Here you will get to meet Frida in a new way. Honestly and openly she answers all our questions. It is the real picture of Frida emerging. A struggling girl who hates intolerance and gives her all for her friends and her work.
Frida is sitting by one of the tables at Grand's Stora Vinterträdgård. For the first time in her life she is the host of a TV-show. And that in front of five TV-cameras and an audience of 5.000.000 viewers.
But Frida has proven herself to be a natural TV-host. She is very sure of her self on stage. She acts, sings and cracks jokes. And no matter how much her co-host Clabbe af Geijerstam tries to put her on the spot she always manages to give a great comeback to his questions.
All of the time Frida is hugging people and is showing her affection and warmth. She is by no way making out that she is any more special than the others on stage. Quite the opposite, she lets the others shine. She is constantly following her script and knows exactly what is going to happen and when.
I walk up to her and ask her if it's OK that I ask her some questions. To my big suprise she says that it's fine with her.
I have heard here that a lot of people are so surprised that you are such a surprisingly good TV-host?
Frida looks surprised and says:
- It's only because they have only seen me with ABBA before.
Have you done anything like this before?
- Oh no, not in front of an audience.
What about parties, have you been the one making speeches etc?
- Oh, no, yuk, I've never liked that kind of thing.
Then why did you agree to host this series of TV-shows?
- It was Claes (Clabbe af Geijerstam) who contacted me just after Christmas and asked if I would consider it. And to be honest, it took a couple of months of persuasion. At first I was a little scared. But I do trust Claes a lot so finally I thought, why not, and I said yes. Now I think it's the greatest thing I've ever done. I have been involved from the beginning and has been given a chance to give my input on how the show should turn out. I've been able to coordinate a lot of things and even choose some of the songs. Yes, I've been a part of everything that has lead to this show. I find it especially stimulating that the show isn't only based on solo performances, but instead all the guests are involved in almost every number.
Claes comes in and asks Frida to join him. The taping is about to begin. I ask Frida if we can continue this interview a little later.
- Do you have many questions, she asks.
And I foolishly say "no" not to scare her off.
- Then it's OK, just call me when the rehearsals are over, says Frida.
When you think about Frida's background and her development you can't help to get impressed. Today she is 36 years old and she is still developing herself. Not just as a TV-show host. Soon she is going to America and maybe record a solo album over there. And she is hoping that Björn and Benny soon will get their musical together. She has been training dancing and singing for something like this for years. Through the years she has developed into a free Woman who can stand on her own. It has been a long road. A real Cinderella story, would be perfect to export to movie studios of Hollywood.
With a father, a German soldier, who disppeared from her life before she was even born. And a mother who died when Frida was only two years old. The escape to Sweden. The poor years when her grandmother supported them both by cleaning and sewing. The first marriage and the life as a housewife with two kids.
1967 is the first time you could read about Frida in the papers. During the years there has been a lot more headlines and stories.
When Frida comes back after the rehearsals, we sit down at a table as far away from the stage as possible. Frida is, as always, beautifully dressed. And it strikes me how beautiful she is in real life. Whether she is on stage or is sitting like this right in front of you. She is like the comic magazine's number one beauty, Modesty Blaise. Tall, slender, professional with a natural distance to the world around her with a pair of green eyes that makes you curious about her.
As I start to ask the first question the orchestra starts playing, very loudly.
What is the most fun, I scream, to be a TV-host or singing with ABBA?
- Both are fun, but you can't compare them. They are so completely different, Frida shouts back.
Have you prepared yourself for this job?
- How do you mean, prepared?
Well, standing in front of the mirror, working with your voice and stuff like that? Frida laughs.
- No, I certainly haven't done that. All we say and do are more or less improvised. I only do what I feel works the best.
Do you have a role model on TV, someone you think is good?
- Not really, I mean I don't want to be imitating anyone. I thought Dick Cavett was good when he interviewed us. This is what I think Frida says, the orchestra is SO loud.
- Don't worry, Frida shouts, this is the last song. But the orchestra plays on and Frida seems to give up.
- We can't do this right now. Let's see if we can find some other place to sit down where we can hear what we are saying. Frida finds a calm and quiet room above the the stage. Frida is wearing a pair of tinted glasses, but I can see that she looks me straight in the eye during the whole interview, in a sort of a probing way.
Are you nervous when you have to talk in to the camera and to the audience?
- Not really, no. Claes is a great support, so I feel safe.
In the show you are making some really sharp remarks about the tabloid press. What stories have irritated you the most?
- There are so many. First of all there is way to much writing going on about us. And our private lives are exposed without any respect. I think we have been treated very badly by the tabloid press. They use faked interviews and now, the latest story was that Benny left me because I spend 10.000 kronor on clothes every month. What do they know about that? And where do they get it from?
Are there any more lies like that has agitated you?
- Yes, there is. But I don't want to talk about them. I really don't know why I am sitting here talking you about it. I thought we were going to talk about the TV-show? Frida says and gives me a stern look.
Well, but it's mostly about the show, I try to defend myself.
- Well, mumbles Frida. But she doesn't look angry at all anymore.
Do you have any plans for more tours with ABBA at the moment?
- No, no plans of that whatsoever.
Is being a superstar something that makes you happy? Frida ponders the question:
- I guess you are happy in the way that you have achieved what you set out to do. That you have become successfull in your line of work. But apart from that I don't think you are happier than anyone else.
But you are a symbol of happiness for many people. You are beuatiful, you're one of the singers in one of the world's biggest groups, you are rich and you are a self-made-woman.
Frida looks surprised and smiles. It really seems that it surprises her that some people see her that way.
- What people forget is all the hard work behind the success. It is actually very hard work both to tour and record albums.
Do you have a favourite group or a favourite song?
- Wow, there are so many good ones to choose from. I guess it depends on what kind of mood you are in. I like all kind of music. I don't have any special favourite artist or group. In this show there is some really good music that I personally like a lot. This show is aimed at our own age group, which is quite unusual nowadays. I really hope people our age will watch this show. And people of all ages as well of course.
But when you were younger and sang jazz, didn't you have any idols back then?
- Yes, Anita O'day and Ella Fitzgerald were singers I really admired. But I never really sang jazz. I don't know where that "fact" has come from. I sang evergreens but never jazz. "My Funny Valentine", which I sang, is not jazz. At Fasching (a jazz club in Stockholm) that's where they play what I call real jazz.
It's sort of a "difficult" genre, I guess it's something you have had to be "brought up on" from when you were a child?
- Yes, I believe that is true. It's a quite complicated form of music with it's different sounds and variations. A bit like classical music. Which is something I often listen to at home.
What are you favourites?
- Vivaldi and Mozart.
The phone rings, Frida excuses herself and walks off to take the call. The she runs out to find one of the girls on the staff who the call was for. She is certainly no diva. Frida comes back and apologizes for the interruption. She sits down and says:
- I can't believe what I'm doing here. I hate these kinds of interviews. But she says it without any irritation. I think there are two personalities disagreeing within her all the time. One wants to be accomodating and nice and answer the questions she is being asked. But on the other hand there's someone in her who doesn't want to do these kind of interviews ever, or at least very rarely. I get the feeling she is continuing this interview just to be nice to me, since she promised.
What is the worst thing in a person you dislike the most?
- I hate it when people are intolerant. People with prejudice. Who make up their minds before they have really tried to understand the situation.
Is it difficult to be as famous as you are?
- Not so much here in Sweden. I really don't think much about the fact that I'm a celebrity. I can go out shopping, go to restaurants and move around like everybody else. But it can be difficult, especially on our tours abroad, when people know that we are coming. Then there are crowds with kids everywhere. At the airport, at the hotel and everywhere we go. But that's only when we are touring. Otherwise I don't see it as a very big problem.
FROM VECKO-REVYN 16 SEPTEMBER 1981