Maria Mena in the "Costume" magazine 01/2016

      Maria Mena in the "Costume" magazine 01/2016

      Here are some pictures from the article in the Norwegian Costume magazine. I just take them with my mobile phone. But better than nothing. ;)

      I think Thea is working on a translation of the article. :)
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      And all this time, all this time, you´ve had it in you, just sometimes need a push.
      Philipp Poisel Fanclub - Friedrich.no - hei-norge.de - leikangerryst.no
      Maria was interviewed by the journalist Lasse Lønnebotn, the pictures were taken by photographer Renate Torseth who is with Pudder Agency in Norway. Styling was done by Randi H. Svendsen. Translation by me (and please do ask me for my permission if you would like to repost the translation somewhere else in full. In that case I would like to know where it's posted). I will post the translation in several parts as it exceeds the character limit in its entirety.

      The sensitivity’s firework


      Maria Mena (29) has been through hell. The journey has changed her forever.

      - I call it «my year».
      Maria Mena leans forward in a light brown leather sofa. Raven black tufts of hair hangs down her cheek, she has full lips and an intense stare. She talks about the period that turned her life upside down.
      - It began with feeling ashamed, for the first time in my life I felt ashamed. To choose to end a marriage, to feel that enormous defeat, I didn’t get away from it. It was like I lost.
      She looks out the winter dewy window.
      - For six months I was in an active process of grieving, did not write a thing. I cannot write when I’m right in the middle of something, I need distance. Then it came.
      A careful smile shows on her face.
      - And today… I have never felt more proud of myself than I do now.

      Out of the isolation

      Maria Mena is back. The Spellemannprisen-winner [her album Cause and Effect was rewarded the Norwegian equivalent to the Grammys], the world star, the girl who has sold enough copies of her albums to receive gold and platinum records several times, the girl who calmed Norwegians after 22 July, 2011, with her cover of the song “Mitt lille land”, gave us Christmas peace with the song “Home for Christmas”, and furthermore has liberated our minds with therapeutic songs like “Viktoria” and “This Too Shall Pass”, is out of her self chosen isolation.
      She has made the new record Growing Pains, which has a starting point in the personal crisis she has experienced. When everything fell apart the summer of 2014, she locked the door of her home at Grünerløkka in Oslo, felt the negative emotions and learnt to practice mindfulness. To grieve became a day-to-day job, and for almost a year she dealt with herself.
      Other people could have gone belly up in their own self-pity, but Maria chose to face her demons. In that process she forced herself to do what she knows best: Write songs. She did not really want to. She would rather watch TV, drink coffee, stare out the window – everything else. But something happened when she was asleep. In a condition between dream and reality the songs came to her. And with the songs, the pressure was lifted.
      - They arrived right before I woke up. At first I thought the dreams were the usual ones I had, but when I realised that the dreams were something else, I grabbed my cell phone to save the lyrics, she says.
      She holds two hands around her cup of coffee.
      - I think the reason why the songs came to me in my dreams, is that I didn’t want to confront myself with it. It was too heavy. To lay yourself bare costs and at that time the cost had never been higher. I have always written honest lyrics, and my goal is always to start crying when I write.
      Maria stops to think.
      - And there are still many feelings that haven’t reached above the surface.
      The cause of the crisis was publicly stated Friday 16 May, 2014. That day a message was published on Facebook by Maria’s ex husband Eivind: “Dear friends. We have chosen to inform you now, so that you won’t wonder or read about it in the media first – Maria and I will go separate ways. When something like this happens, it is nice to be able to say that we divorce as best friends. After nine years, we are actually most proud of everything we have achieved together – and by ourselves. We look forward to hanging out together and supporting each other through life, even though we are not lovers. Just endlessly good friends. With the best regards, Eivind and Maria.”
      Many people perceived Maria and her ex husband Eivind Sæther as the perfect couple. The pop star and the star journalist [meaning he’s brilliant at what he does, not that he works in a gossip rag], two human beings who were so generous towards each other, who embraced life with the same force. They married in the Paulus church [Grünerløkka, Oslo] a sunny day in July 2012, walked down aisle and wandered on further up Grünerløkka, accompanied by drums, balloons and soap bubbles. Photographers swarmed around them, celebrity friends danced and drank champagne. Less than two years later it was over. The news was like a bomb.
      - I think it was a bomb for everyone, for me as well. It was a shock, and it was not funny to announce the break up that way, she says.
      Now she sits minutes away from where she got married. This day the church is swathed in a wintery haze.
      - I married the nicest guy in the world, and he is not less nice now.
      - So why didn’t it work out?
      She breathes heavily.
      - I do not feel that I owe anyone that explanation. But at some point you are not lovers anymore. Do you understand? That is the closest I get to an explanation.
      - Can you be a demanding girlfriend?
      - You know what irritates me? The assumption that I am not good in a relationship because I become divorced. I rather think it is a strength to give up. I know about several couples who don’t have a good time together, who should leave each other. I am not a bad girlfriend, and Eivind is not a bad boyfriend. But we dared to realise that we did not give each other enough. We got nine years – nine years! I am proud of that.
      Short break to think.
      - I think I am an amazing girlfriend, I mean that sincerely. I am funny, I am super strong – and can be weak. I am extremely clever at seeing other people’s emotions, am easy to talk to and I’m there for other people. I just have to find the right man.

      Sore lyrics

      If you read the lyrics on the new album, you find yourself thinking that everything is about the break up and the pain that was felt after. Songs like the title track “Growing Pains”, “Leaving You”, “Confess” and “Bend till I Break” seem brutally honest. The song that hits you the most, is the single “I Don’t Wanna See You with Her”.
      - Although I am honest in my lyrics, I do not owe anyone to explain the meaning on a deeper level. My songs will survive the news about the divorce. This is art, she says, and points towards the prints of her lyrics that are on the table. – Everything else is not interesting tomorrow.
      - Has your ex husband heard the songs?
      - You had laughed if you knew how the songs were created. Do you think it is the first time a song is about him? This isn’t new. And the truth is that we still lived together as good friends, when that Facebook status was published.
      She becomes more serious.
      - The record is not about the divorce but about a girl who has been arguing with herself her whole life, who is now alone and has to find herself. It is about accepting that things went the way they did, and that I realise my own mistakes. Mainly the record is “Project Maria”.
      On social media people praise the song “I Don’t Wanna See You with Her”. The Norwegian artist Sondre Lerche and the British singer Sam Smith are among the people who write nice comments about the song.
      - I think I was born to write music, she says, and looks penetratingly at me with her brown eyes.
      - It is my dharma, there is a deeper meaning to it. Not everyone gets that opportunity, so I have to go in for it. A while I wrote because I thought I was alone, but now I know that there are others who think the way I do. On my way here I met a lady who were sobbing: “I have used your music in my therapy session, that’s where I’m coming from just now,” she said. I am so happy that I forced myself to write through the sorrow.
      - Some might suspect that you use the sorrow in order to sell some copies? That everything is just PR?
      - I understand that some can think that, but when I write I don’t think about making a new album. I write because I have a basic need to write. The best PR would be to write right after the break up and release the record then, but I wanted to wait. If I don’t want to be an artist anymore, I can quit tomorrow. That’s a way out that I always hold open.
      She sinks down in the sofa.
      - I have spent time to realise defeats. But it is the ego that has been hurt, not the heart. Because I didn’t fix it. This last year, “my year”… I have been so tired. If I start crying now, it is because I am proud. Proud because I made it. Because I thought I wouldn’t make it through. Now I start crying…
      Tears roll down her cheeks.
      - The pianist in my band sent me a message: “Do you remember a year ago? That you said you wouldn’t make it? That you couldn’t guarantee us a job? Congratulations! You managed it!” he wrote. Then I felt so proud.
      She dries her tears. Smiles a little.
      - You are an emotional person?
      - Aaaahhhh!
      She surrenders with her whole body.
      - I am so fed up with feeling ashamed of that! When we took the pictures for this interview I started crying when I heard a waterfall nearby - just because I thought it was so beautiful. Do you understand? As bad as that it can be. I hope it will lessen a bit, but you haven’t met a person who is more in touch with oneself than I am. Originally I wanted to become a psychologist.

      (1/2)
      A difficult childhood

      No one shall accuse Maria for having lived an easy life. She had a chaotic childhood, her parents divorced when she was nine years old, and she was constantly moving from place to place – 19 times before she was legally an adult [in Norway you’re legally an adult at 18]. Some times her family was thrown out because the rent had not been paid. She quit going to school when she was 15, developed an eating disorder and was self-harming.
      - The starting point I got in life was crooked. The music and the people who believed in me saved me. But it could have gone really bad, and I have an idea of how spectacularly bad things could have ended up as.
      For a while her mother’s father was the steady anchor in her life. He thought of Maria as a little princess, he made her feel that she was being noticed. When he died during approximately the same period as her parents divorced, Maria fell apart.
      - My childhood faith was that he held everything together. I had the idea that grandfather knew God, and when he died, I prayed that my grandfather would give God my greetings. That is the way my faith in God started.
      After some time she dared to ask about “that other guy” too; God.
      - To me God is only love. I have been pissed off with myself; I don’t need for God to be angry with me as well. I don’t bring my shame with me in my faith - I believe God knows my intentions. My God gives me the strength to help myself.When she broke through in Norway with her single “My Lullaby” at 16, which was en emotional song about her parents’ divorce, it could seem like the scars from her childhood was forgotten. She went on to make an effort on the American market. She was a breath of fresh air in pop music, praised and loved. A Norwegian version of Alanis Morissette, many thought. But the success came on top of a frail self-image, she has always fought to be able to like herself. Her ex husband told her: “Your insecurity is what gives you confidence but at the same time you’re scaringly self-confident.”
      - I have spent a big part of my grown up-life to raise myself. I do not fully know who I am, I still spend time figuring it out. Usually I separate the roles of Maria and Maria Mena.
      - What is the difference?
      - Maria Mena is the one who is on TV. Maria is a girl who does not understand how other people perceive her – and I view that as a plus. I have been arguing with myself for soon 30 years, and first now I start to land. «Hi, I like you. You are OK,» I can say now.
      Her face beams so much that the black hair and the dark make up almost fades. She is in a good place now, safer, more harmonic than before. When she talks her movements are calm, as though the soul knows what to say before the brain has been able to filter through it. Many have been wondering how a girl from a chaotic home, with no education on a higher level, and also unable to read chords and play instruments, has been able to succeed so astoundingly well. Others with the same background are likely to end up with a one-way ticket to living with benefits.
      - How I managed that? A complete lack of understanding when it comes to the position that my background puts me in. A total naivety! When I dropped out of school, I did not think of the consequences. I only thought about the opportunities. I have had an incredible manager, Rune Lem, who has believed in me and bawled me out those times it was needed. I call Rune my dad. Daddy 2.
      She laughs.
      - I called both the dads on Father’s Day.

      Regrets performing on the Letterman show

      March 19th 2004 [the episode itself is stated as having aired on July 20th 2004, according to IMDB: imdb.com/title/tt0628575/?ref_=nm_flmg_slf_12]: 18 year old Maria Mena is in the USA to break through on the biggest music market in the world. She is invited to David Letterman’s TV show The Late Show, one of the biggest TV shows in the USA. The program where superstars are yearning to be featured, which has seven million viewers every week. This night the Oscar-winner Halle Berry is one of the guests. And Maria from Oslo.
      “Beautiful! It was fun to meet you, thanks for coming. I hope you can come back,” Letterman said after Maria’s somewhat nervous performance of her hit “You’re the Only One”. Just after the recording of that program she told NRK (Norwegian national broadcaster) that it was a lot of fun.
      The truth was something very different.
      - I should never have been in the USA. I was sick, so terribly sick. Anorexia coupled with mental health issues. I went there because I thought it was going to be fun.
      - What do you remember from that night on the show?
      - Little from the performance itself. I have memories of fitting on clothes in the wardrobe, a stylist in the hotel room and a panic attack that was out of this world. And I remember that I felt fat. The positive thing was that I taught myself to say no. I realised that I was the only one who could define my limits.
      Her face darkens.
      - I have been sick, awfully sick. Mostly mentally. It has been a lot worse than people have been aware of. A period I was struggling a lot more with the eating disorder than people realised, and I had to work on removing myself from an upbringing that was not good. It is like that after the divorce too, I have to move on from a life that I was used to. A process of grieving is largely about that.
      - What have you learnt from the painful experiences?
      - Everything! I would not be without them. Not this past year either… Damn, I have gotten through that and put myself back together, whatever the cost. I am not the same person as before, now I feel better. I am doing much better. I feel more prepared to handle life.
      - What was the conclusive factor that helped you get through it?
      - You have to get through it. Not escape, not use drugs of any kind [i.e. not get drunk or use drugs], not make hasty decisions. I stood in the mud, every fucking day.
      A careful smile.
      - And survived.

      Do not try to hit on me!

      She is a person that is happy with having habits, and if she does not do the usual activities, she might feel put out. She is one of those rare persons who gets up at 6AM. After that she makes coffee, hum around in her apartment [the Norwegian word that I’ve translated to “hum” means different things – it can be to hum or pass time so that it is wasted. Not sure which of those meanings the journalist tries to convey here.], make a to do-list, turn on her Mac [computer], write replies on the e-mails she receives, make a big brunch. And later on: Spinning classes. Her new favourite way to exercise.
      If she goes out, she can run back home, restless and with her stare directed towards the ground. «Do not look at me! Do not look at me!» she can think.- It does not happen because I am shy, I am in no way shy. But I hate when people stare. All boys that I meet tell me I’m so strange. I become afraid if someone tries to hit on me.
      - Afraid?
      - Yes, I think it is so awkward. Therefore I rarely have nights out.
      - Then how is a poor guy supposed to win your heart?
      - No, he is not supposed to do that. I will let him know. «Hey you, you can hit on me.» If it does not happen that way, it will just be embarrassing.
      - Other pop stars love attention…?
      - Yes, and it annoys me that I cannot do what male musicians do, and have groupies. That had been so much fun to ask a doorkeeper to pick up some men for me after a concert. Who could entertain me a little when I am tired.
      She laughs.
      - No, I do feel that I am done with partying. I cannot have alcohol any longer either, now one glass of red wine makes me feel hung-over.

      Believes in love

      At the time that Maria released the single “I Don’t Wanna See You with Her”, Maria’s ex husband wrote on Facebook: “As always I am rooting for one of this country’s very, very best. Proud of you, Maria!”
      - It means a lot to me, she almost whispers across the table.
      They are still good friends, despite the fact that they continue living their lives separately. Today Maria still works on her own feelings, the sorrow has not entirely let go, but now she can have several moments of happiness. Seconds, minutes… sometimes entire days. And she is not afraid of experiencing new love.
      - I know that a new, big love will show up. I have experienced several big loves throughout my life and I know I will again. I just have to find the right one.She smiles. Soon she will lift the 182 centimeters [5’ 11.65”, i.e. 5 feet and 11.65 inches] tall body, put on the black leather jacket and go. Phone interviews with German journalists await her.
      - But I can seem scary. I need a strong guy, one who endures quite a bit.