Benny Andersson has recorded an album of traditional Swedish music with the all-female folk group Systerpolskan.
Systerpolskan comprise of seven of Sweden’s most talented female folk musicians (three nyckelharpa players and four fiddlers), including Lena Willemark, who performed alongside Benny at KMH’s New York gala in March and Sonia Sahlström, grand-daughter of the acclaimed nyckelharpa player Eric Sahlström.
Benny first met the girls six years ago at the Skansen Folk Music Festival.
At the time, although most of them knew each other, they had never played together as a group.
However, Benny has told icethesite how he immediately knew that he wanted to work with them:
“I thought wow! They are really, really good,” he said. “And I think it is so important to keep traditional music alive that I wanted to give such talented musicians a chance to be heard.”
The album will consist of a mixture of old Swedish folk songs together with several pieces composed by the group themselves.
UPDATE: A tune that Benny has written for a sound-book by Swedish watercolour artist Lars Lerin will now no longer appear on the recording.
Some of the tracks contain vocals sung in an ancient Norse dialect known as Övdalian, however, according to Benny it wasn’t planned that way…
“It just kind of happened,” he said. “A couple of the girls knew the words, the others joined in here and there and we recorded it all,” he explained. “They make a nice sound. It is actually quite beautiful!”
Övdalian is spoken in central Sweden by about 2000 speakers.
As well as producing the album, Benny accompanies the group on piano, accordion and synclavier.
Scheduled for release in September, the album will be available on both CD and digital formats.
Earlier this month Systerpolskan recorded a couple of tracks from their forthcoming album for an episode of Moreaus med mera, which will be aired on SVT in the Autumn and on 2 August they will perform live at Allsång på Skansen in Stockholm.
The group may play a one-off concert to coincide with the album’s release, but as yet, no date or venue have been confirmed.
Today, BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester) have taken part in the recording of an episode of band member Kalle Moraeus’ Swedish television show, Moraeus med mera.
Performing in front of a live audience under a big-top style tent that forms the temporary TV studio, BAO showcased two songs from their new album Mitt hjärta klappar för dig.
The album was released on 10 June and is available now on CD and digital download. A vinyl version is also going to be released soon.
The two tracks that were performed live, were the recently released single En natt i Köpenhamn (A night in Copenhagen) and a sing-a-long track Timmarna går så fort när man har roligt (Time Flies When You’re Having Fun).
When Benny recorded the album he invited the band’s all-female fan club, ‘Bao Prao’, into the studio to add some backing vocals to a couple of tracks and this evening the ‘Prao’ were again on choir duties.
During breaks in filming Benny and Kalle kept the audience entertained with funny anecdotes and some incidental music.
Earlier in the day, in keeping with the show’s format, Benny was interviewed at locations around Orsa and filmed enjoying lunch with the episode’s other featured artists including: Billy Opel, Malena Ernman and boy band, The Fooo Conspiracy.
The programme will be broadcast on SVT in the Autumn.
Sunday 5 June 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the day that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus first met.
One of the world’s most successful and enduring musical collaborations was celebrated in grand style at a private party at Berns Salonger in Stockholm.
The party was attended by 350 guests, all of whom Benny and Björn have worked with during their career, including Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Görel Hanser, Michael B Tretow, Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm and BAO, Tim Rice, Murray Head, Judy Cramer, Peter Jöback, Thomas and Marie Ledin, Lill-Babs, Kristina Lugn, Björn Skifs and Janne Schaffer, to name but a few!
Sir Paul McCartney (Björn and Benny have often acknowledged the massive influence The Beatles made upon their early careers) sent a video message conveying his congratulations.
The celebrations commenced at 18.15 (a reference to the year of the Battle of Waterloo) with a champagne reception during which Benny and Björn both made short welcoming speeches.
While the guests enjoyed dinner, a video of old photographs and interviews from the 1960s played on a big screen.
Some of the guests took to the stage in musical tribute: Benny’s sons Ludvig and Peter performed Rock Me, Helen Sjöholm sang Where I Want To Be, Peter Jöback Det kan ingen doctor hjälpa and Svenne Hedlund Isn’t It Easy To Say. There were also performances from Lill-Babs, Lena Philipsson and Pernilla Wahlgren.
Benny said that most of the entertainment was as much a surprise for him and Björn as it was for the invited guests, having been planned in secret by a committee consisting of Ludvig, Görel, Lars Rudolfsson and the evening’s toast-master Claes af Geijerstam.
“When we started talking about throwing a party about a year back, Ludvig suggested that maybe they should do something that we didn’t know about,” Benny told us. “It is incredible that so many people wanted to participate. We had such a great time and I think they did too,” he said.
Later in the evening Benny’s band, BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester), entertained with an hour long set of songs old and new, including their hit Du är min man, performed with a comic twist of Tommy singing the female vocals inferring that Benny and Björn’s relationship was like that of a couple!
However, for many, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly when Agnetha and Frida joined Benny and Björn on stage for the second time in just a few months. And this time they sang!
The female half of ABBA performed a moving duet of The Way Old Friends Do, from their 1980 album Super Trouper, whileBenny (piano) and Björn (vocals) performed another classic from the ABBA catalogue, Does Your Mother Know.
Afterwards, Frida said that it had been a very special occasion: “It was absolutely amazing. A lot of emotions. It’s been very nostalgic,” she told journalists.
Benny told icethesite that he had no idea that Agnetha and Frida were going to sing. “I think it was just so wonderful that they did that for us. I think they were really brave!” he said.
It’s full steam ahead in Sweden at the moment, in preparation for the release next month of the new BAO album Mitt hjärta klappar för dig.
The catchy new Benny Anderssons Orkester single, En natt i Köpenhamn – featuring a lead vocal by Helen Sjöholm – is now available as a digital download in many territories on iTunes, Spotify, and Groove Music.
The Mitt hjärta klappar för dig artwork is a clever mash up of live performance photos of the BAO members, with Benny Andersson’s accordion in the spotlight. As previously reported, the album will be released on CD, vinyl and digital formats and features 11 brand new tracks.
The new 11-track album by BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester) is called ‘Mitt hjärta klappar för dig’ and is scheduled to be released on Friday 10 June in Sweden. The first single, due shortly, is ‘En natt i Köpenhamn’.
In a change from what was reported previously, the album will consist of 11 tracks. This is in order that the vinyl version (where space is limited) can match that of the CD release. The vinyl version is slated for a mid-July release.
Of the ten tracks with vocals (all in Swedish), nine have lyrics written by Björn Ulvaeus and one features lyrics by Frida Hyvönen.
As you may know, Benny Andersson has recently been busy recording and mixing the brand new album by his band Benny Anderssons Orkester. Today he has shared some enticing details with us about the forthcoming release.
Benny has told icethesite that the album (as yet unnamed), will be available on both CD and vinyl, as well as the usual digital formats and will be released in late May/early June 2016.
It will contain 12 or 13 new Benny Andersson penned tracks, just one of which is an instrumental.
Björn Ulvaeus has provided the lyrics to all but one of the songs, a ballad called Isabella Rahm, which has lyrics by Frida Hyvönen, the only artist apart from BAO signed to Benny’s Mono Music record label.
Benny told us: “Nothing beats the joy of being back in the studio with your friends, trying to record something you think is going to be great. The thrill of it is, you never quite know what the final result will be!”
There is no doubt that he has enjoyed working with his band again immensely and is very pleased with the way the tracks sound.
“I really think this could be our best album to date,” he said. “It is happy music!”
Instead of the mixture of mostly folk and traditional style songs that BAO have previously recorded, the new album consists mainly of 1940s and 1950s style dance music along with a couple of more ‘poppy’ numbers.
“The Swedish dance band tradition is very special and I thought it would feel good to have a bunch of new dance-friendly songs for our summer tour,” Benny explained.
“It is a bit different from our earlier stuff, but not too much so I hope. I think we are still recognisable!” he said
For many years the band have had a loyal group of female supporters, the ‘BAO PRAO’, who are known for their exuberant participation at concerts. Benny thought it would be nice to include them on this newest recording:
“There is a sing-a-long song, Timmarna Går Så Fort När Man Har Roligt (Time Flies When You’re Having Fun), so I invited them to add some vocals,” he said.
“Having them in the studio was great fun and they turned out to be much better and more professional than I expected, so they ended up singing on four tracks,” Benny said. “I think we shall now have to put a microphone on them at concerts!”
A single from the forthcoming album will be released as soon as it is finished, possibly by the end of April.
In July, BAO kick off an eight date tour of Sweden starting in Gothenburg, before moving on to Helsingborg, Kalmar, Linköping, Leksand, Uppsala, Trosa and finishing up in Stockholm. (Further information and tickets are available via the links below.)
In the autumn, BAO will appear in an episode of BAO band member Kalle Moreaus’ hit SVT show, Moreaus med Mera.