Norwegian star happy to spy some sun

Australia's Scandi-pop love affair began with ABBA in the 1970s and continued with Roxette in the Eighties through to contemporary bands such as Peter, Bjorn and John, First Aid Kit and Little Dragon.

Norwegian Mikhael Paskalev, from the tiny fishing town of Aleshund, is the latest Scandinavian act to charm the pants off us.

"I'm just glad to be mentioned with those guys," an already sunburnt Paskalev said after escaping the Nordic winter to spend his first day in Perth.

The love affair is reciprocated for the singer-songwriter, who grew up watching Home and Away and listening to Australian band Silverchair.

"I was surprised when I started doing well here," he said. "Even now, I haven't done a gig yet so I don't know what to expect."

Paskalev's debut album What's Life Without Losers, featuring the infectious single I Spy, shimmers with an indie-folk summery sound that could be Australian or American.

"I have never felt very Scandinavian," he said. "My dad is from Bulgaria. I am slighter, darker than the average blond Norwegian and like spending time in the sun."

Paskalev, 26, was excited his five-piece band was kicking off its first Australian tour as the final act at the Chevron Festival Gardens to close the Perth International Arts Festival tomorrow night.

"That's cool. I feel honoured to be able to close it," he said.

First, there was a trip to Rottnest for a bike ride and swim.

"The water is not as inviting back home," he said. "It is nice for freshening up and waking up, though, in nearly minus degrees."

Paskalev could not put his finger on why Scandinavian music punched above its weight.

He suspected a good music-based education system, government support of the music industry and people's command of English in the global market were all factors. "People are able to live off the music without being superstars," he said.

Paskalev came to attention last year prancing around in his undies in the I Spy video like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

"It's not that Tom Cruise is a big hero of mine," he said.

"But there was something about that scene I remember watching as a kid. When I was trying to figure out what to do with this song, it just came to mind."

The West Australian

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