Archive for the ‘Morten’ Category

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.

Elvira Nikolaisen records duet with Morten

Norwegian singer-songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen posted a new Christmas song on her website on 25 December, a duet with Morten Harket called “I Look To You This Time Of Year”. She has also posted a picture of them together at a piano on her Instagram.

Elvira Nikolaisen has released four albums since her debut Quiet Exit in 2006.

Back in 2007, Morten and Elvira appeared together in Oslo to promote the launch of Amnesty International’s “Make Some Noise” campaign, for which both a-ha and Elvira contributed cover versions of John Lennon songs.

Update: The song has since been removed, but can still be heard on YouTube.

Morten guest on live podcast show

Jan Thomas, Einar Tørnquist and Morten at Chat Noir, 17 December

Morten was a special guest on a live Christmas edition of the Norwegian podcast Jan Thomas og Einar blir venner [Jan Thomas and Einar become friends] at Chat Noir in Oslo last night. Hosted by the unlikely duo of musician/TV-host Einar Tørnquist and celebrity stylist Jan Thomas, the podcast has quickly become one of the most popular in Norway.

Morten, 17 December

Topics covered in the humorous conversation included Morten’s friendship with Jan Thomas, which started with Morten’s partner Inez recommending him to do his hair. “That is the fun thing about Jan; we don’t reflect about things in the same way, but no matter what direction I drift off in, he keeps up with me”, Morten said about the conversations they have at Jan Thomas’ hair studio.

Jan Thomas told the story of how, following the tragic Orlando shooting in 2016, he asked Morten to take part in the annual Pride Parade in Oslo, which he immediately agreed to. “I really appreciated him doing that”, Jan Thomas said.

Morten was also asked about his interest in insects and butterflies and impressed the audience with his knowledge in a butterfly quiz.

At the end Jan Thomas read a self-written poem about Morten, which referenced the Norwegian-dubbed version of the Julia Roberts film Mirror Mirror (2012), in which Jan Thomas played one of the seven dwarves while Morten played the king (Sean Bean).

The podcast show aired live on the streaming service Dplay, and can be seen here (premium subscribers only).

This was Morten’s second public appearance this month. On 3 December he did another book conversation about Hjemkomst together with Ørjan Nilsson and Audun Vinger, this time at the public library in Haugesund.

This week also marks exactly 40 years since Morten first heard Bridges live in concert. On 16 December 1979 the band performed at Asker Gymnasium, which made a profound impact on him. “It stunned me, right there on the floor”, Morten has said later. After the gig he briefly met Magne and Paul for the very first time.

Book release in Oslo

Morten and Ørjan signing books at Tanum

Ørjan Nilsson’s book Hjemkomst, about Morten’s solo projects from 1993 – 1998, was published on Thursday, 26 September. Ørjan and Morten marked the book release with an hour-long conversation with Audun Vinger at Tanum Karl Johan in Oslo, followed by an extensive signing session.

One of Vinger’s questions was about how it felt for Morten, who is used to being misquoted, to let someone else write about this important period of his life and career:

“I liked Ørjan’s approach to this project. I also liked the fact that he had written the book about Paul, and thought that he could do the same with me. Then both books would have one thing in common, and any differences would appear naturally. That’s important to any book. So we met up and talked, and took it from there. It’s been a lot of work. We had quite a lot of interview sessions, and that was something I pushed for in particular. Because if I’m going to do something like this, I want it to be as thorough as possible. It’s also been vital for me that Ørjan has to write his own parts, and I have to speak my own parts. So whenever I’m quoted in the book, I have often added my own written quotes afterwards to supplement the interview sessions. The rest has been up to Ørjan and the various other people who have been interviewed for the book. Just having it properly organized like this, that’s been important to me”, Morten said.

Dagsavisen’s reviewer Geir Rakvaag has written quite a positive review (paywall) of the book:

“Morten Harket has just turned 60 years old. The new book Hjemkomst provides an interesting look at six of those years, when his life and career took a new turn. (…) Much of the content is detailed info for those with a particular interest in Morten Harket as a musician, about other musicians he has worked with, producers, studios and record labels. (…) But Hjemkomst is just as much about Morten Harket as a person as it is about music. In particular his activism for East-Timor. (…) With this, Ørjan Nilsson has completed solid books about Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Morten Harket. It’s fair to assume the next one will be about Magne Furuholmen.”

Morgenbladet’s reviewer Ando Woltmann also likes the book (paywall), although he’s not really a fan of Morten’s solo music:

“Nilsson’s book is full of lively interview subjects, often with opposing views, and is a good example of a topic that’s more fun to read about than listen to. Still, Morten Harket remains an enigma in Norwegian pop as he turns 60 – he’s a dreamer we all should be grateful to share this ride through the cosmos together with.”

To promote the book Morten was a guest on the NRK talkshow Lindmo on Friday night. The episode can be viewed here (starts at 19:30).

Ørjan Nilsson also appeared on NRK’s Nyhetsmorgen to talk about the book (starts at 01:49:00), as well as Kulturstripa.

Hjemkomst book launch

Book cover
(Photo by Julian Broad)

Ørjan Nilsson’s new book Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998 will be launched with an event at the Tanum Karl Johan bookstore in Oslo on Thursday 26 September, where Ørjan and Morten will talk about the book with music writer Audun Vinger. There will be a signing session afterwards.

Ørjan and Morten will also discuss the book at the literature house in Bergen on Friday 27 September, as part of the Vill Vill Vest music conference.

There will be a number of additional media appearances as well.

Hjemkomst delves deep into the making of Poetenes Evangelium, Wild Seed and Vogts Villa, as well as unreleased projects such as Morten’s 1993 solo album produced by Alan Tarney and his 1998 collaboration with Swedish-Irish drum’n’bass duo Boolaboss.

In addition to extensive interview sessions with Morten, Ørjan Nilsson has talked with a large number of key players from this period, including Håvard Rem, Ole Sverre Olsen and Kjetil Bjerkestrand.

The book also goes into detail about Morten’s work to shed light on the conflict in East Timor and his passion for renewable energy solutions.

Hjemkomst can be pre-ordered from Norwegian book stores such as Tanum, Norli, Haugenbok and Bokkilden.

Morten turns 60

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Morten Harket, who turns 60 today, September 14th!

In connection with his birthday and the new book Hjemkomst, he’s on the cover of VG’s weekend magazine today. Inside there’s a 9-page interview by Stein Østbø, with new pictures by Janne Møller-Hansen.

“How I feel about [turning 60]… It’s an inherent process, the body keeps renewing itself. At the same time there’s a program in our system that controls aging. And that program hasn’t been written by us. I have just asked my body to delay the aging process until I’m a bit wiser”, he jokingly tells VG in the interview.

The interview is also available online here (paywall).

New book about Morten coming in September

Picture by Jakob

A new book about Morten Harket, written by Norwegian journalist Ørjan Nilsson, is set to be published in September 2019.

The book is called Hjemkomst (Morten Harket årene 1993 – 1998) [Homecoming (Morten Harket in the years 1993 – 1998)] and will focus on this particular period of the 1990s, which were Morten’s most busy years in terms of solo projects and political activism.

“I have long wanted to explore what happened to the activist and politically involved Morten Harket – the one who appeared when a-ha took a break and seemingly disappeared again when the band reunited. During those years he was everywhere, he had an entirely different edge than he’s had before or since”, Nilsson told VG in an article yesterday.

“It seems to me that he wants to speak in detail about these years – years that are important for him to shed a light on. He has become extremely involved in the book project and wants the end result to be good. I had envisioned three or four interview rounds, but by now it’s become more like 25.”

Among the other topics covered in the book will be Morten’s unreleased solo album from 1993, which was produced by Alan Tarney. It was eventually abandoned, in favour of Wild Seed. Although Morten has talked about the unreleased album in past interviews and two of the songs were leaked online fifteen years ago – “A Place I Know” and “Sounds of Rain” – the new book goes into more detail about the songs and recording process than ever before. Nilsson was even granted a listening session in Alan Tarney’s studio outside London.

Ørjan Nilsson has previously written Tårer fra en stein [Tears From a Stone] about Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s life and music, which was published in Norway in 2017 and Germany in 2018.

Maria on Team Morten wins The Voice 2019

Morten and Maria Engås Halsne, preparing for last night’s season finale

Maria Engås Halsne on Team Morten is the winner of The Voice 2019, after two solid performances in the season finale last night.

The 22-year-old medical student was originally on Lene’s Team, but Morten seized the opportunity to “steal” her to his own team during the battle episodes back in April, after Maria had performed “Shallow” together with Oskar Øiestad.

Morten performing “Broken” together with Lene Marlin

Last night’s finale opened with the four mentors performing Isak Danielson’s song “Broken”, followed by each finalist doing one song:

1. Edward Mustad (Team Morten): “October 8” YouTube / TV2.no
2. Steffi Buie (Team Lene): “Kan Du Lære Mæ?” YouTube / TV2.no
3. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten): “Go Your Own Way” YouTube / TV2.no
4. Oskar Øiestad (Team Lene): “Kings and Queens” YouTube / TV2.no

The two finalists with the most votes would go on to the so-called “super final”, and it turned out to be Edward and Maria. They both did an additional song to determine who would be the winner:

1. Edward Mustad (Team Morten): “I’m On Fire” YouTube / TV2.no
2. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten): “Strong” YouTube / TV2.no

“You have so many qualities, Maria. I decided to bring you further along, and it turns out I was right. This was one of your best performances on The Voice this year”, Morten said after Maria’s version of London Grammar’s “Strong”.

Maria got the most votes from the viewers and is the winner of The Voice 2019. She gets a record contract with Universal Music.

“This is fantastic. It’s difficult to favor one talent over someone else, I’m not able to do that. But I have believed in my whole team and tried to bring out the best in them. And it’s been really fun to be a part of. So congratulations Maria! It’s well deserved”, Morten said after the victory.

The Voice: Semi-final

Morten applauding Maria on The Voice, 24 May

Six talents remained in the contest before the semi-final of The Voice on Friday 24 May, including Maria and Edward on Team Morten.

Here are the live performances from H3 Arena on Friday night:

1. Oskar Øiestad (Team Lene) YouTube / TV2.no
2. Maria Engås Halsne (Team Morten) YouTube / TV2.no
3. Endre Gryting (Team Yosef) YouTube / TV2.no
4. Amanda Rusti (Team Martin) YouTube / TV2.no
5. Steffi Buie (Team Lene) YouTube / TV2.no
6. Edward Mustad (Team Morten) YouTube / TV2.no

“There’s a great musicality in your performance”, Morten told Maria after her version of Sia’s “Bird Set Free”, while he commended Edward on having “an incredible voice” after hearing his take on Madrugada’s “Majesty”.

Ultimately, the two performers who received the fewest votes from the viewers were Endre and Amanda, which means Yosef and Martin are left without any of their talents in next week’s season finale.

Maria and Edward on Team Morten will compete against Oskar and Steffi on Team Lene in the season finale, which airs live on TV2 next Friday, 31 May at 20:00. The winner gets a recording contract with Universal Music.

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