By Vesa Sirén
This interview was published in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Special thanks to Anne Meski in Turku, Finland who translated it into English.
Agnetha Fältskog's surprising comeback to the charts
"We are not planning ABBA's comeback" says the ABBA star who hit the no 1 in Swedish charts.
Fältskog tells that she was rambling through record shops and found the favourite songs of her teenage years.
"Remember not to start the interview by asking about private matters", warns the representative of the record company in advance.
The telephone interview of the most famous hermit of the pop world, Agnetha Fältskog, 54, is about to begin. But there is always a risk that the former ABBA star who has avoided publicity, decides to keep her mouth shut.
You see, there has been a 17-year pause. After ABBA had disbanded, Fältskog recorded three solo albums, and after the "I Stand Alone" album in 1987 she withdrew from publicity almost completely.
However, she ended up in headlines with negative context, too. An ex-boyfriend and an avid ABBA fan during his childhood, harassed her and was consequently expelled from Sweden.
According to Swedish newspaper headlines Fältskog has received threatening calls from obscure sources as recently as this year. But as the telephone interview begins, the voice we hear is that of a self-confident artist and a capable public performer.
Fältskog's new single reached the no 1 position in the Swedish charts on the day of its release and the full length album has received word wide interest for nostalgic reasons.
"There was a little pause here", Fältskog laughs.
"I never thought that my 3rd solo album would end my career. But in practice it happened so that I did not sing for years. I received a lot of letters from people, though, who wanted to hear me sing again".
But we do hear your songs every day! Thank You For The Music, Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You are the elevator and department store music of today. (sic!) ABBA is the background music of our current lives, although the band ended its active career in 1982.
"It is amazing how popular ABBA were and how the songs are reborn with each generation", Fältskog admits. "I myself plunged even further back into the past. Iran through record shops and I found again the favourite songs of my teenage years. I got a nostalgic feeling. I wanted more songs into my life and I decided to make a compilation album of my favourite songs."
In My Colouring Book album she sings even the most worn-out evergreens such as Sealed With A Kiss and Fly Me To The Moon. The album project started already four years ago.
"During my first year I was working together with my producer by choosing songs. At the same time I had to get my singing voice back again. But this music was in my soul, in my body and my brain. At last I got it out and I noticed that my voice had returned."
Touring life represented the worst side in her ABBA career. The angel-faced Swedish blonde received adulation as a sex symbol, although she herself would have rather stayed at home with the children than be on stage singing songs of her ex-husband Björn Ulvaeus.
"Tours don't suit me and I won't have a single performance now either. Instead of that, I will make a TV documentary which will be shown in Finland on the 3rd of June. In a way, it is a short film that contains acted parts in between the interview and the new songs."
How about the future? Dozens of "reliable" news have been written about ABBA's comeback, the latest this year. However, ABBA have not performed together after 1986 when they gathered in a private party.
"There are no plans for ABBA's comeback. It was all so long ago that it is already quite distant to us. I naturally value ABBA's music. The Winner Takes It All is ABBA's peak moment for me. It is such a deep and touching song."
The song is also very musical-like. Only the Mamma Mia musical revealed to me how close the ABBA tunes were to the Broadway style.
"It may be true but I have not myself seen that musical", tells Fältskog who did not appear on the
London premiére due "health" reasons.
Fältskog has no economical pressures for making an album. Her property has still been evaluated to be millions of euros.
But as she has started to like singing again, maybe she has a new solo album in her mind?
"If I record a new album, it maybe in Swedish. This way I would end my career as I started it."
Fältskog's first single was indeed the Swedish "Jag Var Så Kär" from 1967. But if a Swedish album were to be released, would it contain evergreens or new material?
"I have to consider that. If I can give something, it's my voice. Quite certainly the record would be
romantic, and it would contain tragic songs like the current album. Tragic music suits me."
There's still time for one more question. May it be about the alleged tragedy of her life.
Even Fältskog's former colleaques have called her "a recluse" in public.
When I interviewed Stikkan Anderson ten years ago, he said that Agnetha is living like "in the monastery".
"I did not become isolated", Fältskog laughs.
"Media started writing stories about me as a recluse, although I live a perfectly normal, quiet life in the country. And I also want to continue living a normal life, because I won't become younger any more.
By Vesa Sirén