The Swedish band ABBA, shown here as wax figures, has sold more than 400 million records worldwide.

Jonathan Nextstrand Afp | Getty Images

ABBA pop music legends are working on their latest exciting project, founding member Bjorn Ulveus told CNBC.

The long-awaited exciting performance called ABBA Voyage has been announced as a “concert that is being prepared for 40 years” and includes digital avatars of the Swedish supergroup accompanied by a live group of 10 people.

Speaking in late April before its long-awaited world premiere in London, UK, this week, Ulveus told CNBC it was “a damn risky project in many ways”.

“The risk, of course, is that people don’t realize it’s the experience that I think and hope it will be. That’s the main thing. If people left the concert thinking, yeah, well, it was” Bad, but … We want them to feel, you know, emotional and feel like they’ve been through something they’ve never seen before. ”

Last album

The pop icon also confirmed to CNBC that the Voyage album, which is included in the 2021 charts – their first in 40 years – will be the last.

ABBA – Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulveus, Benny Anderson and Ani-Fried Lingstad – took to the world stage after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.

The band has sold more than 400 million records worldwide and once reportedly ranked second after Volvo as one of Sweden’s largest export goods.

It’s been 40 years since the band last performed together, and Ulveus said he was “nervous and excited.”

He said he expects the opening of ABBA Voyage’s digital concert this week to be “so incredibly special” and will surpass any other moment in his professional life.

In the latest episode of “The CNBC Conversation Ulveus says the idea first appeared about five years ago – to create digital copies of the band “ABBA-tar” from their 1979 premiere at a concert of advanced technology.

He said tests had previously been conducted with Michael Jackson and Elvis, but the team behind the technology sought to use it with live figures.

“It’s better to do it with someone who is still alive, because your skull, even if the rest of your body is falling apart … the measurements in the skull are the same, so it’s easier to recreate a younger copy of yourself when you’re still alive,” Ulway said. .

To create humanoid avatars, four members of the band, now in their seventies, dressed in costumes to capture the movement and performed all the songs on stage at a purpose-built studio in Stockholm, Sweden.

“We were dressed in strict suits, black with dots, there were dots on our faces, we had helmets. And then we went on stage and sang the song almost as if we performed it on “Top of the Pops”, the old Briton [TV] program, ”he said.

“At first it was weird. I mean, I was looking around, and there Agnetha was doing her stuff, and Benny was like the old days. But in the end, it was fun.”

Deep forgeries

Ulveus said the band is leading the way with the technology behind ABBA Voyage.

“We are pioneers in this field, we create avatars, we create digital copies that look like a person – for now, through the hairs in the nose, through everything [it] after a while it will make you feel like it’s a person, it’s not a number, it’s a video of a person, and it’s a lot of fun to be a pioneer and do it in that context, ”he said.

But the famous star said he was worried about how the technology could be misused by those who want to create a “deep fake”.

“I realized it could be used incorrectly, and it will be used incorrectly. Not our avatars, but other avatars will be used as vehicles that say what the original people didn’t mean, fake, I mean, a profound forgery. to be indistinguishable from the real, and that is what we really need to watch out for, ”he said.

“But someone was still going to do it, so I thought maybe I could do it in a positive way, because the pioneers would do well to show how it can be used.”

A special “ABBA Arena” has been set up in Queen Elizabeth’s Olympic Park in London, which can accommodate 3,000 spectators.

ABBA Voyage’s concert performances will open to the public on May 27, and Ulveus told CNBC that they can expect a hit parade with a few not-so-famous songs as well as some of their latest album.

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