Posts Tagged ‘true north’

True North enters at #3 in Norway, #4 in Germany and #12 in the UK

Doing well in the charts

True North has entered the official Norwegian album chart at #3. This is the same first-week position as Cast In Steel seven years ago.

On the official German album chart True North enters at #4, which is also the same as Cast In Steel.

In the UK the album enters the official chart at #12 with 5109 copies sold in the first week, making it a-ha’s twelfth top 20 album in the UK (including compilations and live albums).

Other album chart entries so far include #5 in Switzerland, #8 in Austria, #8 in Belgium (Flanders), #11 in the Netherlands, #14 in Poland, #15 in Belgium (Wallonia), #35 in Portugal, #37 in Japan, #38 in France, #38 in Ireland, #46 in Spain and #72 in Italy. (Updated 03.11.22)

In addition, the “I’m In” single climbs to #7 on the Norwegian radio airplay chart in its eighth week, the highest position so far.

Magazine cover

On the promotional front, there have been a number of additional interviews over the last week.

Paul has spoken to the American music magazine The Big Takeover.

Morten was interviewed by BBC Radio Cornwall, the Spanish newspapers El Pais and ABC, the German Rolling Stone magazine and the Swedish news agency TT.

And Magne has been interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester (at 2:15:30 and 2:33:10) and Westsound FM in Scotland.

a-ha are also on the cover of the latest issue (#78) of Classic Pop magazine, which promises “the definitive interview with a-ha’s Morten, Magne and Paul who reveal all about their complex band dynamic and new album, True North”.

This is the third time they are on the cover of this UK magazine, following the June/July 2015 issue and the November 2017 issue.

For info on how to buy a copy, visit the Classic Pop website.

Excellent reviews for True North


a-ha’s 11th studio album True North is released today, available on CD, vinyl, digitally and as a limited deluxe edition. Here is the official link to order/stream the album.

The True North film is also released digitally today, in HD and 4K resolution for rental and purchase. Or you can find it included on a USB-card inside the deluxe edition of the album.

And a new music video for “As If” has been posted on YouTube, taken from the True North film.

Press reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Here is a selection of quotes:

Dagsavisen (Norway) – 5/6:
“40 years into their career a-ha are back with one of their finest albums. (…) Despite their long history, this is a band that stands out as highly relevant in 2022.”

Dagbladet (Norway) – 5/6:
“True North is an album that cements the band as unique songwriters and at the same time displays new sounds and solutions. Few bands with a 40-year career are able to do the same.”

NRK (Norway) – 5/6:
“Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy have contributed six songs each. In a miraculous way they’ve managed to create a fully cohesive album that’s also full of variety. They master both nostalgia and the contemporary.”

Hymn (Sweden) – 7/10:
“If you are not touched by the band’s beautiful melancholy or by the divine singing, you have no heart. (…) I feel they have created an excellent album.”

Laut (Germany) – 5/5:
“(…) their best album since 1993. (…) An album split between forward-looking experimentation and nostalgia. A masterpiece that combines all their strengths.”

Rolling Stone (Germany) – 4/5:
“A late masterpiece from the Norwegian trio. (…) Adult pop has rarely been better defined, thanks in part to a distinctive but understated singer like Morten Harket.”

Albumism (USA) – 4,5/5:
“Thumbing their nose at preconceived notions around their identity has allowed Waaktaar-Savoy, Furuholmen and Harket to build a discography bursting with accomplished recordings. a-ha continue on in this tradition with True North, another gem in their pop crown – long may they reign.”

AllMusic – 3,5/5:
“It’s a grown-up pop record chock-full of beautifully written songs replete with musical reinvention, sonic evolution, and abundant creativity.”

New interviews include Morten being a guest on BBC Radio Devon and BBC Radio Bristol (at 1:20:30), Magne interviewed by Swedish music magazine Zero and appearing on BBC Radio WM and all three interviewed in the Daily Express.

Paul on True North: “I’m pleased with this album”

Photo by Jakob

UK newspaper The Sun had an interview with all three members of a-ha this weekend, ahead of the release of True North on 21 October. The album gets a 4/5 rating.

Even if Magne was the one who initiated the process of True North, Paul says he was fully onboard with the idea of recording a new album:

“I was all for it as it adds to the pool of songs that we have under our belts. How many bands have been making new music for the time we have?”

“I’m always writing but I have to pick from the stuff I’m working on which will fit Morten’s voice. And working with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra changed everything. It was a different approach and an intense working period of three weeks.”

“I’m pleased with this album as I’ve toyed with a 1970s, Brazilian sound I wouldn’t normally. I’m pleased with the expanded chords and rhythms on songs like Bumblebee and Hunter In The Hills”, Paul tells the newspaper.

Another article about True North and a-ha’s legacy has appeared in The New European, written by Greg Lansdowne.

Photo by Jakob

“I think, for me, some of the best songs I’ve ever written are on this album. There’s always good material from Paul, so even though they arenʼt necessarily coming from the same place in concept they kind of find their own way”, Magne says in the article.

“[True North] became, in the end, not what I expected, not what Paul expected, certainly not what Morten expected and probably not what Stian expected. But the conglomerate of it all is the end product… and I for one feel it was really worth doing it – I don’t regret it for a second and maybe that’s the future. That’s how we get things done.”

Morten says that recording the album live at Svømmehallen Scene in Bodø – a former public swimming pool now converted into a concert hall – was a challenge for him as a vocalist:

“It was difficult to record it that way, because we went for Bodø for its cinematic possibilities, but sonically it was a challenge. I didn’t listen to anything after we did it but I picked it up again recently and it sounded better than I expected.”

Photo by Jakob

Additionally, there’s an 8-page article about True North in the latest issue of UK magazine Retro Pop, also written by Greg Lansdowne – plus a 5/5 review of the new album:

“(…) on True North they sound more united than ever, with the trio holding their own against the stunning orchestration that conjures a soundscape and a world in which the album exists. (…) the result is a standout album in their catalogue and one that’s sure to be remembered as a masterpiece of their golden years.”

In the article, Magne says “Bluest of Blue” was probably the starting point of the project and that he considers “True North” to be a sister song to “Stay On These Roads”.

It also mentions that Morten is currently working on a new solo album:

“I am writing with Peter Kvint, from Sweden, and the musical aspect is either together with him or it’s just me. (…) I’m sitting on various types of demos, looking at which way to approach them, so I can’t say as of now [when it will come out].” Morten says.

In a Q&A session in connection with a True North film screening in London last month, Magne said he originally wanted True North to consist of four songs from each band member, but Morten declined as he was busy with his solo album.

Meanwhile in LA, Paul has also been busy working on new songs. He is rumored to be working on both a Waaktaar solo album and a new Savoy album. In the last couple of months he’s posted several video clips from the studio on Instagram:
Clip 1   Clip 2   Clip 3   Clip 4

According to the Retro Pop article a-ha will be “taking a backseat for the time being”, which will hopefully provide an opportunity for solo projects to be released.

On the visual art front, Magne has been busy with several solo exhibitions lately; “aizuri-e” at Hadeland Glassverk, “esper lucat” at Kunstverket Galleri and an exhibition at Eker Gård. Plus, he’s completed his sculpture “Askekallen” in Heggedal, a commissioned piece that has been installed in the middle of a roundabout.

To celebrate the release of True North there will be a screening of the film at Svømmehallen Scene in Bodø on 21 October, followed by a Q&A where Magne Furuholmen, director Stian Andersen and a-ha manager Harald Wiik will take part. Tickets for the event are free.

True North film reactions

The mountains of Northern Norway

Stian Andersen’s film a-ha: True North premiered on nearly 500 cinemas in 26 countries on Wednesday 15 September, including Norway, Germany, UK, Ireland, Brazil, USA, Canada and Australia. Followed by Israel (Sep 19), Japan (Sep 23) and France (Sep 24).

Combining the live performance at Svømmehallen in Bodø with nature footage, actors playing out scenes and spoken statements by the band members, a-ha: True North includes ten of the songs that will be on the upcoming album, only leaving out the last two tracks “Summer Rain” and “Oh My Word”.

“There’s no doubt that a-ha is a demanding band to work with, and they choose their creative teams on the highest international level. Therefore it’s obviously great to be asked to direct such a large film project. I do have the advantage of having worked with the band for many years and already know Morten, Magne and Paul well. I have to give props to a-ha for giving me more or less full creative freedom to follow my vision and make the film I believed in. (…) The most rewarding has been the opportunity to show the movie in cinemas across the world and see the fantastic feedback that we’ve been getting”, director Stian Andersen tells Kreativt Forum.

UK’s The Times (paywall) gives the film 4/5:
“The director, Stian Andersen, filmed the process, interviewed the band and mixed in some dreamy location footage. The results are sweetly engaging, and even occasionally mesmerising.”

NRK Filmpolitiet gives it 4/6:
“True North doesn’t come across like a straight-up concert film, which is not the inention either, but rather like a 72-minute music video for the new album, their first since Cast In Steel from 2015. The sound mix is so comfortable, spotless and precisely balanced that the songs sound like studio recordings, making it obvious that the performance you see isn’t necessarily the same as you hear.

Anyone who’s seen Thomas Robsahm’s excellent documentary a-ha: The Movie will know at least one of the band members was sceptical of making a new studio album due to the band’s challenging inner dynamics. Therefore True North may be a perfect compromise, namely a live recording further processed into something you may call a studio product.

Songs like “Hunter in the Hills”, “Forest for the Trees”, “Bluest of Blue” and “You Have What it Takes” prove that Morten, Paul and Magne still retain the fantastic pop sensibilities that have defined their career through four decades.”

While it gets 3/6 from Aftenposten (paywall):
“The music that fills the album (and the movie, with the exception of two songs) sounds after one screening like familiar, mid-tempo a-ha, but is definitely a bit more organic than on the pop-clinical and fairly cold “Cast In Steel”. (…) But cinematically the music unfortunately gets a bit lost amid all the dark, melancholic and at times dramatic images that director Stian Andersen wraps around it.”

Dagens Næringsliv (paywall):
“It’s beautiful and at times gripping, but after a large number of drone shots of heavy waves you start to get a feeling of having seen an Equinor-sponsored film about sustainability. (…) An element of being a commercial for Bodø as the European Capital of Culture in 2024 is also in my mind when leaving the cinema. It’s pretty corporate.”

Other reviews have appeared in Morgenbladet (paywall) and Gigwise.

40 years of a-ha

New publicity shot by Stian Andersen

Today marks exactly 40 years since the formation of a-ha, on 14 September 1982. That was the day when Paul and Magne visited Morten’s home in Asker to wish him a happy 23rd birthday and welcome him as the new vocalist in their band.

Morten has described that moment in his 2016 memoir My Take On Me:

“On 14 September 1982 I was at home with my parents, when there was a knock at the door. It was not the first visit of the day, as it was my birthday. However, this particular visit would prove to be significant. I opened the door, and in front of me stood Paul and Magne with a potted plant, a Yucca palm. More than thirty years later, that palm is still at my parent’s house where it continues to grow and thrive. For me it’s still a symbol that reminds me of that day, which was not just my birthday, but also marked my decision to become a part of the band.”

And so began their journey; three very different individuals joined together by shared ambitions, determination and talent.

Tomorrow the story of a-ha continues, when the True North film premieres on cinemas in 29 countries around the world. Tickets are still available at

“I’m In” single release and album tracklist

“I’m In”, the first single from the upcoming a-ha album True North, was released today for download and streaming.

Here is the official music video, directed by Stian Andersen:

The new album can now be pre-ordered from the official True North web store, as CD, 2LP and an exclusive box set, along with new T-shirts. Release date 21 October.

Album tracklist:

1. I’m In (Furuholmen)
2. Hunter In The Hills (Waaktaar-Savoy)
3. As If (Waaktaar-Savoy)
4. Between The Halo And The Horn (Furuholmen)
5. True North (Furuholmen)
6. Bumblebee (Waaktaar-Savoy)
7. Forest For The Trees (Waaktaar-Savoy)
8. Bluest Of Blue (Furuholmen)
9. Make Me Understand (Waaktaar-Savoy)
10. You Have What It Takes (Furuholmen)
11. Summer Rain (Furuholmen)
12. Oh My Word (Waaktaar-Savoy)

a-ha announce new True North album details and first single “I’m In”


Today a-ha has announced the release date of their new album and film True North: 21 October 2022.

The first single is called “I’m In” and will be released this Friday, 8 July, along with a music video. It can be pre-saved using this link.

“I’m In” was originally shared by Magne on Instagram last year as a solo demo and he explains what the song is about in a new press release posted on

“Magne, who wrote the moving “I’m In”, says it is “a song about total commitment and a show of support for someone who is troubled. Real commitment is a leap of faith. Everyone knows how difficult it can be to offer commitment and support unconditionally, but this is what it takes to make anything worthwhile happen – love, friendship, change, self-improvement, careers, a better world. Easier said than done of course but it begins with an attitude, then uttering the words. After this it is all hard work to realize whatever potential your commitment has in the world. Without this attitude everything just gets bogged down with conflicting thoughts, doubts and fear. Just say it: ‘I’m in’.”

Stian Andersen has directed the accompanying True North film, which will get a cinema release in late summer and a home video release on 21 October:

“In the True North film, a-ha perform and record with the orchestra. Also caught on camera in the landscape around Bodø, Magne, Morten and Paul discuss True North. In recurring vignettes, actors portray life in the north. The multidimensional film describes a narrative arc embodying the spirit of the new songs, showing how all of us are connected to the environment. Long-time a-ha collaborator Stian Andersen is the director. “True North is a letter from a-ha, from the Arctic Circle, a poem from the far north of Norway with new music,” says Magne.”

Release details from the press release:

    • “I’m In” is issued as an audio single on 8 July 2022. The music video, drawn from the True North film, is also released on 8 July 2022.
    • The True North film is released to cinemas in selected territories world-wide by Trafalgar Releasing in late summer 2022.
    • The True North album is issued on 21 October 2022. Editions include: jewel-case CD; heavy black vinyl (2 x recycled 12’’ vinyl); limited deluxe edition (with hard-cover book including 40 pages, 2 x LPs with glued sleeves, CD in a cardboard sleeve and an USB card); digital audio long-play for download and streaming. Pre-order is available from 8 July 2022 at, where you can sign up for further information.
    • The True North film will be available for rental and purchase from 21 October 2022.

a-ha sign with RCA/Sony Music for True North release

MusikWoche reports that a-ha have signed a deal with the Sony Music-owned label RCA Records Germany to release the upcoming a-ha album True North internationally, along with its accompanying film version.

“We are very excited to be working with RCA/Sony Music for the worldwide release”, Magne says in a statement.

The 12-track True North album was recorded in Bodø last November, and is planned for release sometime in the fall of 2022.

The signing has also been announced by RCA Records Germany on Facebook and Instagram.

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

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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