The name “Sally Shapiro” refers to both the Swedish duo, consisting of the producer Johan Agebjörn and an anonymous singer, as well as the pseudonym of the singer herself. In December 2004 Johan discovered Shapiro’s gentle and beautiful voice while the two were singing Christmas carols together. Their first track, I’ll Be By Your Side, was released as a 12″ single on May 12th, 2006, on the Austrian label Diskokaine (run by DJ/producer Wolfram Eckert).
Sally Shapiro’s debut album, Disco Romance, was a nostalgic trip back to romantic italo disco of 1984. The album was revered by the press, nominated as “dance/electronic album of the year” at the U.S. Plug Awards and was given a spot in Pitchfork’s Top 50 albums of 2007. The tracks on the album were subsequently remixed by Lindstrøm, Tensnake, Junior Boys, CFCF, and Juan MacLean.
Sally Shapiro is known for her shyness: she does not reveal her real name, will not even let Johan into the studio when she sings, and has never performed her songs live. After a handful of DJ dates in 2008, she decided to never ever stand on stage again. However, the duo released two more studio albums, My Guilty Pleasure in 2009 and Somewhere Else in 2013.
Apart from a collaboration single with Tommy ’86 – Why Did I Say Goodbye – and a few appearances on Johan’s solo album Notes in 2015, Sally Shapiro has been silent since the last album. The new two-track single is scheduled for a release on the 10th anniversary of I’ll Be By Your Side – May 12th.
The A-side, If You Ever Wanna Change Your Mind, was co-written by longtime collaborator Roger Gunnarsson and co-produced by Mitch Murder (Kung Fury OST). The B-side, Dangerous, is an acoustic interpretation of the David Guetta hit, with guitar played by Johan’s cousin, Jonas Agebjörn.
The digital editions of the single come with two remixes by French synthwave artist Tommy ’86 as well as UK nu-disco producer Ben Macklin.
“On “Sundown”, one of the finest tracks from her new record Somewhere Else, Shapiro and her collaborators showcase newfound artistic breadth by taking familiar sounds and textures, subjecting them to a subtle reconfiguration. Johan Agebjörn and Roger Gunnarsson take a handful of Italo disco trademarks– glossy synths, airtight electronic percussion, garish, sparkly effects– and apply them to a slow-paced ballad where Shapiro delivers a dreamy, fragile vocal performance. The final touch is a sublime sax solo reminiscent of Destroyer’s magnificently louche Kaputt, and the result is bluish, bruised-heart pop that lingers long after it’s finished.”
“Her sighing vocals and his gleaming synths have been bolstered by a tad more thump and funk this time round…lovely”
The Independent [4/5]
“Sundown, which was produced by Johan Agebjörn is an energetic ballad that Shapiro adorably coos all over…racked with the sweetness you come to expect from Shapiro”
“This second full-length from Sally and producer Johan expands on their sound with forays into piano house and silky electro-pop but still retains their smoothly Italo-pop signature, and is just as consistent in quality as the first record.”
“Extraordinary…one of 2009’s best”
“Glorious synthpop from Sweden’s ‘disco princess’, as ultra-soft vocals meet a shiny Eighties beat. Sounds so fragile and beautiful, you half expect it to melt in your mouth.”
“With the improvements, revamps, and overall more interesting arrangements, Somewhere Else manages to be the equal of Disco Romance”
“With wispy techno beats leading the way, Somewhere Else, the Swedish duo’s (Shapiro and Johan Agebjörn) third studio album, is a journey to a distant land—a heaven of music for anime characters hosting raves on clouds with rainbows for dance floors.”
“Building on the foundations of the duo’s previous Italo-disco homages, the mysterious Swedes are back, blurring the line between that genre and its close relative, Hi-NRG, to winning effect… Somewhere Else makes for an invaluable addition to any self-respecting pop-loving household.”
The Line of Best Fit [7.5/10]
“There are no misses here…if Somewhere Else doesn’t blow your leg warmers off, nothing will.”
Bust Magazine [4/5]
“Bedded with newly warmed synth tones and shimmering guitars, “What Can I Do” offers a tender take on acoustic pop that eschews the expected electro backdrop. Still, the pair haven’t forgotten their roots: As Shapiro’s vocals rise to the puppy-soft chorus, she’s backed by syncopated disco drums. And you know what it sounds like? Only the best pajama dance party ever!”
“…a polished synthesis of Balearic beats and feathery harmonies, with the blissful efferversvence of Looking At The Stars and Let It Show’s jellike melody reclling the best moments of fellow Scandinavian Annie.”
“In Somewhere Else, Sally Shapiro dip from toe to calf in new soundscapes and are enlivened by the feel.”
Paste Magazine [7.3/10]
“Ear candy, ethereal, featherweight dance pop”
“Anyone wondering what the heck happened to fellow Scandinavian electro-pop siren Annie can nuzzle up to Agebjörn’s sparkling synthesizers and Shapiro’s tales of lonely nights ice skating. “Romance” is nuanced enough to lend mystery to the image of a button-nosed Swede singing about her anorak.”
Los Angeles Times
“Swedish synth-pop princess Sally Shapiro has shared another gorgeous track with us. The second single from her upcoming album Somewhere Else is called “Starman” which features Canadian pop duo Electric Youth. Together they’ve created a wonderful bubbling indie pop track featuring Sally Shapiro’s trademark disco likings and whimsical vocals.”
“Mixing ultra-girly harmonies reminicent of a Molly Ringwald movie with a dose of trippy new-age synth, Shapiro’s music is our go-to when needing to blow off steam and dance around our bedroom. Download our premiere of the radio edit for her latest single “Starman” feat. Electric Youth above and just try to stay seated…”
“From working with labels such as Diskokaine through Permanent Vacation, and alongside artists such as Italo disco legend Fred Ventura and ‘chillwaver’ CFCF, Shapiro has become the figurehead for the dreamy, spirited pop/indie-disco sound. Her latest for Paper Bag (who initially released a collaboration with CFCF) is a chirpy indie-disco number that takes a cue from vintage 4AD (Cocteau Twins) mixed with just an oversweet touch of ’80s Euro-pop; and the result is nothing short of lovely.”
“She doesn’t perform, give in-person interviews, or reveal her real name. Instead, she offers a love that can burn away the darkness of a lonely heart. (…) Swedish producer Johan Agebjörn re-creates his childhood’s soundtrack with uncanny precision, nailing not just the proper drum sounds, but also fluttering keyboard harmonies that weep with wintry joy.”
“Agebjörn and Shapiro have crafted something that over repeated plays seems more fully realised (and therefore more enjoyable) than Disco Romance … the thought and loving detail that Agebjörn has put into his arrangements consistently repays close attention.
Combine that with some pop tunes the proverbial milkman could whistle (stand up ‘Save your love’) and a cover of Nicolas Makelberge’s thought-provoking ballad ‘Dying in Africa’ and you have a pleasure well worth the guilt.”
“I love it”
Felix da Housecat
“Sounds great! Loving the Bogdan Irkük remix. Proper trancey summer pop, and of course meant in the best way possible.”