the 90’s. Then, in 2007, as she was struggling to once again get out on the stage after the big personal and financial crash caused by her ex-husband, it was Finland who first embraced her and helped her win some of her confidence back and put her back on track again.
After meeting Mikko in 2013 she felt even more at home in Finland. She started feeling like she had landed in the Finnish culture with it’s melancholy which she also felt very much at home with. This became a start to record the new songs, her own music. There was never really any doubt – she wanted to record it in Finland.
The album was recorded in E-Studio in Helsinki. A classic studio once built by the man behind ABBA, Stikkan Anderson, who used the money eaerned from the mega hit ”Mamma Mia” to create E-Studio. It still looks exactly the same as it did back then, in the 70’s, and its analogic equipment is still up an running but these days there are also digital resources at hand.
Anneli went into the studio together with top notch carefully selected by her, Finnish musicians. Everything was recorded live, just as she wanted, including brass instruments – and her favorite intrument, bagpipe!
For many dramatic reasons (long story) the album is yet to be released, but it will be something really special, so keep your ears and eyes open, folks! More info to follow later on.
In August 2015 Swedish television showed a program called RETRO, about what’s usually called the Swedish musical miracle, focusing on Japan and with Pandora featured as one of the most important persons. She’s been something of a pioneer to the Swedish musical export. The word pioneer has also often been used by the famous and well respected Swedish music journalist Anna Charlotta Gunnarson, who’s talking about Pandora as “a pioneer of her genre”.
On the walls in her former mansion office in Torpunga you could find awards from all over the world and so far there are 20 gold and platinum awards in the collection. You could find other things on those walls too. Like The Swedish Export Award, for example. And the prize given to her for creating the most played song in Finnish radio in 2012, “Drottningen av Åland”.
You could say that was the second throne she became a queen of, since already early in her career she was given the title Sweden’s technoqueen. A queen who since 2015 is featured side by side with the Swedish king Gustaf Vasa, icehockey legend Nicklas Liedström and a few other carefully selected VIP:s on Västerås Wall of Fame in Aros Congress Center.
Pandora was as popular as ever in Finland and had been for all this time, but now good things started moving also in her home country of Sweden.
Remember the tax situation from 2003? As a cosmic compensation she was acquitted from the conviction for severe tax crime from 16 years ago. Let me repeat: It took 16 years for her to have her name cleared! But she never gave up. She never does.
At this time Anneli had started writing what was supposed to be her memoirs, but there was something nagging her. Yes, it was a very big project but above all, she wasn’t happy with the ending. It may sound confusing so we’ll let her explain it herself.
”I wanted the book to end in a better way than where I was in my life at that time.”
So instead of finishing the book, she started using the material she had already written for other things. She created a lecture called ”Trust me – Who can you trust?”. Lecturing was another longtime dream of hers coming true.
She spoke genuinely about her life and career, looking back on highlights and not so happy times as well as the fun and crazy times. Her lecture is a strong and personal story, leaving no one untouched, reaching into people’s hearts.
She also played some of her newly recorded, not yet released, songs live for the first time during the lecture, making the audience shout for more.
This year she got a request she hardly knew if she should believe or not. In 1999 she was a big hit in Australia with the song ”A Little Bit, Double M’s Radio Edit” and did a super hectic tour of 17 gigs through the huge country. She always said she dreamt of going back there one day – and now they wanted her to come!
Australia Hello Again! 2017
The request from Mel Como and his Wild Tour Concept turned out to be the real thing, so while she was on her usual summer tour, she planned for her trip down under in November.
But there were lots of shows to do long before that. And a few lectures too.
In the summer of 2017 Pandora was one of the artists performing in Vi som älskar 90-talet, the Swedish version of We Love the 90’s, which turned out to be a more or less sold out tour in glorious summer weather. 22 artists, the biggest eurodance acts from the 90’s from all over the world, took part in the tour, the biggest event like this that anyone has ever managed to put together.
In time for this tour she had taken up working with the rapper M-Fuse again. Yes, the same guy, Matthews Green, that featured her huge hit album ”Tell The World” and toured the world with her in the mid 90’s. He’s also a part of the videos of ”Don’t you know”, ”Tell the world” and ”One of us”, that was filmed in Tokyo.
It was a happy moment for them both to reunite and start performing together again and they try to do it as much as they can.
In November 2017 Anneli and her then 13 years old son Leon packed their bags and set off to Australia. After a few gorgeous days of holiday in Surfer’s Paradise, the tour started in Brisbane and then went on to Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and Perth. A very memorable trip and tour with audiences screaming their hearts out to her hits and with beautiful sightseeing tours in between.
Help! My house is on fire!
The year, however, took a dramatic turn for the worse, as Anneli’s house started burning just a few days after she and her son had returned home from Australia.
The fire started in the room next to Pandora’s bedroom and only God knows what could have happened if the fire would have started a few hours later.
Anneli and her son were unharmed, which was the most important thing of course, but all of upstairs, as a sign, the place where she was ”locked in” during 2014, was destroyed, including almost all of their clothes. This also included most of the unique Pandora stage clothes collections and accessoires, many of them designed for specific occasions like music videos.
Like through a miracle she managed to find an all new house in the town of Kungsör in just a few days and like a heavenly Christmas gift, she and her family were able to move in just before Christmas.
The first months of 2018 there was a lot to be worked through regarding insurance matters after the fire. At the same time there were a lot of stuff, furniture and other things, that had survived the fire but were too big to fit in the new, much smaller house, so there was a lot to sell off.
In the summer Anneli decided to bring her son on a roadtrip to Jämtland. She felt they needed to do something fun after the fire and all and at the same time this gave both her and her son a chance to meet their relatives, since this is where her mother was born and raised. They documented their trip in videos that can be found on Youtube.
As Pandora, her fiancé DJ Mikko and rapper M-Fuse performed at the Jysäri Festival, they had photographer Pete Voutilainen with them for 24 hours. He’s a wellknown tattoo artist with a huge interest for photography and a heart burning for documentaries. Little were they to know then that this project would grow to almost become an exhibition in 2020.
In 2019 Anneli was often appearing in different radio and television projects. For example she was one of the artists in the Swedish feature radio series ”90-talets Eurodance” (Eurodance of the 90’s) and later in the year she was featured in one of the episode’s of Swedish Televisions series ”Det svenska popundret” (The Swedish pop wonder).
Besides doing all of this and all of her shows and touring, she was creating a new home for her and her family in the new house close to the lake Mälaren. In November she also started travelling to Finland even more than usual. The answer to why was to be revealed in the spring of 2020.
Apart from this, Finnish photographer Pete Voutliainen was putting together a photo exhibition with the pictures he had taken of Pandora during 24 hours at the Jysäri Festival in Himos, Finland, 2018. Off and on stage. Mostly off showing what the audience never sees. This too was scheduled for March 2020.
Just like 2013 was meant to be a year of celebration, so was 2020. This time the occasion was Anneli turning 50 and she had big plans – the photo exhibition, chartering a cruise ship for a huge birthday party and releasing new music, among other things.
It started well enough with quite many shows booked already for the first months of the year.
Then there was this thing named corona that started spreading around the world. On March 7 Anneli had a nightclub gig in the southeast of Sweden and the next day, on the International Women’s Day, she was giving her lecture to the Women’s Aid in Kalmar, an honour she was very proud about.
When she got back home after that weekend she packed her bags and guitar to prepare for the next big thing: The photo exhibition ”Behind the smile”.
She had been working side by side on this project with Pete Voutilainen since last year and during the past three months it had grown to something much bigger than it was at first. They had been working very hard and it had payed off in terms of interest from the public, from the fans and from media. You could read about it in more or less all the big Finnish papers.
This was Pandora’s first photo exhibition. She was also gonna perform her new, still not released songs under the name Anne Li, to a bigger audience. But once again this record was to be stopped by dramatic circumstances.
On March 11, the day before the first show, just as she was on her way to Arlanda, she got the call saying ”we have to cancel, corona is spreading all over Finland”. The first of many calls saying the same thing for the rest of spring and soon also for summer.
One good thing though was that the tv show she went to Helsinki to record in November, ”The masked singer Suomi”, now was broadcasted with Pandora performing behind the mask of The Peacock. She did a great job, staying in the competition all the way until the semifinals. Among the other competitors were Ilkka Alanko (of Neljä Ruusua), world famous violinist Linda Lampenius and the comedian Sami Hedberg, who won the whole competition.
Why she was given the character of The Peacock is a beautiful story that has come to mean a lot to her. It was chosen for her by the tv production team after a long, deep interview. She was a bit confused at first about their choice, but then they explained it like this to her:
”Because you have a colourful lifestory, colourful like the peacock’s feathers.”
”At first I wasn’t quite convinced because I haven’t always been so proud of all the things that have happened through my life. But then they told me you need to earn each one of those colourful feathers and now I simply love it, he Peacock story and why I was chosen for that character.”
Her next big challenge, after ”The masked singer”, was supposed to be the popular Finnish tv show ”Tähdet, tähdet” (Stars of the stars) but once again the corona virus put a stop to her plans. Due to Finnish plans to sharpen the travel restrictions and to protect the safety of herself as well as the Finnish people working on the show, she, together with the production team, took the wise decision to withdraw from it all.
She will, however, be back in other projects soon, rest assure!
With all live gigs cancelled and not knowing when things will get back to more normal, Pandora started doing live streamed shows from her living room, which was very much appreciated by her fans.
One piece of really good news is the release of a brand new web page with many new features.
”I’m so proud to finally be able to present all parts of my colourful life in one place. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the new smashing pandora.se.
Welcome to Pandora’s World, hope to see you here!” she says.
”I Love You” – An intergalactic love story from Finland
In April 2020, the year of the horrific corona pandemic, Pandora got contacted by the famous Finnish hip hop group Teflon Brothers. They had met once briefly backstage at a gig in Kaivuhuone, Helsinki, in May 2017. That was the moment the boys first got the idea to collaborate with Pandora. It would, however, take another two years and some emailing back and forth before they personally got in touch with her.
“At the first zoom meeting the boys explained that they love me and asked, a bit shy, if I would be interested in working with them on a mutual project. How could I say no to that?” I felt this whole thing would be a super fun and surprising step in my career”, Pandora says.
When all Pandora’s (like everybody else’s) ongoing projects and gigs got cancelled, this became the start of the “I LOVE YOU” song project and the plans to participate in the UMK FINAL 21 were a fact.
I Love You truly captured the hearts of the Finns. In just over three months, the single reached 4 million streams on Spotify in Finland, making it Platinum and Pandora’s 21st award overall.
“It is always nice to receive awards from something you have put a lot of effort into. In a way, you prove yourself that you are still in the game after so many years. And that is a nice thing about music business: as long as you are in it and decide to take the chances you get; you have a chance to achieve new awards and reach new levels”, Pandora says.
Pandora and Teflon Brothers celebrated their accomplishment in May in Helsinki.
“First we had a dinner with the record label, and then the guys and I continued celebrating in a separate room for the rest of the night, but what happened in the room, stays in the room”, Pandora laughs.
Greatest Hits 1993–2021
In June, it was time for the next release. Pandora released her first best-of collection since 1997.
She had been thinking of making a new compilation album for years, but because she has released music from different labels, dealing with the rights would have made the project very time-consuming, so she was recommended to do a digital playlist instead of a physical album.
“This was also the time when I pushed my label to upload more of my albums to Spotify. It was a great chance to celebrate all the music I have released over the years.”
The comprehensive collection includes 43 of her biggest hits and singles from Trust Me ‘till I Love You.
Emotional radio summer talk
For the summer of -21, Pandora was chosen as one of the summer talkers for radio Yle Vega’s Sommarpratare in Finland. She had already done something similar years ago for Radio Västmanland in Sweden.
As a storyteller at heart, she was immediately excited about a project that turned out to be both fun and emotional experience. Pandora wrote the manuscript for her episode coached by the editor Thomas Lundin, who also supported her in the studio by handing tissues when needed.
The memories carried the listeners through some fun moments but also very intimate events of her life. Pandora’s episode delved into her appreciation for Finland and Finland’s unconditional love for her.
“For example, I talked about my first visit to Finland and how my career has developed ever since. The angle was meaningful to me because Finland has played such a big role for my career. The love and wonderful support from my Finnish fans has also helped me survive some very hard times in my life. Let’s say that the Finns has been good for my mental health”, she smiles.
For the song choices, she picked music from Aki Sirkesalo & Lisa Nilsson, Cat Stevens, 2 Unlimited, Adele, Ola Magnell, David Guetta feat. Sia, and Tusse. The listeners were even spoiled with a World Premiere because she ended the episode with Anne Li’s own acoustic still unreleased song: Kaunista niin kaunista.
“The songs came naturally when I thought about the music I was listening to or inspired by at a certain time of my life.”
Succékväll med Janne Grönroos
In July Pandora re-united with Janne Grönroos, the man she had collaborated with in Drottningen av Åland back in 2012. He invited Pandora as a guest for his new talk show together with Redrama and Kjell Simosas.
In the TV studio, the guests shared some hilarious stories and competed in different challenges. For example, in the instrument challenge, they guessed which song each played on a randomly selected instrument none of them could actually play. Pandora’s challenge was to play Pippi Longstocking on an accordion.
However, the true battle happened between Pandora and Janne who challenged Drottningen av Åland to a duel for her throne.
“Janne took me to this place called Rohan Tallit (Rohan Stables) that is located in the Finnish archipelago in a place called Västanfjärd. It was like an ancient farm, and I felt like I was entering into a completely different time. The couple who owns the place teaches and competes in historical riding.”
For the duel, Pandora got to wear a real armor that weighted around 35 kilos.
“It was really heavy and there was very little visibility. It was super hard to walk in it, not to mention to get on the horse. All my respect to those who are competing and riding in full speed, wearing that heavy armor and holding the lance in one hand.”
Needless to say that Pandora kept her throne after the duel.
Back on stage
The pandemic restrictions for public gatherings eased a bit for the summer of 2021 in Finland, and Pandora was finally able to hit back on stage after having only a few gigs during the whole 2020.
The anticipated first gig weekend in July involved a 90s festival in Iisalmi and the annual Jysäri festival in Himos. She was finally back where she belonged.
“I had missed the energy the most because it was so hard to get that kind of happy energy from anywhere, especially during those difficult circumstances. It felt like everybody you met behind or in front of the stage was struggling somehow, either financially or mentally. The times were challenging, but still I felt extreme gratitude to finally be able to get back to work.”
The fans had missed her shows as much. From Jysäri Pandora recalls seeing some of her Facebook fan group members holding pink heart-shaped “Pandora Lovers” signs in the audience.
“That was super cute. To be honest, that’s kind of all I remember from those times because I feel like I was in a constant shock and focused on surviving.”
That year she performed almost like never before.
“I did festivals, corporate events and private parties. I did as many gigs in around 6 months as I used to do in a year. Somehow you needed to take back everything you lost in 2020. It was really hectic.”
For one private party, they offered her a real star entrance by helicopter.
“It was a wonderful surprise to us. We even got a special sightseeing tour before landing.”
The party guests were gathered outside to watch the helicopter landing, and they were very curious to see what was happening and who was stepping out of the chopper. When she was close enough to be recognized, the audience reaction, as well as her own, was extremely excited. It was a special surprise for both the guests and the artist.
“I will never forget that”, Pandora smiles.
After a busy tour, Pandora fulfilled her long-term dream by launching a new web shop in November 2021.
“Print On Demand concept was a perfect option for me because that way I didn’t have to have a whole storage of merch at home and stress about selling them all.”
The start was great, and the fans were excited for new merch collections, but unfortunately only just some months later, the printing company she was collaborating with, had to close down its business.
“Sadly, the effects of the pandemic were showing in the printing business also. I had special edition collections designed for the summer of -22, but I had to put everything on hold.”
Pandora is planning to bring the web shop back in the future with a new partner, but first she needs to keep her focus on other exciting things that will take place in 2023.
We’re MORE than one!
In the fall of 2021, Pandora was requested to record and perform the official theme song for the World Floorball Championships (WTF2020) in Helsinki. The song MORE was written by Every Green in May (EGiM) aka Olli Tasala.
“I immediately thought that it was a wonderful and powerful song. It had that special something I wanted to explore and dedicate my all to. Music and sports have a lot in common when it comes to uniting people and setting new levels”, Pandora said in her press release.
This was not the first time Pandora and sports had come together because for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, she performed the German TV ARD’s official theme song, 'Spirit to Win', for the Team Germany.
MORE was released on November 19th. Pandora, EGiM and electric percussion group Takomo performed the song live for the opening and closing ceremonies in December. Both events were broadcasted LIVE by YLE to 16 countries, and there were more than 12 000 people in the closing ceremony which was a rare number of people for the pandemic era.
For the events, Pandora was wearing a gorgeous Game of Thrones inspired outfit designed for the occasion by fashion designer Mert Otsamo. Her hair creation was styled by Hanne Kuusinen and make-up by Krista Karppinen.
And by the way, both Pandora’s home countries Sweden and Finland competed against each other in the final. This year it was Sweden’s turn to win the Men’s Floorball World Championship.
Back to the ‘90s
In April 2021, Yle Teema & Fem’s talk show Efter Nio travelled back in time to the nineties. All guests had something to do with the decade. For example, the hosts interviewed a former Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho for the 90s politics, Lola Odusoga reminisced her beauty pageant years, and who would have been more suitable guest to talk about the era’s music genre than Pandora. She shared some memorable moments from the hectic decade and also discussed her singer-songwriter side.
For her performance, she had arranged a special medley exclusively for Efter Nio. She turned Don’t You Know, Tell the World and One of a Kind into a very moving acoustic medley.
“I wanted to try something else, and they loved the idea. It is not always easy to make new arrangements as you need to think about certain things and how to build it all lyric-wise but isn’t it interesting how songs and lyrics come out so differently depending on how you arrange it”, Pandora asks.
Mental interaction in Espoo
On a hot summer day, Tapiola Festivaali audience got to experience some intergalactic love in Espoo when Pandora and Teflon Brothers finally performed I Love You for the LIVE audience.
“We had shows at Tapiola Festivaali, and Pyhimys suggested this very spontaneously. Luckily, I even stored my super cool space outfit in Finland. We had not performed I Love You together since the UMK and never for the live audience, so I am very happy we finally got to do this again”, Pandora tells.
And based on the enthusiastic audience reaction, it truly was a long-awaited performance. Also, later in September Pandora joined Pyhimys isona –arena concert in Helsinki as a special guest star to perform I Love You with Teflon Brothers again.
I’m coming home!
October 1st, 2022: O’Learys Västerås.
Pandora had a very special event marked on her calendar: first gig in Västerås in a too long time. For the same weekend, the local newspaper VLT interviewed Pandora and Västerås Citysamverkan wanted to celebrate her homecoming by arranging a big 90s style photoshoot with her.
“The magazine used a photographer called Jonas Bilberg, and guess what, he turned out to be the same guy who photographed me for the local newspaper on my very first Pandora gig in Katrineholm nearly 30 years ago. What are the odds? I felt how the circle was closing.”
The photographs came out fantastic and Pandora was thrilled about the upcoming gig at O’Learys. The special event brought up so many memories from the past.
“The homecoming gig was emotional for me. When my Pandora career took off and I was still living in Västerås, I noticed that some of my musical friends were kind of confused about my choices, why I as an educated musician decided to go with commercial music. Even though my single was an instant hit, I felt like maybe I was not fine enough back home.
After moving to Stockholm, as a small-town girl, I got surprised and embarrassed by the VIP treatments I got at some clubs and restaurants. Of course that boosted my ego and I felt respected, but I was still missing home and actually returned back to Västerås only a year later, but just to have a place to stay because I was constantly travelling around the world for work.”
Now she has lived in Kungsör for several years, but visits Västerås frequently:
“My mum lives there, so does my sister, and there is always someone I know coming forward to say hi. My adult life and career started in Västerås, so a big part of my network is there.”
The atmosphere at O’Learys was amazing. Some long-term fans, who have seen countless Pandora shows, described it both emotional and intense in a special way. There were also many familiar faces in the audience, including Anneli’s little sister, and some fans had even travelled for the occasion from Austria and Italy.
Vi Som Älskar 90-talet & Vi Elsker Heroes
In October, Pandora was the first artist to be presented for Vi Som Älskar 90-talet -tour in 2023.
The tour will have dates in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Helsingborg in July.
She did a lot of promotion for the tour in Stockholm which also included performing Trust Me on Swedish Idol on TV4.
“They asked me, if I wanted to do a medley together with Paradisio and Drömhus and that sounded like fun. It is very nice to be back on this tour which is the biggest ‘90s tour in Scandinavia.”
And as “The Eurodance Queen of Scandinavia”, as they present her in Denmark, Pandora will for the first time join Vi Elsker Heroes –tour on all seven festivals in Denmark in the summer of 2023.
Pandora introduced her new rapper Mario Perez Amigo aka MPA to a live audience for the first time on Vi Som Älskar 90-talet cruise at M/S Viking Cinderella in December. The way their paths crossed is definitely a story worth sharing.
When Pandora did the fashion shoot for Västerås Citysamverkan, she asked if anyone knew a local rapper. Later, she ended up meeting with a choreographer-dancer Oscar Törnell at her old school, Carlforsska gymnasiet.
“My plan was to find two dancers and I visualized that one of them could rap too. So, Oscar and I met at Carlforsska where he is teaching. I had not been there since my own graduation in 1988, and suddenly sitting there felt like some kind of a dream. It was so surreal to be back.”
Oscar suggested talking to Mario who was teaching in the next room.
“Actually, Mario was even one of Oscar’s teachers when he was young, and Mario’s teachers were some of my best dancers from the ‘90s, for example Jennie Widegren and Alvaro Aguilera. I felt again like the circle was somehow closing.
Mario arrived to the meeting shouting: “Pandora the Legend” and gave her a big hug. The day was the beginning of new, great collaborations. Since then, Oscar has done the visuals for Pandora’s Trust Me 3.0 Tour and Mario is onboard as her new rapper.
“Having Mario as my new rapper adds different kind of energy to my shows. First of all, he is a brilliant hip-hop dancer, that is his expression, but he is also a great rapper and can play instruments and compose music. He is multi-talented and that way a bit similar to my previous rapper Matthews.”
Fanzone kicks off the anniversary year
In October 2023, it will be 30 years since the pioneer of her genre and Technoqueen Pandora was born.
To kick off her anniversary celebrations, Pandora launched Fanzone, a completely new section on her website. Fanzone collects memories and shares stories from Pandora’s iconic career as the Queen of Eurodance.
Fanzone launch introduced ten loyal Pandora fans, and it included Pandora’s own anniversary interview and an exclusive interview with her former marketing manager in Japan.
“It was important for me to give my fans a chance to have their voices heard too. Fanzone will contain all kinds of exclusive content that you can only find on my website, and it will be updated throughout my anniversary year”, Pandora said in her press release.
30 years on the throne
For the beginning of her anniversary year, Pandora started collaboration with Central Line Entertainment Oy which now sells all Pandora shows in Finland.
“We have a lot of new things coming and some long-awaited dreams to fulfill. I am very excited about our collaboration”, Pandora tells.
She adds how she needed different ways to express herself, not only for her own creativity, but also for her fans.
“I always love to surprise a little bit. That’s the way to keep yourself current, and my audience deserves that they’ll never know what to expect when they come to my shows.”
Trust Me 3.0 Tour will take her to different places in Sweden, Finland and Denmark. She will have her new rapper Mario onboard on some shows and she will continue her well-started collaboration with Takomo.
“Working together with a rapper – who is also a hip-hop dancer – and electric drummers, in combination with customized visuals, brings out a new kind of creativity in me that I have been missing. Together we have found a special energy. It’s all about the love for music, each other, the people, and the beat”, Pandora smiles.
Stay tuned for all the exciting surprises The Queen of Eurodance has in store for 2023.