Things don’t go as planned. Agnetha Fältskog, this time as herself, not as an ABBA-member, is visiting our country to promote her new single ‘The Heat Is On’. In this case it means performing on a TROS TV-show, celebrating 100 years of ANWB. Things don’t go according to plan, and that’s how our two o’clock appointment slowly moves towards four o’clock. It’s all part of the business.
“Sorry,” says Agnetha. “Things went a little different than was planned.” She looks very good, a new haircut, radiant. You wouldn’t think she is 33 years old. She seems younger. A happy smile: “Well, I’m not getting any younger. But I feel great and I’m especially pleased with my record.”
What does getting older mean to you?
“Getting wiser. You’ve experienced so much. You learn from reading, from having children. I’ve also learned that working with a group always means making compromises, both musically and privately. When you work as a solo-artist, you obtain more freedom: you get to choose your own material, record it as you choose. I’m extremely happy with my first English-language solo-album.”
When I tell Agnetha that I’ve heard a cassette from ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’ at the Dutch record company, while the album is not in the shops yet, she gets curious: “Now I’m going to interview you. What do you think about it?” Not so simple: I tell her I think there are four hits on there and name the songs, helped by Agnetha. She agrees with me. “Personally I feel ‘Shame’ is the best song at the moment, but that can change any second.”
I can imagine all your interviews at the moment are the same. Everyone wants to know how your solo-career is becoming you and how it was working with Mike Chapman?
“Oh yes, and if ABBA is going to split up and why I’m working alone now: most interviews are predictable. If someone asks me to react on the word ‘interview’ my reply would be: ‘same questions'.”
But then she realizes she’s doing an interview right now, and adds: “But of course it’s not always like that, there are exceptions. And I understand that a journalist wants to know why I’m going solo.”
Then here’s the next original question: why did you go solo?
Again that broad smile. “I wanted to pursue my own ideas, away from ABBA. To make a nice, varied record. And I can tell you I’m enjoying that freedom.”
Do you still have a private life?
“At least, I’m doing everything to maintain it, and it works. People think that as an ABBA-member you are in the recording studio day and night and constantly doing interviews. But it’s not like that: you work very hard during a certain period and after that you have a lot of spare time.”
And what is it you do in that spare time?
“I love spending time at my home and in my garden. Actually, I’m living too openly: anyone can walk in and I get a lot of fans at my door. But I’m not giving up my house and garden because of that. I jog a lot, and take walks in the woods for hours with my dogs. I spend as much time as possible with my children, go to the sauna and read a lot. I read lots of stuff: biographies, memoirs, and the funniest book I’ve read so far is ‘The world according to Garp’, do you know that one?.” I do.
It’s time for the next journalist, who’s waiting in front of the dressing room at the Amsterdam RAI congress-centre. I say goodbye to Agnetha and wish her a good trip.
“I hate flying. This time I came all the way from Sweden by bus and boat. It cost me two days, but this way at least I’m able to see something while I’m travelling. It’s just that my bedroom on the boat was near the engine-room, so I didn’t get any sleep at all.”
But in a few days she’ll be home again. With her dog, her children and her garden. Then Agnetha admits that’s where she loves to be most.