Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Veronica, 1985: Agnetha Fältskog: "You never get used to success"

This article was published in Dutch TV-guide Veronica in 1985, shortly after Agnetha's Eyes Of A Woman album was released.
Agnetha Fältskog, the 35-year-old ashblonde ABBA-singer, hates doing interviews. But she would like to share a thing or two about her new solo album ‘Eyes Of A Woman’, produced by 10CC’s Eric Stewart. Openly, Agnetha talks to your very own Veronica-guide reporter about her solo career, ABBA’s reunion and her biggest dream... a part in an international movie.

She speaks English with a funny Swedish accent and with a soft, clear voice she talks enthusiastically about her second English-language solo album, that was released worldwide recently.
“Each time when you give birth to a ‘child’ like that, it’s exciting all over again,” says Agnetha. “You just have to wait and see how your record will be received and how it will do. With ABBA, we were incredibly spoiled. Every record was a million-seller. I’ve come to realize that it’s impossible for us as solo artists to expect the same thing. That’s why it’s an enormous kick when the record company calls you up to say that there’s a big demand for your new album all over the world. Because believe me, you never get used to success!”
At a very young age, Agnetha was already a big star in Sweden. Even before her glorious time with ABBA, she recorded six Swedish solo albums, that did very well in her own country. Her first English-language solo album appeared in 1983. With ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’, a Mike Chapman production, she proved that she was worthy of international acclaim on her own as well. Chapman’s influence had a lot to do with that. Still, Agnetha chose 10CC keyboard player Eric Stewart as a producer this time. Why is that?
“I had a tremendous time working with Mike, but I want to prevent repeating myself at all cost. That’s why I asked Eric this time. I’ve always been a 10CC fan as well. Eric’s music stands for quality.”
Agnetha is over the moon about her new record, the perfect collaboration with top musicians like Jeff Lynne (ELO), Vic Emmerson (Sad Café), John Wetton and Geoff Downes (Asia). Agnetha’s own composition ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ has been released as a single and is in the Top 40 right now.

When I met Eric for the first time last summer, we must have listened to about 400 songs together. Each time, it’s very hard work to choose suitable songs. That’s why Eric encouraged me to write my own songs. My only regret is that I can’t write lyrics. After three words I go blank, frustrating really. My command of the English language isn’t good enough either. I’m very happy with Eric’s lyrics, they suit me very well. On the B-side of the single, there’s a self-penned ballad ‘You’re There’. Unfortunately, that song didn’t come out as well as I hoped. That’s why it was left off the album. All other songs for ‘Eyes Of A Woman’ have been collected by Eric. Last year, he called several of befriended top composers, who started working especially for me. I think it’s an enormous honour that so many important people wanted to work on my album,” says Agnetha sincerely. “The singing isn’t especially easy for me,” she confesses. “I’m very ambitious, maybe too ambitious. It always takes some time before I find the right sound. Sometimes I have to re-record my vocals for a song six times. Luckily, Eric is very patient. He has taken care that my voice has been committed to tape the best way possible, and we’ve also paid a lot of attention to the backing vocals.”

Recording music is important to Agnetha, but her family always comes first. Long promotional trips abroad are out of the question. She limits herself to a few TV-shows, such as her own gala-show in ‘The Golden Rose Festival’ of Montreux.
“The endless touring and travelling is definitely over. Whenever I’m away from home for a few days, I can’t think of anything else but my two children, Linda (11) and Christian (7). I’ve come to realize more and more that there are more important things in life than just success. The children are entitled to a mother that can spend time with them. They grow up so fast, I don’t want to miss out on their childhood.”

The rumours that ABBA will come together again, are getting more frequent these days. Björn and Benny even said in a recent interview that the new ABBA-album should be in the shops around Christmas.
What are Agnetha’s views on an ABBA-reunion?
“I don’t object, as long as it’s just a record,” she says. “But performing... never again! I know Björn, Benny and Frida want to continue with ABBA more than anything. That’s their dream, breathe new life into the group. I’ve always put a brake on that because I wasn’t ready for it emotionally. Now I feel I can deal with it, as long as I’m able to combine it with my solo career, and with my family. There certainly aren’t any definite plans. We’ll see when the time is right.”
Agnetha still has a warm understanding with her ex-husband Björn. During the celebratory performance in Stockholm of the musical ‘Chess’ – composed by Björn and Benny – Agnetha was present as a guest of honour. But she could have been on stage just as well.
“Björn called me at home and asked me if I wanted to play the part of Svetlana, the Russian player’s wife. I thought it was really sweet of him to think of me, but I couldn’t accept the offer. I told him: ‘Björn dear, it can’t be, because then it will turn into an ABBA-album again. That wouldn’t be right, not for you either!’”

Agnetha still has one big wish, that she hopes will be fulfilled one day. Three years ago, she made her screen debut in the Swedish movie ‘Raskenstam’, not counting the concert-film ‘ABBA – The Movie’.
“The acting felt good,” says Agnetha. “I’m dreaming of a part in an American movie, that will be released worldwide. The director of ‘Raskenstam’, Gunnar Hellström, is working on a sequel. But I’d rather do something completely different now, like an English-language movie or a play. Maybe there’s a producer in Hollywood, who will give me a chance. That would be the best possible thing, that could be in store for me now,” Agnetha concludes.

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