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Agnetha Fältskog : To be called ABBA-Agnetha is detestable....

By Yan Friids

YF : Yan Frids
AF : Agnetha Fältskog

Agnetha Fältskog walks towards us, small, soft and friendly and reaches out her hand. An enchanting smile and these sparkling, slanted cat-like eyes. A handshake and I immediately feel at ease.

She tells us the tragic story about her dog - originally a gift from Torbjörn (Torbjörn Brander was her fiancé at the time.) - which had just bit her chauffeur's hand and face.

There she stands, one of the world's big superstars and talks about everyday trivialities. Agnetha. Idol and housewife.

We go for a walk with Agnetha to one of Stockholm's restaurants. From the Polar office we walk across Norrmalmstorg.

YF : Do people leave you alone when you walk down the street.

AF : Yes, they do. It gets worse as soon as I come to London.

YF : What do you do nowadays?

AF : Lately I haven't done much. Last year I traveled a lot and worked a lot. Now I stay at home with my children. I'm a stay at home mom. -This fall there are plans for a film and a new LP. There are plans for "Raskenstam 2" and I've received an inquiry from Gunnar Hellström. I've read some film manuscripts lately, I get enough offers. But I have to say that it's far between the good scripts. -But I'm not completely off from work. When you're planning an LP you have to look for songs, musicians, producer.

YF : What do your weekdays look like ?

AF : Well, they're filled with everyday chores. I have to get up early in the morning with my children. I make sure my daughter gets to school and that my son gets to daycare. Then I take the dog out for a walk. Most of the AM I clean and things like that. But I try to avoid going shopping.

YF : Why?

AF : It's so difficult to wait in line. I have hired a nursemaid and that makes it a lot easier for me. -In addition to that? I think I'm going to start studying English again. I have a feeling that it could be a good thing.

YF : Do you read a lot?

AF : Yes. Right now I'm reading Stikkan's book. Orwell's "1984" is next on the list.

YF : And movies?

AF : I go to the movies every now and then. I'm going to see "Frances".

YF : YF : What about James Bond?

Then Agnetha looks at me suspiciously and says:

AF : No, I don't like those kinds of movies. I like to feel something when I watch a movie. "An Officer And A Gentleman" was great. When it comes to TV-series I think "Dynasty" looks promising. I enjoy series and try to follow at least one. I think people have a need for series.

How do you react towards the tabloids' interest in your private life?

AF : It's tough. But I can't stop it. Believe me, I've tried. And I still do. I proceed systematically and report all articles that cross the line to the press ombudsman. But I'm afraid I can't do more than that.

YF : When do we get to read your memoirs?

AF : I think it's too early. There were talks about a book, but it was put on hold. It has to do with me not wanting to talk about my private life. I want to protect both others and myself.

YF : When you look back, what do you think of the first years after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with "Waterloo" in 1974?

AF : At first it was very strenuous. Well, up until 1980 it was all spinning around. And in the middle of it all I gave birth to my children... Well, Linda was born in 1973, but... Winning the ESC was a lot of fun, but after that came a period of work, which was so intense that, it was difficult to enjoy the success. -Now I'm experiencing the calm I've longed for. I've reached a point where I can choose my own way without being pushed. And to be honest, it wasn't like that with ABBA. There were some tours that I gladly would have quit!

YF : So ABBA doesn't exist anymore?

AF : Well, it's a bit strange. We never have had a meeting about it, we have never agreed that it's over. When we walked away from it, it was to take a break. Frida and I made our solo albums. Björn and Benny wanted to write a musical. But I think I can say that neither one of us long to get started again. Maybe another LP...

YF : You don't see much of each other?

AF : We don't have that much in common, not even while we still were two couples. It's strange, we never made a decision to start a group. It just happened in 1972 with "Ring Ring". I remember that year, because I was pregnant.

YF : It's been said that the record companies in Europe reacted against you using your full name on the LP. Fältskog is a difficult name to pronounce.

AF : Yes, but to me it was a question of my identity. I didn't want to be called just "Agnetha", it looked so empty on the album cover. It could essentially be anyone. They also wanted it to say "ABBA-Agnetha". I really hated that. That would be like fooling the record buyers. To have an identity, that is very important!

YF : What is the most fun you've experienced during your ABBA career?

Agnetha thinks about it for a long time before she replies:

AF : That we... that we have reached so many people, that's the nicest thing. But the most fun? Maybe when Frida lost her wig - right in the middle of our mini musical. Under the wig we had our hair tied up in a bun. We danced and suddenly Frida's wig fell off. We almost cracked up. -But like I said, most of all I'm glad we reached so many. That we made them happy. That they liked our music.

YF : When it comes to record sales in Europe, ABBA became the biggest after The Beatles. Had you expected that?

AF : No, we could never have dreamed of it.

YF : Do you have an ABBA-favorite?

AF : "The Winner Takes It All". I also like "Ring Ring". A mother once told me that her daughter learned to pronounce "r" because of that song.

YF : What do you like best? Solo career or ABBA?

AF : It's wrong to try to compare. Then I'm forced to say that one is more fun than the other. Despite everything, I've experienced so much with ABBA, so many nice things, so rewarding. But the difference is that as a solo artist you are freer, you can do what you want, change the sound between songs. But ABBA has to think about the sound all of the time, and Björn and Benny were the ABBA-sound.

YF : Do you have plans for any concerts?

AF : No. I have difficult limitations when it comes to traveling. I hate to fly, you see. And last fall I was involved in a bus accident, so I don't like to travel in that way.

YF : You're afraid of flying?

AF : Scared to death! Torbjörn, my fiancé, has a pilot's license, but I don't have to fly with him!

Agnetha smiles and says:

AF : When we're going on vacation to warmer countries, he has no choice but nicely put the children and the luggage in the car and drive south. To Italy or wherever we may go. Unless we decide to go to Stockholm's archipelago. It's also beautiful there during the summer.

Agnetha has been a spokeswoman in the campaign "En rökfri generation" ("A smoke free generation").

YF : Have you quit smoking completely now?

AF : Yes. I haven't smoked for a year. I began having some problems with my heart, you see. So I had to go to Akademiska sjukhuset (hospital) in Uppsala. That really shook me up.