Saturday, 21 June 2008

Weekend, November 1982: I enjoy my freedom...

An interview from Dutch magazine Weekend, published after Frida's visit to Holland in 1982, promoting the Something's Going On album. Part of the visit was an appearance on the highly-rated Dutch TV-show MIES, on which she was interviewed and performed the then current single To Turn The Stone.
Cliff Richard was one of the other guests on the show. I've added a poster from German magazine Pop Rocky, featuring a picture of Frida and Cliff taken at this occasion.
Dutch people are not known for showing their emotions. Only a handful of artists has managed to unleash those inner feelings of ecstasy within us (that every human being has). But those are the real stars. One of them is Annifrid Lyngstad, member of Swedish pop-group ABBA. She paid a visit to our country for promotion of her solo-album. Naturally, Weekend was there for you.

The fans have been waiting for hours. There is a cosy atmosphere among the hundreds of people who gathered together to see their idol ‘in the flesh’ and hand over a flower or a present. Inside, at the Singer-theatre in Laren, the well-known AVRO people, Mies Bouwman, Fred Oster, Leen Timp and their co-workers are busy preparing the first ‘MIES-show’ of this season. The rehearsals conclude without problems. The special guest of this evening hasn’t arrived yet. Inside, the company is now patiently awaiting her arrival as well.
“Here she comes,” someone yells. Outside, the young, agitated people storm towards a car, that’s immediately surrounded by the enthusiastic crowd. Inside the car is Frida Lyngstad. She is used to this, for her it’s all very common. For almost ten years it has never been different for her, but she was together with her ABBA-colleagues then. Now she’s alone. The people are coming to see her.
Frida gets out of the car calmly and without any reserve she goes to her fans. She tries to give everyone the feeling they haven’t been waiting in vain, accepts flowers and presents, takes time to chat here and there, until her secretary slowly takes her inside. Frida is very nicely dressed in a colourful, suède dress, all in the latest mini-fashion, just above the knee. Her narrow waistline is accentuated by a beautiful, broad belt. A brown pantyhose and boots lined with fur complete the tasteful outfit. The rehearsals can continue. Frida performs a song from her first solo-album. It sounds good. Then she disappears to her dressing-room to recover from the trip. An hour later I’m having coffee with her. The fans have discovered her presence again and constantly tap the window behind us. It’s difficult to have a conversation. After a few minutes, Frida gets up. “Would you mind to go and sit somewhere else, Honnie? We could try to find a quieter corner.” We find a cosy table, where we can talk without interruptions.

I ask Frida if this constant attention annoys her.
“No, absolutely not. I even enjoy it. I think it’s wonderful that the fans go through so much trouble to come near me. But sometimes it just isn’t possible. That people love my music is of course fantastic. That’s what every artist longs for. I need my fans, without them I don’t exist. The organisers always get very nervous when they see those crowds of people. In the end, it’s not so bad.”

Annifrid Lyngstad (her name is Frida at the moment, because of her solo-career) has become known because of the enormous success of the Swedish pop-group ABBA. “For my family and friends I have always been Frida, so that name isn’t new, actually,” she explains.
What is new is her musical direction. Has it been difficult for her to do something totally different from ABBA?
“There has been a full year of preparations until I finally entered the studios in London for the first recordings. So I felt ready for it. Still, I was very nervous. You are in different surroundings with other people. So I was very tense in the beginning. But it soon faded. When we started rehearsing, we all got used to each other pretty quickly. In no-time we all got very close and in those six weeks, that we worked together on the record, we have become one big family.”

What gave you the idea to work with Genesis’ Phil Collins?
“My daughter had bought his single ‘In the air tonight'. I thought that was a marvellous record. Soon after that I bought his album ‘Face Value’. When I had listened to that, I was determined to contact him for a possible collaboration. When I called him eventually with the proposition to produce my solo-album and play the drums as well, he was enthusiastic immediately. The result has become totally different from the ABBA-sound, but that was my intention. For me, it was essential to create an own sound and, despite the fact that I worked with different musicians and in totally different circumstances, I think I succeeded.”

Isn’t it possible that Frida’s own popularity and business interests will cause conflicts with ABBA’s interests?
“There is a misunderstanding about our professional lives. Working with ABBA doesn’t take up all of my time. Björn and Benny write all our music together, and that takes very much time. That means that Agnetha and I are free to do whatever we want. Agnetha has just made a movie. We all have our own lives. That’s much healthier four our cooperation, which is still excellent. Soon, a special album will be released to commemorate our tenth anniversary. I still prefer ABBA. I don’t neglect ABBA, now I’m performing as a solo-artist as well. It’s easy to combine and I’m still faithful to ABBA, as always.”

You’ve said that music is your greatest passion, and that you couldn’t live without it. Do you think you sacrificed your personal happiness for your career?
“I don’t have any regrets about my life. ABBA has been a dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to become a singer from when I was a child. I dreamed of becoming rich and famous. It all came true. I’ve met lots of interesting people, travelled the whole world and experienced so much. I feel privileged. How many people get the opportunity to achieve that? Yes, I’m very thankful and don’t regret anything. I have a good and happy private life with my children and friends. I spend most of my spare time in their company. I have a very positive attitude. The future is the only thing that’s really important to me. It’s no use to look back and ponder about things that can’t be changed anyway. If you do that, you become bitter and unsatisfied, and I never want that to happen.”

Frida comes across as a very calm and steady woman. Her wealth has changed a lot in her life, of course, but she will never be blasé about it.
“I’m eternally grateful for the success and at the same time it makes me feel humble. It’s still hard to conceive that it all turned out the way it did. Wealth means a special kind of freedom. I think that’s the most important thing for me. Other than that I don’t think about it very much. I don’t live in overflowing luxury, but I do enjoy my freedom to do whatever I like to do.”

And that means for Frida: being at home with her children and friends and working on her music. No diva-behaviour whatsoever.
“My children are very steady and critical, so they make sure things don’t get out of hand,” she says smiling. And that’s Frida Lyngstad – a normal and authentic woman.

Frida is still Cliff’s fan
During the taping of the show, Frida met an old acquaintance: the English pop-singer Cliff Richard. With their performances, both stars would cause a certain amount of emotions with the many admirers in the audience.
Frida revealed she had been a big fan of the now 42-year old singer as a teenager. “I collected photographs of Cliff and bought all his records. I never would have imagined I’d ever be on the same TV-show,” says Frida. Cliff, polite and charming, was very complimentary about his Swedish colleague: “She’s a born artist, a woman I’d like to work with. I’ve followed ABBA’s career closely and am impressed by their qualities. I hope the group will stay together for a long time to come.”
About a possible duet with Frida, Cliff could only say he would definitely consider such a proposition. When Weekend came to the subject of marriage, both stars got considerably less talkative. Cliff would only say that marriage is a big responsibility, especially for people in show-business. Rumours about a possible marriage between him and tennis-star Sue Barker, were discarded with the words: “We’re just good friends.”
Frida wasn’t very revealing about this subject either. Frida: “I will never say ‘never’, but for now I’m concentrating on my career. I will see what the future has in store for me. For now I’m happy being free.”
Together they posed for Weekend, and subsequently disappeared to their dressing-rooms: rich, famous and sometimes happy...

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