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Stefan Boman: Remixing Roxette In Dolby Atmos

Hot RoxPhoto: Peder Carlsson

Where better to reinvent the hits of Swedish pop titans Roxette in Dolby Atmos than Stockholm’s legendary Atlantis Studios?

When Stefan Boman was asked by Warner to remix the Roxette catalogue in Dolby Atmos, the Swedish producer and mixing engineer was adamant that it would have to be done properly. There would be no upmixing or psychoacoustic trickery to derive immersive audio from stereo. Instead, he insisted on starting from the ground up, recreating the duo’s hits track by track in three dimensions. And the label agreed.

It might have helped that Boman is not just any engineer. The 49‑year‑old has worked with local legends like Kent as well as international acts like Avicii, Ghost and Opeth. He is also part‑owner of Stockholm’s Atlantis Studios, where ABBA created hit after hit.

Polar Exploration

Boman’s personal history does not reach quite that far back. He started out at ABBA's Polar Studios, where, in a different age, he offered to work for free and was offered a paid position. “Back then, building my own studio seemed way too big of a dream,” Boman explains. “You had to have a large console and two‑inch tape machines, and it would probably have cost close to five million krona to build. So that wasn’t something I seriously considered.” And yet, after working at Polar Studios for seven years, he moved on. “I was having a discussion with my boss, and he suggested that it might be time for me to go freelance. So I did that for a number of years. I still worked at Polar, but sometimes bands also wanted me to work in different studios.”

A session at Polar with famed Swedish band Kent proved a turning point for Boman. “We became friends, and the lead guitarist and I started producing some other bands. This eventually led to the idea of getting our own place, since we always had to rent a studio when we produced together, and our production fee would be more or less spent on the studio rent. I came across a studio called Park Studios in the suburbs of Stockholm. It was pretty well known in Sweden, built in the ’70s, but at that time, it wasn’t really a studio. It was a Funky Junk. They were selling used audio gear. I talked to Sami [Sirviö, Kent guitarist and Boman’s business partner] about the idea to buy it together, make it a rehearsal room for Kent and a studio for me.”

Now they had the rooms, but a studio it was not. “It was without any technical equipment. The wires were still in the walls, but that was about it. And we couldn’t just put our little Mackie console into that big studio, that would have looked silly. So Sami and I bought a Neve V3, I think it was a used one from Hong Kong. I also brought in some other gear I had accumulated over the years. We then persuaded the other guys in Kent and their label to record with us. That budget allowed us to get more gear, a computer, microphones, that kind of stuff. Those were the building blocks of getting the studio together.”

As Kent were one of the biggest bands in Sweden at the time, and Boman brought in numerous other clients, they managed to create quite a buzz around the studio.

The Legend Of Atlantis

Stefan Boman ran Park Studios until three years ago, when a new opportunity presented itself. “Atlantis Studios had been for sale for a couple of years, and we had toyed with the idea of buying it, but we weren’t really sure. We still had the other studio, and it was running fine. But we finally decided to do it.” Initially, they wanted to run both studios simultaneously, but it soon transpired that this plan would not hold up. “The further I got into renovating Atlantis, the clearer it became to me that running both studios just wasn’t feasible. So we decided to let Park Studios go.” Park is now a Genelec showroom.

The main control room at Atlantis has also been sympathetically updated to retain its ’70s charm!The main control room at Atlantis has also been sympathetically updated to retain its ’70s charm!Photo: Frank Mischkowski

While the legendary status of Atlantis is unquestionable, the studio required some care when Boman moved in. “I really wanted to update the studio to international standards and be able to bring in an engineer who could get to work right away. Back then, there were four different patchbays. You had to patch microphones in one place, and if you needed to reach outboard gear, you first had to patch that at a different spot. It was too difficult to work there as an external engineer who didn’t know his way around the studio. Also, since it was built in the ’60s, it had a lot of add‑ons over time. So I really thought it was time to do a reboot and get things organised.” In the end, it took more than half a year to get the studio to its current state.

As well as the main Neve 8026 console, the Atlantis control room also has an EMI TG12345 Mk3 desk available as a sidecar.As well as the main Neve 8026 console, the Atlantis control room also has an EMI TG12345 Mk3 desk available as a sidecar.Photo: Frank Mischkowski

Despite all the changes that were needed to make Atlantis a modern studio, its history was never forgotten. “It was really important for us that the main studio should be as close to the original as possible, so we only changed minor things. Everyone has always loved Atlantis.” This approach also paid off in a business sense, as Boman could bring some of his former clients in while also keeping most of Atlantis’ existing clientele.

The Atlantis live room is still recognisably the same as it was in ABBA’s heyday.The Atlantis live room is still recognisably the same as it was in ABBA’s heyday.Photo: Atlantis Studios

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