New interviews with Morten

Picture by JS

Morten has resurfaced to do a few interviews in connection with the release of the German edition of Ørjan Nilsson’s book, Heimkehr – Morten Harkets prägende Phase 1993-1998.

In conversation with Redaktions­Netzwerk Deutschland (RND) he’s asked about his interest in music as a child, his time on The Voice and his thoughts on what can be done to combat climate change.

He is also asked about the possibilities of another a-ha studio album. Here are a few quotes:

“RND: Will there be another a-ha album?

Morten: Personally I believe that you’ll hear more from our band. But it could also be that we’re done [with studio albums]. Both options are possible. At this point I only know that Magne is working on new songs and that I’m writing songs myself. I’m sure that Paul is also making music at the moment, but he’s stuck in California because of the corona pandemic and can’t travel anywhere else.

RND: But will these songs appear on a joint album?

Morten: In the end it may culminate in something that we’ll do together. But it’s also possible that the songs will be used for solo projects. I have already heard a couple of Magne’s new songs and they are really good. It could indeed become a-ha material, but we’ll have to see what happens. We’ve done a few tours in the last couple of years, but we haven’t actually been together in the studio for a while. Time flies by. It’s impressive to look back at how long we’ve been on the road.”

Morten has also been interviewed by the German fansite morten-harket.de. The audio interview is password-protected and available exclusively for those who have purchased the book.

By the way, I’m told those interested in reading the book in English can try purchasing the Kindle version of the German book, which adds the possibility of switching between German and English.

Songs from Morten’s 1998 collaboration with Boolaboss appear online

“The Secret” single cover

Back in 1998, Morten recorded six songs together with the Swedish/Irish drum ‘n’ bass duo Boolaboss, consisting of Walter Bäcklin and Mark O’Sullivan. The songs were called “The Secret”, “Giant Steps”, “Butterfly”, “My Star”, “This is a nothing” and “Things I”. Sonically, this was new and exciting territory for Morten and fans were eager to hear what it sounded like.

The first single “The Secret” was planned for release in February 1999, but was eventually cancelled due to Morten shifting his focus to a-ha and the recording of the Minor Earth | Major Sky album. In the end, none of the songs from the Boolaboss collaboration were released back then.

During work on Ørjan Nilsson’s book project Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998, the recordings were rediscovered in Mark O’Sullivan’s archive. In February 2019, Morten and Mark met up again in Stockholm to discuss the possibility of finally releasing the songs.

“That was a really exciting collaboration, and it’s very unfortunate that nothing was ever released. I’ve been thinking about it many times since. The single, “The Secret”, was really cool”, Morten says in Hjemkomst.

Although an official release is still pending, Mark O’Sullivan has now posted three of the songs on his YouTube channel:
The Secret    My Star    This is a nothing

“Morten is an absolutely brilliant singer (…) The first song we recorded together was “The Secret”, which I wrote for my brother. It’s a very emotional song, and right away Morten understood what I was aiming for”, O’Sullivan told Swedish newspaper Expressen in October 1998.

A lot more info about the Boolaboss collaboration can be found in Ørjan Nilsson’s Norwegian book Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998, which is now also available in German – as Heimkehr – Morten Harkets prägende Phase 1993-1998.

Magne writes short stories for Juleroser

Magazine cover

Magne makes his debut as a fiction writer in the 2020 issue of Norwegian Christmas magazine Juleroser, with a collection of short stories inspired by his own song “So Cold It’s Hard To Think” from last year’s White Xmas Lies album.

The stories are written in Norwegian and spread across eight pages, interspersed with accompanying song lyrics in English and illustrated by two woodcuts from the Stigma series. Written in Magne’s trademark all-lowercase font, the stories revolve around relationships, work experiences, John Lennon, living through the pandemic and other things.

The magazine also includes the lyrics for “A Wintry Silence”, reinterpreted and translated into Norwegian (nynorsk) by Brit Bildøen.

Magne was asked to contribute by Juleroser editor and singer Herborg Kråkevik:

“I heard a song that made a real impression on me, and then I read an interview with Magne where he talked about it. He didn’t quite call it an anti-Christmas song, but that it was about reclaiming Christmas from what it’s become. And Juleroser is intended to be an alternative to superficial things”, Herborg tells VG.

Magne and Herborg recently visited Lysebu Hotel in Oslo to promote the magazine and shoot some video clips.

Update (28/11): A video clip of the two of them performing “Vinterstilla” has now been posted on Facebook.

This is not the first time the two of them collaborate. Back in 1998, Magne and Kjetil Bjerkestrand composed the melody for the song “Ein Strek – Nokon Fargar”, which was performed by Herborg Kråkevik. It can be heard on YouTube.

Juleroser is published by Det Norske Samlaget and is available in stores across Norway now.

a-ha aiming for Portugal (again)

Festival ad

a-ha were supposed to perform at Rock in Rio Lisboa in Portugal this summer, but the festival had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

The organizers are trying again next year, and a-ha have now once again been confirmed to be headlining together with Duran Duran on 26 June 2021.

This will be the very first time a-ha perform live in Portugal. The Rock in Rio spin-off festival in Lisbon has been held every other year since 2004, and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, with an attendance of around 350,000 people.

Tickets are on sale now, while tickets already bought for this year’s festival are still valid for 2021.

A total of 38 a-ha concerts are currently planned for 2021.

New reissues and German book release

Purple vinyl reissue

A limited edition 30th anniversary reissue of East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon was released on 180g purple vinyl yesterday. This marks the first time the album is available on this format since the original 1990 vinyl release.

The East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon vinyl reissue can be ordered from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de.

In connection with the reissue, Ørjan Nilsson has written a little piece for the Norwegian magazine Jazznytt, focusing on the man talking about “endless pain or endless pleasure” at the end of “(Seemingly) Nonstop July”. To find out more about him, Ørjan phoned up Paul in Los Angeles.

“I remember that day well. The song was recorded at Prince Street in Soho, in the middle of a heat wave. I was on the fifth floor with the window slightly open, when I heard this guy starting to yell out doomsday prophecies down on the street”, Paul says.

He hurried to point a microphone out the window.

German book cover

“The guy had great timing, as I didn’t need to edit the recording or move parts around afterwards. A one take wonder. He kept going for several minutes after the song had finished, with the same intensity, but the voice gradually became more distant as he disappeared down the street”, Paul tells Ørjan.

Meanwhile in Germany, Ørjan Nilsson’s 2019 book about Morten Harket’s solo career between 1993 – 1998, Hjemkomst, was published by Hannibal Verlag in a German version on Thursday, entitled Heimkehr.

The book has been translated into German by Daniela Stilzebach, who also translated Nilsson’s previous book Tears From a Stone. Heimkehr is available in a paperback edition, while the original Norwegian book came as a hardback edition with dust jacket.

Heimkehr is available from Amazon.de and Amazon.co.uk.

Våkenatt CD cover

This week also saw the announcement that Våkenatt, the second Bridges album from 1981, will be getting a wider release on vinyl, CD and digital on 20 November. The first single “Asleep” can be heard here.

Våkenatt was first released on green vinyl in a limited edition box set (900 numbered copies) by Rockheim Musical Archives in 2018, but will now get a worldwide release by Korova Records, which is a Warner Music imprint.

The vinyl and CD can be pre-ordered from thisisdig.com.

Magne and Queen Sonja open new exhibitions

Queen Sonja and Magne, 27 August 2020
(Screenshot from NRK)

Magne and Queen Sonja were at the Soli Brug Gallery yesterday, for a press preview of two new exhibitions that are opening today.

This time they are not exhibiting together, as in 2016, instead they each present a new solo exhibition. Magne’s is called Ornament, while the Queen’s is called Utsnitt. In total there are around 150 new pieces.

Magne has been an artistic mentor for Queen Sonja for a number of years now, and their joint projects have brought them to Denmark, Sweden and the USA. Last month they were on a trip to Northern Norway.

“We have travelled around together, and it’s really fun and inspiring for me to listen to him”, the Queen told the press yesterday.

“And it’s inspiring for me to see that it’s possible to have this level of energy when you’re past your fifties”, Magne (57) jokingly told the Queen (83).

“I was surprised to see how many new works she’s made, including a number of excellent graphic prints. So it’s great to see that she is continually coming up with new and interesting things.”

The Queen commends Magne on the new colourful works he’s got on display:

“I’m familiar with parts of Magne’s production, but this time I’ve noticed new and interesting details, including more use of colours. That’s something we’ve discussed, because he’s been more focused on a darker pallette.”

“The truth is rather that I used colours more sparsely when the Queen and I worked together in the past”, Magne replied. “Her use of colours has inspired me.”

See a selection of photos from the exhibitions on Soli Brug’s Facebook page here and here. The exhibitions are open from 28 August – 20 September.

Links:
Aftenposten: Dronningen og Magne Furuholmen inspirerer hverandre – åpner utstillinger sammen
NRK TV: Dronningen og Furuholmen stiller ut på Soli Brug

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