Rednex is one of very few artists that has lasted on the charts for 15 years and sold more than 10 million records thanks to a dozen Top 10 hits. The project was created by fluke in 1992 and literally exploded into fame in 1994 just days after its first release – “Cotton Eye Joe”. It became a massive hit, went to No.1 at record speed in 15 countries and is today a party classic which has sent the band repeatedly touring the world.
The follow-up releases also achieved significant success, including 4 other million-selling releases, and led to Rednex, for example, spending more weeks (25) at top of the German singles chart than any other act of the last 30 years, thanks to hits such as “Wish You Were Here” and “Spirit Of The Hawk”.
Being alone in their own unique and homemade genre has also made them popular in other media as they have been featured with various songs in 3 major Hollywood-productions and 3 high-profile nationwide TV-commercials, all within in the last 6 years.
In 2010 their 4th album, “Saturday Night Beaver”, is to be released. The first single from the album, “Devil’s On The Loose”, will once again propel Rednex into major controversy due to its highly unlikely promotional strategy and underline Rednex’s role as the ugly duckling and black sheep of the music industry. Rednex have always been frowned upon by the artist community and music media for its unconventional methods and appearances, but the alienation felt at being on the fringes of the music business seems to be something that attracts its members.
The band members today are girl singer Scarlet (from UK) and the boys Dagger & Ace Ratclaw (from Sweden), and Joe Cagg (from Netherlands). Since 1994 15 performers featured in the group. By 2001 the band already consisted entirely of members who were not in the original line-up. The awkward set-up of Rednex allows for people to come and go as they please and so several of the performers have done just that. All of the performers in the band today are on their second round.
Rednex is highly different to other bands, mostly because it’s not even a band – it is more like a project, a concept, a spirit or an attitude, or perhaps it is best described as a clan circled around an idea. Rednex consists of a loosely knit group of creative people – music producers, songwriters, stage performers, video artists, graphic designers, web programmers, marketeers etc.
They all create within the boundaries of a specified concept, the attributes of which consists, for example, the wild west, spirit of freedom, playfulness, carelessness of order and cleaning, positivity, adventure, high energy, party, provocation, high acceptance of variety, joy, as well as a lack of conflicting parts – snobbism, restrictions, trend-following, hip-factoring, pretentiousness, exclusivity, neatness etc.
This unique blend of traits is then put into a musical blend that is less easy to categorize – bluegrass, country, folk, techno, europop, alt, rock …? On top of this it is being performed in a show unlike any other. What largely differentiates Rednex shows from others is their uncompromising level of energy – the party never stops! The amount of positive chaos is incomparable to anything else, taking performing to new levels that often stun the audience. It is not a rare occasion that a band member will pass out in the middle of the show.
All of this is the backbone of what is being created within Rednex. Since the Rednex expression originates from a concept that shapes the people within it – as opposed to almost all other artists, where the people shape the concept – it sharply differs itself from the generic pop product and as such receives much criticism, as other artists and media are constantly sceptical towards the genuineness and sincerity in this hobby-project. Though in Rednex, no person is or will ever be especially important, or at least not in a way that the existence of the project will be dependent upon them.
Rednex was created in Stockholm in 1992 by three Swedish music producers – Jan Ericsson, Örjan Öberg and Pat Reiniz. They still own the trademark through the company Rednex AB. Today, Jan Ericsson has, after a 12 year long songwriting break from Rednex, supplied several tracks for the upcoming album including the hit single “Devil’s On The Loose”. Örjan Öberg has not been active in Rednex since 2001 and Pat Reiniz (a.k.a. Ranis), who also used to manage the project back in the day, is no longer active as a writer or producer as of 2003, but is still loosely involved in some of the administrative tasks. Neither of them spent much of their lives mingling in the music industry but instead focus on other activities.
However, the lack of centralized persons, undefined boundaries and timelessness of this playhouse is one of the two secret ingredients to its long-term success. Rednex is immortal, as immortal as the idea of music itself and it will always live on even when the people who originally started it are no longer active. Several of the people involved today hadn’t even graduated junior high when Rednex was created.
The other secret ingredient to success is Rednex’s ability to be a complete counterpoint to everything that the music business usually stands for – the glamour, celebrity status, glitter and gold, trend fascination, exclusivity etc. Almost no artist has the courage to perform ugly, dirty and drunk by intention, but for Rednex this is not an intention, we just don’t give a shit and everyone is welcome to join us in doing so :-). We are too busy partying to bother.
The eventful and odds-defying history of Rednex is a story of great wonder, success and awards but also of turbulent conflicts, controversy and arrests. From the beginning the owners and producers of Rednex wrote a bogus biography that fooled the media into thinking the band was an inbred farmer family from Idaho, instead of the Swedish suburbanarians they actually were. It took 6 months before this was revealed.
In 2007, Rednex created controversy by becoming the first pop band to ever try selling itself at auction. The sale price of $1,500,000 on eBay was highlighted, laughed at, and frowned upon all over the world. No deal was ever concluded, though at popbandforsale.com the whole project is still for sale. Due to the expected success coming out of the latest album release the owners have now raised the price to $2,900,000.
During 2007 and 2008 the former performer Mary Joe (Annika Ljungberg) asserted a power of attorney in order to lead Rednex, but was fired immediately after the expiry of the contract due to contractual fraud. In the process she dishonoured the Rednex concept to her own benefit and made enemies with most people inside the group. However, this did not stop her, as she went on performing and selling her show illegally as Rednex for several months and even now is still occasionally found to be doing this in Norway. This conflict will reach its conclusion in court.
Needless to say, the piled up amount of controversy and original ways of performing, making music and dealing with things has made the relationship between Rednex and the music industry, the media and the conventional artist community somewhat tense.
Rednex defies and despises conventions. Rednex provokes and differs by intention. It is a lifestyle that is almost strategic and it has a strong purpose – because this is how one stays challenged and by doing so keeps growing and expanding. Many people relate this attitude to something destructive and desperate but Rednex have shown that it can be done with a smile and togetherness. There is a little Rednex in all of you and it probably deserves to be given a lot more room.