Maria Mena

Biography

Maria Viktoria Mena (* February 19th 1986) is a Norwegian pop musician.

Maria Mena grew up in an artistically active family: Her mom wrote song texts, her dad was a drummer. Maria and her younger brother Tony were named after Characters from Leonard Bernstein’s ‘West Side Story’. Her father played in numerous bands in Oslo, which brought Maria in contact with the professional music scene at an early age. When she was nine years old, her parents got divorced and Maria started to sing and write song texts four years later. Her first song “My Lullaby” landed number 5 in the Norwegian music charts. With “My Lullaby” Maria expressed her feelings and pain she went through during and after her parent’s divorce.

“I had a crazy childhood… we moved a lot. My parents were both hippies and I don’t know why, but I always played the part of the person in charge in our family and that forced me to grow up pretty fast... “My Lullaby” became a huge deal. People had never before heard a teenager sing so openly about divorce.” The deepness of her songs was very mature for her age at that point in time.

“All my life everything I wanted to achieve was to be as normal and ordinary as I could. I didn’t want to stick out. To be eleven years old and be 1, 82 m tall is not a big help in this case! Trust me. After a deep depression and a few identity crises, I realized that when I write songs and make music, I like myself. That is my therapy.”

When she was eleven years old, Maria wrote a song for a competition where she had the chance to win a meet and great with a guy from the boy band ‘Hanson’. “At that time of my life I had a huge crush on Taylor and I would have done everything to meet him. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but it brought me to song writing.”

Maria’s father helped her start the career. Some day, when they were sitting on a bus, she started humming a melody. He asked if it was something she had heard on MTV and was surprised, when she told him that it was one of her own songs.

“I’ve never told anyone before what really happened on this bus. A girlfriend and I were singing one of my songs… ‘Take it Easy’… and my dad thought it would be cool, if we could record it in the studio, so he called a few guys, who had a studio, he knew and made an appointment for us to sing acapella for them. But we messed up. I guess my dad promised to himself never to do something like that again, because it took years and many tears to convince him, but one day he took the phone and called Arvid (my good friend and producer) who I recorded ‘My Lullaby’ with. The rest was history… As you can see, -and I hate saying this- it was pretty easy getting a record deal. I came in contact with the right people and it just happened like that.”

One day after the “Spellemannpriser” (Something like the Norwegian Grammys), where she was nominated for three awards for her song “My Lullaby”, Maria’s life was at a turning point.

“The fact that I from now on had to spend every single day with the one person in the world that I hated the most, myself, was the worst. It didn’t really help that somebody planted the question ‘Was I only happy at this time? What if I can’t write another song? What if I’m not actually that good…?’ into my head. These questions quickly became personal facts – I AM NOT GOOD, I CAN’T WRITE ANOTHER SONG, I AM UGLY, NOBODY LIKES ME, I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH, I AM FAT, and so on. That was really hard for me. I got sick, I was depressed and I didn’t go out much. Furthermore I had to record my second album and I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my own talent. Something had to be done. I was really comfortable in my own little dark world and came to a point where I had to decide – be scared of life or live life. I decided to live life! I went through a couple of brainwashes, but I finally managed to get over it and from that point on I never looked back… I am thankful for what I have to go through.”

Her second album “Mellow” was recorded in the year Maria learned so much about herself. 18 years old, her second album garnished the Norwegian charts. Slightly changed, the album was later that year released in North America under the name “White Turns Blue”. The first single “You’re the Only One” took the US Charts in a storm, spurred with a mini-tour through America as well as an appearance at David Letterman’s ‘Late Show’ in July 2004. After the fast success, Maria unfortunately decided it was time for a break. She came to the conclusion that she couldn’t recognise her self and became very unhappy. During her US tour she became sick of always being asked the same questions.

“Hi, I am Maria Mena; I am a singer/songwriter from Oslo, Norway… I am excited to be here. It is really terrible. In interviews they wanted to ask me what my favourite lipstick was, if I have a boyfriend, what I do in my spare time, or what kind of boots I’m wearing. I wanted to say ‘Hey you! Pay attention! I write my own songs! You don’t have to like them, but my blood, my sweat, and my tears are in them.’ I’d known that the USA was a commercial market and so on and I knew that it was good having a balance to that, so I started singing more than talking bullshit. “… said Maria in ELLE Magazine (Norway) in November 2005.

After a break, Maria came back with a new perspective. She released “Apparently Unaffected” in Norway in November 2005. The reviews were amazing. The songs are more original, true and emotional, almost as her. “I should spend more time being the artist that I want to be. I don’t know how I will reach this goal at the this time and I don’t now how I will get there the next time. I don’t know how I will ever be able to manage that. That’s why I treat every album as if it was my last one.” Today Maria has good people around her and says she is happier with herself. “I am not scared to be depressed. I am Maria Mena. “

On July 7th 2007, Maria performed at the Live Earth concert in Hamburg. In the fall of 2007, Maria Mena went on tour for the first time in Germany which was followed by a tour in the spring of 2008 that included concerts in Switzerland and Austria. In 2008, she was awarded “Best New Pop Act” by SWR3. A year later, she received the “Newcomer International” award by Radio Regenbogen. Furthermore she was nominated for an Echo in the category of “best international newcomer”.

Her fourth album “Cause and Effect” was released in the fall of 2008, for which she, just as with “Apparently Unaffected”, received gold in Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands. “Cause and Effect” was the first album that was written around a general concept. Maria wanted to write about her past and things that have made her the person she is today. The album is an emotional collection of songs that in many aspects reflect a turning point in her life: “I have evolved as a person in the past couple of years, so that I finally felt ready to confront myself with the experiences in the past that have shaped me”. The album features the song “All This Time” amongst others, which guaranteed Maria another top 20 hit in Germany. The album was very well received and won the “artist of the year” award at the Norwegian “Spellemannsprisen”. Her third German tour followed in the spring of 2009.

After a three year break, Maria released her fifth album: “Viktoria” was released in the fall of 2011 and made it to be number 18 of the German album charts. The title of the album is also Maria’s second name. “When I was ten, my mom came home and told me I would get a new second name after my great grandmother: Viktoria. But nobody called me Maria Viktoria Mena. The name just disappeared again. After my last album I felt that I was a much calmer person. I thought: Maybe this is Viktoria? A more compassionate and forgiving Maria. The name never felt natural to me, but now it identified a separation in me, a new person, a kind of triumph, a victory.” The album showed that Maria once again evolved as a person and that she is ready to move on from her past and make peace with herself.

At the beginning of 2011, Maria Mena recorded a cover version of the Norwegian folk song “Mitt lille Land”. The song became an anthem for the people in Norway, after the attacks on Utøya. She also performed this song at the memorial service in Oslo.

In the following spring of 2012, Maria went on tour in Germany for the 4th time. She played in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart, Offenbach and Dresden. Things quieted down after the tour in Germany, but for Maria it was a special time. She married her long-time boyfriend Eivind on July 14th 2012.
Furthermore, the internationally known band Madcon produced a single with Maria that is available on their album. The name of the single is „Fåcke fly bort“ and was released in Norway in the fall of 2012. Maria is also represented on the current album of the Norwegian rapper Lidolido.

Just a year after her last tour in Germany, Maria returned with new material. In April 2013, her first single “Fuck You” from the new album was released. The song hits a different note and is aimed at cyber bullies. It was written based on mean comments directed at Maria on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Only two months later, the second single “I Always Liked That” was released. The lyric “weapon in mind” of this song is also the title for the sixth album. “I Always Liked That” is Maria’s first song in which she permits herself to like herself. She writes about what really matters: “The only body part that should matter, my heart.” Also the lyric: “What if I’ve always been good enough in my skin” needs no explanation. The complete lyrics can be read in the forum.

“Weapon in Mind” was released on September 20th. This album went into a new direction, as she worked together with hip hop producers. The songs are more electronic and self-confident, but her voice and self-written lyrics make it a recognizable Maria Mena album. The fanclub has done an interview with Maria Mena, in which she describes the new album to us. 2013 Maria is nominated for an MTV European Music Award in the category "Best Norwegian Act"!

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