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AF Agnetha Fältskog

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt?programid=3164

UE: It feels great to meet you for an interview, it's not many who get the chance.

AF: No it's a rare luxury but it has to do with that I'm a little bit self-contained and think that I want to stay away from this.

UE: This time you couldn't.

AF: No, it's hard to resist you, you know.

UE:Thank you! Do you remember the first time we talked to each other?

AF: Yes, I do. You was the first one I talked to, it was in 67-68.

UE: The first one from media that you talked to.

AF: Yes. I had just made my first recordings and happened to reach #3 on the Swedish top chart and it was a big thing for me as a 17-year old to reach this coming from nowhere, you could say.I remember that when you called me my heart was beating hard. I hardly thought it was true. This feeling is still there, it was big to end up there at once with my own song. It was amazing.

UE: It was your dad who answered when I called and I asked for and I got to talk to you. Do you remember anything from the call.

AF: Yes, I remember that we chattered and I had my accent, you asked me if I had any role-models in music and I said Anita Lindblom and Gunnar Wiklund and such. I remember it very well and I was really happy.

UE: That was 46 years ago and it was all about you and this song.

*Snippet of Jag var så kär*

UE: 46 years ago, what did you think about life then, what did you want and how did it turn out?

AF: That was many questions at once. I was very naive, I wrote many songs and I wrote many lyrics that I think are very naive too, but that's what it's like when you're young. My life very much circled around that I wanted to become a singer, I felt that this was what I wanted to do. I felt that I could write both music and lyrics and I had taken piano-lessons for a long time, so there was a lot of music inside me already then.

UE: That can be noticed already when...how old were you when you wrote “Två små troll”?

AF:It was my very first one, I was only five years old.

UE: What is it like? You got to sing a bit of it.

Två små troll

AF: I felt that I could bring this out on piano and understood that I could probably write songs too, so it started really early. At that time I didn't even have a piano of my own so I had to go to our neighbours' place and use their piano, that was very kind of them.

UE: When did you get one of your own?

AF: A couple of years later at 8-9.

UE: You had a career in mind somehow...

AF: I hoped for that and I was listening to music incredible much and I have very strong memories of when I got my first gramophone. It was yellow one with loudspeakers in the lid. I got two singles as well, one of them was Bobby Vinton with Mr. Lonely and the other one was Ann-Margret with Bye Bye Birdie and Take All The Kisses. I hardly thought it was true when I played them, and I knew them all by heart. Then it continued with Connie Francis and all these idols that I've had; Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield and Tom
Jones...it's a long list.

UE: At home you where listening, playing, singing, composing and dreaming, but how was you discovered?

AF: I was singing in a dance band called Bernt Enghardts when I was 15 years old and we toured across Sweden playing dance band music.

UE: So how did they found you?

AF: They had had a singer called Agnetha before me who had quit. They had already printed posters and when they found me and I made my audition it was a plus that I was called Agnetha. They only had to add an “h”...or I had not started with that yet, it was when I made my first record that I wanted to spell Agnetha with an “h”, so I'm not born with that, and it has stayed that way.

UE: At 15-years old you were touring and at the same time you worked as a switchboard operator

AF: Yes, at a car company.

UE: I was about to ask you how you managed to do that but you didn't, you collapsed.

AF: I didn't. I collapsed or fainted because we were out really late at night. We could be out in Småland playing and get home at perhaps two or three and I should be up at seven again and to work, that wont work in the long run and I fainted at work. My mother said that now you have to decide, either you keep on working as a normal person or you go in for singing. That was never a hard choice.

UE: 48 years after this collapse one got to say that you made the right decision.

AF: I think so.

UE: It turned out to be an amazing life.

AF: From the beginning you had no idea how big ABBA would be, I don't think any of us fully understand it even today.


UE: Can you feel the Christmas spirit, it's two days before Christmas?

AF: Of course I do, you can hardly avoid that, maybe it starts a bit too early sometimes but it's wonderful so it's just to hang on. I think that many are feeling very stressed up as well.

UE: Do you?

AF: Not at the moment, I just try to enjoy it but during the years I probably have,to buy all Christmas gift in time and such.

UF: Have you bought all of them?

AF: Nearly all, I think.

UE: You have grandchildren, what will you give them, they wont be listening?

AF: I wont say it.

UE: Is it a secret?

AF: No, but you have to try to find something good for them. They are different in age and so on, so you have to think to come up with something good for them.

UE: What do you want for Christmas yourself?

AF: Nothing at all.

UE: Do you mean that you already have everything?

AF: No, I don't. I'm quite restrained when it comes to Christmas, it sometimes becomes exaggerated. The most important thing-which perhaps not happens very often- is that you are together and thinking of others too and to take it as easy as possible and enjoy the festival.

UE: How are you going to celebrate Christmas, with a huge family and friends or...

AF: It's differs from year to year. This year it will be very quiet. My children are grown up now so they're doing their own things.

All My Loving

UE: We heard a Beatles song here “All My Loving” with The Well Pennies, you must have met Beatles?

AF: Unfortunately not all of them but we met Paul McCartney in their studio when we were in London. It was very nice, we got to see the studio and so.

UE: What was he like?

AF: He was very nice and an interesting person.

UE: It's a big thing to meet The Beatles and you didn't expect this when you lived in Jönköping and worked with Bernt Enghardts orkester.

AF: They wasn't even around then.

UE: (Can't hear) have met such stars.

AF: I had no idea...you never know how life will turn out from the beginning, thank God.

UE: Later on you met Björn, Benny and Frida, how did you meet?

AF: In a very natural way. Frida and I started as singers on our own right, Frida was more oriented to jazz and I wrote my own song and was more pop. We took part in the same tv-show, Studio8, so we had our breakthrough about the same time. Around that time Frida had met Benny and Benny and Björn had met and Björn and I met in a Jules Sylvain tv-show. We met each other in a normal way.

UE: There were collaborations; different names of groups; ABBA; love; Melodifestival and Ring,Ring, that didn't win by the way but then Waterloo came.

AF: I'm quite happy that we didn't win because I was heavily pregnant. We ended up as no.3 that year and I was happy about that, then we catched up on it the year after. I managed to combine marriage, having children and world success during those10-12 years, and to divorce so it was all in one during those years.

UE: How did you manage that?

AF: It wasn't easy, it wasn't easy to be away from home that much and that had their dad [in the group] as well so we left them both of us, but we made sure that it was good for them at home. We were not away from home as much as you might think. I made sure that if we where away for 14 days, we should be home for at least 14 days. I remember that there where tough times when I though “can I really to this, will I quite or how will we solve this” and I said that for a start we have to be home as much as we're out and after that home a little longer.

UE: Did you consider to quit many times?

AF: No, I didn't consider that but it was something that you could say to cope and to make everyone understand how hard it was. It was only the two of us who had young children, the other two in the group don't have any children together so they have understood later what a difficult time it was.

UE: Yesterday we could see an English documentary about you on SVT and it was much about the divorce and the split up of ABBA. I just want to ask: how does it feel to fall in love, get married and later divorce in front of the entire world?

AF: To fail is not what you want when you're getting married and have children. In our case it was special since we have those little children together, but now it turned out this way and we couldn't stick together and when it turned out the same way for Benny and Frida it was a bit of a disaster. What people don't know, or don't think about, is that we continued for many years after that so that's not what made ABBA split up, it was rather the time. We were mature and we didn't wanted to become more than that. We had also said that when it's not fun to sing together any longer we will end because otherwise it wont be any good. We felt that we couldn't cope with it any longer, it doesn't sound the same way, now I'm talking about music and not our divorces. I suppose that something happened then, it became a bit heavy at the last LP we made.

UE: You were in the middle of a successful career, was it really...

AF: Yes, but it became saturated in a way, and there were many years of intense tempo

UE: Did everyone in the group feel the same way?

AF: We didn't agree in a way that made us say “now we quit”, it rather just turned out that way.

UE: Who took the step, was it you?

AF: No, I think I was blamed for it for many years “it's probably Agnetha who doesn't want”, but then you don't think about that I have worked with it for 10-12 years and I think we though that we needed to change in some way. We had nothing more to give at this point.

UE: You said that you was blamed. You might understand why if you listen to this one.

The Winner Takes It All

UE: "The Winner Takes It All", is it about your divorce?

AF: You could say so. In fact you should ask Björn, he and Benny have written the music and Björn wrote the lyric and I'm singing it after our divorce. It's not necessary that it's exactly as in the song, there could be some parts that are self-percived, that Björn has written about himself or 50% about me and 50% about him. A mix, I would say. It's a very strong song

UE: How did you feel when you sang it?

AF: It was a very tragic period for both Björn and me so it was strong to record it. It's probably the strongest thing I have done, because we were sad both of us and I think you can hear that in the song. It's an incredibly beautiful song, I think.

UF: After all that has been what's your best memory, it has to be hard but is there any?

AF: There were some fun things happening now and then and there were some good laughters. What comes to my mind is a mini-musicals in one of our tours called ”The Girl With The Golden Hair”. Frida and I was wearing wigs and our own hair was put in a tassel on the top of our head and everything had to be made really fast so the pins might not had been properly attached to Frida's wig. We where dancing as well and her entire wig flew off. She was standing there with her tassel, but she put her wig on fast again and we continued.

UE: I understand that you had a lot of fun together. There has been talk about your relation, that it was frosty, that you competed and so on. In this documentary Björn said that ”Now Frida have had two songs, now I should have one”, or the other way around, what was it like?

AF: It wasn't Frida and me who decided who should sing the songs, the boys did.

UE: But what about your relation, was it frosty sometimes?

AF: Well, we were so incredible different, I think we're more alike these days. We were different as persons and had different qualities.

UE: Did you argue sometimes?

AF: Not really arguing, it was rather irritations because we were tired. It was a bit inhuman as we were travelling and there was time-changing and hotels and sometimes you hardly knew where you where. What has not been said is that you helped each other as well, like if you had a cold and you still had to work we helped each other. The one who was healthy gave a little bit more, such positive things have not really come across.

UE: Another myth -that you say is a myth- is that you would be a Garbo; shy and totally impossible to get in touch with. You're quite furious about that?

AF: Well, I think it's sad. If you're not like many others...that should be optional I think. If you want to expose your home and talk about everything you should do that, and if you want to keep an, as I look upon it an important part to yourself , that should be respected. Then I think it's really fun to go to town and mingle with people as well.

UE: When did that happened last?

AF: Not long time ago. I've been out quite a lot for the previous 1,5 or 2 years that I have been working with this album. For example I've been to London twice making quite a lot of interviews and TV.

UE:You've made a comeback but still you're home at your farm living a quiet life?

AF: Yes you could say so, it has not been that quiet the previous years but otherwise I'm trying to. I'm quite sensitive to stress, I think there's a lot of stress in traffic and lots of noises, it might has to do with getting older but there's a lot of sounds crossing each other and I'm happy to live at my farm surrounded by animals and nature, it's necessary to listen the sound of the sea.

UE: What animals do you got, lots of horses?

AF: Many horses, a cat and I got two dogs.

UE:Watchdogs?

AF: You could say so.

UE: I saw them, small busters, didn't look much like watchdogs.

AF: There are big dogs on the farm watching as well. Many peoples with horses got dogs as well so there could be a proper gang of them sometimes. The two dogs of mine is a pug and a prazsky krysarik.

UE: What are you're feelings towards animals?

AF: I love animals. I'm not riding horses myself but I'm always surrounded by them and I think it's wonderful animals; how they're acting within their group and I think dogs are amazing. I've been living with dogs since my teens.

UE: If you should act an amateur psychologist, what does the dogs and horses mean to you? Å

AF: They means a lot to me, it what gives me balance.

UE: In what way?

AF: I can't explain. It's nice to be back home after a while; they're wagging their tails and are always happy, they're depending on you. I think it's very important that someone is depending on you, it makes you feel good. They're so much you can give them and they're giving so much in return.

UE: In one of the few interviews you've given during the past few years you said that you could imagine working with animals for charity.

AF: I said that and I know that you should be careful what you say, still you got to be able to say things. I said that when I'm older I can imagine working for one of theses place where they're taking care of homeless dogs. I should not promise too much but I can absolutely imagine that. It might be, but it must be nice to work with such a thing and feel that you can contribute.

UE: What about the courtship from humans, are there many letters, sending flowers?

AF: Let's say there are letters. I've received many letters over the years not only from kind people, it's a mix but I've had many nice letters, it might not be the answer to your question but it's still an answer.

UE: Not just kind letters?

AF: There has been some other things as well, many sick people writing, who are pity of course but it could be experienced as uncomfortable as well.

UE: You had a stalker for many years and when such things happens and you receive letters like this, one wonders if it might burn you and make you afraid to go for love. How do you look upon that?

AF: I'm very open when it comes to meeting new people in general. We got a security company helping us and you're learning to be a bit careful.

UE: You've been working a bit wit Peter Cetera, he produced an album for you and sang at on track many years ago. It was during an earlier solo-career and now you've started a new one but between that it has been silence. Your parents passed away in '94 and '96 is that what made you redrawn?

AF: It affects you what happens in your private life and life goes up and down and that was an easy period. When I made my latest album “;My Colouring Book”, I thought it was my last one. When you've made as much as I have it's easy to think that way, but now it didn't turn out that ways as Jörgen Elofsson and Peter Nordahl contacted me and played some songs for me. When I heard the first three songs to me I thought I would be stupid if I didn't do this, it was a really challenge.

UE: Was it that easy to get you back on track again?

AF: No it wasn't easy, I said that I wanted to think about it but still I was really tempted. It's the studio-work that is really temped to me.

UE: That's what you love?

AF: I've said that it's my second home and that's really how it feels. I',m feeling at home in the studio and that's where I feel that I really can give something.

UE: On the contrary to the stage then. What about your stage fright, has it been as difficult as one might think?

AF: Yes, it's difficult. The worst thing is premières then you're getting in to it and it becomes like a routine. It's still a certain tension, it's not easy. I think that everyone has some anxiety or tension and it's hard for us or for actors in theses branches to perform....

UE: Now you have archived again, you've made a comeback and you've been on stage in London once as well?

AF: Yes, the duet with Gary Barlow.

UE: Was it as nervous now as it was as before?

AF: Yes it is but it was for a really good purpose it was “children in need” so it felt really good to make a charity of it.

UE: Will there be any further records?

AF: I won't say anything about it. I'm quite easily tempted you could say.

UE: What kind of album would you release next time?

AF: I don't dare to say that.

UE: Ballads?

AF: I can tell you that It wasn't very easy to make this album. I didn't knew if my voice would work and it didn't for a start, now I'm having quite high demands of myself. I took a couple of singing lessons.

UE: How many?

AF: I only needed one. I had my stomach support back and I easily got back to the right way of singing.

UE: Great! While waiting for next album that, as I interpret it will come, we'll be listening to the latest but not last “When You Really Loved Someone”.

When You Really Loved Someone

UE: You said that you was a bit nervous about if your voice would be there but it turned out great, it has already sold gold!

AF: Yes it has turned out really well and I'm really grateful for that. It has sold gold in Sweden, England, Australia and Germany I think. It's not a bad start.

UE: I can just congratulate. Not long ago you went to London and you took the plane to go there, what about your famous fear of flying?

AF: I've been given some help and I've seen a therapist and I think it's better and it develops in the right direction. I've probably never will be totally cool about it but I think I'm in quite a good control of it theses days.

UE: What are the therapy-sessions like, is it like in “Sällskapsresan” (Swedish comedy), “I can fly”?

AF: Sort of. No, you're talking to someone with much experience and it helped me a lot. I don't think that it cures you, if you're suffering from it you do and you learn to think about it in another way, positive about how safe it is. Then there are still those bad bogeys.

UE: You've been suffering from stage fright and fear of flying, are there any other frights?

AF: Perhaps we should not talk about that here...

UE: We're all afraid of something...

AF: I don't want to be remembered as someone who was afraid of everything because that's not how it is, I'm pretty normal. I'm learning more and more and develops in the right direction, and you're changing when you're getting older.

UE: What does it feel like to get older?

AF: It's not really pleasant but there are some advantages as well, there's nothing you can do about it. Now I'm over 60 and I think that there are many things that gets better; you learn how to handle your environment and you can give some advises to the younger generation.

UE: What's you're best advise to the younger generation?

AF: Well, I'd like to say take it easy; it's an mad tempo, development and giving everything about you. Nothing bad about Facebook but you should be a bit careful with your private life.

UE: That's what someone with life experience says, I totally agree.

AF: Yes.

UE: Now we have reached the point of the programme where you should wish a song.

AF: Thank you! My first thought was an old Elvis Presley song that I just love called “Ask Me”.

Ask Me

UE: Why this song and why Elvis?

AF: Elvis is Elvis and I'm a very romantic person and I love romantic songs and this is somehow in my spine and I've always thought the he has an amazing voice and charisma.

UE: You've living a good life today and have made a lot of money, what's luxury to you?

AF: I'm very grateful that you can stay healthy, that's what's important and that I can sleep. Sleep is really important to me, if I don't got a decent sleep I'm feeling really bad. That's what's luxury to me; to wake up and feel that I have had a good night's sleep. Then I indulge in good accommodations, why not when you got the possibility? To have time of you're own together with you're children, grandchildren and dogs is luxury as well.

UE: You kept it a bit of a secret whatever there would be another album and I guessed there would be one sooner or later, but we wont get to know that yet. There must be many requests from everywhere: Let's dance, Fångarna på fortet and Så mycket bättre and such, will you ever take part in such a thing?

AF: I don't think I can do that. I think that participants are really brave and it's great tv-shows, really entertaining and fun to watch.

UE: If you would be presented a great song and offered to take part in the Melodifestivalen.

AF: I'm done with that.

UE: That won't happen?

AF: No!

UE: What is your relation to the other members of ABBA these days?

AF: We met not long ago and sat down talking and that felt really good. I think that we are closer to each other than ever before. Somehow it has to do with that we have all get older and we're feeling that we are very proud of what have achieved in the past though we can't understand how huge it turned out. We're very proud and grateful for what we achieved

UE: How come that the ABBA-members met recently, is there something going on?.

AF: We meet now and than and it's necessary to talk, we have a lot to talk about, it feels good.

UE: But you're not closer to a reunion though it's said that you have sort of opened for that?

AF: I've been quite careful and consistent in the interviews I've made recently, but sometimes you don't have to say much to change the possibilities for a reunion but we keeping it down.

UE: Speaking of the documentary that was broadcast last night; Frida is the only ABBA-member who doesn't take part in it?

AF: I've been talking to Frida about that and she was really sorry that she was unable to take part in it.

UE: There was no hard feelings.

AF:No.

UE: Thank you very much Agnetha Fältskog for talking to you two days before Christmas. Are you done with all preparations for Christmas?

AF: Well I hope so, there might be some things left. It was really nice to meet you as well after all those years.

 

The only thing missing is a side conversation with UF and AF about something she is fixing for Christmas dinner which is:

shredded cabbage with diced apple and toasted sunflower seeds with a dressing.

 

thanks to Monica