It seems that recording your solo album in conjunction with the Deutsche Grammophon label was a really enjoyable process?
Very much so, it exceeded my expectations, almost overwhelmingly so. I know that they are very happy at Deutsche Grammophon too with how it turned out.
I actually asked them, “Are these good sales figures for you?” I mean, I have no clue really how to assess the sales of ‘classical’ releases on a specialist label such as DG. They told me, “Oh yes!”. They think that they have had a great success with Piano. Let’s just say that it sold more than a couple of copies!
I am very glad I did Piano with them and actually, one of the reasons that Piano came about of course is that the people commenting on icethesite were saying when are you going to do a piano album? It wasn’t the only reason but it did get me thinking, yeah maybe it is a good idea, maybe I should do one and I’m very pleased with it. I haven’t listened to Piano for a long time but when I last did, I thought yeah, this is not so bad!
What was the deal with the Deluxe version with two bonus tracks, Money, Money, Money and Jag hör?
The label asked me if I could add another song or two that they could release before Christmas and I realised I could. It’s marketing stuff. They are good people and I try to support them and so that’s how that came about.
It’s the same as going over to do X-Factor last November, because Polydor were releasing the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again DVD that week. They said to me, we could do a Mamma Mia! week on the show IF you come over, and I said, yeah, that’s cool, I can do that and I can do a workshop with the singers. Then Björn said, well I could do the live show and that’s how things work. One has to support the people that work with you.
I might spend a lot of time composing music on my own, but actually it’s the collaborations within the business that help bring it to life. And of course, I don’t mind at all, Deutsche Grammophon in Germany and Polydor in the UK are good people to work with.
Do you have any further Deutsche Grammophon collaborations planned?
We are in the early stages of talking about something else, yes. They are coming to Stockholm in the Spring to talk about what feels like a good next project. I don’t think I want to do another piano album, I feel like I’ve done that, although I know better than to never say never these days!
There are still songs that feel good to play on the piano but it would be nice to do something else, something involving other people, maybe some choir pieces like Vilar glad. I din famn would be a good idea, I’m not entirely sure yet.
Of course, we can’t talk about partnerships without mentioning Mr Ulvaeus!
Well, I just don’t know what’s happening to him lately, he is so fast! I can send him a BAO song for example and next day there is a lyric. And not just any lyric, I mean a clever, witty, fun or poignant lyric, whatever is required really. I don’t know how he does that, I guess it’s age and experience.
On the BAO recordings and Kristina etc, you started to draw a distinction between yourself as composer of the music and Björn as the lyricist, so what will be the case on the new ABBA songs?
The credits for the new ABBA songs will appear as they always did, Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus because we have approached the new ABBA tracks the same as always…I play him my ideas and we discuss things through fully, maybe we should move this part to there and then remove that part just before the bridge to somewhere else and so on, we have that creative dialogue, just as we always have.
We both have to agree on what feels good, there’s no point and no fun otherwise. There would be no satisfaction in going into the studio to record something if one or the other of us is thinking, I don’t like that section. It’s still very much a solid team effort.
Talking of collaborations Benny, thank you for helping icethesite out with another exclusive interview.
Ludvig Andersson is Benny’s youngest son. His name appears in the credits of movies Cirkeln and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the musicals CHESS på Svenska and Kristina från Duvemåla and CDs such as ABBA Live At Wembley Arena.
Ludvig was born in 1982, he is married to German artist Milana Schoeller and has two children, Viola (11) and Leonard (2). We chatted recently in Stockholm to find out more about his work and life as the son of Benny Andersson.
One of the projects that came about because of Ludvig was the ABBA Live at Wembley Arena release in 2014, which gave ABBA fans their first official recording of a number of songs never released in a live setting before.
Ludvig explains: “That was a great project to see through as a Producer. I wanted to make sure I didn’t cobble together one or two songs from this night and one or two songs from that night but make it a selected night’s performance and work with that.
“I listened to each night of the Wembley shows and devised an intricate scoring system, which I put onto a whiteboard. I was scoring things like vocals, sound quality, vibe etcetera.
“In the end the feeling from the night I chose, 10 November 1979, was the winner. The songs were nearly all performed too fast but it still works.
“I was shocked by some of the on-stage chat though, which seems all this time later to be so corny and contrived. While the music of course stands up against others from that era like the Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac, I’m not sure the stage banter quite reached the same level.
“The audiences must have thought, oh here are our four cousins from the country trying to talk to us!
“Bernard Löhr mixed the album and I must say I am really happy with how it turned out.
“It is true that I wanted to see if I could work with some of the Australia 1977 material as well but in terms of recording quality it was unfortunately not up to the standard that we could release.”
Other projects that Ludvig has been involved with include stage productions of some of Benny and Björn’s shows and it’s clear that he loves working in the theatre.
“It’s such great fun. For a while you become part of a new family, all working with a common aim to deliver the best show possible to a live audience. I started work in the theatre as a stage technician on Kristina från Duvemåla in Stockholm when I was 15 or 16 and I soon got swept up in both the romance and graft of it all.
“I was in the ensemble for Chess på Svenska which I also enjoyed a lot, again for the excitement of delivering the shows but also for the camaraderie and fun with the cast and crew.
“It’s hard work, don’t get me wrong but it’s also so enjoyable and holds a certain thrill for me.”
As for his own music career, Ludvig told us that it perhaps hasn’t turned out to be quite as successful as he would have hoped…
“I was set up to fail at my own career in music ever since a song I wrote, recorded and performed when I was 15 won a local High School music competition. I’m not so sure it hasn’t been all downhill since then,” he laughed.
“I enjoy working with my band Atlas and I always have music projects on the go, whether band based or solo. Just now I am working with a new collaborator and it’s going very well. I hope that maybe an EP will come from that, something that I can get out and perform live.”
You were an associate producer on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, what does that work entail?
“Working as an associate producer means that I can bring my ideas to the creative table and have them taken seriously. Some stick, some don’t but I bring a fresh perspective on things and get to embed myself deep into the creative process.
“With Mamma Mia! 2, Judy Craymer and Ol Parker were out here in Stockholm three or so years ago pitching the idea of another movie and I think we could all see how it could work and I was happy to pitch in.
“I can make suggestions on how a scene is shot and what works and what doesn’t in terms of the music and overall soundscape. Being in on the sound mixing team for the movie was a great experience as well, not least to spend six weeks in Los Angeles. I had already worked on the movie Cirkeln, here in Sweden so already knew what to expect and to be honest, that type of work is the same wherever it takes place, just the view from the studio is different.
“It’s great to get right into the details of what people will see and hear when a movie is released, for example much time can be spent on the tiniest of details…is the sound of that ship’s horn that we sourced from a sound library right for the period, or right for the type of ship and what does it represent? In Mamma Mia! 2 we almost used sounds that suggested that the ship carrying all those singers and dancers giving their all to Dancing Queen was in distress!
“Another example would be when we need bird song in a particular scene, accuracy is still paramount, so we need to know the type of bird sounds we are using and then finding out if that bird can even be found in Greece in the Summer!”
Tell us about the RMV family of companies…
“RMV Film, RMV Publishing, RMV Grammofon and the RMV Studio are all part of my little empire. Designed to create and support music and art, both from me and my colleagues but also from new and interesting artists. It’s one way of moving this family business forward.”
Your parents are of course both creative people (Ludvig’s mother is TV producer Mona Nörklit), and you seem to have definitely inherited that creative streak…
“I think so! My parents didn’t encourage or discourage me going into the entertainment business but made it clear that they would support me whatever road I chose.
“My father has been very influential in my life and like him I have a permanent sense of forward motion, eager to find out what I can create next and bring my input to.
“And you know, my father has such a wonderful sense of giving his best attention to whatever he is involved in.
“He will devote as much effort in getting things right for a song he is composing for a friend’s birthday as he will to opening night preparations for a show in the West End. This approach combined with his talent has allowed him to create such a breadth and scope of brilliant work.”
Are there any projects of your father’s that you dream about getting off the ground?
“I would love it if we could ever see a staged version of the English language Kristina från Duvemåla and also a movie version of CHESS.”
Talking of CHESS, I know that it’s a very important piece to you musically…
“Oh for sure! Murray Head on the original concept album was my hero, just brilliant and as a whole I think CHESS is a very important part of my father’s musical legacy, its musicality is astonishing.
“I had the good fortune to witness the CHESS version that was put on in Washington recently and at the workshops got to know Sir Tim Rice’s son Donald a bit better, and while we don’t want to scare off the old guys with our ideas, let’s just say the kids are talking CHESS!”
Do you feel a sense of responsibility around your father’s legacy?
“I do, it’s one I relish and who better to protect it? We are very alike in so many ways and I feel confident I can be the custodian of his work while at the same time look to the future to expand on what we have here already.”
Benny Andersson has been chatting to us about the fun that ABBA had recording the two new songs I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down for the avatars project and also exclusively revealed that a third song is a very real possibility…if Agnetha and Frida say so!
Check out the video on our shiny new YouTube channel and please like and subscribe and all that good stuff!
Tickets on sale today for BAO’s first tour since 2016!
The eight venue tour will start on 25 July in Göteborg and finish 3 August in Trosa.
Thursday 25 July – Trädgårdsföreningen, Göteborg
Friday 26 July – Sofiero, Helsingborg
Saturday 27 July – Skälby Gård, Kalmar
Sunday 28 July – Bergs slussar, Linköping
Wednesday 31 July – Sammilsdalsgropen, Leksand
Thursday 01 August – Sundbyholms slott, Eskilstuna
Friday 02 August – Skansen, Stockholm
Saturday 03 August – Tullgarns slott, Trosa
From the press release:
BAO on summer tour 2019 with Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg.
After more than two years’ break, it is time for Benny Anderssons Orkester, together with Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg, to embark on Sweden’s roads again.
During 8 evenings, they will offer you dancing at scenic venues, and as a faithful flag waver for the folkparks tradition, BAO are a joy for both the dance-happy BAO audience and folkpark holiday makers who are happy to listen to the concert on the green, with a picnic basket near at hand.
Their first record was released 2001 and has been followed by another 7 studio albums. The list is long, and hits like Vår sista dans, Du är min man and Fait Accompli have become modern classics!
In the summer of 2016, shortly before BAO’s last summer tour, it was time for the band’s last album Min hjärta klappar för dig to be released, containing among other things the streaming hit En natt i Köpenhamn. The music is as usual written by Benny Andersson, and the lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus with guest writer Frida Hyvönen.
In addition to the band leader Benny Andersson (accordion, piano), BAO consists of Kalle Moraeus, Leif Göras, Olle Moraeus and Perra Moraeus (violin, etc. who together make up the respected musical group Orsa Spelmän), Göran Arnberg, harmonium, Janne Bengtson, flute, Per Grebacken, saxophone & clarinet, Jogga Ernlund, double bass, Calle Jakobsson, tuba, Leif Lindvall, trumpet, Lars Rudolfsson, accordion, Jörgen Stenberg, drums & percussion, and Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg on vocals.
Note: Beware of dishonest unauthorised resellers – turn to the organiser if you are unsure!
Adult (from 18 years) 600 SEK
Youth (13 – 18 years) 300 KR
Children under 13 years enter free
Please note that it is a standing event. A limited number of chairs can be rented on site in some cities. In some of the cities it is also possible to bring your own chair (of folding chair type!) into the concert area, subject to availability. Local regulations apply.
Yesterday afternoon, at a prestigious ceremony in Konzerthaus Berlin, Benny Andersson was presented with an Opus Klassik award in recognition of his solo album Piano.
The prize is a new one and this year represents the first opportunity The Association for the Promotion of Classical Music has had to honour outstanding classical artists and sound recordings.
“Classical music in Germany has to be honoured with its own prize,” said Burkhard Glashoff, CEO of the Association for the Advancement of Classical Music. “In this respect we developed a concept for a new music prize that recognises exceptional achievement and reflects the industry in all its diversity,” he explained.
The winners were selected by a jury of music industry experts.
Benny was presented with the award for ‘Classics Without Boundaries’, by the German singer and leader of the Palast Orchestra, Max Raabe.
In his acceptance speech, Benny spoke of how he had been extremely surprised and incredibly humbled to have been nominated for such a prestigious prize.
He said that he had originally only made the album so that his grandchildren would have a recording of him playing but was now beginning to think it had been a rather good idea! He also said that it felt particularly special as it was the first award he had received just for him, rather than as part of a group such as ABBA or BAO.
During the prize-giving concert, which was recorded and broadcast by the German television channel ZDF, Benny performed music from CHESS as well as ThankYouForTheMusic, together with the concert house’s orchestra and the other celebrated artists, for the concert’s finale.
Other live performances included opera stars Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Flórez, Regula Mühlemann, Lucas & Arthur Jussen, 4 Times Baroque and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who played at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last May.
A special edition of the album Piano (including two bonus tracks just released to digital media outlets Money, Money,Money and Jaghör) will be released in November.
Benny has confirmed that his band, Benny Anderssons Orkester (BAO) will be back in the studio over the winter to record some new tunes.
“I don’t anticipate it being a full album, but at least two or three tracks,” Benny told us. “It has been a long time since we last did that and I think we will all enjoy it – it’s good to keep the system oiled,” he said.
Benny also divulged that the band are hoping to tour next year.
“If we have some new songs to play then it would be really nice to go on the road again,” Benny said. “We have discussed it and all agree that eight venues over two weekends, as in previous years, feels about right.
“Nothing is as yet set in stone because it is so difficult to find dates when everyone is available, but, if we are all still alive then it’s a definite maybe-perhaps!” he teased.
Benny and his band last toured in 2016, following the release of their latest studio album Mitt hjärta klappar för dig (My heart beats for you).
BAO released their first album in 2001 and have in total released eight albums in Swedish and one in English.
The newly refreshed Mono Music website has details of every BAO release, and also all the other productions that Benny’s record company has released. It also has information about sheet music that is available to purchase.