ARRIVING AT OVESHOLMS castle about 10 kilometres from Kristianstad is like going back in time. The beech wood stands thick around the main building. The water lillies are floating peacefully on the surface of a small lake. If a couple of ladies dressed in crinolines with white umbrellas would appear it wouldn't surprise you.
But this is definitely not the 1600's. A gigantic stage is being built on a meadow close by. There will be a rock concert here this evening. And Orup will sing about "Stockholm has become cold". And Jonas Gardell will tell all about himself in his stand-up routine. And Richard Wolf will sing melancholy songs about complicated love. And Christer
Sandelin...? Yes, I guess it will be something about love from him aswell.
But why have all these Stockholmers ended up here out in the countryside?
It's because of Frida. Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Once a member of ABBA, now, since two years, the chairwoman of "Artister För Miljö". And as the chairwoman of this organisation she has succeeded in bringing all these city folks out to the countryside for a very good cause.
The rock concert is also a gala for the environment. All the artists perform for free and for ideological reasons. And even if Richard Wolf looks a little lost in the royal park with his pale skin and black clothes, he and the other performers have a heart that is beating for the green values.
The surplus of the takings will go to the organisation "Det Naturliga Steget", an organisation that works for a better environment which started in 1989. Frida is also a member of the board in that organisation.
FRIDA ALMOST LOOKS too good when I meet her outside of the castle. You can't talk about growing old with style. She looks just as fantastic as she did during the ABBA years.
She tells me that she has been a vegetarian for 15 years now. And as an addictive hamburger eater myself it gives me something to think about. A varied diet is a good incentive for eternal youth.
It has been very quiet about Frida lately, after ABBA's split up in the beginning of the 80's. Just a little
article here and there about her peacefull life in Switzerland with princes and princesses, but nothing more than that. The last time we heard from her musically was when she did the duet with Ratata in 1987.
And now, all of a sudden, she is here again, on stage. Even if here at Rosenholm it's only to introduce Orup, she will sing on stage at the Stockholm Castle at another music gala. That one is also for the benefit of the environment and with the king of Sweden's approval. When this article is out she will have already performed Julian Lennon's song "Saltwater" at that music gala. A song that is also the B-side of a new single. The A-side contains of Frida together with with Marie Fredriksson and Tomas Ledin, to name a few, singing "Änglamark".
So I guess it's not totally unreasonable to ask her wether she is contemplating a musical comeback.
- No, no, absolutely not, Frida laughs. The single was just a bit of fun to promote the concert at the castle.
BUT AS WE start to talk about her involvement in environmental issues she becomes very serious. It's a difficult time we are living in. With "radioactive" elks in woods where the tops of many pine trees are dying because of the acid rain. Not to mention the picking of flowers in the meadows during midsummer. Lucky is the one who is able to find seven different species during the later years. And all over us the sun is shining through a thinner layer of ozone which threatens us all with malignant melanoma.
- I read an article about the acidification of the forests, Frida says. That really got me going. I had one of those "aha-moments". I felt I had to do something. And stop being apathetic about everything that is going on around me. The fact of having all the facts in front of you and still don't do anything about it.
- Then I guess it was a matter of good timing. I had retired from my singing for a couple of years and done other things that I was interested in. I guess you could say that I was maturing as a human being. And after reading that article, my conscience told me it was time that I did something about it.
She contacted the writers of the article, Bo Thunberg who then was the information manager of
Naturskyddsföreningen, and professor Lennart Skotte at Lantbruksakademien.
- We met and I suggested a TV-series that would mix entertainment with environmental issues. They thought it was a great idea, but unfortunately it ended there.
From there she got in contact with Karl-Henrik Robert who was the one who started Det Naturliga Steget (The Natural Step) in 1989. It was an organisation working for a better environment which wanted to build a network of people from different walks of life. The first group was "Forskare för miljö" (Scientists for the environment).
- He asked me if I wanted to start a group with performers. And from that Artister För Miljö (Artists for the environment) came about. And I'm the chairwoman of that organisation now.
Other members of the board are Malin Berghagen (Lill-Babs' daughter), Jan Malmsjö, Anders Linder, Bibi Andersson and Monica and Carl-Axel Domninique.
- Nowadays we also have doctors, teachers and engieneers for the environment, so we are constantly growing.
HER INTEREST IN the nature started when she was a child. I mean it's not all that selfevident to imagine Frida in the woods with her rubber boots on walking around in the woods. Especially not since you have seen her in skintight pants and very high platform shoes singing about "Waterloo".
- There were a couple of very strange years in my life when I lived with ABBA and all the big things surrounding it. But in a way the the way comes the full circle. I was very interested in nature when I was a child. I spent a lot of time out in the woods, by myself, and I enjoyed it.
She is not very familiar with the Swedish mountains, but there are plenty of mountains in Switzerland as well.
- I hike a lot in the Swiss alps. And I ski alot. Over all I enjoy living close to nature.
- I have a dream to travel with one of those mobile homes in to the Swedish mountains up north, and go fishing in those small lakes there.
The main purpose of the Naturliga Steget is to give information about environmental issues, and from a special point.
- This thing about the principal of the circle of life. The fact that you start with the living cell and uses it as your philosophy.
RECYCLING, IN OTHER words. Both when it comes to technological methods in the industry and a private lifestyle.
- It's about making people aware through knowledge. We try to do that through seminars for the different groups. We have already have had more than a 100 artists who has held speeches and lectures.
- And the artists are a very important part, because we can be a link between the sometimes incomprehensible academic world and "ordinary people". And we talk a language most people understand.
But that doesn't mean that the artists have to sing songs about nature and environment and chemical waste.
- What's important to us is working for the knowledge being there. Then it's up to everyone to spread their message the best way they can. The only thing that matters is that you show that you are behind this important message.
WHAT ABOUT FRIDA then, privately? Does she makes sure she buys "dolphin free" tuna fish at the grocery shop?
- I don't eat fish. I only eat vegetables since the last 15 years. That's my expression of my awareness and the fact that I'm looking out for my health aswell.
- I'm not a fanatic. I just think it suits me. I also have a very normal relationship to other people as well. I don't see myself as "special" just because I've been part of something like ABBA once upon a time. The only good thing about that is that I can use that fact in this kind of work.
- I feel a strong love for nature and for people. Everytning is connected. It all goes together. I'm also a strong believer. That also contributes to the work I'm doing for the environment.
- It's not like I go to a church. I just believe in God, that's all. You don't have to be a part of a church to do that. I believe in the energy of nature.
- All this togheter gives you an inner harmony, which makes you feel ready to give everything for a worthy cause. That's how it has worked out for me anyway. And I would like to develop it as much as I can, and get as many people as possible involved in it. But it's nothing I'm trying to force on to other people. It has to come from a free choice.
SO HOW IS it at home? Separate garbage bags?
- Oh, yes. If you mean that I sort my garbage you are completely right. In Switzerland there are different collection stations everywhere. For platstic, aluminum and metal. They have come much further when it comes to sorting your garbage. But when it comes to environmental goods in the stores I think Sweden is better.
But what about those scary worms? Frida scared the sh*t out of Stina Dabrowski on a Swedish TV-show about six months ago. She presented Stina with a box of worms which she claimed could make the household garbage into soil.
- No, that was more a fun thing, she laughs. I don't have any worms. But I do have a compost.
And naturally she has full control over her make-up as well.
- I don't use make-up that has been tested on animals. And about other cosmetic products, schampoo etc there's a series where you bring your bottle back to the store and get it refilled.
THE REQUIREMENTS FOR living as you preach must then be fulfilled.
- But I don't see myself as some sort of world conscience, not at all. I'm only trying to do whatever little I can. And this is the way I do it.
- A lot of people don't think that these small things matter. It's that kind of attitude "that I'm so small" so it doesn't matter what I do.
- But that is wrong. If every individual tries to do something in their own household to improve the environment, it will mean a lot.
- It has a lot to do with changes in attitudes and changes in routines. People think it's very hard to change their routines, but it really isn't that hard. It's just a matter of making a decision. To decide that you want to do it. That is probably the hardest part, to decide.
She is not the "tree-hugger" type either.
- No, I prefer to work in a less visual way, more behind the scenes.
So there's no longing to come back to the musical limelight again?
- No, I definitely have no desire for a second musical career. I have been in this industry ever since I was a child. And I have gotten the best out of it. I love music and I love to sing. But there are also so many other things in life that are equally important.
BUT WHAT IF ABBA should get together for just one time and do a concert for Det Naturliga Steget? Imagine the headlines, all over the world.
Frida actually looks pentive for a while. And for a second I think I might have planted the seed for a new chapter in the history of pop music. But then she shakes her head.
- ABBA is not interested in doing that. We are all busy with our own things. We have developed in different directions these years that we have been apart.
The time for our interview is running out. The beech leaves are moving from the sound waves from Orup's music as he is rehearsing on stage. Above us two helicopters are flying from the close by military unit. The good Count Raoul Hamilton, a friend of Frida's for many years, is about to do a sky jump. But maybe that's a "natural step" if you're a count and your last name is Hamilton.
ALL IN ALL this concert is for the good for everyone. And with 6.000 tickets sold the future look bright for Artister För Miljö.
And, as Frida says, you can't be pessimistic even though the world might look pretty gloomy right now.
- I want the coming generations to be able to live in a beautifull, full and clean world. That is something you have to be hopefull about. Otherwise what's the point, give up?
That is something she is not doing. She is taking the microphone in her hand and walks on stage.
BY KENNETH GYSING, TIDNINGEN MED MERA 1992