Thursday, 26 November 2009

ABBA Info, November 1984: Frida in Holland again

Here’s a report from a Dutch fan magazine about Frida’s promotional visit to Holland in October 1984. It also includes an interview with Frida that shows that she was still full of plans at the time, considering a new album and even a tour.
For the second time in one month, Frida arrived at Schiphol Airport. We were at the airport very early and later on, we saw some other fans. Frida arrived at five minutes to eleven. When she saw us (we were waving at her) she walked up to us leisurely and gave Görel and Jan Bakema (Polydor) a sign that they had to wait for the suitcases. Of course, we walked to the door as quickly as possible but Frida thought it was better to stand in the middle of the hall so that we wouldn’t bother anyone. We gave Frida some flowers and took our time to take pictures. Meanwhile, we talked a little about ‘Shine’ and about several other artists. We gave her a compliment for her appearance on Met Mike In Zee in Belgium. Frida was rather surprised that we had seen it. Frida told us that she had been listening to Sade on the plane, on her walkman. She also told us that she had just got back from America where she had been with Hans and Liselotte.
Frida asked us if we didn’t have to go to school because it was an ordinary weekday (Tuesday October 9). When we told her that all of us were terribly sick, she laughed in her familiar way. We were fortunate that it took quite some time before the suitcases arrived. Therefore, we could talk to her in a relaxed manner about for instance Cyndi Lauper, of whom she thought ‘Time After Time’ was a very good song, about Chicago that she loved to listen to and about Sade, the singer who, as Frida explained, brought back some of the old jazz music for the first time in many years. The jazz music that was the start of Frida’s long career as an artist.
Finally, Görel and Jan joined us. Of course, we had flowers for Görel as well and when we gave her a nice bouquet later that same day, she whispered in our ear: “That’s the reason why we come back to Holland time and time again, those flowers are so beautiful!”
Görel was dragging around a strange long bag. When we made a joke about it and asked whether she was planning to play some golf, she smiled and told us that it wasn’t her bag, but Frida’s. For that matter, in the bag was the instrument that has to provide new songs for Frida’s next album.
That’s right, Frida’s own keyboard that lays the foundation of her songs. We didn’t hear any complaints from the hotel, but it’s certain that she had been playing it for a while. The suitcases in the car, the flowers on the hat stand, the collars wrapped tight around the necks, since it was a typical Dutch rainy day, and Frida was off to Rotterdam.
We travelled along with Frida in our car. Headed for the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam where the rehearsals for the Platengala would take place in the afternoon.
The security of the Ahoy knew that we were coming so there were no problems getting in. Luckily, the same went for the other fans who were waiting in the hall. Frida had walked by already but when she realised she had already missed the first rehearsal, she went to the hotel first to put away all her stuff. After that, she came back to the Ahoy venue where she was welcomed extensively by the AVRO people who were taking care of all the proceedings.

Frida had just arrived when they started preparing her rehearsal. We were allowed to get into the hall and we picked a spot in front of the stage so that we could take good pictures and wouldn’t have to miss anything. Frida gave the impression that she was freezing since she had her hands tucked away in her dark blue suit. The scarf she was wearing was appropriately coloured in dark blue (to go with her suit) and red (the same as her hair). Matched with blue glasses and some jewellery, Frida was a remarkable appearance between all these technicians and artists in jeans. The rehearsal went very smoothly, actually it was only a test for the sound and lights, because Frida said she would put on more of a show tomorrow and walk around the stage more. This was immediately briefed to the cameramen by the floor manager who informed Frida about the plans for the show, the camera positions and so forth. The first song ‘Shine’ would be filmed from a wide angle and ‘Come To Me’ with Frida in close-up. A decision that would have some consequences for the recordings the next evening.
As usual, Frida walked up to Görel immediately after the rehearsal to discuss the performance. Görel gave some more suggestions and pointed Frida to the fact that there would be a lot of people sitting behind the stage as well. We followed Frida on her way to the dressing room. Thanks to Jan Bakema, who asked Frida if she had some time for her fans and the fan club, we could go with her to the artists’ lounge where we could sit cosily around a table with a group of about twelve people, take a drink and have a chat. As usual, Frida made a very relaxed impression and she apparently felt at ease. On the next pages, you can read what we talked about. But first, some quotes from Frida, taken from a Swedish interview with the magazine Revyn on the occasion of the release of her new album.

“The events in my childhood were some of my strongest driving forces when I was young. After all, insecurity doesn’t disappear just because you are successful. It’s only now that I’m starting to enjoy myself and I can be myself.”
“My hair is now extremely red, the stuff that I put into it is called ‘Crazy Colour’ and the colour is called ‘Fire’.”
“I started to write songs because Phil told me to. He said, if others can do it, you can do it as well. I wrote about ten songs by now. I might have a talent for this after all.”
“Going to concerts is too time-consuming for me. I’d rather listen to records at a high volume.”
“The most expensive garment was a sable fur coat that cost about 60.000 Dutch guilders. That’s quite a price. I can’t describe a typical day from my life. There are no typical days for me. Sometimes I work in a very disciplined manner for four or five hours a day, when I’m filming a video it’s totally different. On other days, I like to be lazy. Meet people or read good books. Most of the time, I read in English to keep that up. I also read trade magazines like The Business World.”
“My musical dream is a new album with ABBA. That could turn out to be a big surprise, since we all have new experiences now. It’s a dream!”

In the artists’ lounge of the Ahoy venue, we talked to an admirable woman about her new album, the fans and herself.

Can you explain how you feel now, after the recording of ‘Shine’, because so much has changed since ‘Something’s Going On’.
Frida: “I’m exhausted.”
Frida: “No, I feel fine. The album represents exactly the direction of music that I was looking for. I had something special in mind and I’ve found it.”
You wanted the album to turn out like this?
Frida: “I’ve tried to enhance my music and put some more rock ‘n’ roll into it. That’s the direction I was looking for and the plan was that I would see where we would end up. When I’m going to record my next album, it will probably be produced by Steve again. We have a lot to give to each other.”
Steve said almost the same thing at the Polar Studios, that you inspired each other a great deal.
Frida: “Yes, that’s definitely true.”
It just clicked.
Frida: “Yes, it all felt very natural from the start and we had a great time in the studio. However, Steve wasn’t the only one I worked with in the studio. The others have helped me a lot too. We had so much fun together and that gave me a boost. They deviated from the schedule and weren’t afraid to try something new.”
Maybe because they were so young.
Frida: “Yes, and because they don’t have that musical tradition like older musicians who have been working in the music business for years”
Don’t you have that problem after twelve years with ABBA? After all, you have chosen a completely different musical direction.
Frida: “No, Benny and Björn wrote our songs and our sound was created by them. I have always loved to listen to other music as well. I’ve had my own musical taste for ages.”
First it was jazz, now it’s rock ‘n’ roll.
Frida: “Yes, rock ‘n’ roll mixed with jazz, because I feel that music always comes back, we go around in circles. Music always goes back to its roots. I notice that young people feel that too. The old styles of music are mixing again, that’s exactly what I want as well.”
So there won’t be a real jazz album by Frida.
Frida: “No, those times are gone.”
What do you think about the fact that most articles about you first and foremost are about ABBA and only the last few lines about you?
Frida: “Yes, they all do that. But I think it’s impossible to get rid of your past. I will always carry ABBA with me. And I don’t mind that either. Two years ago, I started out as a solo artist and I’ve worked with ABBA for twelve years. Things don’t happen that fast. I have to be patient.”
What you are doing at the moment is completely different from ABBA, yet they keep calling you Frida from ABBA.
Frida: “Yes, true. But they also say Benny and Björn from ABBA and Agnetha from ABBA.”
You mean that we can now read about the ‘ABBA’ musical Chess?
Frida: “Exactly, and ABBA has nothing to do with it. It’s Benny, Björn and Tim Rice but I think we’ll have to get used to it. And ABBA has meant a great deal to me, so I don’t mind. For that matter, ABBA still means a great deal to me.”
At Schiphol Airport, you told us that ‘Twist In The Dark’ was your favourite song from the album. Why that song?
Frida: “I think it’s a very dramatic song. It comes from the inside and I feel very strongly for that song. It sounds a bit ordinary, but that’s why I think the song is so good.”
So there will be more songs like that on your next album?
Frida: “Yes, I think I will be heading in that direction.”
You wrote ‘Don’t Do It’ yourself, a very quiet number, and ‘That’s Tough’, a tougher track. Will there be more of your own songs on the next album?
Frida: “I hope so, I don’t know yet.”
Is that the reason why you brought your keyboard along?
Frida: “Yes, I’ve been in America for a week and you get so much inspiration when you listen to the radio over there. They have a special kind of music there, it’s more rock ‘n’ roll. You rarely hear it here in Europe. It gave me a kick and when I got back home, I started writing. I started yesterday.”
Frida: “Yes, I have a melody already.”
How do you usually start out?
Frida: “Just with the melody. First, I record my voice on a tape, so that’s only the singing and then I work with my keyboard.”
When did you start playing the keyboard?
Frida: “Two years ago. Haha, no, I played the piano when I was ten, just like everybody else.”
Well, I can’t play.
Frida: “Well, almost like everybody else then. I started when I was ten years old and I was quite good at it. But when you haven’t played for such a long time, you have to learn how to play all over again and get used to it.”
Obviously, there are so many possibilities with a keyboard.
Frida: “Oh yes, all you have to do is push a button and you have a melody.”
Some groups make their music like that.
Frida: “Yes, but that makes it a bit too easy. When you are composing, it’s better when you don’t have to think about everything. And you don’t have that problem when you are singing and playing the keyboard. After that, I go into the studio and record a demo of the song, to see if it’s any good. Whether it’s good or bad.”
Do you ask for the opinion of other people?
Frida: “No, because with this album there were so many people involved who all had their own opinion. That can be very confusing, so I stopped doing that and did exactly what I wanted to do myself. That’s actually the only way to do it.”
What do you think about the fact that you’re back in the same hall after five years?
Frida: “To be honest, I don’t really remember, haha. But I know that we’ve been here to perform, but you know, all these arenas are the same. When you have seen one, you’ve seen them all.”
Isn’t it strange to wake up, not knowing where you are?
Frida: “Well, it’s not that bad. I always know in which city I am, but I don’t know exactly in which hall or arena I’m performing.”
Do you remember MIES, the show that you did two years ago?
Frida: “Yes, I remember, that show was great fun with a lot of enthusiastic fans. I guess it will be more difficult for you tomorrow in that big hall with 7000 people. But when you start screaming, the rest of the audience might join you or something like that. But I want to hear you tomorrow night!”
What’s the deal with ‘Shine’ in America?
Frida: “The album hasn’t been released over there. They don’t think it’s good. They don’t want to release it. Probably, it’s because the album isn’t really American, it’s more British oriented. We are now considering to record a special single, only for the American market and then see what happens. If they want it, we can still release ‘Shine’.”
Does it bother you that the Americans didn’t take to the album?
Frida: “No, I don’t mind. For the time being, Europe is enough for me. I’m not aiming for the kind of success that we had with ABBA. That’s far too much work. I want to do it at my own pace and I don’t want to travel too much. I want to concentrate more on Europe than America. Lately, I’ve been thinking about doing a tour in Europe, not too big, not too many gigs.”
Görel: “She’s even thinking very hard about it!”
Frida: “I would love to do a tour, but first I would like to record another album and that depends on Steve’s time schedule. Maybe we will record the album in Paris again or London, but I think that we will end up in the Polar Studios because Steve likes them very much.”
By the way, the video for ‘Shine’ was very good!
Frida: “Thanks, I worked on it for three days. Twelve hours. The rest of the crew worked on it day and night. So I was pretty lazy. We have also filmed a video for ‘Twist In The Dark’. I think that’s the best one.”


Michael Scheiber, Austria said...

Thank you for uploading this one - it is one of the BEST articles I have read so far about Frida - you learn some new things of her and her time in the mid 80ies. GREAT! I am a daily visitor of your site and enjoy reading the articles, many of those unknown to me and to look at the photos. THANK YOU for dedicating so much time FOR US by doing this. Keep on doing this site - I LOVE it! Many thanks! Best wishes from Austria, Michael Scheiber

Michel said...

Michael, thank you for your kind comment. Good to hear that you are enjoying the blog.

It's indeed interesting to see what Frida was up to at the time, like the fact that she listened to Sade and that she was trying to write her own songs.

Anonymous said...

A fantastic interview and i agree with micheal its one of the best from that period,Also great pics with a couple of rare shots,Thanks again Michel for provideing us with all these great articles i may not comment all the time but i regulary visit and im more than greatful for what you do in the ABBA fan community!
Best wishes Johnsteven

Michel said...

Thank you, Johnsteven. I appreciate your comment.