Espionage (production team)

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Espionage
Origin Tromsø, Norway
Genres Rock, pop, R&B
Occupations Producing, songwriting
Years active 2001-present
Members Espen Lind
Amund Bjørklund

Espionage is a New York-based Norwegian songwriting and music production team consisting of Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklund. Their breakthrough came in 2006 as co-writers of Beyoncé's worldwide smash "Irreplaceable",[1] which was number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks and the best selling single in the US in 2007.[2] They are probably best known as the producers and cowriters behind several of Train's major hits after 2009, including "Drive By" and their comeback single "Hey, Soul Sister",[3] which is among the 20 highest selling singles of all time in the US.[4] Espionage has received numerous BMI Awards.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Formation[edit]

Lind and Bjørklund started working together on Lind's solo album Red in 1997, which was a major success in Europe and won Lind the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy. In the early 2000s they branched out to the UK market, working with various artists and writing pan-European hits such as Atomic Kitten's "Last Goodbye" and Kym Marsh' "Cry",[13] both of which reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.

US breakthrough[edit]

In 2006 Lind and Bjørklund co-wrote the third single from Beyoncé Knowles' B'day, "Irreplaceable", and followed up by co-writing the third single from Chris Brown's second album Exclusive, "With You". Both were major hits that marked Espionage's breakthrough into the US market. Written together with fellow Norwegian producers Stargate, the tracks were both based on a fingerpicked acoustic guitar figure laced with a programmed beat.[14] Lind and Bjorklund have collaborated with Stargate on numerous other tracks, such as Ne-Yo's "Go On Girl", Jennifer Hudson's "Can't Stop the Rain", and Jordin Sparks' "Just for the Record".[15]

In 2008 and 2009 Espionage co-wrote several songs from American Idol winner David Cook's debut album,[16] including the gold single "Come Back To Me" (#6 on the Hot Adult Top 40), as well as producing and/or writing songs for Cavo,[17] Trey Songz and Elliott Yamin.

They also worked on alternative rock band Train's album Save Me, San Francisco, including producing and co-writing the Top 3 single "Hey, Soul Sister", which is widely regarded as the band's commercial comeback. Singer Pat Monahan explained to website GoErie.com how the song came about: "I said, 'I want to write an INXS-y song", Monahan recalled. "So, they started playing kind of an INXS-y song, and I wrote the song '"Hey, Soul Sister" to it and the melodies and started to sing it. And I was like, 'Man, this just doesn't sound great to me. One of the guys, Espen, who's like a huge star in Norway, picked up a ukulele, and said, 'Hey, how about this?' I was like, 'Are you (kidding) me?' And it made the difference. It made my words dance. It made sense. These words were meant to dance with ukulele and not guitar."[18] It has sold close to 6 million downloads in the US and is the most downloaded song in Columbia Records' history.[19]

Train's 2012 International hit single "Drive By" was produced and co-written by Espionage.[20] The song became Train's third Billboard Hot 100 Top 10, and also a Top 10 hit in 14 countries around the world. It has sold over 2 million copies in the US and was awarded a double platinum certification by the RIAA on July 23, 2012. Lind and Bjorklund also produced the band's 2012 album California 37 with Butch Walker, co-writing 5 tracks.

Discography[edit]

Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 Singles
Other selected credits

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hight, Jewly. "Espen Lind and Amund Bjorklund Spell Out the Transcontinental Potency of Pop". BMI.com. Retrieved Feb 3, 2009. 
  2. ^ "BMI Honors The Jacksons, T-Pain and Many More at Urban Awards in Los Angeles". BMI.com. Retrieved Sep 25, 2008. 
  3. ^ Richards, Dave. "Train adds ukulele to make "Hey, Soul Sister" a chart topper". GoErie.com. Retrieved Nov 7, 2009. 
  4. ^ List of best-selling singles in the United States
  5. ^ "2007 BMI London Awards: Song List". BMI.com. 
  6. ^ "BMI Honors The Jacksons, T-Pain and Many More at Urban Awards in Los Angeles". BMI.com. 
  7. ^ "Gamble & Huff Named BMI Icons at 57th Annual Pop Awards". BMI.com. 
  8. ^ "Donovan, Danielle Brisebois, Natasha Bedingfield and More Honored at 2009 BMI London Awards". BMI.com. 
  9. ^ "2007 BMI Urban Awards: BMI Award Winning Songs". BMI.com. 
  10. ^ "BMI Pop Awards 2010". BMI.com. 
  11. ^ "Songwriting Duo Espionage Collect 09 BMI Pop Awards". BMI.com. 
  12. ^ "Bryan Ferry Receives Top Honor At 2008 BMI London Awards". BMI.com. 
  13. ^ Thrills, Adrian. "Kym Marsh: Standing Tall". Daily Mail (London: dailymail.co.uk). 
  14. ^ "Espen Lind and Amund Bjorklund Spell Out the Transcontinental Potency of Pop". BMI.com. 
  15. ^ Jordin Sparks - Jordin Sparks, billboard.com 
  16. ^ Ganz, Caryn, Album Reviews: David Cook, billboard.com, retrieved Nov 27, 2008 
  17. ^ "Cavo Set to Release Reprise Debut". Vintage Guitar Magazine. 
  18. ^ "Train adds ukulele to make 'Hey, Soul Sister' a chart topper" by Dave Richards, posted November 7, 2009
  19. ^ Ciminelli, David. "Train's ‘Hey Soul Sister' Nabs First Grammy Win for iTunes". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  20. ^ http://top40.about.com/od/singles/gr/Train-Drive-By.htm