Polar Studios

Last updated
The cinema building as seen from the Sankt Eriksbron, 2010 Sportpalatset Stockholm 2010.jpg
The cinema building as seen from the Sankt Eriksbron, 2010

Polar Studios was a recording studio in Stockholm, Sweden, which operated from 1978 through 2004. The studio was formed by ABBA musicians Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and the band's manager Stig Anderson, owner of the Polar Music recording label.


The studio was used to record each of the last three ABBA albums, Voulez-Vous , Super Trouper and The Visitors , as well as their two non-LP singles "The Day Before You Came" and "Under Attack". [1] Following the demise of ABBA, all members of the group continued using the studio to record their solo projects. [1]

In addition to ABBA, a range of other well-known artists recorded at Polar. Among the albums to have been recorded at the studio are Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door and Genesis' Duke . [1]


The studio was created in 1978 at a disused cinema theatre on the street floor [2] of a building known as Sportpalatset (Palace of Sports) in central Stockholm.[ citation needed ] The massive edifice, built around 1930, owed its name to a large indoor public bath (closed in the mid-1950s) and several other sports facilities which had been housed upstairs over the years. ABBA had been looking for a modern studio with a good, spacious live sound where they would be able to work at their own leisure and decided that the best solution was to build their own.

Among the early non-ABBA albums recorded at the studio were the Genesis' album Duke (1980), followed by ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad's solo album Something's Going On (which was produced by Genesis drummer Phil Collins). Led Zeppelin recorded their 1979 album In Through the Out Door here. Artists such as Big Country, the Ramones, Rammstein, Roxy Music, Genesis, Adam Ant, Backstreet Boys, Beastie Boys, Belinda Carlisle, Burt Bacharach, Franki, Celine Dion, Roxette, Terra Firma, Entombed, The Hellacopters, Joan Armatrading, Agnetha Faltskog and many major Swedish artists worked at Polar Studios.

The centrepiece of the studio was a Harrison mixing console, which was modified by technician Leif Mases to give it a unique sound that in some respects resembled a Neve desk. ABBA's 1981 album The Visitors marked a turning point for Polar, as it was recorded on the studio's new 3M digital recorder - thus becoming one of the first digital mainstream pop records. [3]

The music video for ABBA's 1979 song "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" was filmed in the studio; it depicted the group recording the track, although in reality the audio recording was already complete. On the same day, the group also filmed the Spanish language video for "Estoy Soñando" there.

Ownership history and closure

Polar Studios reconstructed in ABBA: The Museum at Djurgarden in Stockholm Abba museum polar music studios reconstruction 2014.jpg
Polar Studios reconstructed in ABBA: The Museum at Djurgården in Stockholm

The studio's original location was a former cinema theatre, in an early 1930s building at Sankt Eriksgatan 58-60 on Kungsholmen. Construction began on the studio in 1977, and it opened for production on May 18, 1978. In 1984, Stig Anderson bought out his partners in the company. [4] Shortly afterwards, he sold the studio to his daughter Marie Ledin, her husband Tomas Ledin, and their business partner Lennart Östlund. [4] [5]

In 2004, the private housing cooperative that owned the building which housed Polar raised the space's yearly rent to $184,000—triple the amount asked of other renters in the building. [4] [6] As a result, the studio was forced to move out. Some time later, the former owners of Polar relocated to a new facility at Kingside Studio. [4] [7] The studio has since then moved several times; the last address was in Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm. In the fall of 2015 business was scaled down and equipment was moved to a warehouse.


In 2010, ABBA The Museum premiered an exhibit that attempted to recreate the band's Polar Studios setup. [8]


Polar's recording facility consisted of two different sections, one that utilized analog tape machines and one that implemented the cutting-edge digital equipment of the day.

Studio A featured a Solid State Logic 4056 mixing console, coupled with any combination of a Studer A-820 24-track, Studer A-827 24-track, or Otari DTR-900 MK II 32-track tape machines. [9] Studio A featured four separate isolated rooms, each with varying acoustics. Polar's Studio B maintained a 48-channel Calrec UA 8000 mixing board paired with a 3M digital 32-track audio recorder. [9] When Polar premiered this setup in 1981, it was one of the first digital studios in the world. Studio B consisted of one "live room" in which musicians performed. [9]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ABBA</span> Swedish pop group

ABBA is a Swedish supergroup formed in Stockholm in 1972 by Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The group's name is an acronym of the first letters of their first names arranged as a palindrome. One of the most popular and successful musical groups of all time, they became one of the best-selling music acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1982, and in 2021.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Björn Ulvaeus</span> Swedish musician (born 1945)

Björn Kristian Ulvaeus is a Swedish singer, songwriter, producer, a member of the musical group ABBA, and co-composer of the musicals Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla, and Mamma Mia! He co-produced the films Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with fellow ABBA member and close friend Benny Andersson. He is the oldest member of the group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stig Anderson</span> Swedish song writer and music manager

Stig Erik Leopold Anderson, better known as Stikkan Anderson, was a Swedish music manager, lyricist and music publisher. He was the co-founder of Polar Music, and is best known for managing the Swedish pop band ABBA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ted Gärdestad</span> Swedish musician

Ted Arnbjörn Gärdestad was a Swedish singer, songwriter, musician and actor known internationally as Ted. Gärdestad began his acting career in 1966 and began playing music in 1971, signing with Polar Music. Assigned with in-house producers Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Gärdestad released his first single, "Hela världen runt," in late 1971 and worked closely with the four members of ABBA to create his debut album Undringar (1972). As Polar Music's best-selling solo artist, he continued to work with the group members throughout the 1970s, releasing three more albums Ted (1973), Upptåg (1974) and Franska Kort (1976), which were moderately successful. In 1978, Gärdestad released his first English-language album, Blue Virgin Isles, which did not have success internationally, as his predecessor albums had in his home country.

<i>Voulez-Vous</i> 1979 studio album by ABBA

Voulez-Vous is the sixth studio album by the Swedish supergroup ABBA. Released on 23 April 1979, the album yielded five hits, all of them big 1979 singles in Britain – "Chiquitita", "Does Your Mother Know", "I Have a Dream" and the double A-side "Voulez-Vous"/"Angeleyes". The title track showed the group embracing disco music, which at the time was at its peak. The album topped the charts in a number of countries and ranked among Britain's five best-selling albums of the year.

<i>Frida ensam</i> 1975 studio album by Anni-Frid Lyngstad

Frida ensam is the second studio album by Swedish singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad. It was first released by Polar Music in 1975 while Lyngstad was a member of the pop group ABBA and produced by her then-fiancé and fellow ABBA member, Benny Andersson. It has since been re-released several times, most significantly in remastered form in 2005 with bonus tracks. The lead song was the original version of "Fernando" sung in Swedish by Lyngstad. The album was a huge success in Sweden and Lyngstad was awarded a platinum disc. The album is included in the box set, Frida – 4xCD 1xDVD.

<i>Somethings Going On</i> 1982 studio album by Frida

Something's Going On is the third solo album by Swedish singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), one of the founding members of the Swedish pop group ABBA, and her first album recorded entirely in English. Her previous two albums had been recorded in Swedish. Recorded in early 1982 during the final months of ABBA, the album was released in September of that same year.

"All My Love" is the sixth song on Led Zeppelin's 1979 album In Through the Out Door. Credited to Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, it is a rock ballad that features a synthesizer solo by Jones. It was written in honour of Plant's son Karac, who died while Led Zeppelin were on their 1977 North American tour.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polar Music</span> Swedish record company

Polar Music is a Swedish record company founded in 1963 by Stig Anderson and his friend Bengt Bernhag.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ring Ring (ABBA song)</span> 1973 single by ABBA

"Ring Ring" is a song by Swedish group ABBA, released as the title track of their 1973 debut album. The single gave the group their big break in several European countries. The song was written in Swedish by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, along with their manager Stig Anderson, with an original title of "Ring Ring ". Translation into English lyrics was helped by Neil Sedaka and his collaborator Phil Cody. The Swedish version reached No. 1 in the Swedish charts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)</span> 1979 song by ABBA

"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! " is a song by Swedish band ABBA. It was recorded in August 1979 in order to help promote their North American and European tour of that year, and was released on ABBA's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 album as the brand new track.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bang-A-Boomerang</span>

"Bang-A-Boomerang" is a song by ABBA, first released by Svenne & Lotta. The track was first recorded as a demo with English lyrics in September 1974 by the ABBA musicians for their eponymous album ABBA. The song was written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson and at one point had the working title "Stop and Listen to Your Heart". The lyrics compare the "message of love" with the returning boomerangs which the Australian Aborigines developed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Never Again (Tomas Ledin song)</span> 1982 single by Tomas Ledin and Agnetha Fältskog

"Never Again" is a song by Swedish singer Tomas Ledin from his tenth studio album, The Human Touch (1982).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tomas Ledin</span>

Tomas Folke Jonas Ledin is a Swedish singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He grew up in the town of Sandviken, Sweden and has sold 3 million records.

<i>Oro: Grandes Éxitos</i> 1992 compilation album by ABBA

ABBA Oro: Grandes Éxitos is a greatest hits compilation album by ABBA, first released by Polydor in the United States in 1992, in which the songs are sung in Spanish. This album is the Spanish equivalent of their Gold: Greatest Hits album, originally released as Gracias Por La Música in early 1980. It was certified Gold in Argentina.

<i>The Complete Studio Recordings</i> (ABBA album) 2005 box set by ABBA

The Complete Studio Recordings is a box set of all of the studio material released by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was released on November 7, 2005 and consists of 9 CDs and 2 DVDs, plus a full color booklet with a timeline and photos. Another booklet containing complete lyrics to all of the music was also included.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ABBA: The Tour</span> 1979–80 concert tour by ABBA

ABBA: The Tour, later also labelled ABBA in Concert and ABBA: North American and European Tour 1979, was the third concert tour by the Swedish pop group, ABBA. Primarily visiting North America, Europe and Asia during 1979–1980, the tour supported the group's sixth studio album, Voulez-Vous. The tour opened in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on September 13, 1979, and the tour closed in Tokyo, Japan on March 27, 1980, having performed 52 shows in 40 cities across 13 countries. As it was the group's final tour before unofficially disbanding in late 1982, it included the largest catalogue of hit songs performed on a tour.

<i>Live at Wembley Arena</i> 2014 live album by ABBA

Live at Wembley Arena is an album of live recordings by Swedish pop group ABBA, released by Polar Music on 26 September 2014, on 2 CD, 3 LP and digital format.

<i>Frida – 4xCD 1xDVD</i> 2005 box set by Frida

Frida – 4xCD 1xDVD is a boxed set compilation album by Swedish singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad, better known as Frida, released on 5 December 2005 by Polar Music. This box set contains her solo albums, Frida ensam, Something's Going On, Shine, and Djupa andetag and a DVD documentary film, Frida – The DVD.


  1. 1 2 3 BBC article: "Abba studios forced to close down."
  2. Not ground floor, due to a bridge and streets separated by four floors
  3. ABBA. Das Sonderheft, Rock Classics 10 (2013) p. 70f.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Stockholm's Polar Studios To Close After 26 Years". Billboard . 17 March 2004.
  5. admin (30 January 2004). "Sweden's Anderson Records Switches To Universal". Billboard.
  6. "USATODAY.com - ABBA recording studio to shut its doors". usatoday30.usatoday.com.
  7. "Kingside - The Music Studio". www.kingside.se.
  8. "'ABBA Heaven': Exhibit Opens in London". ABC News.
  9. 1 2 3 Shepherd, John; Horn, David; Laing, Dave; Oliver, Paul; Wicke, Peter, eds. (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 1: Media, Industry, Society. London & New York City: Continuum. p. 668.

Coordinates: 59°20′12″N18°02′05″E / 59.33667°N 18.03472°E / 59.33667; 18.03472