Archive for 2017

Oslo Spektrum shows announced for 2018

a-ha.com has announced two additional dates on the 2018 acoustic tour:

We are excited to share the news that a-ha will perform their acoustic set over two evenings at the Oslo Spektrum on February 9 & 10, 2018!

We’re told these shows will be the band’s only Norwegian shows on the acoustic tour, so don’t miss your chance to see a-ha perform these special arrangements live in their home town!

Ticket Sales
Fan pre-sale – March 30 at 9am CET
Regular on-sale – March 31 at 9am CET

Still no word on where the four concerts this June will be held, but all three band members have been rehearsing at Lars Horntveth’s Pooka Studio in Oslo over the last week. a-ha.com promises videos and photos from the studio to be posted in the coming days.

One picture posted by Horntveth on Instagram on Thursday shows (left to right) Even Ormestad, Paul, Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Magne and Morten Qvenild working on the acoustic set.

‘The Voice’ taping dates announced

“There’s a lot of undiscovered talent out there – this could be interesting!”, Morten said last month

Last month it was revealed that Morten will be one of the mentors on the fourth season of The Voice in Norway, following in the footsteps of Magne, who lead his team and Martin Halla to victory in the show’s first season back in 2012.

Morten will be joined by Lene Marlin, Yosef Wolde-Mariam (Madcon) and Martin Danielle (CLMD) as mentors this year.

The taping dates for the initial blind auditions have now been announced. Eight episodes will be recorded at H3 Arena in Oslo in late April, across four dates:

21 April (16:00)
21 April (19:00)
25 April (16:00)
25 April (19:00)
27 April (16:00)
27 April (19:00)
29 April (16:00)
29 April (19:00)

Tickets are free, and available at shortaudition.com now. Needless to say, this is primarily for people who live in the Oslo area. The show will start airing on TV2 this autumn, probably sometime in August or September.

“Texture” opening in Bodø

“It’s great to be back in Bodø”, Magne told NRK

Magne was in Bodø last Thursday, March 9th, for the opening of another exhibition of his Texture collaboration with HM Queen Sonja. This is the fifth out of six planned Texture exhibitions in Norway and the UK.

“It’s fun for me to see this exhibition [in Bodø], as it includes some works that haven’t been shown before. Particularly the monotypes, unique prints that we have made together with double signatures, are quite special”, Magne told the audience at the opening in Bodø Kunstforening.

“Some of these works were made in New York, some at my atelier in Asker, some at the Queen’s atelier at Mågerø, some in Helsingborg and some were made in Copenhagen.”

A gallery of pictures from the opening has been posted on Bodø Kunstforening’s Facebook page, along with two video clips of Magne speaking (Video 1 / Video 2).

Press reports from the opening include an article at bodonu.no and a short clip on NRK Nordland‘s local TV news.

The following day Magne made a visit to Kjerringøy near Bodø.

The final stop on the Texture exhibition tour is at Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg, where it opens on 29 April.

———————

Sadly, this weekend also brought news that the poet Henning Kramer Dahl passed away on 7 March from heart failure, at the age of 54. He was part of a-ha’s inner circle and knew the band members from early on.

In 1986 Kramer Dahl wrote the book Så Blåser Det På Jorden together with Håkon Harket, which chronicled the beginnings of Bridges and a-ha in the late 70s and early 80s. He would later collaborate with Magne on a number of projects, including Blåtoneboulevardene (1997), Stjerneskutt (2004) and In Transit (2013).

He also co-wrote the song “East-Timor” for Morten’s Wild Seed album in 1995.

Magne, Håkon Harket, Lasse Kolsrud and Fredrik Skavlan have written an obituary about Kramer Dahl in Aftenposten. “We have lost a very special person, an important presence in our lives, and the world has lost a distinctive poetic voice and an extraordinary intellect”, they write in the obituary.

Jason Lytle of Grandaddy praises a-ha

Jason Lytle
(Photo by Ryan Smith)

Jason Lytle of critically acclaimed indie band Grandaddy has recently been promoting the band’s latest album Last Place, released on Danger Mouse’s label 30th Century Records. During the interviews he’s been quite vocal about his admiration of a-ha, and in particular the Cast In Steel album.

In an episode of the podcast Fidelity High posted last week, where musicians talk about albums they love, Lytle picked Cast In Steel.

“Believe me, I felt the pressure to take the Beatles or Rolling Stones or The Who or The Kinks- route. And there’s a lot of modern records I really like, that could have made the list. But I always feel compelled to mention a-ha, because they have been a favorite band of mine for a long time”, Lytle says in the podcast.

The California musician, who has also released several solo albums, is intrigued by the a-ha members’ ability to keep writing good songs:

“The fact that they can make a record this far into being a-ha, and have it still be of such high quality, is really intriguing to me”, he says.

Lytle produced the Band of Horses album Why Are You OK last year, and says he’s especially impressed by the production on a-ha’s later albums:

“Paul Waaktaar, who is one of the chief songwriters and handles a lot of their production, he’s pretty good at enhancing moments and just cranking up the drama level in certain key moments, when it needs to be. And Morten Harket, who is their lead singer, he has a freakin’ amazing voice. They write the songs perfectly to suit his voice, so that helps.”

The Grandaddy frontman picks “Under The Makeup” as the featured song in the podcast, and says he’s definitely inspired by a-ha’s music:

“There’s something soaring, it just glides and it soars. I like music that I can get easily lost in, and they seem to hit a lot of moments like that. And I get inspired by that, definitely.”

Here are links to some other recent interviews where Lytle mentions a-ha:
loudandquiet.com    diymag.com    vice.com    telerama.fr

Paul interviewed in Musikkpraksis

Cover of Musikkpraksis, #1/2017

Paul is on the cover of the latest issue of Norwegian music magazine Musikkpraksis. Inside there’s a 10-page report from Paul’s home studio in Brooklyn, where he recorded the newly released Waaktaar & Zoe album.

“When you hear her sing, she sounds like she could be 20, 30 or 40 [years old]. I find that really cool”, Paul says of Zoe Gnecco.

“I tend to write songs based on where I’m at in my own life. When I get someone else to interpret them, who’s in a totally different place, it does something to the songs. You feel like you’re hearing them from two different angles. Something that means one thing from my viewpoint, means something else from hers.”

He is also pleased with the World of Trouble mixing process, which was done with Steve Osborne.

“The good thing about Steve is that I can give him a bit more than he needs. Whereas many others want to include absolutely everything in the mix, Steve isn’t afraid to remove things. He knows what might potentially hinder the melody, and what might strengthen or weaken the groove.”

Among other things, the interview also covers Paul’s current preferences when it comes to microphones, amps and guitars. As for future releases, there is a lot of material from the last few years that’s just waiting to be heard.

“I have a lot of songs ready, and it’s only now that I’m starting to release things. But I can’t just release everything all at once, that would be too much. I need to release [Waaktaar & Zoe], then Savoy, and then the next one.”

From Musikkpraksis, #1/2017

A few more translated quotes from the interview have been posted on a-ha.com.

The magazine is now available in selected Narvesen stores across Norway. The price is 149 kr (£14).

Magne interviewed in Krigsropet

Cover of Krigsropet, #9/2017

Magne is on the cover of this week’s issue of Krigsropet, which is the Salvation Army’s magazine in Norway. Inside there’s a 6-page interview with him about his Imprints sculpture park at Fornebu near Oslo, which opened in June last year.

(Update: The full interview is now also available online.)

The park is comprised of around 50 ceramic elements, including the world’s biggest jars, with many of them incorporating Magne’s own poetry.

“Using those poems is somewhat risky, as they are of a personal, private character. In my way of writing there’s an inherent melancholy. That’s the case with a-ha as well. We look at melancholy as a force, a longing, something that liberates you from something heavy”, Magne tells Krigsropet.

The interviewer mentions how people have pointed out that his writings are often influenced by religion and theology.

“Wondering and searching for meaning is closely related to faith. Shifting between doubt and faith is a necessary principle to embody a message. I have done a lot of reading and I use things from my own upbringing and culture. As a visual artist I visit the churches in every city I go to, to get inspiration. There isn’t much difference between sitting in an atelier or a chapel, transported away from all outside noise. In concentration I find silence. The church room opens the door to contemplation, it creates a room for thought. But I’m more into asking the right questions than finding the right answers. Faith and doubt is something you’re always thinking about”, Magne says.

From Krigsropet, #9/2017

The interview also mentions that new features have been added to the sculpture park in recent months, in the form of clouds of steam that suddenly appear, to make the sculptures appear as living and breathing entities.

“This isn’t a park that shows itself off, instead it’s hiding. Sometimes we have to walk around and search for things. It’s a journey of discovery, and I hope it triggers a sense of wonder.”

As always, Magne is busy with a variety of different projects. In January he spent a week in Denmark with HM Queen Sonja, continuing their collaborative work on graphic prints. Their joint exhibition Texture will continue its tour at Bodø Kunstforening in Bodø (9 March – 2 April) and Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg (29 April – 21 May).

And this summer he will hold a solo exhibition at Galleri G Guddal in Rosendal (1 July – 20 August).

‘World of Trouble’ now available

Album cover

Waaktaar & Zoe’s long-awaited World of Trouble album is released today by Drabant Music, and is now available digitally on Spotify, iTunes, Tidal etc. through this link.

If you prefer physical formats, the album is also available on CD, black vinyl, purple vinyl and blue vinyl. All formats can be ordered from Drabant Music (worldwide shipping).

In a review in Vårt Land’s paper edition, music critic Olav Solvang writes that Paul “delivers several rock solid applications for new pop classics” and that Zoe’s vocals “fit perfectly with Waaktaar’s quirky, and at times demanding, songs”. He feels that “Beautiful Burnout” is “a powerful pop song that should become an international hit” and that she sings it “with an impressive maturity and presence”.

Other Norwegian album reviews so far include Aftenposten (3/6), Dagsavisen (3/6), Gaffa (3/6) and VG (3/6).

Zoe was a guest on NRK P1’s Kveldsåpent last night. The radio interview can be heard at radio.nrk.no. There is also an interview with Paul in Dagsavisen today.

Magne appears on new Janove Ottesen album

Janove Ottesen and Magne in Bergen, May 2016.
(Posted by Ottesen on Instagram)

Kaizers Orchestra vocalist Janove Ottesen released his second solo album Artisten & Marlene in Norway on 10 February.

According to a review of the album in newspaper Fædrelandsvennen (for subscribers only), Magne makes a guest appearance on one of the songs:

“[The song] ‘I Natt Blir Du Fri’ includes some very a-ha sounding synths, played by none other than Magne Furuholmen.”

The album was recorded at Duper Studio in Bergen last year.

Ottesen posted a picture of himself and Magne on Instagram last year, in connection with the a-ha concert in Bergen in May. He also attended Apparatjik’s Day of the Dead performance the following month.

The 15-track Artisten & Marlene album is available on CD, double vinyl and digitally.

In other news, Magne appeared at the Stockholm Furniture Fair on Friday, to present his new “Imprints” limited edition rug collection. See some pictures from the furniture fair here and here.

For more info on the rug collection, check out a new interview with Magne by Architectural Digest.

Songwriting session in Lillehammer

Morten with his trusted Everly Brothers guitar
(Picture by Peter Kvint on Facebook)

Morten and producer Peter Kvint have been spending some time at a mountain cabin in the Lillehammer area this week, working on new songs. Kvint has posted some pictures from their stay on Facebook.

“This week I’ve been on a cabin trip with Morten Harket in Lillehammer. We had fun and it turned out well!”, Kvint wrote.

Time will tell if the songs end up on Morten’s next solo album or if they will be used for a-ha.
“We’ll see”, Kvint said in the Facebook comments.

When asked by a fan if it’s hard to come up with new songs, Kvint said; “It’s quite easy, we just have to make sure to set time aside and choose the right environment.”

Paul interviewed in D2 magazine

The cover of D2, January 13th

The cover of D2, January 13th

Paul is on the cover of today’s issue of D2, which is the weekend magazine of financial newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. Inside there’s an extensive 12-page interview with him, in connection with Waaktaar & Zoe and today’s single release of “Tearful Girl”.

You can buy/stream “Tearful Girl” here and watch the new music video here. The video was directed by Jason Brandenberg, who previously did “Whalebone” and “Isotope” for Savoy.

The D2 interview touches upon the upcoming World of Trouble album, his life in New York, the status of a-ha and his thoughts on Donald Trump.

Waaktaar & Zoe is an exciting project for him, as it offers a chance to start afresh:

“I like to start from scratch. That’s a conscious choice I have taken many times, for instance when I incorporated Savoy into my last name. You get a lot of free energy – you clean your soul and empty your desk. One of the great things about Zoe is that she’s never recorded anything before. It’s like I’m hearing the music with her ears and rediscovering some of the enthusiasm and glow I had when I first started out.”

2017 will be a busy year for Paul, as he’s also got several other projects in the works:

“Now that my son is about to start college, my goal is to release two albums each year. In addition to [Waaktaar & Zoe], the new Savoy album has been mastered and will probably be released in September. I’m also mixing the second Bridges album from 1981. I think it sounds surprisingly vital. It was recorded on tape, so the sound is good, and it’s a very alright documentation of the transition into what would eventually become a-ha.”

From the interview in D2

From the interview in D2

Although he enjoyed last year’s Cast in Steel tour and is ready for the acoustic tour next year, Paul feels that a-ha is a bit “up shit creek” at the moment – especially when it comes to the chance of recording another studio album.

“We have been active for a very long time, maybe longer than any band should. I sometimes get the feeling we’re keeping it going on life support, that we have taken it too far. Our most successful days are behind us, and the dynamics and roles within the band no longer function like they used to. I guess we’ll just have to settle for doing a few gigs now and then.”

He goes on to say that the current a-ha concept contradicts his need for a fresh start: “We have done everything at least a 1000 times, and it all references something that’s been done before.”

“But I don’t think any less of the other guys’ talents now than when we started. So if it can result in good material, I’m willing to take the chance – despite the fact that I’m not too happy with a lot of our recent output. If we could manage to create just one more great song, that alone would be worth another ten mediocre songs. Yeah, that’s how it is: “If we could just get one more!”.

With only days to go before Donald Trump takes office and uncertain times ahead, Paul hopes that people will take to the streets and protest:

“The next four years are bound to be different, but I choose to be an optimist about it. I hope we’ll get to experience some of the same uprising, the same demonstration- and protest culture that characterized the 1970s. Everything can’t all be reality-TV, can’t all be business, can’t all be for sale. Trump is a caricature of everything that’s horribly wrong [in society], so if those same protest feelings aren’t awoken during his term, I fear they are gone for good.”

The closing song on World of Trouble is called “The Sequoia Has Fallen” and is a song title Paul first came up with while on his honeymoon at Redwood National Park in California in late 1991. Originally conceived during the era of George Bush Sr. and the Gulf War, the song was picked up again for this album as Paul felt it resonated with the times we are currently living in. (Incidentally, a fallen Sequoia was in the news this week).

“I always have a lot of songs that I’m playing around with. Sooner or later they find their place”, he says.

These were just a few quotes from the extensive D2 interview. In addition to the print edition, the whole interview is also available online at dn.no.

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