Entrepreneurship and living on your music with Karl-Ola Solem Kjellholm

By | April 5, 2021

Karl-Ola_1_red.thumb.jpg.0c089779ffde618bdf0ff4e74d6ec4e7.jpgKarl-Ola Solem Kjellholm.

Karl-Ola Solem Kjellholm is a songwriter and producer with a long CV behind him. He has written and produced songs for both Melodifestivalen and Idolvinnare, worked with Tiesto and The Band Perry, recorded guitar for Max Martin and also toured as a musician, both with his original band The Pusher and with other artists.

Do you want to tell us how you got to where you are today?
I moved to Stockholm from Gävle immediately after high school when I was 19 years old. I toured and played guitar with many great artists and then slipped more and more into the production of chance. Then the songwriting came into the picture. With some colleagues I formed the band The Pusher and we got a record contract with EMI. We toured around Europe for a few years.

I then got a contract as a songwriter with Lionheart which then became Capitol Music Group under Universal. In recent years, I have spent a lot of time in Berlin, Nashville and Los Angeles.

Are there any jobs or collaborations that have been extra important to you?
I have had some mentors over the years who have been very supportive. That I was signed by as songwriter and producer by Conny Danepalm, Bobby Ljunggren and Maria Ljunggren at Lionheart was incredibly important. There I developed at enormous speed. Some artists I have worked with include Tiesto, R3hab, The Band Perry, Cody Simpson and Chris Martin. Then I also have to highlight two Swedish songwriters and producers I have worked a lot with. Jakke Erixson and Oscar Holter. Jakke and I went to school together at Fryshuset and we have now been partners since then.

Do you have any tips for finding and nurturing collaborations?
Today we have enormous chances to find collaborations – Instagram, Facebook, Forum, Linkedin and Youtube. It is incredibly easy to get in touch with like-minded people and people in the industry. Make a Soundcloud, Youtube or Dropbox link with your latest songs so people can easily listen to you. However, classic “face to face” meetings are best I think.

When I moved to Stockholm, I applied to Fryshuset’s Rockmusikerlinje, among other things, to find like-minded people. Some of the people I got to know there 13 years ago I have shared fantastic successes with and some I still work with daily. I had a vision of things I wanted to do but it would never have happened if I had not shown people what I wanted.

Then a classic tip – you know more people than you think you do. Open your friends list in the phonebook, Instagram, Facebook and so on. Dare to ask for help! Dare to invest and dare to be on. It is up to you.

I then see nurturing a collaboration in the same way as nurturing friendships. Be straight, honest and loyal. Walk a few extra meters. Show off. Do not be so damn principled. Put your foot down if necessary, do not be used.

Karl-Ola_2_red.thumb.jpg.11f139016415888bd50172df84831255.jpgKarl-Ola Solem Kjellholm.

What qualities and skills would you say are needed to succeed in living on their music?
You have to be “open minded” and try to look ahead. Just being one step ahead and seeing new opportunities has helped me enormously. Another good quality today is also learning more than one thing, not just playing the guitar for example. If you are a songwriter, maybe you can record as well. Maybe you can mix as well? Can you write a pop song maybe you can write an RnB song as well. Be loaded. Keep track of sound and songs.

Do you have any thoughts and tips about entrepreneurship to get ahead in the industry?
A good dose of passion and hunger together with the internet is far enough today. You can release music, market yourself and create networks from home. It’s absolutely incredible. You have to dare to throw yourself into situations where you may not be 100% comfortable. I still do that daily.

Do your homework. Analyze songs, learn how and where songs are written, recorded and mixed. If you know a little jazz theory and at the same time have a little hum about how a pop song is structured, it is to your advantage sooner or later. It can also influence you. Crossover in music, that you mix styles, is very common. Hip hop and pop, Dance and country. There are different ways to make money on music!

At the same time, you may need to learn a little about how the industry works. You can apply to different schools with a specialization in music. Being around talented people is incredibly important. I really have to give cred to all my colleagues. You learn an incredible amount from studying and challenging each other. Then it’s always good to slip into a banana peel every now and then – it happens!

And finally – what are you up to in the future?
There are a bunch of fun artist collaborations in the loop that I unfortunately can not name by name right now. Then I started my own label together with two colleagues. So there will be more music than ever. It is fantastic.

The Pusher

Monday’s interview is a series there @Lotta Fahlen interviews interesting people on various topics in music creation, and is published every other Monday.