Benny Andersson talks to icethesite about collaborations

Benny: "The new ABBA songs will be credited as Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus just as they always were"
Benny Andersson: “The new ABBA songs will be credited as Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus just as they always were”

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.

It’s a nice piece!

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