• Maria Mena (22) - with her heart in her hand. In Norway, we don't get fooled. Top politicians shall not have more pension than others, Jens Stoltenberg (the Norwegian prime minister) can shoot cats until the cramps take him - it doesn't make us believe any more in his ability to act. We are not Russians, we are not hearty Americans and the price we have to pay for being Norwegians, is that all our celebrities are trying hard to follow the easy-going ideal. The price we pay for the fact that we live in a modern, equality focused country well suited for class travels, is incredibly boring celebrities. But there comes Maria Mena (22). Smiling, in a black silk pantsuit, a golden belt around her waist, the Chanel-bag over her shoulders and her PR-worker following closely. The restaurant is closed, but opens again for miss Mena. She is a veteran in Norwegian music industry and pop star abroad. Those who quit reading now might believe that finally there is a glamourous celebrity, here, in Norway! Those who keep reading will be disappointed. Or relieved. Because the happy kid from Oslo has certainly not became detached from reality. Lately she has actually been thinking that she would have a problem if anyone asked her what she has been doing over the previous years. She doesn't have a CV.

    - You aren't finished with school?

    - I went for three months to VGS (similar to high school or VWO) and then I quit. Everyone found themselves at VGS, but I met up, and I noticed that I wasn't (t)here. If it is hard to write anything in the education-column in her CV, then it is easier to find something to write under "merits". Let's print it in the newspaper: Three records, all of them highly acclaimed by reviewers, a steady delivery of radio-hits since 2002, praise from Kanye West and a performance on David Letterman Show, success in Europe and on Monday she releases her fourth record: "Cause and Effect".

    - Has releasing records become a habit for you?

    - No, I can't get used to the angst.

    - What are you afraid of?

    - I am afraid that people won't understand the point with it this time. It is a very depressive record, but it isn't complaining. It is more like a cleansing. It is about what made me into who I am and a kind of apology and explanation to those who know me. "All the mean girls that pulled your hair are barefoot now and pregnant, dear, and you write pop songs and get to travel around the world", is a part of the lyrics in the next single: "All This Time (Pick-Me-Up Song".

    - Is there anyone who will feel that they are responsible?

    - I wasn't among the students who were picked on by others, but I didn't feel especially much at home from 8th to 10th grade. I felt that others were superiour compared to me, and I was beneath them. In the lyrics a lot is written so directly that I don't want to comment on it.

    -What if your life becomes harmonical, then you have nothing to write about?

    - Yes, if it isn't shit occuring the present, I am sure I'll find something to dig up. I am a schemer, shit, I am getting annoyed by myself sometimes. I wish I was more happy. No matter how nice everything seems to become in my life and how good everything is, I always find something to be scared by.

    - Is there anyone who is happy all the time?

    - Yes, they exist, I've met them. It annoys me when someone can have such a cheery mood and think so kindly and nicely about other people. Actually I hate people. I shouldn't be having friends, they shall have every credit that they put up with me. In fact I should have been an eremite, she laughs. "I have been afflicted by flirting a lot," Maria said to Dagbladet in 2005. Behind the notebook was journalist Eivind Sæther. "I am not going to have a boyfriend," she said in the same interview. And got together with the journalist shortly after.

    - What happened?

    - It was a very stuck-up journalist who tried to hit on me and actually managed it. He is impossible to get rid of. I try hard, but it isn't working, she says and grins. Close contact with a journalist hasn't made Maria love the press. - I sense this incredible change in the media since the last time I released a record. All the questions I get are much more superficial than they were last time. And it is only three years ago!

    - You don't like to be interviewed?

    - It is my job, but it is nice. I hope people respect that I only speak to the press when I have something to sell. It is a tool - I need you, and you don't need me - but us.

    - How does it feel when Jan Thomas judges your outfit in Se&Hør (Norwegian gossip rag)?

    - Look at him, am I supposed to care about what he thinks about me? It is about walking out the door and feel nice. It is crazy that because you have been acting in a movie, then people can judge you. It is bullying, and it is a sick part of this industry. It isn't as bad in Norway as it is in other countries, but sometimes we get caught up in it, and then I am ashamed. I hope I am an artist that doesn't need to go to gossip parties to be able to sell records, she says. And adds: - I am impressed about the fact that Lars Lillo-Stenberg and Andrine Sæther chose to take their case about the wedding pictures that were printed in Se&Hør to the court, and that they took it to the court several times, but the press also have principles that they need to protect. Last week she was in Finland and charmed the record company there. The record has already been put out on the internet, and the comments are being written in German, Dutch and Greek. After having tried out in the USA (result: 15th place for the single, a lot of attention, failing airplay and disappointing record sale), the energy has been directed towards Europe. With great luck. She is being looked at as an idol in the Netherlands, gold record in Germany and hits in Greece.

    - Is it tempting to go to USA again?

    - I have never had any hopes, and I don't have it now either. You have to give up your private life, you will not have vacation and it isn't anything that is called to turn off your phone when you are asleep. You will be a star, whatever the costs. Good luck to those who want that, but that isn't the thing for me. If you live a life like that, you end up getting crazy. I understand very well that Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Britney Spears have became insane, she says, but at the same time she isn't leaving out the opportunity to do a comeback. - Sondre Lerche has gradually been building his career in America, while I was thrown out in a huge industry. I don't understand that I survived. I wouldn't mind going there again, but then it will be on my own premises. If she now isn't the self righteous, life distant star-star who the Norwegian celebrity press needs, it is obvious for everyone with their hearing and sight intact that Maria Mena has gone a long way from the minimalistic divorce song "My Lullaby" to the nuanced love song "Belly Up", from dreads and -- to the red carpet and pink high heeled shoes.

    - What is the most important thing you have learned since your breakthrough?

    - To say no. You will easily be perceived as a bitch if you are a girl and determined. It is easier to be an angry rock boy than a pissed off pop girl, she says. To be able to deliver your own opinions is important when you want to release a record without rhtyhm instruments. - I argued with my boss in Holland. He thought my record was too sad. For those who like guitar, bass guitar and drums it isn't really a lot to get here. I write about sad, destructive and depressive things and I don't know how the audience will handle it when they hear songs that are so final.

    - You said in an interview that your self confidence was 30 cm (close to 1 foot) tall. How is it going with it today?

    - Did I say that? Oh, poor thing, think about that little self confidence! It has grown. I'd say it is 1 meter now, and I am proud of that. I think we will keep it there.

    Scans des Original-Artikels:

    Translation: Thea Bjertnes

Comments 0