Peter Bjorn and John work well together and apart 

When Stockholm trio Peter Bjorn and John come together, they make power-pop magic, as on the whistle-laden smash “Young Folks” or the kinetic new garage-rock experiment “Gimme Some” produced by Swedish rock legend Per Sunding. Separately, they’re even more productive. Peter Moren just issued his second solo set and John Eriksson records with two side projects, Hortlax Cobra and Holiday for Strings. Yet multi-instrumentalist Bjorn Yttling is busiest of all, as an in-demand producer working with Lykke Li and Japanese girl group The Suzan, for starters.

So how did you hook up with The Suzan? I just heard them and knew they were a really good band, so I figured I’d send them an email. But then they came to Stockholm, literally showed up on my studio doorstep, and said, “We want to record with you!” But I said “I can’t! I’m booked — come back in March.” Which they did. And then I recorded them in a week.

How many projects do you accept in a year? Time-wise, for an album, I average 35 days. With The Suzan it was faster; with other artists like Lykke Li, it was a bit slower. So I can do maybe four or five albums a year. And now I’m working with a great girl from Detroit called Alex Winston, who has her debut coming out on Island Records. And there are some really cool people that I haven’t had a chance to work with yet, like VV Brown, who’s pretty awesome.

How often do you say no? There are a lot of bands wanting me to produce. But it takes some time to make a good album, so I have to shut out a lot of good acts that I believe in because I can’t really find the time to do it. And if PBJ has an album out, like now, we’re on tour a lot, so that takes a lot of time, too.

Was it weird handing the production reins to Per? We loved his band Eggstone, and we loved his drum sound. So it was interesting — I just laid back, had some beers and played computer games. At first, we had a hard time keeping it to the rock-trio format — he wanted to add harpsichord and stuff like that. So we had to, um, adjust his mind a bit.

What did you learn from him? To lie! He’d say, “Yeah, I’m going to do this and it’ll sound good.” And I’d be like, “No, you’re only doing that because you’re lazy and you don’t want to put another mic up!” I’m a harsh guy. I just say what I want said, and I don’t put it out there in a good way!


Peter Bjorn and John

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $26
Contact: (415) 885-0750,

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Tom Lanham

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