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Checking on the Arts

COA: Swedish Jam Factory Bringing Unique Performance to Buckman

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  Swedish Jam Factory is a dynamic duo, making up and breaking rules as it goes along. Thomas Bergstig and Isaac Middleton met in Memphis at Playhouse on the Square. What started as killing time between scenes, developed into a fascinating art form that defies genre. Pioneering a new hybrid of tap dance and musical expression, they found international fame on Sweden’s Got Talent. Imagine Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, frenetically pounding away at the piano, guitar, ukulele, accordion and saxophone, as their synchronized taps provide the percussion. It’s a high-energy, quick-footed, rollicking good time that leaves audiences in awe and dancing in the aisles.

  

Swedish Jam Factory will be playing at The Buckman Performing and Fine Arts Center on Friday, January 31 at 8pm.  Click here to learn more.  

 

Interview Highlights: 

 

Kacky Walton: The Swedish Jam Factory was conceived in Memphis by Thomas Bergstig and Isaac Middleton at Playhouse on the Square. Exactly, how did you guys meet and come up with this act? 

 

Isaac Middleton: I had an acting internship at Playhouse on the Square and Thomas was music director at the time. We just started doing shows together from Kiss Me Kate to Pinkalicious: The Musical, and we bonded. 

 

Walton: This is something that happened organically as you guys were bored during rehearsal. 

 

Thomas Bergstig: Yeah, pretty much.  

 

Middleton: The first time I reached out to Thomas was for tap dancing lessons. I had no idea we would tap together as friends. 

 

Walton: Thomas, you moved from Sweden to Memphis in 2013 and you had toured with a dance company. 

 

Bergstig: Yeah, I came to America because I was touring with this group and we did that for 12 years. We were touring all over Europe and we came to America and we stayed for a few years. Then it dissipated because it was expensive and hard to keep going with five to six guys and work permits. Most of us went home but two of us stayed.  

 

Walton: When did you get the idea that this could be a thing and we could do this professionally? 

 

Middleton: Thomas had that idea first. I never thought this would be a professional gig. The main incentive was America’s Got Talent was coming to Memphis. We wanted to get a number together to see what would happen. We auditioned but nothing happened from it. But, then Thomas was like there is Sweden’s Got Talent. I said “alright, let’s do that”. It turned out they wanted us on the show and that was the spark that made us realize “this could actually be something”. 

 

I think the main thing that helped us was this band from Sweden saw us – called Smith & Thell – and they had this idea that they wanted to incorporate us into a music video. It went well and that was one of the cooler things for us.  

 

Bergstig: Forgive me Friend was the name of the song.  

 

Walton: You guys tap dance and are a multi-instrumental group, but you also have added vocals. What made you guys decide to add vocals? 

 

Bergstig: I wanted Isaac to sing. I think he has a beautiful voice. But, it took some convincing. 

 

Middleton: Part of me thought this band worked better just as music and tap. It just happened naturally. 

 

Walton: Are you writing your own songs? 

 

Middleton: Yes, we do. 

 

Bergstig: Yes, and the songs on our EP are our original songs. 

 

Walton: Cindi, you go to different showcases in New York and that is how you get turned on to acts that you want acts that you want to present on the Buckman stage. Did you just happen to come upon them? 

 

Cindi Younker: Not really. I meet Thomas when he moved here because he married my friend. Then, my daughter did a show with Thomas at Playhouse and then Isaac was teaching at my daughter’s voice school – also teaching tap and theater. So, I already knew both of them. 

 

I was so impressed by what they packaged together. It was so different and unique – everything that Buckman is about. They don’t just perform a concert where is it like “okay, here is our set. We are gonna do this now”. It’s an entire, well put together performance. 

 

They are world class artist.  

 

Walton: What is the performance going to be like this Friday? 

 

Bergstig: It is going to be a lot of tap dance, switching of instruments, and some bizarre moments that we find funny ourselves.  

 

Walton: Thomas, you have a classical background, right? 

 

Bergstig: Yes, I played a lot of piano when I was younger. That is how I started off when I was a teenager. We will take some of the greatest composers work and put it together with tap dance and a few unorthodox instruments. It’s quite fun.