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.

a-ha announce acoustic tour/album/DVD

Picture from Rock in Rio 2015, taken by Just Loomis

Picture from Rock in Rio 2015, taken by Just Loomis

a-ha will be going on the road again in 2017 and 2018, this time in an acoustic setting, starting with four performances in June next year. The press release announcing “An acoustic evening with a-ha” was posted on the official site today:

a-ha will make a live acoustic album and concert film from a series of intimate performances to take place between June 26 – June 30, 2017.

The album, DVD and broadcast are scheduled for release in November 2017.

In early 2018, a-ha will take this special acoustic set on the road, giving the fans a new way to experience the music they love. Magne, Morten and Paul will be joined by a handpicked ensemble of musicians to embellish and reinvent the classics, as well as present new material in acoustic arrangements.

Morten is excited about the possibilities: “The band is finally coming together for live acoustic recordings of a wide selection of our songs! As we speak, there is palpable growing excitement about this in the group. We had wonderful moments with the fans during our last tour, and as a fourth member of the band you certainly have had an influence on our commitment to this. I really look forward to it all!”

Whereas the concerts on the 2018 tour will be held in large indoor arenas, the four performances in June 2017 will be for a very limited audience of only 300 people at each show. These are likely to be held in Norway, but the exact location is yet to be determined, a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells the Norwegian press.

So far, 10 concerts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been confirmed for January/February 2018, with more dates to be announced later:

23 January: Schleyerhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
24 January: Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
26 January: TUI Arena, Hannover, Germany
27 January: Leipzig Arena, Leipzig, Germany
29 January: Mercedes Benz Arena, Berlin, Germany
30 January: Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg, Germany
02 February: Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria
03 February: Olympiahalle, Munich, Germany
05 February: Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland
06 February: Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany

Read the full announcement on a-ha.com for more details and ticket info.

Norwegian articles:
VG: a-ha med ny plate, film og turné
Dagbladet: A-ha annonserer akustisk turné
Side 2: a-ha slipper ny plate

Pre-order ‘Lackluster Me’ reissue

“An astonishing masterpiece: dangerously catchy and unpredictably intellectual in its gloomy, monumental beauty” (Stavanger Aftenblad, October 1997)

The title font and band logo on the reissue cover differs slightly from the original cover.

The title font and band logo on the reissue cover differs slightly from the original cover.

Savoy’s second studio album Lackluster Me is regarded by many as the band’s finest album to date, and was hailed by critics when it was released in 1997.

The new reissue of the long out-of-print album will be released by Apollon Records in a few weeks time, and is now available for pre-order from:

savoyaha.bandcamp.com
karismarecords.bigcartel.com (Vinyl/T-shirt bundle)
karismarecords.bigcartel.com (CD/T-shirt bundle)

This is the first time the album is released on vinyl, as a limited edition of 1000 copies.
The CD reissue (jewelcase) will also be 1000 copies only.

The vinyl will apparently also include the CD, but it’s unclear if this is the same regular CD in jewelcase or without a cover.

It seems there won’t be any bonus tracks or other added material, but a Lackluster Me T-shirt (edition of 100) can also be purchased, either alone or as a bundle with the vinyl or CD.

Apollon Records plans to reissue all the Savoy studio albums, but Lackluster Me is released first, as Warner Brothers has been slow to greenlight the reissue of Mary Is Coming (1996).

Paul interviewed on BBC Radio

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Paul was a guest on Richard Green’s retro show on BBC Radio Devon last Saturday, 15 October, in connection with his Waaktaar & Zoe project.

The full interview can be heard on bbc.co.uk (starts at 23:30 minutes).

Below are a few quotes from the conversation:

On Waaktaar & Zoe:
“This project has been going for maybe 3-4 years. […] It sort of started with a few songs, and from the very first session I really just loved her voice and that super rich mid-range. She was also very good at just zoning into the mood of the song, which I’m super sensitive to. I could see for every take we did, she would get closer and closer to where she needed to be. For me that was such a kick as a songwriter, because a lot of the times you have to make that up in the arrangement.”

On plans for Waaktaar & Zoe in 2017:
“[The album] is ready to go, so now we’re just trying to figure out how to present it. We’re gonna be concentrating a lot on videos and stuff, and I would love to do festivals next summer. Zoe can really deliver on a stage and I would love to do a bunch of shows.”

On plans for Savoy:
“We’re gonna be reissuing all the old stuff over the next few months, and then I’ll actually finish the mix on the new [Savoy] album this week, with Steve Osborne. So I’m super excited about that too. So that will be coming out, maybe summertime next year.”

On a-ha’s future:
“With a-ha, it’s the three of us always going in three different directions. I would love to make a new album, so I’m pushing for that. But, you know, there’s other plans, there’s maybe an unplugged album in the making…we don’t know. We haven’t said goodbye, so I know there’s gonna be more. So we’ll just have to see where it ends up.”

“Beautiful Burnout” now available

Zoe and Paul interviewed by NRK in Paul's Brooklyn studio

Zoe and Paul interviewed by NRK in Paul’s Brooklyn studio

“Beautiful Burnout”, the first single from the upcoming Waaktaar & Zoe album World of Trouble was released yesterday, 30 September.

The song can be purchased/streamed on iTunes, Spotify and other services through this link, and the music video can be seen on YouTube.

Update: The single will also be released physically as a limited edition (1000 copies) 7″ white vinyl on 11 November, with the B-side “They To Me And I To Them”. It’s available for pre-order from Drabant Music (worldwide shipping).

“Beautiful Burnout” gets a 5/6 review in the newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad (print edition); “Great vocals by Zoe and just the right amount of Beatles-references from Waaktaar. This makes me want to hear more”, the review says.

“After, I think, the first session, I got the shivers from the very first thing she sang. I thought ‘I don’t really want to have other people singing. I wish we could do something with this'”, Paul said in an interview with Lørdagsrevyen on NRK1 tonight.

There is also a short video clip from an interview with Audun Vinger on the Waaktaar & Zoe Facebook page.

Although the World of Trouble album isn’t out until 24 February next year, the tracklist and 15 minutes of song samples have already been posted on iTunes.

From Lørdagsrevyen, 1 October

From Lørdagsrevyen, 1 October

The 10-track album will include the songs “They to Me and I to Them” – originally an early a-ha song from 1983/84, “Open Face” – a song from the Cast In Steel recording sessions, and “Winter Wants Me Empty” – a new and more electronic version of the Savoy song “Unsound” from Lackluster Me.

Full tracklist:
1. Beautiful Burnout
2. Tearful Girl
3. World of Trouble
4. Laundromat
5. Mammoth
6. They to Me and I to Them
7. Winter Wants Me Empty
8. Ancient Arches
9. Open Face
10. The Sequoia Has Fallen

Follow Waaktaar & Zoe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Waaktaar & Zoe signs with Drabant Music

Picture from Drabant Music

Picture from Drabant Music

The Norwegian record label Drabant Music issued the following press release today:

Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (a-ha) and singer Zoë Aphrodite Gnecco (daughter of Jimmy Gnecco) recently signed a worldwide recording deal with the Norwegian record label Drabant Music.

Pål and Zoe are both living in NYC and they have known each other for years. When this exciting collaboration turned into an album project they decided to simply name it Waaktaar & Zoe.

The album “World Of Trouble” is set to be released on the 24th of February 2017, while the first single “Beautiful Burnout” will be released on September 30th this year. Pre order the single here.

Follow Waaktaar & Zoe on Facebook.

The music video for “Beautiful Burnout” premiered at the international a-ha fan convention in Oslo in April this year. The song features lyrics that Paul has re-used from the early version of “Foot Of The Mountain” that was included on the deluxe version of Cast In Steel.

Waaktaar & Zoe also have a new Twitter account.

Magne presents new exhibition and art book with Queen Sonja

Magne and Queen Sonja in front of one of the prints they have made together

Magne and Queen Sonja in front of one of the prints they have made together

Magne was in Bergen last weekend, to present a joint exhibition with Her Majesty Queen Sonja. The two of them have been collaborating on a new series of prints over the last year and a half, which has resulted in an exhibition called Texture.

Their work on Texture started in New York in April 2015, when they did three days of experimenting at the Universal Limited Art Editions workshop on Long Island.

“The Queen and I met about thirteen years ago at one of my exhibitions”, Magne said in an interview with Scandinavian Traveler last month. “I found her curiosity inspiring. She is dedicated in ways I rarely see in others, with an elastic and inquisitive mind. It was her curiosity that formed the basis of our artistic relationship.”

“Her personality and dedication to printmaking has allowed me to relate to her as a colleague and not as a queen. When we collaborated on prints, there was never any need to establish a set of roles. At the same time she wanted me to give her honest feedback”, Magne told A-magasinet on Friday, which featured a 12-page article about the project.

As well as opening the exhibition, they could present a brand new coffe-table book about their artistic collaboration called Grafikkens vinger. The Norwegian edition of the book, which features text by Lars Saabye Christensen, can be ordered from bokkilden.no. The book will also be released internationally.

The Texture exhibition is on display at Grieghallen in Bergen until 3 September, and can later be seen in several other cities:

– Galleri Ismene, Trondheim (23 September–23 October 2016)
– The Paul Stolper Gallery, London (27 September–23 October 2016)
– Ålesund Kunstforening, Ålesund (5 November–4 December 2016)
– Bodø Kunstforening, Bodø (9 March–2 April 2017)
– Gulden Kunstverk, Steinberg (22 April–14 May 2017)

Video clips:
Working on Texture – official video
Vestlandsrevyen – from the opening in Bergen (starts at 8 minutes)

Articles:
NRK Hordaland     Bergens Tidende     Dagbladet
Aftenposten     Budstikka     Kongehuset.no     TV2/Kongebloggen
Paris Match     A-magasinet (subscribers only)

Tomine on ‘Stjernekamp’

Tomine performing on Stjernekamp, 27 August

Tomine performing on Stjernekamp, 27 August

The fifth season of NRK1’s popular singing contest Stjernekamp kicked off tonight, with Tomine Harket as one of the contestants.

Morten in the audience

Morten in the audience

Stjernekamp is a live show where established artists and younger talents perform songs from a different music genre each week. The theme this week was Norwegian rock and Tomine had chosen to perform “Hjerteknuser” by Kaizers Orchestra.

Morten was in the audience to show his support, like he’s been on several occasions before.

The theme next week is country music, and Tomine will be performing “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. Tonight’s episode is available to watch at nrk.no.

In addition to Stjernekamp, Tomine is currently enjoying success together with the rapper Unge Ferrari. Watch the music video for their latest single “Iblindeserenbedre” on YouTube.

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