Buford Pope, (a.k.a. Mikael Liljeborg) was born in 1971 on Gotland, a Swedish limestone island in the Baltic Sea. With a small population and isolated from the mainland of Sweden, the world of music soon became an inspiring and mind-opening resort for him.
As for many musicians and artists before him, discovering Bob Dylan was a milestone. “I was 15 years old and was totally blown away by his attitude, he sang like no one else I’ve heard before”
Through Mr Zimmerman he soon learned to love the songs of other related storytellers – like Neil Young, Tom Petty, Jackson Brown, Robert Johnson and Bruce Springsteen – but he was still unaware what all these experiences would mean to him one day. Buford Pope is truly an exceptional talent in his field of music. Listening to his music is the best proof any listener can get.
What first got you into music, and who inspired you to make music?
“My musical journey began at 15 in a record store. A friend introduced me to Bob Dylan, and I was blown away. Since that day, I’ve been inspired by songwriting. However, it took 15 more years for me to start composing my own music. Along the way, I discovered other great songwriters, and one day, songs just burst out of me.”
What is your creative process like?
“I always carry a notepad in my pocket (but honestly, I’ve switched to my phone) to jot down any ideas that come to mind in a moment. Sometimes, I wake up at night or have trouble sleeping, and that’s when something can just pop up. A tiny word can be the essence of finishing a song or the starting point of creating one.”
With the pandemic, how have you found a way to get your music and your message out there?
Just before the pandemic, I embarked on a 3-week tour in the US, performing more than two shows a day and gaining numerous new fans and friends. However, everything abruptly came to a halt. I set up my own studio, staying occupied with recordings and learning to master the tools. While I managed to play in a few venues during that time, we all faced challenges due to the lockdown.
What would you be doing right now if it weren’t for your music career?
“I would probably be working in my own restaurant; it has always been a plan B. I love cooking and wine. There would be live music a few nights a week, featuring only original songs, mostly performed by songwriters with their instruments and no playback music. The menu would consist of only a few well-selected dishes—nothing fancy—and, of course, a lot of love.”
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
In both good and bad ways, but honestly, without these digital platforms I would never have found these musical gems.
What are your top two favorite songs of all time? Why those songs?
“My all-time favorite song is ‘Amazing Grace.’ It’s perfect, easy to remember, and almost everyone can sing it. In my opinion, it only takes one second to be flabbergasted when someone starts singing that song. I can’t name a second favorite; there are just too many to choose from.”
What can we expect from you within the next 6 months? Any releases planned? Future gigs?
“I’ve started touring with a brand new band, and we are currently planning upcoming shows. There will also be a new album released in 2024; no dates are set yet, but hopefully, it will be after the summer holidays. I’m really looking forward to it. Even though it’s my tenth album, the excitement is as strong as ever.”
Are you planning any videos for your music?
I have an idea for a video, and even though it’s based on an old song, I can’t stop thinking about it. With today’s technology, the ability to record footage with your phone and edit it on your computer is truly overwhelming. I guess I need to finalize it soon.
What draws you to your preferred genre?
I believe my genre revolves heavily around storytelling, which is why I have a preference for it. As long as I feel I have something to convey, inspiration flows, and songs keep emerging. Consistency is key to bringing them to completion. With my guitar in hand, I’m ready to perform wherever a show is offered—I’ll be there.
What was the last TV series you watched on TV?
I recently watched a documentary about a surgeon titled “Love Under the Knife,” and it is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve ever seen. It left me feeling angry and depressed. While I strive to focus on goodwill, I can’t be sure how I would handle meeting this person in a dark alley.
What makes you nostalgic?
Just spending time with my beloved two sons and witnessing their growth, I often wish I could turn back time to hug them for hours, without hearing them say, “Stop doing that, Dad.”
If you could ask your future self-one question, what would it be?
Are you happy?
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
I have a strong temper; I’d prefer not to be so darn angry sometimes.
If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?
Hey kid, if you’re reading this, you might be facing some challenges, but setbacks aren’t necessarily roadblocks; they can be stepping stones for growth. Life is likely about finding happiness, so make sure that’s your goal, no matter what you’re trying to achieve