The group behind the creation of the brand new ABBA Voyage reside expertise have spoken to NME about the way it was made, in addition to what might be subsequent for each the present and the band. Watch our video interview above.
Premiering earlier this week on the purpose-built ABBA Enviornment in Stratford, East London, to a delighted response from followers, the formidable manufacturing sees a “digital” model of ABBA (or ‘ABBAtars’) performing alongside a 10-piece reside band (put along with the assistance of Klaxons’ James Righton).
Engaged on the present with ABBA have been Svana Gisla (who produced Jay-Z and Beyoncé‘s On the Run Tour), choreographer Wayne McGregor, Johan Renck (who directed David Bowie‘s movies for ‘Blackstar’ and ‘Lazarus’), Baillie Walsh (who has directed for Huge Assault and Bruce Springsteen) and producer Ludvig Andersson (son of ABBA’s Benny Andersson and producer of And Then We Danced, Yung Lean‘s ‘In My Head’ and Mamma Mia! Right here We Go Once more).
“We did an terrible lot of analysis and growth on this, as you possibly can think about,” Gisla instructed NME from the pink carpet. “We did two years of attempting to determine what that is. We put a whole lot of time into the philosophical aspect of it. This isn’t nearly expertise, that is about emotion. We needed to grasp the core of ABBA and the music and tips on how to ship it in 2022.
“Numerous that is about restraint. When all the expertise and every little thing is out there to you, it turns into an train in restraint. The music is the guiding mild.”
Gisla mentioned that there was “nothing nostalgic about this live performance aside from the music”, and that the entire method was very forward-thinking.
“ABBA appear like they did in 1979, however they’re firmly rooted within the now and sooner or later. Every part else is as ahead as it may be,” she mentioned. “You’re going to see a whole lot of issues that you just’ve by no means seen earlier than. The sensation of being inside the sector can be distinctive, it’s very immersive. Individuals use that phrase rather a lot, however whenever you go in there you’ll totally realise the capabilities of an immersive setting. It’s like being within the eye of the storm.”
Requested about how lengthy the present might be set to run for, Gisla replied: “I don’t need to jinx it, but when this can be a success then we will be right here for a couple of years. We’re on borrowed land, we didn’t break any floor, the sector is moveable and we are able to pack up and go away after we aren’t needed anymore.
“I hope the viewers needs us to remain for a bit, as a result of we really feel like we’ve made one thing actually particular.
Director Baillie Walsh, in the meantime, mentioned it was surreal that the “dream” from inside his head lastly now on the stage for folks to see. Walsh sternly denied that what followers could be seeing was “a hologram”, and in reality one thing fairly completely different.
“We filmed ABBA for 5 weeks,” he mentioned. “Wayne McGregor prolonged their strikes into youthful our bodies – our doubles – and we blended these performances collectively. Now we’ve our 2022 ABBA.
“It was very emotional each day. It was like NASA in having so many individuals within the studio each day, however the entire studio have been in tears most days. It was actually extraordinary.”
Requested why it was essential to construct their very own venue for the undertaking, Walsh mentioned that it was wanted to match the ambition of the idea.
“ABBA’s ambition for this undertaking was a lovely factor, and it was a inventive ambition, somewhat than a money-making train,” he mentioned. “Constructing the sector was simply a part of that. You’ll be able to have extra lights since you’re not shifting round from venue to venue and it’s bespoke. I may design the present round this constructing.”
As for a way lengthy the present might be set to run in London for, he mentioned: “It’s as much as the followers actually. I hope it’s a vacation spot for a protracted, very long time.”
It’s now believed that the idea might be copied for different veteran acts, however Walsh mentioned it may not be really easy to mimic.
“ABBA have been so concerned on this,” he mentioned. “They’re the guts and soul of it. There aren’t many bands like ABBA round. A posthumous present wouldn’t have the identical form of feeling. The followers know that ABBA are concerned and that this isn’t a cynical train. That is ABBA.”
Choreographer Wayne McGregor agreed – detailing what went in to capturing the pop icons’ dance strikes and actions.
“We’re utilizing a course of known as movement seize, which you’ve most likely seen in films,” he mentioned. “We use these little dots to take the maths out your physique. We take all these zeroes and ones and put them into a pc and construct an avatar. It’s a protracted course of. It captures the essence of you, however then we actually must work into that.
“I used to be taking dance strikes from them – I wouldn’t dare present ABBA dance strikes. I simply needed them to be themselves and get them again into their efficiency power, as a result of they haven’t carried out for some time. Then I needed to work with the physique doubles to rework a few of that tremendous bodily from the ‘70s into maths and discover a method of mixing the 2.”
Having fun with these weeks of getting the band carry out and sing earlier than him, McGregor described their time collectively as “excellent”.
“It’s insane to have these superb performers sing their complete catalogue in entrance of you,” he mentioned. “They have been so daring, courageous and into it. It was actually thrilling. How superb is it to have this legacy undertaking the place you possibly can see ABBA again and again? It’s a bit of theatre, a bit of efficiency, a live performance like no different. You actually really feel such as you’re contained in the music and that’s fabulous.”
He added: “For this present, the expertise marries emotion and brings the emotion of these songs immediately into you. I really like the truth that audiences can really are available and dance whereas watching. I’ll be again, each Friday evening!”
Co-executive producer Renck, mentioned that he ranked his expertise of working with ABBA amongst his bucket-list initiatives of working with Bowie, however “in a really completely different capability”.
“My total upbringing was about music,” he instructed NME. “Every part that’s me is music in a technique or one other. It’s an important factor for me ever, and the life journey of being seven or eight-years-old and my mom taking part in ABBA within the automotive to being right here now’s a fairly substantial factor, isn’t it?”
He remained coy about particulars of the present itself, however mentioned: “I’m not going to let you know something as a result of it’s higher to only come and witness it. It’s a really distinctive expertise in all types of the way. Whether or not you’re an ABBA fan or not.
“I’m utilizing the phrase ‘expertise’ rather a lot, nevertheless it takes you to a spot you haven’t been earlier than.”
We additionally requested every of the group in the event that they felt that this actually might be the final we see of ABBA.
“I believe that is the ultimate factor,” replied Gisla. “They’re fairly real in that, however they’ve mentioned that earlier than. I believe that is it. It took rather a lot to make and it was exhausting work, from us and from them.”
Walsh additionally mentioned that he “didn’t suppose” ABBA would reunite for any initiatives once more, whereas Renck added: “Who is aware of? I’m certain that a few of these 4 don’t see it as an endgame, in any form or kind. Benny is music, that’s what he lives, breathes and does each day. That’s by no means going to cease. No matter iteration that comes out, who is aware of? However I don’t suppose there’s any form of punctuation available.”
Watch our full video interview with the creators of ABBA Voyage on the prime of the web page.
All 4 members of ABBA additionally spoke to NME on the pink carpet, telling us in regards to the expertise of reuniting and what is perhaps on the horizon for the band.
When requested if the live performance was a parting present from the band, Björn Ulvaeus mentioned: “I believe that is it. It’s unhappy to say that however then once more, you possibly can all the time take it again, can’t you? So the reply is, it might be sure, it might be no.”
In the meantime, Benny Andersson joked: “That is what you’ll see, that is what you’ll get. Then we’ll go house and we’ll sleep.”
In a 5 star evaluation of ABBA Voyage, NME concluded: “Ageing rockers and poppers are sure to mimic the concept, nevertheless it’ll be a wrestle to return near the expertise of ABBA Voyage. We for one welcome our new ABBAtar overlords, if just for giving these songs again to us in a completely new and joyful method.”