Posts Tagged ‘true north’

Update on True North album

a-ha in Bodø, November 2021
(Photo by Lasse Jangås – see more of his photos here)

After several days of rehearsals, it seems the main recording session for the True North album together with the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra took place in Bodø on November 4th and 5th.

Karl Oluf Wennerberg posted a Facebook picture together with drummer colleague Per Hillestad on Friday night, saying:
“The a-ha album recording is now finished. We have both participated as best we can 🙂 Per Hillestad, you’re a great guy in every way. Thanks for the company. Hoping the world will embrace the upcoming album/concert film.”

Another picture posted by Karl Oluf reveals that one of the songs on True North is indeed Magne’s “You Have What It Takes”, while Paul posted a video clip from rehearsals that included the hashtag “#makemeunderstand” – which may also be a song title.

A series of pictures from the True North sessions taken by Lasse Jangås, head of communications for Arctic Philharmonic, was posted on Facebook. One of them includes a glimpse of a list of the 12 songs on the album. Although it’s hard to make out what it says, in addition to “You Have What It Takes” it seems to include Magne’s songs “I’m In”, “Between the Halo and the Horn” and “Bluest of Blue”. Possibly also Paul’s song “Make Me Understand”, if that’s the title.

Arctic Philharmonic has posted an article about the project on their website, with text and photos by Lasse Jangås. It includes some quotes by Paul:

“We have a bit of a chequered past, and instead of going through three months of bickering in a recording studio we wanted to try out a new way of making an album”, Paul says in the article.

“The initial idea was to film everything in a regular studio, but then this idea came along, to do it with Arctic Philharmonic in Bodø. And this is really exciting. It’s always fun to work with a good orchestra – it adds entirely new colours to the music.”

Half of the songs on the album have been written by Magne, while the other half were written by Paul. And while Magne’s songs were arranged for orchestra by Kjetil Bjerkestrand, Paul songs have been arranged by Joe Mardin.

To conduct the Arctic Philharmonic orchestra, renowned Swedish musician Anders Eljas was brought in for the occasion. He is full of praise for the True North project and a-ha’s songwriting:

“Two different songwriters and two different arrangers gives the album something extra, different colours and a good dynamic. I don’t like it when an album is too even, and Paul and Magne’s different characters provides the album with different facets and will make it interesting to listen to”, he tells Lasse Jangås in the article.

“This is a band that writes songs with a unique character and that cares about how it sounds. And the songs are really good!”, Eljas says.

a-ha in Bodø to record True North

Magne inside the Svømmehallen concert hall in Bodø
(Screenshot from TV2)

a-ha arrived in Bodø a few days ago, to prepare for the recording of the new film and album called True North during the coming week. They are joined by Even Ormestad, Kjetil Bjerkestrand (who has done some of the string arrangements) and Karl Oluf Wennerberg – plus a second drummer; Per Hillestad, who was a-ha’s drummer from 1990-94. In total, a crew of 100 people will be at work on the project.

Karl Oluf behind the drums in Bodø
(Screenshot from TV2)

Earlier in the month a-ha had been rehearsing at Studio Paradiso in Oslo, the same studio where Paul did some recording sessions with Per Hillestad back in the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, Arctic Philharmonic recorded the string parts for True North at Store Studio in Bodø on 15 October. This was partly to see if the arrangements were working and partly as backup if something should fail during the upcoming live performance.

TV2’s evening news had a report from the Svømmehallen concert hall in Bodø on Friday, where Magne was interviewed about the project. It can be seen on TV2 Play (subscribers only). There is also an article on TV2.no.

Magne could be seen playing what appeared to be a melody line from “You Have What It Takes”, which may indicate it’s one of the songs that will end up on True North.

“This is a special project because we’re joined by Arctic Philharmonic, which provides a larger pallette to use. We have challenged our own sound in different ways previously as well, but this is where we’re at right now. This is a-ha’s diary from 2019/20/21”, Magne tells TV2.

Over on Instagram, Paul posted some pictures and video clips from a shoot with Stian Andersen in Bodø, which will probably be used as part of the True North film.

The planned release date for True North is late 2022.

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