Bjorn Yttling doesn’t have his own engraved business cards yet, but he says he collects them. That might explain how he’s become the busiest man in show business.
The bassist-keyboardist logs many hours with his Swedish alt-pop trio Peter Bjorn and John, which recently released two albums — an all-instrumental experiment “Seaside Rock” and the quirky new hookfest “Living Thing” — and is now on a whirlwind tour that hits San Francisco today and Friday.
But as an in-demand producer, he’s just overseen sessions with Primal Scream, Anna Ternheim and the Shout Out Louds. He’ll soon return to his native Stockholm to co-write/produce the sophomore set from Lykke Li, as he did her hit debut “Youth Novels.”
But that’s not all.
Yttling, who just relocated to Manhattan with PBJ vocalist-guitarist Peter Moren, has also scored films, composed string arrangements for The Hives and Camera Obscura and remixed top-flight artists such as Robyn and The Shins.
“I’m also producing this four-girl Japanese band called The Suzan — I think they’re going to be a very big thing,” he says. “And I’ve been working with some different people in New York, doing lots of different sessions. But it hasn’t been so much producing there; they want me more for my writing.”
Why is Yttling rock’s new go-to studio guy?
“I’m not sure myself,” he says. But it could be the unique way he hears pop music. His band hit it big in 2006 with the addictive single “Young Folks,” boasting ex-Concretes crooner Victoria Bergsman on backing vocals and a curious whistled chorus (the current tour actually includes whistling contests).
“Living Thing” runs the gamut from Beatles-jangly (“It Don’t Move Me”) to David Lynch-surreal (“I’m Losing My Mind”).
“I just try to do things that aren’t so obvious and put in interesting little twists,” he says. “But I also use the same old tricks. I like distortion and delay and also a good hook. It’s what people have been doing forever, but maybe my approach is more minimalist.”
In Stockholm, Yttling owns a studio. But in New York, he says, “I already know where to go — I know the different types of studios and people I want to work with, so my job is getting easier and easier.”
These days, he doesn’t have much time to sleep, and he admits, “Well, I don’t need more work, not at all. But I like people. And I like staying in personal contact with all these people I know, so the studio’s a great way to do that!”