With more than 20 top entries on British and American charts, Stargate has become the all times Norwegian masters of pop music. Tor Erik Hermansen collaborates with the stars of tomorrow in his Los Angeles studio worth over 5 million dollars. Read more about the Norwegian Songwriting Star Duo in Los Angeles.
Stargate was established in Trondheim, Norway, 1996 by Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen (both born 1972). They broke into the American recording industry in 2006 with the release of the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, “So Sick”, produced and co-written by the team and performed by Ne-Yo.
Chances are, that if you’ve listened to English-language Top 40 radio in the past twelve years you’ll have heard a song written or produced by Stargate. For more than 20 years, they’ve carved out a career path that, along with the likes of Max Martin and Shellback, has helped Scandinavians become the de facto producers in pop. The team´s genres include R&B, pop and hip hop.
Norwegian Songwriting Star Duo in Los Angeles
Stargate has produced and written or only produced for Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Samantha Mumba, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, Katy Perry, Coldplay, P!nk, Sia, Kylie Minogue, Lionel Richie and others.
In spite of this, Stargate have traditionally shied away from the press. However, in a New York Times profile in 2007, Hermansen described his anonymity as “great”. “We have the number 1 record in the country for 10 weeks,” he said, of producing Beyoncé’s anti-fuckboi anthem “Irreplaceable”, “but when we walk down the street no one knows who we are.”
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From Trondheim, Norway to L. A.
When they first met, Hermansen was a talent scout for the Norwegian branch of the record label Warner Music Group and Eriksen owned a studio. One of their first successful productions was with Norwegian R&B singer Noora Noor. Her first album “Curious” was produced in their Trondheim studio. “Need You”, her main hit from this album, was released throughout Europe and gave Stargate attention from the UK music industry. While in Norway, they ventured into the British market, mostly writing songs for R&B-pop performers.
Throughout their career, the duo has been noted for their extensive work with Rihanna, writing and producing three consecutive Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles with Rihanna in 2010 and 2011. But how exactly did these two Norwegian producers become so instrumental to pop’s now ever-changing landscape? Because somehow, the pair went from making hits for all your favorite Smash Hits bubblegum Brits to the sorts of people who actually get invited to the Met Gala.
In 2001, Stargate produced and co-wrote songs for American pop singer Mikaila. A track from her album, “So in Love With Two”, reached No. 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of the team’s earliest co-written singles that appeared on the US charts. It was followed three years later with Mis-Teeq’s “Scandalous”, which peaked at No. 35 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 in the United Kingdom. Stargate emerged as the No. 1 hot producer on the 2006 Billboard Year End Chart.
Stargate has worked with various American artists and received mainstream awards including the Songwriters of the Year accolade at the 2007 ASCAP/PRS Awards and the 2009 ASCAP Pop Songwriters of the Year. They have also been named the Number One Producers of the Year on the Billboard Hot 100 Year End Chart in 2006 and 2008, and Hitmakers of the Year in Rolling Stone magazine in 2008. A documentary about Stargate, which follows the duo from childhood through to their careers in America, was aired in Norway on 25 February 2012.
The Stargate Formula
You only have to take a cursory glance at Stargate’s recent work to see that formula in action. From songs like Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” to Charli XCX’s “After the After Party”, there’s seemingly no identifiable quirk in their sound. This could be, partially, why Eriksen and Hermansen have stepped out from behind the boards and launched Stargate as a project in its own right. That Pink- and Sia-featuring debut single “Waterfall” jumps on the “sounds like soca or dancehall but isn’t” wave that’s been sweeping the charts since people thought Bieber invented so-called tropical pop with “Sorry”. It’s the sort of track savvily designed to sate any radio plugger in the sense it’s vaguely familiar, hinges on two similarly textured vocals and keeps Eriksen and Hermansen in the background because they don’t even appear in the music video.
What Stargate in a way has done is to create a ‘pop’ sound by taking elements from various genres and putting them into one song. They might for instance extract the drums from a hip-hop song, the melody from an R&B one and the synth influence of EDM and the marriage of different genres creates a ‘pop’ sound.”
Norwegian Songwriting Star Duo in Los Angeles, written by Tor Kjolberg