• Maria Mena has left the dark clouds behind.
    She sings about depression, troubling family relationships and eating disorder on her new autobiographic record. But Maria Mena (22) feels better than ever.

    - I am the most honest person you have met.
    Tall, dark and including songwriter and artist Maria Mena sneaks into her seat by the table.
    - I just have to apologize in advance. I have been practising to say "no comment", Maria says and serves a smile which signalises that practice makes perfect. Maria's experience does indicate that when she gets a question, she gets so grateful that somebody would like to know - that she gladly tells everything; the entire story.
    - It took me a while to understand that those who wondered how I felt, were, as a matter of fact, journalists. I made a lot of friends on the way.

    One journalist got more than friendship. In 2005 Eivind Sæther from Dagbladet phones Maria. He is chattering, she is getting annoyed. "He is high on himself," she thinks, and barely answers his questions. But he does manage to make her tell him that she she is single - and likes it that way - after having been in relationships since she was 15. Plus, she drinks tea.
    Maria tells her record company that she isn't enthusiastic about this journalist. He tells his boss that they got on well with each other. That is how everything lead up to another meeting. Maria brings an this-isn't-going-to-be-easy-for-him-approach, he brings a bag of tea.
    - And then ... more happened. Ha ha. But it took some time, Maria emphasises and says that the rest maybe comes in a book sometime.
    She is girlfriend, not living together and not engaged. Even though magazines with strong colours give the hint that they have twin rings on their fingers.
    - Everyone has such a hurry to get established. Grow up so fast. It isn't necessary for us to move in together. We are good as it is.

    "Cause and Effect" is a new chapter in Maria's honest poetry collection. The album is the second one in the Netherlands and Germany. Maria herself thinks it is the most hopeful album she has released, and the saddest. The record is sad because it is about things that have happened. Things that Maria finally got a distance from. Like depression and eating disorders, for example.

    "I bench and I barf 'cause I carry
    the scars of an eight year old.
    Whose mother applies the same
    rules to her kid's body as
    her own."
    "Cause and Effect" by Maria Mena

    - I haven't been finished with it until now.
    Maria shrugs.
    - You have to start within yourself and describe yourself before you can describe and experience everyone else. I have no need to escape from it. Some crap you have to experience. If I hadn't I wouldn't have been the person I am today. Maria is always personal. But on this album it goes beyond that, at least lyrical wise. But she doesn't want to explain who and what the words are about. The listeners will have to guess.
    - My lyrics are really personal as it is. I will not explain them any further. There are other persons involved and I have to be considerate towards them.
    - What does your dad say to all this?
    - He just laughed.
    Maria laughs too.
    - I am the one who has to take the consequences. It is not evil. I have an extreme need to tell the truth.

    "The only male influence after
    daddy up and left,
    were my mother's weekend
    lovers and their alcoholic
    "Cause and Effect" by Maria Mena

    Now Maria has finally come to the point where she is happy with the present.
    - I've never been doing as good as the last three years!
    - The same amount of time that you've been together with Eivind?
    - Ha ha. Haaaa. Now I have to think through how much I'm going to give him credit for, she grins, sips her soda water, and gets serious:
    - I think maybe I am a better individual now because I am with him.

    Maria has got an addiction. It is the healthy kind. Running.
    First time she used her jogging feet, was with her boyfriend. After 100 meters downhill, she threw up. Then she felt: it wasn't any doubt, she had to manage this. Maria started walking fast, then running. In secret. It ended in addiction. And the feeling of an enormous pride. After she got crazy about running, before she dared to hang out at a hip gym, it sometimes happened that a friend or two sat on a bench in a dark park. That is how miss Mena could run without being afraid. Generally she isn't afraid to play in the capital city. This is her home ground. Here she grew up. Here she fell flat on her face.
    - But if anything should happen, I think that I am my mother's daughter. I don't give up withouth a fight.

    "Think; all the mean girls that
    pulled your hair are barefoot
    now and pregnant ...
    And you write pop songs and get
    to travel around the world."
    "All This Time" by Maria Mena

    As a child, Maria wasn't considered to be soft and feminine.
    - I was the little girl who was supposed to act tough a bit. I wasn't one of those who the boys thought was cute, so I beat them up instead.
    Maria bets she has moved 19 - 20 times. But always in the Oslo-area. Always together with her little brother Tony, who is soon 19.
    - It is nice that he has become that old that we can meet at the same level, talk together in a real way.
    Tony and Maria (yes, they're named after the main characters in the musical "West Side Story") do also have two half siblings. The older Jordan and little sister Martine. Some of what they have got in common is the artistic kinship. Maria's grandfather was an oil painter. Maria's grandmother, who is 88, still paints.
    - I have a poetry- and word-loving mother and a drum dad who thinks in rhythms. I have lovely parents when it comes to the artistic part.

    "The devastating childhood,
    the force of the power trip you forced
    me through ...
    ... ask your nine year old
    daughter to choose between
    you, don't stay friends."
    "Power Trip Ballad" by Maria Mena

    Maria isn't afraid of scary people. Ghosts, on the other hand ... Although she has never met anyone, she is just waiting for it to happen.
    - What else do you believe in?
    Maria turns her shoulders and hesitates, before she gives the list:
    - I believe the greatest idols you are supposed to have are people you know. I believe in love, and that it is a lot of work. I don't believe the death is final, she says.
    - I believe that to be happy isn't a privilege but something you choose to be. A choice you make every morning.

    After album number one Maria laid down.
    - I have been researching a bit when it comes to why I became depressed ... I guess I was tired of the life I had been living. The industry had been affecting me.
    She was done with a big project. Maria Mena's first record. And terrified she would never manage to make another record again. Another record, another round. The result was a depression and an eating disorder.
    - The fear I feel before I start on a new project, I recognize now. I am not scared, I use it. I know what it is and I take it as a positive thing. My grandmother has told me that no one else has such high tops and low valleys as we do.
    She laughs low and explains that she sees the beautiful in the sad.
    - Now I am a bit more cynical; I push my tears out to bring out the good lyrics.

    "Can't you tell I'm crying? Mother,
    I don't feel good.
    You will always be the bitter,
    saddest part of me."
    "Power Trip Ballad" by Maria Mena

    Oslo 2008. A warm day in August. Tragic lyrics, accompanied by catchy melodies with hope jumps up from the linoleum in the room Maria has her band practices in. Maria's music men perfectionate timing and tone. Soon the big guys on the continent shall be entertained. The Sony bosses have to be stroked on the right strings. It will be fine. Probably several octaves better than the first time Maria Mena hummed in front of the microphone in a real studio.
    When Maria was 15 her drummer dad Charles took his daughter with him to a producer mate. The result was embarrassing. But Maria, who had written songs since she was 13, refused to give up.
    She nagged at her father for six months. Finally she got to try again. This time it went better. Much better.
    The song she recorded deserves a place within the top ten hits after 2000. It was called "My Lullaby".
    SonyBMG didn't only want to release a single, but a record. And Maria thought it was a nice thing to do in addition to school.
    There was more to come. Much more.

    Maria was more street smart than school smart. She spent 8th to 10th grade in the studio, not in the classroom. The result was that she failed in subjects and that wasn't enough for VGS. That is why she went to private school. She took "performing arts".
    - It was a ballet school!
    Maria opens her eyes wide and looks around the table for reactions of shock.
    - There I came, some kilos too heavy and no dance experience ... But I got some very good friends.
    She quit after three months - without telling her dad. He was told when he showed up on a parent-teacher meeting, and everyone wondered what he did there.
    - Daddy was mad then, really mad. It was my only teenager-defiance-period. I was 16 years old and said: "Daddy, I only want to work with music." Her father realised that he had raised an incredibly stubborn, little daughter. And that he had to let her try - and take the consequences of it herself.

    Miss Mena doesn't live the luxury life, but she is pop enough nationwide to make a living of making music. Besides, they dig her in Germany and the Netherlands. And she is satisfied with that. Other continents she will take when they possibly come.
    - I am doing good, that is the most important thing - and then they (the record company) can worry about the money.
    To make money of music as a living demands a life of travelling by plane. Distance relationships are a part of her everyday life. Time together with her friends and family is a rare luxury.
    - I have to be surrounded with people who can deal with not hearing from me in three months and when we meet, it is as if we last saw each other yesterday. I can't necessarily be there for my friends when things fall apart.
    - Do you think of having a family of your own? Kids?
    - I never wanted to have children. Not before I met Eivind, she says and smiles teasingly.
    Maria isn't sure if she is fit for motherhood. But, a couple of months ago, she felt this longing after taking care of someone. A dog was the solution. She had a soft start when she became babysitter for a dog. Then she bought her own. A small dachs. Family and friends were shaking their heads and laughing.
    - And what happens next? I get a post-natal depression! I can't get attached to this small creature.
    Maria wanted to, but she didn't manage to handle it. That is why she delivered the dog back after a couple of days.
    It is luck that the running became an addiction. Because it isn't just dogs that Maria has dropped pretty quick.
    - I have tried everything once. Gymnastics, dancing, football, handball ...

    "Mommy loves you,
    I'm just tired of you
    and your brother's shit.
    And you know I didn't
    mean to hit you, you
    were asking for it."
    "Power Trip Ballad" by Maria Mena

    Maria has talked a lot, for a long time - and openly at that. She has answered the most of the questions. But some of them, which aren't possible to avoid being asked, haven't been asked yet.
    - What happened when your parents divorced?
    - No comment.
    - How is your relationship with your mother today?
    - No comment, Maria says.
    And smiles proudly.

    Original-Artikel (pdf, 10MB!) - Übersetzung: Thea Bjertnes

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