In the old days, it used to be practically impossible to rope one of the members of the group ABBA in for an interview, these days it’s a piece of cake. Ever since Agnetha and Frida are musically on their own feet, they travel all around Europe to advertise their product personally. Therefore, Frida was in our country a few weeks ago. A conversation with Frida passes off rather formal. She restricts herself to short answers and cleverly manages to leave most questions about her personal matters unanswered.
The thing that she does want to talk about is her new album. This time, the album was produced by the well-known producer Steve Lillywhite, known for his productions with U2, Simple Minds, XTC, Big Country and Peter Gabriel. Indeed, an album that differs considerably from the previous one ‘Something’s Going On’, that was produced by Phil Collins, although both producers prefer a powerful drum-sound. From this, it becomes very clear how big the input of the producer is and how relatively small Frida’s own part actually is. Although the singer herself has a different opinion.
She explains that she has been involved from start to finish in the choice of the song material and for the rest everything proceeds in good consultation with the producer concerned. Obviously, it’s true that a really good producer puts his stamp upon the product, but it can’t come to the point where the album is saying more about the producer concerned than about the singer who actually should be the centre of attention. But fact is that both the first album as well as now this new album are extremely successful. Just how much this is due to Frida’s reputation as an ABBA-singer will probably always remain a question mark. And fair is fair, as Frida is getting older and breaking away more and more from the ABBA-genre, she is rocking better than ever.
The album contains ten tracks that are versatile in composition, due to the fact that various people are responsible for the music. On the album, there are songs by, among others, Chris Rea, Guy Fletcher, Kirsty McColl (Steve Lillywhite’s wife), Stuart Adamson (Big Country frontman), a song written by Frida herself as well as a track by ABBA-colleagues Björn and Benny. The album was recorded at the Studios de la Grande Armée in Paris.
Frida explains that she actually would have loved to have continued with Phil Collins, but as it turned out, he didn’t have time for her. She admits to having been a bit disappointed by that, but everything turned out well in the end. Her manager sent her a couple of records produced by Steve Lillywhite, among them one by Joan Armatrading, and Frida was impressed by them. Also on a personal level, the singer and the success-producer, who is ten years younger, hitted it off.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad was born in 1945 in the Norwegian town Narvik. Her mother died soon after she was born and her father, a German officer, returned to his native country immediately after the war. A few years ago, Frida met him for the first time, but “then it was too late as far as I’m concerned”, according to Frida. She was raised by her grandparents, who moved with her to Eskilstuna in the North of Sweden. She chose music as her profession and found herself in Bengt Sandlunds Big Band. There she met Ragnar Fredriksson, whom she married and later on she started the band Anni-Frid Four with him.
Marriage, motherhood and musical aspirations were hard to combine and this resulted in her first divorce and the end of Anni-Frid Four as well. At the end of the sixties, she met Benny Andersson, who was a pianist with the at the time extremely successful group the Hep Stars, at a club in Swedish Malmö. They started an affair. Meanwhile, Benny was writing music together with Björn Ulvaeus, who played with another Swedish top-group, the Hootenanny Singers. They contacted manager Stig Anderson and he suggested that Björn and Benny’s music needed female singers. What was more natural than ask both girlfriends. This is how ABBA came to be.
At the moment, Frida still says that she doesn’t know whether or not ABBA still exists. She leaves open the possibility of recording an album at some point in the future. In any case, the group definitely needed a break, also in view of the problems between the band-members on a personal level. Frida and Agnetha rushed into a solo career and Björn and Benny wrote the musical Chess together with the extremely successful Tim ‘Evita’ Rice. This musical will have its premiere in London at the end of 1985, but the complete London Symphony Orchestra, together with a rock-group, a choir and a couple of solo vocalists, among them Murray Head, will venture on a short tour, starting this Saturday in London, then coming to Paris on Sunday, arriving in Amsterdam on Monday October 29 and then subsequently via Hamburg going to Stockholm. A gigantic production.
In conclusion, Frida says to be very impressed by this musical by her colleagues Björn and Benny. We can convince ourselves at the end of this month by going to the Amsterdam Concerthouse or simply by buying the soundtrack that will be released at the end of this month as well.