Last month, we asked fans to submit questions they’d like to ask Paul for a Q&A on a-ha.com – and the response was overwhelming! Thank you all for your thoughtful questions, and for your patience while Paul wrote up his responses 🙂
Below is Part I of the Q&A, we’ll post Part II later in the week.
Without further ado: Paul catches us up on the past three years!
Hi Paal, first thanks for all the great music since ’85, your records with A-ha and Savoy have never been far away from my turntable or CD player since then.
I could ask you a million questions, but I’d like you to tell where the initial idea, musically or lyrically for your song ‘Sycamore Leaves’ came from…? Is it a ‘b-side’ to ‘I’ve Been Losing You’ thematically, who’s the character or were you just out driving on a rainy eve and got inspired? Is it written for a film or with a film in mind? I read that Lynch nicked the idea/title after you sent him some music… ? I can see why he would love the track. (Henrik Irgens)
Thank you for the kind words, Henrik.. hope you enjoy the fruit basket I sent you this Christmas! (joke)
‘Sycamore Leaves’. Words like that are like a gift because the music and rhythm seem to be inherently there already.
To me it gives the song a distinct face from the get-go. We did indeed send it to David Lynch for a possible video, but were told he was too busy trying to figure out how to end his tv-series, ‘Twin Peaks’. But hey, that’s how these things work. You get an idea in five minutes then spend 5 weeks looking for the missing bits.
Paul, was the ‘Foot of the Mountain’ album originally going to be called ‘Digital’ since it’s more a ‘digital synth sounding’ album and ‘Analogue’ is more an ‘analogue rock sounding’ album? Was it a case of all three members of a-ha agreeing to test which ‘a-ha sound’ sounded best as in a ‘analogue versus digital sound’? (Declan Hughes)
It might have been a suggestion from someone, but it was never really considered. I’m not crazy about the sound of that word.
Hello sir. Well mine isn’t really a question. I just really want to thank you Mr. Waaktaar (Or Savoy? I’m sorry sir.) Your music has really helped me be happier ever since I was little girl. A-ha is by far one of my favorite bands and the music you have done after A-ha is just as amazing if not more so. And I really can not thank you enough sir. So thank you so much Mr. Waaktaar. Oh and I do have a question as well. When can we be expecting more of your music? (Kira Renteria)
Another fruit basket earned. More music is on the way.
Hi Paul, do you prefer recording and performing as a solo artist or as a band member?
Also why wasn’t the wonderful ‘Weathervane’ song released outside of Norway? After all, you are an international rock star with an international fan base. (Andrew Bowes)
I like both.
I’m not very good at promoting the music once it’s made. Getting it out there, finding the right people to help me, etc…
I normally just start on the next thing. But hey, I signed up to Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud. Shocking, eh?
Hello Pål, I have been going a lot to Oslo in the last few years and I know almost all the neighbourhoods and bars in town. I confess that when I am taking a walk over there I wonder if there is a street or a specific place in that town that inspired a song of yours…
Following on the same train of inspiration, I read Hunger/SULT from Knut Hamsun and I find it impressive the similarities of the songs from “Scoundrel Days” and Hamsun’s work. Does that make any sense?
My top 5 favourite songs by A-ha always had a link with the wind, cold/winter, rain and night. “Hurry Home”, “The Weight Of The Wind”, “Sycamore Leaves”, “Cold As Stone” and “Start Simulator”. Is there any chance that you might sing one of these songs on your next tour? The same way when Morten sings a few of them, I believe that these songs remind me of you.
Finally, I hope that Waaktaar isn’t just a single project. I see enormous potential in you as a singer and musician, and I would really like to see you in a solo career, as Waaktaar. Announce your tour dates in Norway soon because I will be there! Good Luck!! Klem fra São Paulo! (Lily Krás)
Oslo was quite different when I grew up, and you could walk pretty much everywhere – which I did. It definitely had it’s own strong color, but of course, we only dreamt of leaving it back then.
Hunger/SULT (and other works) by Knut Hamsun are of course huge in Norway. Similar to Catcher in the Rye over here or Crime and Punishment over there……when you read those books as a teenager, you just disappear into the characters for a good while.
I’m working on an album to be released under “Waaktaar”. It should be ready shortly after the summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload some individual tracks long before that.
Would you consider doing a limited edition guitar album of your most memorable/ favourite a-ha & Savoy songs? From early to present. But in your unique way! (Barnaby Strong)
That could be fun actually!
In the a-ha book by Jan Ohmdahl, you answered in your top 10 a-ha Songs. No 6 is “Time and again”. You wish that somebody would cover the song. Who should sing the song? What about Helene Fischer, talented German female Singer? And you could produce it 🙂 (Alexander Schill)
Alexander; that song was originally written for a girl’s voice so yes, ..it would be nice to hear it as intended. I actually have a version like this “In the can” as they say.
Paul, I follow your work with Savoy and…I don’t like it. Sorry. Your new work appears to be more similar with a-ha genre. Am I right?
When It’s the estimated date for the release of your new album? Thanks a lot. (Mauro)
Are you right? Dunno, it all blends to me.
P.S No fruit basket for you!
Paul.. It was lovely to hear your new song. I remember you selling some music equipment a while ago is there something you regret selling, or something you wish you’d brought? (Miranda-ha Joy Neo Worby)
Ha, I sold 20 vintage synths to Max Martin a few years back. I might regret a couple of those for sure. I also regret selling the Gibson SG that I used on the Bridges album. Would love to get that one back.
I traded it in for a synth-guitar that was going to make us rich and famous.
– A while ago it was news that you were writing/producing other artists. Then we heard of Linnea Dale. Who else are you working with and who would you like to work with?
– You chose ‘Manmade Lake’ as a solo come back song. This song was originally meant to be on a-ha’s ‘Foot Of The Mountain’. Why did you pick this particular song instead of a new track? And why did you choose to use all the voice distortions? Will your future music be more electronic?
– And last but not least: when can we hear your new album? We’ve been missing you 🙂 (Caterina Quaglia)
Yes, I did 3 or 4 songs with Linnea Dale which was a blast. I always liked her voice a lot. The songs we did are “Better Days”, “Better without you” and the 3rd one, which is even better, called “With Eyes Closed”. check ’em out when her album comes out next month.
“Manmade Lake”: it’s been a favorite of mine for a while. It was written around the overdriven guitar riff in the outro and I’ve been looking for a way to present it. The voice is run through a guitar amp which I thought strengthened the mood and related to the words, particularly
in the second verse. Sort of like a ground-to-air type voice.
I can really picture these 2 guys. Out on the water,.at the crack of dawn,.having a moment of clarity. At one with the universe. Two close friends, surrounded by Nature. The fact that they are half-baked, one’s asleep and they’re on an artificial lake doesn’t really take anything away from it.
Hi Paul: would you consider releasing any future or past work in multitrack (like Apparatjik’s latest album) for us the fans to remix? Thanks! (Carlos Macia)
Sure Carlos, what do you need?
Hi Paul, thanks for answering our questions. I’d really like to know if you are planning to do any live shows in the future – if you play in New York I would be on the plane in a flash (but don’t let that put you off announcing a gig!!!). I’m so excited to hear ‘Manmade Lake’ & look forward to more new songs. (Nicola Hunt)
A lot of people ask about gigs and that would have been so nice to do! I have to admit it was easier when our son was tiny and you could just throw him over your shoulder and off we’d go. It’s a bit harder now that he’s in Junior High. I also love the fact that I’m around to experience it all after doing so much traveling for so many years.
We have to play some shows though, one of these days..
I want to know please, how does it feel when your innermost thoughts and feelings become song lyrics and are then ‘out there’ for ‘public consumption’? (Helen Delargy Burr)
Helen, it’s fine if it’s Morten or someone else is singing. It gives you that ‘layer’. But if it’s me and the song is being presented, I’ve probably stepped out of the room already, he he.
I’d love to know why the song “Scoundrel Days” was never released as a single?? And is it true “Living a boy’s adventure tale” was almost the 5th single release off the “Hunting high and low” album? (David Whaite)
“Living a boy’s” was very early on earmarked as a potential single candidate.
Before that demo was made we had focused our energy on coming up with something super-catchy and poppy. Things like “Nothing to it” and “Dot the I” etc…thinking singles had to be that light to get on the radio; it was a relief when a&r man Andrew Wickham preferred songs like “Adventure tale”.
We would always suggest songs like “Scoundrel Days” or “Swing of things” for singles, but was always given some reason why they were un-suitable for radio.
My question for Mr WS is: Parallel fifths…good or bad? 🙂 (Christopher Hopkins)
I would have to go with ‘good’ here.
Paul, thank you for sharing “Manmade Lake” with us! It is absolutely beautiful!! I am curious who made a song in the Lauren’s short film Scent of a Woman. Were you involved in the songwriting? (Mayumi Highbarger)
That song is so catchy and is written by Lauren. The recording was done by yours truly for a nominal fee. (Zero Dollars) I love it and hope to include it on the next Savoy album.
Hi Paul, I’ve been dying to ask you this! Why did you use “Eyes of a Blue Dog” by García Márquez in “The Blood That Moves the Body”? I mean, of all books, why that one? (Clara Cunha)
It was probably just lying on the table in front of me at the time:-)
Though lyric wise it’s probably more inspired by Yukio Mishima I would think.
There’s no way Paul you could not be writing, recording and releasing music from 2010 till now! You live for music, that’s for sure. So when you’re going to supply us with your new albums? Don’t hide them 🙂 (John Farnharm)
Aside from the projects I’m mentioning in this q&a, there are two other albums I’m working on which are very, very close to my heart.
I have to talk about those at another time though.
Tags: Interviews, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, Releases, Savoy