Saturday 29 November 2008

Muziek Expres, 1982: "This is only the beginning!"

A Dutch magazine article, featuring an interview with Frida about the Something's Going On album and pictures of the recording sessions and the press presentation.
She did it. Frida Lyngstad is now conquering the world without ABBA. With a Phil Collins-produced album and the brilliant hit record ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’. In an exclusive interview, Frida explains what’s going on...

Frida doesn’t have any peace and quiet anymore. Ever since she took a temporary (?) break from ABBA to record her own international debut album, her life has turned into a rollercoaster. At Stockholm’s Hamngatan, the employees are busy working for Frida day in and day out. There, at the ABBA-office, the Swedish supergroup seems to be completely overshadowed by one group-member: Frida Lyngstad.
At one blow, the dark-haired singer has proven that she’s able to do it without ABBA. Indeed, ABBA hasn’t been involved at all in her new solo-album ‘Something’s Going On’. For the recordings, that took place at ABBA’s Polar Studios, producer and Genesis-frontman Phil Collins took his own musicians with him. Including Earth, Wind & Fire’s horn section, that had helped Phil out already on his solo-album ‘Face Value’. A lot of hard work must have been put into those recordings. You can tell by listening to the record, for which no expenses were spared to turn it into the best product possible. And Frida herself is singing like never before. As if she has never had the chance to develop to full extent vocally in the ABBA-framework. A lot has happened to Frida and there’s a lot going on...
The dark-haired ABBA-singer has a dark voice. With that voice, together with Agnetha, she has just been busy working on recordings for a brand new ABBA-album. The two tracks for the hit-album, intended as a Christmas-present, are finished already. So ABBA is working on new material already. Because solo-recordings or not, ABBA goes on. Frida makes no mistake about that.
“I get so tired of all those sensational rumours. It is understandable that there are rumours, the journalists must have something to write about. After all, we’re still popular. I always think to myself: that’s the consequence of being famous.”
Prepare yourself, Frida, there will be a whole lot more rumours now you’ve made a solo-album and are having success on your own.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the facts. The single ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’ is doing exceptionally well, I’m extremely proud of that. It’s almost the same feeling as winning the Eurovision Song Contest with ABBA in 1974. It’s a triumph, suddenly I feel very self-confident.”
Aren’t you that confident in ABBA?
“Firstly, in ABBA I’m not alone, but I’m singing together with Agnetha. That’s something completely different than recording an album on your own. But I mainly felt insecure because of the difficult period I have behind me now. The divorce between Benny and me didn’t leave me unaffected. I don’t want to get into any details, the gossip-press has already done that. In any case, I have the feeling that I’ve made a mark for myself with ‘Something’s Going On’. I’m extremely proud of that album.”
What do Agnetha, Benny and Björn think about the album?
“In one word, they think it’s fantastic. I think they didn’t expect this, although they knew I was working with Phil Collins.”
What did they expect?
“That’s a good question, I’ve never asked them. It never entered my mind. They had full confidence in the project, that was enough for me.”
Why did you want to record a solo-album anyway?
“Like I said before, I wanted to make a mark. Something had to happen. I wanted to show that I account for something on my own as well.”
Is that the reason why the album reminds one of ABBA so little?
“I take that as a compliment. My intention was for the album to have nothing to do with ABBA, otherwise I might just as well have not recorded the album at all. That’s why no other ABBA-member, apart from myself, has co-operated on the album.”
Why did you choose Phil Collins as your producer?
“That was more or less a coincidence. My daughter adored his solo-single ‘In The Air Tonight’ and she told me to listen to it as well. Phil Collins? At first, that name didn’t ring a bell. Yes, I know, my general pop-knowledge has never been exceptional. In short, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After that, I bought his album ‘Face Value’ and I played it every day for two months. It was my favourite album and Phil my favourite producer. Then I went to London to meet him. From the word go, he was enthusiastic about the idea to work together.”
What were your intentions for this album?
“A record with much variation, with lots of different types of music. I was willing to give any song a go. When that became known, I received five hundred cassettes with songs. Believe me, it took quite some time, but I listened to all of them. Unfortunately, there was nothing there that I would like to sing. That’s when Phil and I decided to ask composers for a song, of which we knew in advance they would be good. That’s why so many well-known songwriters worked on the album.”
One is missing. The song that Paul McCartney would write for you?
“He actually would, but in hindsight he didn’t have the time. That song will surely come eventually, on my next album.”
Are you already thinking about a next solo-album?
“I dream about it, of course.”
ABBA isn’t thinking about performing any longer. Are you?
“The idea is tempting, but when I think I’d have to be in a different city every day and so on, I can’t imagine doing that. Still, anything is possible. I don’t want to get ahead of the facts. Look, if I were to do another album in some time that would become an even greater success and I’d get the opportunity to perform live with Phil and the other musicians, then I’d probably wouldn’t have to think twice. But we’re not at that stage yet. It may sound strange coming from me, because I’ve had a career with ABBA for ten years, but this is only the beginning...”

Friday 28 November 2008

Pop Rocky, 1983: I don’t want to be ‘just’ the ABBA-girl anymore

With her solo-album ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’ ABBA-singer Agnetha is following in the footsteps of her colleague Frida, who already enjoyed enormous success with her solo-album ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’. In early June, Agnetha launched her much anticipated new album in Musikladen. However, ten thousands of ABBA fans are worried by the success of both ABBA-singers’ solo-careers, and ask themselves if and how the Swedish supergroup will continue. Pop/Rocky talked to Agnetha about her new album and of course about ABBA’s future.

P/R: After Frida’s solo-album you are launching a project on your own as well. Are ABBA going their separate ways?
A: I know, our fans are worried. But I can reassure them, by all means, my solo venture does not mean the end of ABBA.

P/R: After this, ABBA will go on tour again, then?
A: No, that won’t be possible in the near future. If ABBA would go on tour again, the expectations will be very high everywhere. This would mean extensive preparations and countless rehearsals. There just isn’t time for that.

P/R: Is there no time to record another ABBA-album either?
A: At the moment certainly not, but that can change.

P/R: Let’s talk about your album ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’. What made you decide to do an album on your own?
A: Frida and I have talked about this for some time now. We both had our own ideas, that could not be fulfilled in ABBA’s framework. That’s why it was only natural to try something on our own.

P/R: Are you satisfied with the result?
A: Yes, very. Everything felt right. The songs are good, and the musicians gave their best. On top of that, the collaboration with Mike Chapman, who has worked with Smokie, Suzi Quatro and Blondie, was fantastic. Mike is a real professional, I learned a lot from him. For the most part, it is thanks to him that the album turned out so well.

P/R: On the album we don’t hear the Agnetha we expect from ABBA. Was that the intention?
A: That’s the reason why I did this solo-album. I didn’t want to sound like ABBA, otherwise this album would have been pointless. On the whole, I think the sound is a bit tougher than what people would expect from me. Still, the songs are about love, tenderness and romance, because we wanted to make a positive album.

P/R: Did working with ABBA help you with the recordings, or was it a disadvantage?
A: I did feel some pressure. The fans expect something special from me. On the other hand, I need this pressure, to come up with something really good.

P/R: Does it bother you that people will compare you to Frida?
A: Oh, not at all. Frida and I are used to that by now, since it has always been this way.

P/R: What kind of reaction on your album do you expect from the fans?
A: My aim is to get recognition as a solo-singer. For years, I’ve been ‘just’ the ABBA-girl. It’s time to take a step forwards.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Bravo, 1978: After their holiday in full swing again: ABBA

These pictures are very rare: they show ABBA in holiday mood. On the next page you’ll see them at their show on the poster. Read about what they did on their holiday and what their plans are now.

It was a kind of military secret. The four ABBA-members, Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Björn and Benny decided: we’ll take a few days off. As a matter of fact, in the Stockholm area. We really want to relax in our own country.
And that’s how the four of them set about: they walked through wonderful forests, took a rest at a lake, took rides on pedal- and rowing boats and acted like ordinary tourists. Benny: “We mainly walked in places that were not too crowded. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to escape from our fans.” And Anni-Frid adds: “By doing that, we had a chance to recover. It was almost like being in my childhood.”

You have to realize that ABBA have been under a lot of pressure since their Eurovision success in 1974, and that they’ve been on the road constantly. Björn: “This past summer we’ve taken it a little easier. It’s no use to wear ourselves out with all the travelling and uninterrupted performances.” Still, the foursome couldn’t live without their job completely. For their single and album, Björn and Benny tried out new songs, that both girls sang, to keep their voices in shape, classic songs. Apart from that, they took dancing lessons and designed new stage outfits.
The single ‘Summer Night City’ has been out in the shops since a couple of weeks. Björn: “On this record we paid hommage to the Disco Sound, that’s ruling the direction of music at the moment. The song is disco-influenced, but still unmistakable ABBA-style.”
The B-side is a medley of the songs ‘Pick A Bale Of Cotton’, ‘On Top Of Old Smokey’ and ‘Midnight Special’. This B-side could be heard already in 1975 on a charity album for the German cancer research.

Their album, recorded at their brand-new recording studio in Stockholm, should be released worldwide before Christmas. The next major trip will take ABBA to Japan. Benny: “In the middle of November we’ll have our own television show in Tokyo. It will have a running time of one hour; we will perform our biggest hits in that show. On our way to Tokyo, we’ll stopover in Los Angeles, to perform on the Dick Clark Show.”
Privately, everything is clear sailing with ABBA. The foursome’s sweetheart is Agnetha’s almost one-year-old son, Christian. The proud mother: “A very sweet rascal. I would love to take him with me on all my trips. But unfortunately he’s still too young.”
Anni-Frid has Bravo to thank for her best experience in the past few years. Like we reported extensively, we succeeded in finding Anni-Frid’s German father in Karlsruhe. The singer: “The meeting with my father, who was believed to be missing without a trace, has meant more to me than any gold record.”

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Veronica, 1984: Benny sweet to Frida

The ABBA-members don’t see much of each other lately. The separate members are working on solo-projects at the moment and that’s why it definitely was a coincidence that three-quarters of ABBA met each other during the Platengala of the Platen-10-daagse foundation.

Benny and Frida greeted each other very exuberantly and by doing that, they indicated that the divorce between Frida and Benny was an amicable one. Benny was even excessively sweet to Frida. Does this mean a reconciliation between the two ABBA-members?

We asked Björn. He said: “Benny and Frida are getting along really well lately. Still, I don’t believe they will ever get back together again. Just like I would never remarry Agnetha.”

Hitkrant, March 1982: ABBA: maybe on tour yet again

After ABBA’s major world tour in 1979, the group announced that it might well have been the last one. The expenses became too high and the strains too much. But a true artist apparently can’t do without his audience, because according to Björn and Benny, there’s now a fair chance that ABBA will be on stage again this year.

“It doesn’t seem to end,” is what Benny told recently, referring to the continuing successes. ABBA’s new album ‘The Visitors’ is breaking all records again. The single ‘One Of Us’ was huge once again, but the second single from that album, ‘Head Over Heels’, reached the top of the charts in our country within three weeks. That’s why Benny sighed: “We have to do something in return for our fans.”

After the previous tour, the group was tired. “We had a lot of personal problems,” Benny says. “We needed some time to get back to ourselves again. That time is hardly available, because you’re always busy with the new album that has to be better yet again. One by one, our marriages ended. That hurt.” But it didn’t take ABBA that much time to overcome their personal problems. Björn and Benny both remarried, Frida has a boyfriend and Agnetha left quietly for Mallorca, where she stayed undisturbed for one month.

The consequence was that the group returned with a new look and very enthusiastically with the new album. Agnetha says: “I needed that month as a rest period. The tabloids are hunting me constantly to find out who’s the new man in my life. But I want peace and quiet. All four of us have changed now, and not only outwardly. We’ve become real friends again.” Agnetha admits that she’s not too fond of Frida’s new look; Björn’s full beard is more to her liking.
Benny has a totally new hobby: he’s very much into race-horses. Two three-year-old horses, named ‘Secret Army’ and ‘Hurtwood Lass’ are Benny’s. At the end of last year, the ABBA-star flew to England on several occasions to see his horses. He is planning to put them in a race very soon.

Frida has a new hobby as well: the past few months she hosted a popular show on Swedish television four times. She explains: “It was so much fun to do. I announced artists and sang along with others or did the backing vocals.” Frida will now rapidly start working on her solo-album that will be recorded in Stockholm. Producer Phil Collins has gone through everything with Frida already and the singer wants to share that the album will be very different from her achievements with ABBA.

So, ABBA is full of courage again. The group is even considering to go on tour again. “We won’t confirm anything yet, but we’re seriously considering it,” Benny says. Whether ABBA will come to Holland as well? They probably will!

Sunday 23 November 2008

Hitkrant, February 1985: "Eric is giving me the freedom that ABBA didn't allow me"

“Of course I’m a little bit scared of releasing something new. Still, I hope I will finally be able to get rid of those annoying ABBA-comparisons. Because I have cut all ties with that empire permanently.”
And there seems to be no way back either. Together with producer Eric Stewart, the blonde singer is working very hard on a contemporary, surprising album that will astonish friend and foe. We were the first ones to be allowed to take a look in the studio.

Agnetha looks a little tired when we see her at the Polar Studios in the evening. All day long she has worked at a feverish pace, the final deadline is drawing near. Still, the former ABBA-singer is very satisfied with the things she accomplished. Especially the collaboration with Eric Stewart, responsible for all major 10CC-successes, turned out really well.
“The funny thing is that today’s best producers have called me to realize a possible collaboration. But I’m really not the kind of person that falls for empty talk and tempting financial propositions. In the end I decided to go for the least obvious guy, a choice I haven’t regretted so far. Eric is the kind of man that doesn’t shy away from the experiment and that’s exactly what I need at this stage of my career. Agnetha Fältskog should definitely sound different to what the ABBA-fans expect from me. Apart from that, Stewart is an exceptionally charming man. He makes you feel at ease very quickly and he definitely helped me to conquer some of my fears.”

“I still hesitate when I sit down at home at my writing-table or piano,” Agnetha explains. “I’m fairly satisfied about the sound of my voice, but writing songs seems to be a totally different craft. This album will include two of my own songs. Eric has really encouraged me to take this on. I also understand that I have to get rid of those annoying ABBA-comparisons, but it takes a lot of guts. Of course, this also has to do with my musical past. With ABBA, the girls weren’t meant to make decisions. We weren’t even allowed. In the end, that was the ultimate reason to cut all ties with that empire.”

Still, Björn and Benny don’t rule out a further collaboration?
“Maybe for old times sake, to recapture that old atmosphere in a way. But for the time being I won’t get really caught up in a group again. It has cost me several sleepless nights to make those decisions, but it was necessary. I want to take control of my own career and establish myself as a full-fledged artist. The album ‘Eyes Of A Woman’ will hopefully bring me one step closer to that ultimate goal.”

Saturday 22 November 2008

Hitkrant, November 1983: Will ABBA have to make way for Agnetha's children?

Agnetha’s recent bus accident has dealt a severe blow to the Swedish singer’s point of view. More and more, the blonde diva has her doubts if it makes any sense to take dangerous risks while there are far more important things in the life of a mature woman and mother. Now that it has become known that Agnetha is pregnant again, ABBA’s future is more unsure than ever.

“Flying has always been a nightmare for me but now I’m not even safe on a bus anymore,” Agnetha whispers. “When the accident happened, a severe panic came over me. For one moment, a few seconds that seemed to last forever, my life was hanging on a string. When I regained consciousness in the hospital, I immediately asked for my children. It was a true nightmare.”
There’s not a single doubt for the singer that Linda and Christian are the most important people in her life. “I don’t know if I’m giving them the upbringing they’re entitled to,” she says, silently gazing into the distance. “When I was a little girl, I felt terrible when my mother and father were away from home for a few days. When I’m travelling, like I did recently to promote ‘Can´t Shake Loose’, I can’t stop thinking about them. I try to enter into their world. The very idea of them missing me makes me sick with desperation. Of course I still love this business and music will always fascinate me, but first and foremost I want to be a good mother for my two dearest. Forced by circumstances, I sometimes fall short of that aim.”
The Swedish gossip press seldom or never leaves Agnetha alone. Only recently, it was claimed that she and her former husband Björn are having fights about the children on a regular basis. “Absolute nonsense,” Agnetha emphasizes. “In all honesty, we’ve made a suitable arrangement. Linda and Christian are just as often at my place as at Björn’s. If the ABBA fairytale ever ends, my children’s future will be the only cause. Not the personal frictions that the public likes to fantasize about.”
Agnetha’s boyfriend Torbjörn Brander gets along pretty well with her children. “Torbjörn is an ideal father to them. He takes care of my son and daughter as if they were his own children. When our first child will be born in a little while, we’ll start a new future together. A future that’s definitely more important than a wall full of gold ABBA-records.”

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Hitkrant, February 1981: ABBA is finding new ways

There, ‘Super Trouper’ is all finished, every single is becoming a hit yet again, and when it comes to that, ABBA can take it easy for a while. Or rather, as far as you’re able to take it easy as the most successful pop-group of the last, say, ten years. New plans are being prepared already. Björn and Benny are keeping themselves busy with writing new songs. Will ABBA concentrate only on recording music?

Benny: “Look, making records is obviously our main aim. But we’re certainly thinking in other directions as well.”
How about the old idea of writing a musical? The ABBA-masterminds look a bit uneased.
“Actually, we’ve already realized that idea before, during our world-tour, when we staged ‘The Girl With The Golden Hair’. You could actually call that a mini-musical.”
Yes, but at the time there were plans to write a full-length musical. Is that idea still current?
“Who knows,” says Björn and that will have to do for us.

In any case, the ABBA hit factory is not standing still. A new ABBA-album is already hesitantly in the making and this time it should be something completely different. Is ABBA finding new ways?
“We’re constantly finding new ways,” says Benny. “If you don’t do that as an artist, you don’t develop.” And we know: standing still means falling behind. That won’t happen to ABBA.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Dagblad voor Noord-Limburg, July 1988: ABBA, one more time?

The rumour has surfaced once again: ABBA will reunite! Although it seems to be a one-off occasion, it will not dampen the joy of the still many admirers of this group.

The only downside is that we can’t obtain any official confirmation. Not at the Dutch record company. Not at the Swedish one. Not even at the studio where the recordings should take place.
The rumour is based on a remark that ex-ABBA-singer Agnetha Fältskog has made. Not too long ago, her third solo-album was released and on that occasion she stated that the four ABBA-members will get together this summer. All four of them would enter the recording studio. The end result would have to be ABBA’s definitive farewell-album.

Whether that album will see the light of day or not, in the meantime ABBA can be placed among the classic pop-groups. The album ‘Abbaphonic’ is proof of that, on which several top-hits by the foursome are performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from London. And that’s a tribute that’s not being paid to any musician representing popular music. The editors of Oor’s Pop Encyclopedia wrote: “The ‘ABBA-sound’, often praised, seldom abused, is often compared to the sound that The Beatles produced in the sixties. With ABBA, the limits of creativity are explored continuously as well. Unlike The Beatles, ABBA is in no way a subcultural phenomenon, though. But the group knows how to combine quality and commercial instinct in a mostly exquisite manner.”

For ABBA, the big success started with ‘Waterloo’, that gave them the victory in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton. The Dutch duo Mouth & MacNeal (Willem Duyn and Maggie MacNeal) finished second. Still, it wouldn’t be until 1975 that the real breakthrough in the charts was achieved. That happened with the single ‘SOS’.

After that, the hits kept on coming faster than the speed of light. Some of them as a reminder: ‘Fernando’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Money, Money, Money’, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’, ‘Name Of The Game’, ‘Thank You For The Music’, ‘Chiquitita’, ‘Does Your Mother Know’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’, ‘Super Trouper’ and ‘The Day Before You Came’. Things couldn’t get any better for the Swedes, because this list is just a selection.
In a time span of two years, ABBA sold more records than any other group, excluding The Beatles. Even in the Soviet Union, all ABBA-albums were released. ABBA conquered the cinemas with the feature film ‘ABBA – The Movie’ and the group could be admired on television screens regularly. Notable was a special programme in 1979 for Unicef, to commemorate the Year of the Child.

In 1981, when ABBA had existed for ten years, the first rumours started circulating that the group would split up. The cause was the divorce of Benny Andersson and Frida Lyngstad. Those rumours became even stronger when the singer recorded her first solo-album produced by Phil Collins, shortly after that. Agnetha followed in her footsteps and chose another big name as her producer: Mike Chapman.
In late 1983, the time had come. The ABBA-empire was officially dissolved. The four ABBA-members didn’t sit still since then. Both singers have build a solo-career, the men Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson worked together with Tim Rice on the musical ‘Chess’, that produced hits for Elaine Paige (‘I Know Him So Well’) and Murray Head (‘One Night In Bangkok’).

A number of the biggest ABBA-successes is obviously included on the album ‘Abbaphonic’, that starts with a genuine overture, named ‘Abbature’. That’s how it goes with a classical work. In an overture, a taster is being given for the most important themes that will follow. The highlights, if you will, and in this case there are plenty of them. The arrangements emphasize once again how exceptionally beautiful the ABBA-melodies are. Like in ‘Does Your Mother Know’, that in this case has a running time of almost seven minutes, three minutes longer than the original version. ‘Money, Money, Money’ lasts much longer as well, but with ‘Chiquitita’ it’s the other way around. It now has a running time of less than three minutes, and that’s more than two minutes shorter than the original, where the piano is being used as a solo-instrument.

The album closes with a finale, just like the overture a specially composed ‘medley’ in which snippets of ABBA-hits are used that are otherwise not a part of ‘Abbaphonic’.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Dagblad De Limburger, 1996: ABBA's Frida is working on a comeback

Good news for all thirty-somethings who still get tears in their eyes on hearing ‘Hear The Drums, Fernando’ and keep dreaming about satin hotpants. One of ABBA’s two singers, the pop-group that’s synonymous for Sweden, wants to try her hands on a comeback.

The dark-haired Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Frida for the successful company’s friends, has just finished recording an album that should be released in Sweden late September. The Swedish-language offering ‘Deep Breath’ is produced by Anders Glenmark, who also wrote the songs.
The almost 51-year-old Lyngstad didn’t record any album for twelve years. The close friend of the Swedish queen Silvia was being an active campaigner for animal’s rights from her home near Swiss Bern.
After ABBA had separated officially late 1983, Anni-Frid threw two English-language solo albums on the market under the name Frida. ‘Something’s Going On’ was good for a hit-record with ‘I Know There’s Something Going On’. But after the second album ‘Shine’, the singer faded from view.
The question is whether Frida will be able to step out of the shadow of her former colleagues Björn Ulvaeus, his blonde wife Agnetha Fältskog and Benny Andersson, her second husband. The record company claims that many youngsters of today don’t even know ABBA, let alone Frida. Nevertheless, it has only been a few years ago that ABBA’s glory days were brought to the surface again. The new disco fever created a string of ABBA-impersonators who listened to the original songs and copied their versions in a series of languages up to Hindi.

Pop Foto, November 1984: Doesn't Frida have any dreams left?

When all your wishes in your life have become true, what’s left to wish for? “Simply lead a quiet life,” is what Frida thinks. “And every now and then go into the recording studio to record an album.” But when you look into the bottom of her heart, the ABBA-singer still has one big wish.

Frida clears her throat when we ask her what’s in store for ABBA. Can we expect another album, are there any plans for a farewell tour? “I can only speak for myself,” she starts. “When it comes to Björn, Benny and Agnetha, I really don’t know. We rarely see each other nowadays. I would love to record another album with them, but now Agnetha has left the group, that’s really out of the question. It’s a shame. That’s why I’m concentrating completely on my solo career. I’m really very proud of my new album ‘Shine’. It turned out exactly the way I expected. At first, I was very disappointed that Phil Collins didn’t have the time to produce the album, but when I met Steve Lillywhite, I knew he was the right man for the job. I think it’s very important to work with young people, they’re still very unrestrained and they’re not stuck to old ideas. ‘Shine’ has really become an album of the eighties.”

Frida takes a sip from her champagne and continues: “When I received the first copy, I immediately went to my home in London to listen to it and it really gave me goosebumps. I hope that other people will get that same feeling when they play my album. For me, recording an album is much like giving a piece of yourself. The music is a part of me, and with this album that feeling is stronger than ever. I’m also thinking about performing with a band. But something like that is a difficult decision. It has been a long time since I performed on stage, and the more time passes, the bigger the step gets to tour again.”
Frida gazes into the distance for a while. “I will have to give it some serious thought,” she says. “A small series of performances would be okay, but I wouldn’t be able to do it at the same level that we used to do with ABBA. Those days are gone. Everything I used to dream of, has become reality. The success, money, travelling, really everything! These days I’m concentrating more and more on the things I never had the time for. Simply lead my own, quiet life, just like any other, because I’m in desperate need of that after the hectic existence with ABBA!”

Sunday 2 November 2008

Hitkrant, 1983: Benny Andersson: "This music will be around forever"

Although ABBA is laying low for a while when it comes to recording music, due to Frida and Agnetha’s solo activities, Benny Andersson is still busy composing. Meanwhile, he was still able to spare a little time to write down his favourite records and give his reaction on our handwriting analysis.

“This is a perfectionist, but also someone who’s very modest,” says the handwriting expert.
“This has to be a decent and precise person. A very balanced human being. With the attitude of a perfectionist. I have a feeling that this is someone who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention, in spite of it all. He or she is very modest and has a somewhat homely nature.”

“Most of all, I like music that will last for five hundred years,” according to Benny Andersson.
“When you look at my list at first glance, it may be a bit old fashioned. But I don’t believe in old fashioned and contemporary music. I only believe in music with a kind of significance for all eternity. In a manner of speaking, it must be able to last for five hundred years. The songs and albums from my list will never bore me. I learn from them, they are my biggest sources of inspiration.
What I think of that character analysis? To be honest, I think it’s all rather flattering. I’m homely indeed, and certainly a perfectionist. But that can be a flaw as well, because I’m never satisfied...”

Studio, 1999: Agnetha's cautious comeback

In the meantime she’s 49-years-old, Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA’s blonde. For years, she lived a secluded life on her estate near Stockholm. But, for the first time in many years, she speaks about ABBA and the life after the success in the documentary The Winner Takes It All.

This year, it’s 25 years ago that ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’. To commemorate that event, the BBC has made a documentary about the group in which all group-members get their say. So, Agnetha as well. She explains how difficult it has been for her. “For ten years, I didn’t play, make or listen to music. I didn’t even have a decent stereo-system. The silence has been necessary. It enabled me to catch my breath, process and recover.”

The recovery was necessary after ABBA’s overwhelming success. The band that sold hundreds of millions of records, was working at a maddening pace. It was especially difficult for Agnetha. “Sometimes it was awful. There was hysteria, obsessed fans that gave me the feeling they would never let go of me.” Apart from that, at the height of ABBA’s fame, the blonde singer had two small children with her former husband Björn. “I was torn in two. There was one part that wanted to be as successful as possible in my career, the other part just wanted to be a mother and take care of the children at home.” Due to lack of motivation with all group-members, but especially Agnetha, ABBA called it a day in 1982. The meanwhile immensely rich singer tried her hands on a solo career in the following years. Except for Sweden, that attempt wasn’t very successful.

In 1987, she radically retired from show-business to devote herself completely to her children. Since then, Agnetha turned out to be a popular victim to the Swedish media. “They write a lot of bad things about me. Some papers are saying that I’m hiding in my house like a Greta Garbo. That’s not true. I’m very normal. I simply don’t want people to know everything about me. But I have nothing to hide.” Exactly because Agnetha avoids publicity consequently, everything she does is still news. Agnetha spotted in the supermarket? The next day it can be read in the newspapers. Agnetha getting sushi from a Japanese take-out restaurant? All of Sweden knows about it. Apart from that, the strangest rumours were circulating. Agnetha wouldn’t dare to leave her house, would be severely depressed and unsociable. But she herself claimed to be an ordinary housewife, who took care of her children, took long walks with her dogs and just wanted some peace and quiet for a while. “I’m very happy,” she says in one of the rare interviews from that time. “I have new friends, I feel great.”

In 1990, she – secretly – married a Swedish surgeon. But that marriage wouldn’t last for long. Already eighteen months later, the singer filed for divorce. Now the children have left home. 25-year-old Linda played a small part in one of her dad’s musicals and debuted in a Swedish movie. Her 23-year-old son graduated from the art academy. The time seems to be right for Agnetha to go out in public again. She released a biography and a Best Of-CD and seems to have made recordings in a recording studio, but those are rumours yet again. And now the ABBA-documentary. She still didn’t want to appear on screen talking. The only images are those of her walking on her estate. Surprisingly, her appearance didn’t change much. And for the first time in many years, she thinks about her career again. “Sometimes I feel the urge to do something. A couple of years ago that would have been unthinkable. But I’m aware that I have a special voice and the door is still open for new ideas, possibilities and my music.”