By Stina Helmersson
Agnetha fights back against the critics
AF : If you don’t like a record you shouldn’t write about it
On her last LP she was promoted with a sexy look, tousled hair and eyes that promised. But on her new album cover she’s strictly ladylike wearing a black hat. But who is she really – Agnetha Fältskog, 34?
AF : It’s been said that I’m kind, popular and pleasant – and what’s wrong with that?
But of course that doesn’t sound very exciting, now that everything should be so tough and punk-like and trendy
She greets us at Polar’s office in Stockholm. She’s wearing an apricot colored soft jumpsuit and recently cut short hair. Her new LP “Eyes Of A Woman” has just been released and that’s why we’re meeting.
It has received some doubting reviews, i.e., Agnetha and her voice receives praise, but the song material is criticized.
AF : I don’t care about it that much. It’s just as if there HAS to be bad reviews. That it’s something the reviewers have to do. I myself know how much work we’ve put in to find the best songs. If you don’t like a record I don’t think you should review it, then you should give it to somebody else.
Listened to 400 songs
AF : Last summer I listened through 400 songs and marked the ones I liked the most. My producer Eric Stewart did the same.
When we met it was natural that we chose the songs both of us liked. Then the producer picked a few just to make sure that the album wouldn’t become too one-sided. I didn’t like all of them at first. But it’s difficult to choose songs, it’s a venture as risky as choosing the producer.
You who have had such an experience with the music business – why don’t you make more decisions yourself?
AF : I make a lot of decisions, but as long as you work with a producer, you can’t be too pushy. It would be difficult to do it all by myself; sing, produce and mix. I’ve been there the whole time. When the album was mixed, I went to the studio to listen every day. If there was anything I didn’t like, they had to change it. I’m strong when it comes to getting what I want.
Before ABBA, before you had children, you recorded many records where you wrote the songs yourself. Why don’t you do that now?
AF : No, I don’t compose that much. I’ve written one song on the album. It’s difficult. I compose slowly, I’d rather come up with two good songs than with ten bad.
I no longer enjoy composing music. And lyrics, well, that doesn’t work at all, absolutely not in English. I can’t do everything. I’m a singer, composer, actress and mother. That’s enough.
Sometimes when I’m at home by myself, it happens that I get in the mood. Then I sit down by the piano. But it’s seldom it’s as quiet as I need it to be in order to create music. I rarely listen to music anymore, I need concentration and I can’t do it if there are too many things going on at home. There’s not enough time, there’s homework and fairytales and the children have to be taken here and there.
To be an artist when you have children is both good and bad. During periods when I work it’s often so intense that I hardly have any time for them. It’s horrible. But then I have time off, in between.
After 20 years in the music business, Agnetha is tired of the quick pace.
AF : It’s too tough and hard. I like it a lot better now that I take it easy and work in my own pace. That’s when I’m at my best.
The ten years I rushed around the world with ABBA is an experience I don’t want to be without, but I also got to experience how mean and cold the winds blow up on the top. So much was expected of us.
Compared with Frida, Björn and Benny
AF : I’m under that pressure now as well. I have to accept that I always, for the rest of my life, will be compared with Frida, Björn and Benny. But people who keep comparing us will really miss the point. They will miss what I want to tell them. It’s fun to do something on my own, after ten years of adapting to the group. And most of all, now I can enjoy life.
Everybody needs support, praise and encouragement for what we do. I also need to hear that I’m good, in order to function well.
Agnetha often points out that her children Linda and Christian mean a lot to her.
AF : It’s about love, I will always fight for my children. I’ve begun to get involved when it comes to school. I think they should have grades.
I try to encourage my children to believe in their abilities. Both are musical. We’ll see what happens, if it’ll be just as important to them to express their feelings, as it is for me, says Agnetha and adds that on April 20 the film “A för Agnetha” is broadcast on TV 1.
In this program I sing, and talk more about who I am.
By Stina Helmersson