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ABBA hopes to go one better than Elvis and Michael Jackson with new immersive performance

Swedish music band ABBA, proven right here as wax figures, have offered over 400 million data worldwide.

Jonathan Nackstrand | Afp | Getty Photographs

Pop legends ABBA are taking an enormous punt on their newest immersive mission, founding member Bjorn Ulvaeus has instructed CNBC.

The much-anticipated immersive efficiency referred to as ABBA Voyage is billed as “a live performance 40 years within the making,” and options digital avatars of the Swedish supergroup accompanied by a 10-piece dwell band.

Talking in late April forward of its long-awaited world premiere in London, U.Ok., this week, Ulvaeus instructed CNBC it was “a hell of a dangerous mission in so some ways.”

“The chance is, after all, that individuals will not discover it to be the expertise that I feel and hope will probably be. That’s the fundamental factor. If folks would go from the live performance considering, yeah, properly, that wasn’t unhealthy however … We would like them to really feel, you understand, emotional and to really feel that they’ve gone by one thing that they’ve by no means seen earlier than.”  

Final album

The pop icon additionally confirmed to CNBC that the much-loved band’s 2021 chart-topping “Voyage” album – their first in 40 years — will likely be their final.

ABBA — Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — launched onto the world stage after profitable the Eurovision Track Contest with “Waterloo” in 1974. 

The band has gone on to promote over 400 million data worldwide, and as soon as reportedly got here solely second to Volvo as one in every of Sweden’s largest exports. 

It has been 40 years for the reason that band final carried out collectively and Ulvaeus mentioned he was “nervous and thrilled.”

He mentioned he expects this week’s opening of the ABBA Voyage digital live performance to be “so extremely particular” and beat every other second in his skilled life to this point.

Within the newest episode of “The CNBC Dialog,” Ulvaeus says the thought first took place 5 years in the past — to create digital “ABBA-tar” copies of the band from their 1979 prime, in a cutting-edge know-how live performance.

He mentioned trials had been executed earlier than with Michael Jackson and Elvis, however the crew behind the know-how had been eager to make use of it with dwelling figures.

“It is higher to do it with somebody who remains to be alive as a result of your skull, despite the fact that the remainder of your physique falls aside … the measurements within the skull are the identical, so it is simpler to recreate a youthful copy of your self when you’re nonetheless alive,” Ulvaeus mentioned.

To create the human-like avatars, the 4 members of the band, who at the moment are of their seventies, wearing movement seize fits and carried out all the songs on stage in a specifically constructed studio in Stockholm, Sweden.

“They’d costume us in type of tight costumes, black with dots on them and there have been dots on our faces, and we might have helmets. After which we would go on that stage and we might carry out a music nearly as if we had carried out it on ‘Prime of the Pops,’ the outdated British [TV] program,” he mentioned.

“It was bizarre at first. I imply, I used to be wanting round and there is Agnetha doing her stuff, and Benny, similar to the outdated days. However ultimately, it was enjoyable.”

Deep fakes

Ulvaeus mentioned the band had been main the way in which with the know-how behind ABBA Voyage. 

“We’re pioneers on this discipline, to make avatars, to construct digital copies which are as human beings — to the pores, by the hairs within the nostril, by all the things [it] will make you are feeling after some time that it is a human being, this isn’t digital, it is a video of a human being, and it is nice enjoyable to be the pioneer and to do it on this context,” he mentioned.

However the celebrated star mentioned he does fear about how the know-how may very well be misused by these eager to create “deep pretend.”

“I noticed that it may very well be misused, and will probably be misused. Not our avatars, however different avatars will likely be used as autos saying issues that the unique folks do not imply, pretend, I imply, deep pretend. Deep pretend goes to be indistinguishable from the actual factor going ahead and that is one thing we actually must be careful for,” he mentioned.

“However someone was going to do it anyway, so I believed possibly to do it in a optimistic means as pioneers can be good to point out how it may be used.”

A purpose-built “ABBA Enviornment” which might maintain a 3,000-strong viewers has been created within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

The ABBA Voyage live performance performances open to the general public on Might 27 and Ulvaeus instructed CNBC they will anticipate a success parade with just a few not so well-known songs, and a few from their newest album.


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