Sunday, 23 June 2013

Popshop, 1976: Guest in ABBA's headquarter

In one of the most quiet and remote streets of Stockholm, ABBA's headquarter is situated. Even our cab driver didn't even know that spot because he had to take a look at his city map first. The only cars that are parked there belong to ABBA's employees. Apart from that there's hardly any traffic. No wonder, because the narrow little street stops at some kind of city canal. These quiet surroundings make for a striking contrast with what's happening inside the town house, rebuilt into an office building: the invisible man behind the telex machine is typing away eagerly, the sound of ringing telephones is overwhelming the soft background music and the small army of secretaries is apparently having a competition at typing with ten fingers.
In short, ABBA's hit factory is working at full speed. A Swedish beauty is serving a cup of coffee and asks if we are able to wait for five more minutes because the management is in a meeting. Just like every Friday afternoon. And the management, that's Björn, Benny and ABBA manager Stig Anderson. The threesome that founded the company Polar Music.
"Every Thursday we discuss the proposals that we've received that week," Benny explains when we sit behind Stig's enormous desk a couple of minutes later. "We operate very democratically. If we disagree about certain issues, we are having a vote. And yes, with three people involved, the results of such a vote come in very quickly. To be honest, I'd rather be in the studio than in meetings like this. But the business side has to be taken care of as well. The things we discuss at such meetings? All sorts of things: which television programmes we are going to appear on and which not, the choice of songs for new records, the bookkeeping, internal affairs, actually all the problems that every business has to deal with..."
Until recently, the four ABBA members lived about thirty kilometres from Stockholm but because they come into the office every day, they've recently moved to the old part of the city.
"About two to three kilometres from here," says Björn. "You should come and drop by in a couple of months. Now it's still a mess. We haven't had time yet to put everything in the right place."
The spacious basements of the building were rebuilt into a music room. There's a piano and stereo equipment. "Björn and I mostly compose there," according to Benny. "Me at the piano and Björn with his guitar in his hands. We are planning to build a studio here as well, but we have to make some adjustments before that happens. And we use that stereo equipment very often too. Every day, one of our secretaries goes out to buy the newly released albums, and Björn and I listen through them, one by one. You are never that perfect that you can't learn anything new from other artists."
At least once every week all the studio musicians come together at that place too. "We are often called a golden duo," says Björn while he is pointing at Benny. "But to be honest, we have to admit that there are other people too who are responsible for ABBA's success. Like Michael B. Tretow, for instance, or co-producer. He has often come up with very original ideas. And we can't dismiss our team of studio musicians either. All of them are superb musicians, who work for us permanently. We are going to take them along too when we go on tour later on..."


Monica said...

Nice article thank you.

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