Giske concerts to be part of MTV Unplugged

Universal Music Norway issued a press release today, confirming that a-ha’s acoustic concerts at Giske next week will be filmed and recorded as part of the long-running MTV Unplugged series.

The setlist will include hit songs, rarely-played album tracks, two brand new a-ha songs and a few cover versions.

A number of special guests will also join a-ha on stage; Alison Moyet, Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), Ingrid Håvik (Highasakite) and Lissie.

The concert will be broadcast on MTV this fall, and released on CD and DVD on 13 October.

After working on the acoustic set in Oslo since late March, rehearsals resumed at the Ocean Sound Recordings studio at Giske on 10 June. Check out the Instagram accounts of Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Lars Horntveth and Madeleine Ossum for exclusive pictures from the process.

And here’s a picture of Morten and violinist Madeleine Ossum at Giske on Monday, apparently.

a-ha to perform at Giske in June

a-ha performing for a small studio audience, September 2015

a-ha recently announced they will be playing two acoustic concerts at Øygardshallen on the island of Giske, Norway on 22 and 23 June, which will result in a live album and DVD to be released later this year.

Even though the ticket price was 4000 kr (£361) for one concert, or 6000 kr (£541) for both concerts, all 500 tickets were sold out within 30 minutes when the sale started yesterday. The vast majority of tickets were sold to fans outside of Norway.

“In total there were around 250 tickets available for each concert. Additionally the band has reserved a number of tickets for friends and family”, Terje Erstad at Ocean Sound Recordings told Sunnmørsposten on Monday.

“I totally understand that 4000 may seem a lot for one ticket, but there is a very high cost per person when you’re doing a big production like this for such a small group of people”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik explained to NRK.

a-ha will be joined by the following musicians for the Giske concerts: Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Even Ormestad, Morten Qvenild, Lars Horntveth, Tove Margrete Erikstad, Madeleine Ossum and Emilie Heldal Lidsheim.

Originally the plan was to do four concerts between 26 June – 30 June, but as Jaga Jazzist will be embarking on a US tour on 25 June, that wouldn’t work. Both Even Ormestad and Lars Horntveth are members of Jaga Jazzist.

‘Mountains of Time’ to be reissued in July

The new Mountains of Time album cover

Savoy’s third and most successfull album Mountains of Time from 1999 is set to be reissued by Apollon Records on 14 July, the label announced on its Facebook page today. The reissue will be available on CD, vinyl and digitally. There will also be limited edition T-shirts.

Update: pre-orders can now be made at the Savoy bandcamp page.

The Mountains of Time reissue was originally slated for release in May this year, with Reasons To Stay Indoors to follow in July, but both of them seem to have been pushed back a few months.

While the cover of last year’s Lackluster Me reissue was mostly similar to the original, this new reissue of Mountains of Time will feature a brand new cover. The cover image seems to interpret the album title quite literally, showing both mountains and an hourglass.

For more info on Savoy and Paul’s other side projects over the years, check out a new and detailed article written by Barry Page for The Electricity Club.

“Open Face” single release

“Open Face” single cover

“Open Face”, the third single from Waaktaar & Zoe’s World of Trouble album, was released on 7 April and can be purchased/streamed here.

A music video for the song, directed by Jenny Woods, premiered exclusively on the French Rolling Stone website today and can also be seen on YouTube.

For more in-depth info on Waaktaar & Zoe, check out the extensive interview Paul did with the Super Deluxe Edition website last month.

As for possible Waaktaar & Zoe live dates, Paul says in the interview there’s still a chance it might happen:

“I would love to because she has a really powerful voice. I’m just trying to figure out how it could be done. I’m toying with the idea of doing a double show, where Savoy can do one half and Zoe can do the other half… stuff like that, to make it workable for me, as well. (…) The original idea was to do some festivals first, in the summer, but it got a little bit tight with the unplugged thing with a-ha, so we’ll see. Once we get to the end of the summer, the fall period is fairly open for me, so I’m hoping that would be a good place to do some gigs.”

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.

Update 30 March: A concert at the O2 Arena in London on 14 February 2018 has also been announced, with tickets going on sale 7 April. This will be the only UK date on the acoustic tour.

‘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.

Update 10 April: Additional taping dates have been announced on a-ha.com:

Battle rounds:
22 May (16:15)
22 May (19:00)
24 May (16:15)
24 May (19:00)

Knockout rounds:
1 June (16:00)
1 June (19:00)
2 June (16:00)
2 June (19:00)

“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).

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