Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Hitkrant, 1986: “With Gemini, we can do what we like behind the scenes” – ABBA’s Björn and Benny launch a new Swedish duo

An article from Dutch magazine Hitkrant about the release of the first Gemini album, for which Björn and Benny wrote six songs (among them ‘Just Like That’, a rejected 1982 ABBA recording). They also co-produced the album with Anders Glenmark. Despite a European promotional tour, the album and single failed to set the international charts alight and Gemini quickly faded from view.
At the London Hamilton Arts Centre, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus presented their latest pop project Gemini at the – merely champagne sprinkling – font. We had an exclusive drink and chat with both gentlemen and asked Karin and Anders Glenmark how it feels to be labelled ‘the new ABBA’ right at the start of their career.

The cameras were clicking at the happy entrance of Gemini in the illustrious world of pop and money. Smiling broadly, Karin and Anders Glenmark are walking through the gallery that’s adorned with expensive rock portraits by Steve Rapport. A while later, Björn and Benny follow, from the looks of it barely impressed by this frenzy. Their hands loosely in their pockets, greeting complete strangers: professional carelessness. While Gemini’s first album is blasting through the room, hands are being shaken and glasses are being refilled, unasked but explicitly. Meanwhile, we are able to watch a video as well. The previous evening, Gemini appeared on the highly rated Wogan show, from a promotional point of view undoubtedly the best introduction one could get in the English market. The two former ABBA boys, who have clearly turned into quiet gentlemen, disappear from view as quickly as possible, but – after some insistence by the Polydor people – they show themselves to the assembled people after all. “Cheers,” I say in Swedish, barely able to keep a salmon sandwich in my mouth. And – not letting the attention fade – I ask: “Why this project?”
“Karin and Anders are not complete strangers in Sweden. But we dragged them out of anonymity to take care of the backing vocals for the musical Chess. And to be honest, we were really impressed by them. Apart from that, we felt like doing a couple of pop songs again. We had composed them already, but we hadn’t been able to find someone with whom we could record them. On the Gemini album, there are six songs written by Björn and me. The other three are written by Karin and Anders.”
You don’t miss anything now that you are only working behind the scenes?
“Not at all, really, honestly,” he says with emphasis. “I think it’s fun to work on a project like this. It enables you to keep busy without realising it. Every now and then, I still think about ABBA but without any desire to go back to that. However, I carry that past with me, but I can’t change anything about that now. I could have known that in advance, so I mustn’t complain about it now.”
“Yes, I’m living in England permanently now,” he says a while later. “After all, it’s only a two-hour flight from Stockholm. I live just outside London, I have a couple of horses and I’ve become a real family man. I’m still in contact with Frida and Agnetha, very friendly even. But we won’t work together creatively anymore, that’s for sure.”
You don’t have any regrets about those ten years with ABBA. Or do you have the feeling you could have been even more successful?
“We never succeeded in conquering America completely, but I’m not losing any sleep over that anymore. If I had to relive those ten years again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Only less tours and other commitments. I’m fed up with those, I really am.”

Karin and Anders have finished their first afternoon of ‘being nice to reporters’.
“We really have to get used to this kind of success,” says Anders. “Apart from that, an awful lot is expected from us, Benny and Björn believe in us unconditionally and that’s rather stressful. The fact that we are brother and sister does make our collaboration easier. We know each other through and through and little tensions and discussions are easily eliminated. Without someone getting hurt or angry.”
Anders Glenmark has gone through a long apprenticeship but pop has always remained his true love. “Still, I want to have something to say, I hope that my lyrics are a little better than the average. And I’ve learned an awful lot from the ABBA boys. Our collaboration has been one big party. Despite their gigantic successes, they have remained honest and ordinary people. That’s how I would want it to be in the future as well.”
For the rest, Karin is facing some difficult and busy times. “Due to all this travelling, I don’t have any time for my two children anymore,” she says. “And they are the most important thing in my life. That’s why we agreed to build our career at a slow pace. First we want to sell a large amount of records and only then we will go on tour.”
She sighs. She apologizes for her poor command of the English language while it is still considerably better than the English of an average French-speaking journalist.
“My mother should have seen me sitting here,” she says, a little impressed by the commotion surrounding her. “At home, they won’t believe their eyes when pictures of this event appear in the music magazines.”

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