By MICHAEL REBUYAS
The ’90s were quite the decade when it came to pop culture: weird toys were in demand (hey there, Tamagotchi!), everyone was hooked on Titanic (we still remember the collective gasp elicited by that hand-on-the-window scene), and bubblegum pop courtesy of our favorite pop groups — god bless our tween hearts — dominated the airwaves.
And among those who carved their own niche in the genre, was British–Norwegian pop group A1.
Composed of vocalists Christian Ingebrigtsen, Mark Read and Ben Adams — original member and founder Paul Marazzi left the group in 2002 — the band rose to fame in the late ’90s and early 2000s, with hits such as Like a Rose and Heaven by Your Side, as well as their cover of A-Ha’s single Take On Me, getting major radio rotation.
Despite garnering success though, the band laid low for quite some time, going on a hiatus in order for the individual members to pursue their individual interests — a bittersweet event that shattered tween hearts the world over.
It’s a good thing then that the boys are coming back.
We caught up with original member Christian Ingebrigtsen a few days ahead of A1’s comeback shows in the country — the boys are taking the Kia Theater stage on October 23 and will hit the IEC Pavilion in Cebu on October 25 — and grilled him about the band’s pretty boy past, their future plans, and yes, music.
A1 was founded during the heyday of pop groups. What was it like to be an artist at that time? It was an exciting time, when you still could sell a lot of records and record companies would invest a lot of money in videos, promo and travel. We were lucky to have succeeded at a time before the big TV shows like Idol etc. introduced all their overnight pop sensations and streaming took over from CD sales. It was truly an adventure, traveling 30-40 countries with each single we released, seeing the world and meeting so many incredible people.
During the years when A1 disbanded you enjoyed a lot of success as a solo artist. How was that time for you? It was both a very rewarding time and a challenging one. I finally got to release some of the music that I had on my heart, but didn’t fit into the A1 world. At the same time, being on your own is very different from being part of a group. It can feel pretty lonely at times. Success is always best when you can share it with some one. And it’s always easier to overcome struggles when you’re a team, too. But all in all, I’m truly grateful for having been able to both enjoy the wonderful times together with Ben and Mark, and having the opportunity to release my own personal music. To this day, we all have our own individual projects, but we always love it whenever we get together and do gigs as A1 again. I think we’ll never stop working together.
The group went on a hiatus for quite some time, how does it feel to be back in the industry again? We have all been in the industry the whole time. We’ve just been less visible as A1. And for quite a few years, we didn’t perform together at all. I’m truly glad that we are performing together again, as we have done now for the last six or seven years. But we have always worked, and continue to work in several aspects of the entertainment industry, as producers, writers, solo artists, actors etc. I think one of strengths is that we are able to, and enjoy doing so many various things within the industry.
What’s your favorite song from the group’s discography? I think my personal favorite is Everytime.
If given the chance, is there a song from A1’s back catalogue that you and the rest of the group would like to rework or change? I always felt that Make It Good never got the sound it deserved. It was originally envisioned with a sitar playing the riff, but Sony didn’t think it was the right sound for that year. I still believe it would have been an even bigger hit, if we had recorded it the way we heard it in our heads.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career as a singer so far? The importance of enjoying each moment here and now. It’s so easy to keep rushing from thing to thing, and not truly enjoy all the wonderful things you’re part of along the way. Today, I try to take a moment each night we’re on stage, to truly be grateful for all the people who are there to see us, and for being able to «live the dream».
What’s your advice for any aspiring singer? I think of music as the language of emotions. If you truly feel what you are performing, chances are that you can make someone else feel something, too. That’s what music is all about. Making people feel something. If you perform with that in mind, aiming to be of value to people somehow, I think you can strike a chord in people’s hearts and build an audience. Work hard and be diligent, so that one day, if your opportunity presents itself, you will be prepared.
You’ve been to the Philippines before. What are your expectations for A1’s upcoming show? I love the fans in the Philippines. They really have a love for music, and are not afraid to show it! We love it when our audiences sing along with us. It’s going to be great going down memory lane together.
What are the band’s plans? What can A1’s fans expect from the group in the near future? We will always gig together and create new music. When we have something new we feel is ready to share with the world, we’ll release it. So stay tuned!