GRANBY - In 2001, PJ Olsson was hired by Alan Parsons to work on Parsons' last record and was asked to be the lead singer in his live band.
"I lucked out," Olsson said about collaborating and playing with Parsons. However, his upbringing and natural talent play a part in his success.
He has been playing music all his life. He grew up in a family of musicians and singers in Houghton, Mich. His father is an orchestra conductor and university professor and his mother is singer. Along with his mother and brothers they would sing wherever they could.
He also was an alpine ski racer as a child, participating in the Junior Olympics in Michigan.
In 1987, at the age of 17, he moved to Los Angeles with just a guitar and backpack. At the beginning of his career in L.A. he said the music industry reps didn't know what to make of him since his music was a mix of so many different styles. Later, at 20, he spent time in Chicago learning how to play guitar on the streets. He would sit in front of Marshall Fields and play his guitar with a tip cup playing one chord over and over, and making up lyrics as people passed. The first day he made $30.
As time when on, he continued to formulate his own type of music while being influenced by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Howard Jones. He is a fan of pop, hip hop, and mixes Indian tribe music style with synthesizers.
His most recent work is a recording project with Alan Parsons, now 63, co-producing a possible album.
Wanting to share his creative process and tools of the trade, Olsson has organized "Rock Camps" for children ages 6 to 18. The program teaches children how to be inspired and how to live an inspired, creative life. At the end of the camp they perform live. He teaches children musicians "how to see things that aren't there and how to pay attention to your senses."
In March he will be opening his recording studio in Granby to teach students how a record is made and song writing.
"After being in L.A., I feel at home in a small town."
Olsson lives in Granby with his wife and three children.
He has appeared on CNN and David Letterman talking about his music and recordings.
"It is a dream to be touring, and being a ski instructor when I'm home," he said.