Saturday, 3 October 2009

Bravo, November 1978: ABBA’s new hit factory – Bravo was able to watch them in the studio

The grey-painted building in the centre of Stockholm is rather inconspicuous, and doesn’t distinguish itself in any way from the other houses and office buildings in the neighbourhood. Only insiders know that this is the studio that ABBA has built for themselves.
“It has been finished since May, and that’s just about the time that we’ve worked on our new album as well,” Björn explains. He is sitting in the control room at the mixing console, together with sound engineer Michael B. Tretow. Björn calls the 33-year-old Micke. He is the fifth member of ABBA – at least in the studio. He has worked with the group since the first ABBA-record. He knows exactly what Björn and Benny want and he is a world champion in finding new sound tricks.
On this day, Björn and Micke are trying out a new sound effect, while Benny is sitting at the piano, playing a melody again and again. “In the meantime, we’ve completed six songs,” Björn says. “We are trying to finish the entire album still this year. After all, almost twelve months have passed since our last album was released.”
Björn and Benny have composed enough songs. That’s not the problem. But for them, the hard work really begins in the studio.
“In the studio, we write the lyrics to the songs and make the arrangements. And that’s the most complicated, but most important work as well. It’s only because of the arrangements that a melody turns into a good pop song. Then it comes down to which instruments we will use, when they will sound louder or softer, and deciding if we will use new sound effects. This takes up most of our time. Apart from that, we don’t want to get pushed into anything. We need a quiet and relaxed atmosphere when we work,” Björn explains.
That’s why ABBA has built this studio for about 1,5 million German Marks.
In the past few weeks, ABBA has been very productive. Almost day and night, Björn and Benny spent their time in the studio. Only on October 7, they had a small break from work. “That’s when Anni-Frid and I got married,” Benny explains. “No one had any idea. We didn’t even tell Agnetha and Björn beforehand. The announcement took them by surprise completely.”
One day later, they threw a small party at their home in the urban district Lidingö. Only their closest friends, relatives and colleagues from Polar Music were invited. “If we had made the announcement beforehand, our wedding would have turned into a circus. We wanted to prevent that from happening,” Benny explains.
Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid have made a lot of plans for the month November. “We will fly to Los Angeles to perform on television on the Dick Clark Show. At the moment, that’s the most popular TV-show in the USA. Right after that, we’re off to Tokyo. During a one-week stay, we will record a 45-minute-long television special. And we will travel to Paris for a television performance as well, but that will be all. Then we’ll go back home to continue our work on the new album and prepare ourselves for Christmas.”
I ask Benny, why they are now favouring the disco sound, at least on their latest single ‘Summer Night City’. Benny: “Actually, we don’t think that’s really disco, perhaps we’ve been influenced to some extent by the Bee Gees. We think it’s good what they are doing. But we’ve maintained our own sound. At least, the new album will be proof of that.”

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