Having already staked a claim in the mid-2000s as one of Sweden's most prolific and talented indie pop musicians from his time in the folk-pop group Laurel Music and fronting the happy-go-lucky collective Irene, Tobias Isaksson returned in 2011 with the solo project Azure Blue.
Combining the smooth synth pop of the '80s with the sophistication of Bryan Ferry's solo work and the lyrical eye for detail of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan (of the Go-Betweens), Azure Blue's debut album, Rule of Thirds, was released in late 2001 on the Hybris label in Sweden and Matinée in the U.S. The record caught on with reviewers and fans alike, leading to a Swedish Independent Grammy Award for Best Album. He returned two years later with the even more refined Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt, with the same two labels, plus Fika in the U.K., footing the bill. The album was a critical success and was nominated for a 2013 Gaffa Award for Best Swedish Album, while Isaksson was also nominated for Best Swedish Solo Artist. His next move was to do some remixes, while also starting another project, Nite Flights. Delving into some serious space disco, he released two EPs (Nite Flights and Solar) in 2014. Late that year he opened a recording studio, formed a disco duo with Peter Bjorn and John's Peter Morén called Personal Trainers, and got back to making Azure Blue records. The first was the Every Ending Story EP, which surfaced in May of 2015, then the third Azure Blue album followed. Released by Hybris and Fika, Beneath the Hill I Smell the Sea served as the final entry in a planned trilogy and featured seven guest vocalists, including Amanda Mair, the Caesars' César Vidal, and Per Magnusson of Sportsman. ~ Tim Sendra, Rovi