Posts Tagged ‘morten harket’

Morten: “We have a deep respect for each other”

Morten, February 2021

a-ha: The Movie had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this weekend. The first review (4 out of 5 stars) has been posted on the website Josh at the Movies:

“The fact that I instantly opened my Spotify and downloaded most of A-Ha’s discography as soon as A-Ha: The Movie ended should speak volumes about its overall quality”, Josh Batchelder writes in his review.

“Following their dream from struggling below the poverty line, A-Ha: The Movie is an endearing story of realizing your dreams and believing in them. The documentary feels deep-reaching, a truly honest portrayal of personalities and musical insight. (…) I look forward to exploring more of A-Ha’s incredible body of work, as the ripples of their impact on the music industry can still be felt today.”

Morten himself has been interviewed by Salon.com in connection with the premiere. When asked about his own favorite a-ha songs, he says:

“There could be many. I don’t have a favorite song. I can lean to one song for a period, then to another. But all the songs we’ve done, we’ve had some sort of soft spot for at some point in time, or they wouldn’t be there. And there are a lot of songs in the making that have never gotten through to the point of being recorded and released. There are some cornerstones. On “Memorial Beach” there is a song that most people don’t know, “Cold as Stone,” which I like. A lot of others that are more the darker side of the band. A-ha is a dark band, really. That is where we are coming from. None of us listened to pop music growing up. We would not have listened to A-ha ourselves if we were on the street, because of the image of the band. Because of a number of things. Because of me, for one. [Laughs]”

In the interview, Morten points out how the band in many ways has been more successful since the 2000 comeback than in the first period:

“I feel the documentary fails us a little in the second half, which [chronicles] when we got back together through to today. That is the longest period that we’ve been together, I believe. And it’s our time when we’ve done our best business and touring. We played to many more people in the second half than in the first, and success-wise, that’s a bigger achievement than making it in the first place, I would argue.”

Early reports about the film also suggests that it spends quite some time on the often-reported creative frictions within the band:

“What I do feel is that the focus in the second half of the film is the disagreements and problems. But one has to bear in mind that we’ve been together for all this time and we’ve chosen to get together and get back together over and over again. We have a deep respect for each other and I’m always proud and honored to be associated with them. And we all feel the same. But we are not the same, and that is part of the package. All three of us are completely necessary for the band to become A-ha”, Morten says.

Director Thomas Robsahm has also done several interviews to promote the film recently, including conversations with Cineuropa and Screen Daily, while a video clip from the film, detailing the evolution of “Take On Me”, was published by Rolling Stone.

Next month a-ha: The Movie will be screened in Germany, as part of the Munich International Film Festival on 8 and 9 July. Information in English is available here.

Movie trailer now available

The official trailer for a-ha: The Movie premiered yesterday, via articles posted by Variety in the US and VG in Norway.

It has also been posted by the production company on YouTube:

“I wanted to tell a story about their boyhood dream, and how incredibly difficult it really was to achieve an international breakthrough back then. About the future of a-ha. If there will be more music. I hope you’ll get to know them better as individuals and get a deeper understanding of the mechanisms within the band. This is not just a film about a-ha, but above all a film about Paul, Magne and Morten”, director Thomas Robsahm tells VG.

a-ha: The Movie will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on June 12th – tickets for the outdoor screening are sold out, but streaming access can be purchased here (US only).

Meanwhile, the Norwegian premiere has been pushed back to September 3rd. Theatrical deals are also in place for Japan, Korea, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, according to Variety.

Morten guest on This Morning

On ‘This Morning’, 1 February 2021

Morten was a guest on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ today, joining in live from Norway, to talk about his time on The Masked Singer. The whole interview can be seen on YouTube.

“I needed to get out of my comfort zone, and this was a good way of doing that”, he said of why he chose to take part.

On the Masked Singer panel not recognizing him, even as he sang “Take On Me”:
“I thought it was blatantly obvious, [even] before then, that it was me.”

On singing inside the costume:
“My personal sound system was failing me, so it was very confusing. That made it harder. It also made it impossible for me to dodge my voice or to play with it in other ways, because I had no center.”

On the a-ha tour being postponed:
“We had to pull the plug on a big tour, because of the pandemic, like a lot of my peers have had to do. The fortunate thing for people like myself is that you would use this period as a hiatus and that means you can write songs and do other things that we would have been doing in off-times anyway.”

Morten was also a guest on Heart Breakfast today. A video clip of that interview is available here.

There were also additional comments in interviews with RadioTimes and Mirror.

Morten is unmasked on The Masked Singer

This viking has broken records and forged his own way.

After appearing in four episodes of The Masked Singer UK, tonight it was time for Viking to take off his mask. And as most people had guessed for weeks, it turned out to be Morten Harket under the helmet.

The song he performed tonight was “The Scientist” by Coldplay, but he received the fewest votes from the studio audience and had to be unmasked.
Here is the moment when his identity is finally revealed:

 
“My main reason for joining was that I knew how much I would be exposed to performing conditions of which I would have very little control. It’s the complete opposite of my usual mindset. Knowing I would hate that, was an excellent reason”, Morten says in an interview with a-ha.com.

He admits that performing inside the viking costume was quite challenging:

“It was decidedly uncomfortable to navigate, especially as my sound system was getting wonky… that and the confines of the helmet sometimes reaching my elbows. At times I kind of felt like a drunk trying to cross the M4. To be inside the costume made my movements even clumsier than my usual standard :)”

Morten was also interviewed by Will Njobvu on Unmasked on ITV Hub.

Before the unmasking, one of the additional clues on tonight’s episode was Viking quoting a lyric from one of Morten’s solo songs: “I cannot take what you cannot give” from “I’m The One” (2012).

Viking sings “Take On Me”

Viking on The Masked Singer, 23 January

The viking was back for his third appearance on The Masked Singer on ITV yesterday, as all eight remaining singers competed against each other for the first time. This time, each song would be a clue to the singer’s identity.

In a surprising move, Viking got on stage and performed the acoustic version of “Take On Me”, perhaps the most obvious clue ever presented on The Masked Singer.

Anyone with functioning ears would by now have worked out that Morten is behind the mask – apart from the show’s panel, consisting of Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross. They keep coming up with entirely random and bizarre guesses.

As Viking himself puts it: “One thing’s for sure; this panel has no clue as to who I am”. But much of their dialogue is obviously scripted, so they have probably been asked to keep the suspense by not naming Morten.

New clues from Viking on this episode:
“Vikings might have been around for millennia, but my career has been one of billions. It was over a billion people who watched me do my thing” = “Take On Me” reached a billion views on YouTube last year.
“As a viking I rely on tools I was born with and tools I can create. Like my sword for example, which was forged in the silver mines of my homeland” = the “sword” is his voice, which he was born with in Kongsberg, a town known for its silver mines.
“As precious metals go, steel has proved rather useful in my career” = a-ha’s last studioalbum was Cast In Steel (2015).

This time Morten was among those chosen to go directly to the next episode, so he will be back on 30 January for a new performance.
Meanwhile, Bush Baby was unmasked and turned out to be actor/comedian John Thomson. The complete episode from yesterday can be seen here.

Two new songs by Viking on The Masked Singer

The Viking’s movements on stage are familiarly sparse.

Anyone who may still have had the tiniest amount of doubt that Morten is behind the Viking mask on The Masked Singer UK, would have been convinced yesterday – as we were presented with two different songs performed in his unmistakable voice.

First up was Harry Styles’ hit single “Watermelon Sugar” from 2019, which may not have been the best choice for Morten to sing, as he didn’t sound entirely comfortable. Morten is known to be extremely sensitive to the acoustics surrounding him and needing constant adjustments to his in-ear-monitors, so singing live with a big mask on is clearly a challenge. It also makes his vocals sound somewhat muffled.

New clues to the Viking’s identity included him waving an American flag, which would point to “Take On Me” topping the Billboard chart in 1985. The Viking throwing away sheet music hints to the fact that Morten took piano lessons for a number of years as a child, but never learnt to read music, instead preferring to discover music on his own. Breaking records would include a-ha setting a world record for the largest paying concert audience in 1991 and Morten setting a record for the longest note held in a pop song with “Summer Moved On” in 2000. He is also the “proud owner of a Blue Peter badge”, which he got when he was a guest on the show in 1986.

Other masked singers in this episode included Grandfather Clock, Harlequin, Bush Baby and Blob. At the end Viking and Grandfather Clock were the singers with the least amount of votes, so they had to do a sing-off.

Morten chose Seal’s “Crazy” from 1990 as his second song, in which he also appeared to be struggling to maintain the right pitch. But luckily for Morten it turned out he was only up against a former football player and manager, as the Grandfather Clock had to take off his mask and reveal himself to be Glenn Hoddle. So Morten is on to the next episode, to air Saturday 23 January, when he’ll compete against all the seven other masked singers who remain in the contest.

The whole episode from yesterday can be seen here.

Is Morten on The Masked Singer in the UK?

Viking on The Masked Singer, 2 January 2021

The a-ha fan community lit up last night, when a very familiar voice appeared on the UK version of The Masked Singer on ITV.

Dressed up as a viking, the person inside performed a haunting version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird”. The video can be seen here.

The clues given were also a clear indication who might be inside the costume, as can be seen in a video posted here. “King’s rock” equals Kongsberg in Norwegian – the city where Morten was born. He played the role of The King in the Norwegian-dubbed version of the movie Mirror Mirror. And he has been a mentor on two seasons of The Voice in Norway.

Additionally, the viking said he also wears “another kind of armour”. All three members of a-ha have been appointed Knights First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.

In September 2009 Morten selected a number of his favourite songs for “Tracks of my years” on the Ken Bruce show on BBC Radio 2, and the first song he chose was Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird”.

“Christine McVie is one of the singers that have had the most influence on me. She’s credited, obviously, for her voice, for her singing and songwriting. I just think she’s greater than that. It’s the tone of her voice, the way she uses it. I think she’s truly great”, Morten told Ken Bruce back then. Later that same month he performed “Songbird” at a solo concert in Norway.

The judges and studio audience on The Masked Singer liked what they heard, and Viking is through to the next round. He beat Seahorse, who turned out to be Mel B from the Spice Girls.

According to Deadline, the second season of The Masked Singer was shot over eight nights at Bovingdon Studios, north of London, in September 2020.

The show has also been a big hit in Norway recently, as Maskorama, where the influencer Herman Dahl was revealed to be inside the viking costume.

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.

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.

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