• In the Norwegian "Costume" magazine (march 2015) you find a interesting interview with our lovely Maria Mena. Our team member Kora has translated it into English. Enjoy!

    Unsere deutschsprachigen Besucher finden eine deutsche Übersetzung --> hier.

    The Art of Living

    We all have insecurities and this is not specific to any stage of our lives. We met up with three of Norway’s most successful women that give us some insight on turning points in their lives that have made them stronger and smarter. Often finding the right balance is key. Maria MenaMaria Mena (29) has doubted her own talent from an early age, letting other people’s expectations foster her own insecurities. It is not before now that she approaches life in a more relaxed manner. I don’t have any problems turning 30, says Maria Mena, who turned 29 recently.

    The fact that her voice is so soothing that it could be taken as a sedative makes it easy to belief her. I was able to experience some things that many wish they could experience before they turn 30, for example getting married or having a successful career. People were always saying that I am so efficient considering how young I was, but now I am just not that young anymore.

    She closes her laptop, which a few minutes ago was playing the reality show “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, and stirs in her home made ginger tea, which she says is a reason for her absence of illness the past couple of winters. She is currently working on a new album, the seventh since her first album “Another Phase”, which was released when she was just 16 years old. A year has passed since the news that she would be divorced from her husband of two years, journalist Eivind Sæther. One could say that I lived life a little faster than other people did. It is not before now that I feel that friends who are the same age as me and I are in some kind of equilibrium. It is great to give myself a year or several years in which I am allowed to simply be myself, she says with a sparkle in her eyes.
    Last year she started practicing “mindfulness” (a meditative form of altering ones thoughts in order to deal with stress in a better manner), something that helped her find the calming energy that she now possesses. Can you try not to sound so purple? – she laughs

    I am so fascinated how effective it is against angst. “Mindfulness” taught me that when I don’t like the way I think, I can just change that, even if it is hard work. If I can manage to cope with my weaknesses, analyze them and write about them, I can turn them into strengths.
    In a way, I have done this for a while. I belief that writing songs is my form of “mindfulness”. Writing means that I have to look within myself to see how I am doing. After a while, I started understanding that writers block in itself didn’t so much exist, but were a result of me not being able to look within myself. Self-evolvement should be written from the treasures, she says and laughs.

    When she was younger, she felt most comfortable amongst boys. For a long time she saw herself more as a friend, rather than a potential romantic interest. When she started noticing that she was wrong, she started becoming insecure as to why that was. I was big and relied on the fact that that was why boys didn’t like me. It wasn’t like anyone was telling me that I was pretty before I started losing weight and became anorexic. That’s when I started noticing that boys started looking at me and that was like receiving a reinforcement for something that in itself was negative. I continue to have an ambivalent relationship towards compliments related to looks, probably because I connect them to things that were very hard for me. The boys I fell in love with were boys that saw further than that.

    “Swipe right, swipe left” – approaches to dating are therefore not appealing to Maria. She has started eating more at home since she is single again, a status she hasn’t had since she was 18, but she feels comfortable with that. I am not great at going out and flirting, because I don’t need physical approval that I am pretty. But it will be interesting to see, if I think differently once the wrinkles appear, if I am really capable of stopping this ones the time comes. As of now, that is not the case. At the same time, I don’t know if I am against fixing my exterior looks.

    What role do clothes play in relation to how you feel about yourself?
    In the past years, I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I am and what impression I want to leave people with. The style that I am wearing now was a byproduct of my confidence. It’s great to be able to walk out the door in jeans and t-shirt without overthinking it. But it has to be a good pair of jeans and a good t-shirt. – She laughs.
    Oh god, I felt so uncomfortable in my body! I wanted to ear Bik Bok and Miss Sixty pants like the other girls in school, but Bik Bok didn’t have anything that fit me. So I decided to do the complete opposite. I started dressing like a hippie with big hats and dresses over my pants, like some sort of protest.

    On the cover, her debut album she’s not smiling into the camera, wearing a black hat that is covering up the braids. VG wrote, “In relation to age, this is one of the strongest albums of a debut artist ever” and gave her 5 out of 6 stars. Despite of this, Maria started doubting herself.I think one of the reasons why I was lacking the confidence in regards to my music was because it all happened too fast. 15 minutes after I had recorded my first demo, I received a record deal. People saw something in me that I couldn’t see.
    She compares this to making the best dinner by accident and in retrospect desperately trying to figure out the recipe. The eating disorder contributed to creating an illusion of control. I was still a very nervous person at the beginning of my career, because I knew that people had a preconceived idea of who I was as a person. It was as if I wanted to convince everybody to like me instead of just going to the event I was booked for because I was who I was. My grandmother, who was a painter, said: “Only armatures are content.” And I recognize this all too well. But I taught myself that the mistakes the mistakes I perceive are not always what everyone else sees and that it is therefore not necessary to dwell on them.

    Which of your choices that you’ve made are you the most proud of?
    She takes a deep breath.When I returned home from the US where I performed on ‘Letterman’, I was put into a box that I couldn’t sing. We stopped selling tickets for concerts, mainly because of that I suppose. That’s why I preferred performing at places where I was wanted, which was not in Norway. I became an experienced live performer abroad. That is something that I am very proud of. Really, I just wanted to go stand in front of people and yell at them that I could actually sing. I was condemned because of one bad performance.

    That I decided to become healthy was the best decision I have made on a personal level. That required a lot of work. When you are experiencing the big things in life, it feels like the small things lose their meaning. I know how it hurts experiencing this. I know how bad heartache can feel. I know how sick I can be. As a result, it becomes less important what another person thinks about you. My self-worth originates in my songs, the audience and the certainty that I am good at what I do.
    What made you eventually trust your talent?Hard work. I realized that when I play 70 gigs a year, my voice gets better. I sing cleaner and become more confident on stage. It is nice to realize that I have gotten to a point where I feel good. If there was one thing, I could tell my 16-year-old self it would be: “Hang in there. It gets better. Do exactly what you are doing now and stick with it. Don’t give up.”

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