Azure Blue

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One of Sweden’s most prolific and talented indie pop musicians from his time in Laurel Music and Irene alone, Tobias Isaksson expanded his catalog even further in the 2010s with his solo project, Azure Blue. On albums like 2011′s Rule of Thirds and 2015′s Beneath the Hill I Smell the Sea, he presented an increasingly refined, synth pop-driven sound which often included collaborations from different vocalists within Sweden’s indie pop community. After detours with additional projects like Nite Flights and Personal Trainers, Isaksson resumed his steady output as Azure Blue with several more releases including 2019′s cinematic Images of You.
Combining the smooth synth pop of the ’80s with the sophistication of Bryan Ferry’s solo work and the lyrical eye for detail of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan (of the Go-Betweens), Azure Blue’s debut album, Rule of Thirds, was released in late 2011 on the Hybris label in Sweden and Matinée in the U.S. The record caught on with reviewers and fans alike, leading to a Swedish Independent Grammy Award for Best Album. He returned two years later with the even more refined Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt, with the same two labels, plus Fika in the U.K., footing the bill. The album was a critical success and was nominated for a 2013 Gaffa Award for Best Swedish Album, while Isaksson was also nominated for Best Swedish Solo Artist. His next move was to do some remixes, while also starting another project, Nite Flights. Delving into some serious space disco, he released two EPs (Nite Flights and Solar) in 2014. Late that year he opened a recording studio, formed a disco duo with Peter Bjorn and John’s Peter Morén called Personal Trainers, and got back to making Azure Blue records.
The first was the Every Ending Story EP, which surfaced in May of 2015, then the third Azure Blue album followed. Released by Hybris and Fika, Beneath the Hill I Smell the Sea served as the final entry in a planned trilogy and featured seven guest vocalists, including Amanda Mair, the Caesars’ César Vidal, and Per Magnusson of Sportsman. Azure Blue returned in early 2018 with the six-track Whatever ’18 EP, which featured contributions from César Vidal, the Land Below, Peter Morén, Charly A, and Bo. It also included the title track, which served as the lead single for the full-length Fast Falls the Eventide, which arrived later that summer. Released in 2019, the lush and romantic Images of You, was Isaksson’s fifth full-length under the Azure Blue banner. ~ Tim Sendra