News with the category „Interviews“

  • 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.”
  • Soziale Pornografie

    Die 22-jährige Norwegerin Maria Mena liefert mit «Cause & Effect» ein kontroverses Album ab, in dem sie aus Sicht eines Scheidungskindes, das sie ist, hart mit ihren Eltern abrechnet. Ein Interview…

    David Kilchör

    Die neue Platte ist ziemlich kontrovers. Wie konnten Sie solch harte Songs gegen Ihre Familie schreiben?
    Maria Mena: Es war für mich etwas Natürliches. Ich habe festgestellt, dass verschiedene Menschen verschiedene Grenzen haben. Ich halte es für wichtig, dass die Songs gut geschrieben sind. Dann ist egal, was deren Inhalt ist.
    Ich könnte sowas nie schreiben…
    Was für Sie zu viel ist, muss nicht auch für mich zu viel sein. Ich weiss, dass wenige Künstler zuvor  so ehrlich gewesen sind. Aber der Prozentsatz jener, die meine Songs gut finden scheint höher zu sein, als jene, die sie nicht mögen. Ich bin wohl einfach Pionierin in dieser Richtung.
    Was waren denn die Reaktionen der Familie?
    Ich bin in einer Künstlerfamilie aufgewachsen. Die Kunst, sich auszudrücken, wird da vor die persönliche Sensibilität gestellt. Sie waren nicht verletzt.
    Ein Kritiker sagte, das Album sei «Social Pornography». Was meinen Sie dazu?
    Mein Schwiegervater hielt das für keine negative Kritik. Ich sehe es so: Wir sind eine Generation von Scheidungskindern. Eine Generation voller Wut. Es braucht dringend ein Ventil. Ich habe meines gefunden und liefere zugleich anderen Betroffenen eines.
    Sie wirken heute nicht zornig…
    Ich bin es auch nicht mehr. Für mich war wichtig, diese Phase in meinem Leben zu thematisieren, um sie endgültig abzuschliessen. Ich weiss auch, dass ich mit diesen Gefühlen nicht alleine bin. Es geht dabei nicht nur um die Scheidung, sondern um all die Spätfolgen davon. Sie werden dich bis ins Erwachsenenalter begleiten.
    Sie stürzten sich in die Magersucht.
    Viele Mädchen tun das. Es ist ihre eigene Entscheidung. Da sie keine Kontrolle über ihre Familie haben, suchen sie Kontrolle woanders. Das Essen ist ein einfacher Punkt, wo dies funktioniert. Es muss nicht immer dazu führen. Aber ich erzähle ja meine eigene Geschichte. Und in der ist es ein Thema.
    Sie haben Ihre harten Texte in liebliche Melodien gehüllt. Weshalb?
    Endlich fragt mich das mal einer. Ich tat es mit Absicht, da ich glaubte, der Inhalt wäre zu hart, um ihn musikalisch noch zu unterstreichen. Ein Amerikaner hätte das wohl getan. Die stehen auf Pathos. Ich finde, im Kontrast liegt die Stärke.
    Ist dieser Kontrast auch der Grund für Ihren Humor auf der Bühne?
    Ach was. Ich habe einen Fanclubleader in Deutschland, der alle meine Bewegungen analysiert und etwas hineinliest. Ist doch lächerlich. Ich bin einfach witzig. Das ist nicht einstudiert, sondern komplett spontan. So bin ich.
    «Cause & Effect» ist Ihr erstes Konzeptalbum. Werden Sie wieder so arbeiten?
    Ich liebe es, so zu arbeiten. Man gibt sich Grenzen im Songwriting, was alles schwieriger macht. So habe ich eine Herausforderung, ein Ziel. Ich habe schon eine Idee, in welche Richtung es beim nächsten Mal gehen soll…
    Ich höre…
    Ich hab’ zwar zwei Gläschen Champagner gehabt, aber das werd’ ich trotzdem nicht rausrücken.
    Schade… Passt Ihnen das neue Album auch aus Distanz noch?
    Besser als jedes zuvor. Ich höre es ohne Unterbruch…


  • Dein neues Album „Cause and Effect“ ist fertig gestellt. Kannst du uns zu den Songs darauf etwas sagen... Welche Geschichten erzählen sie und wie sind sie entstanden?

    MARIA: Das ist viel Arbeit und ich möchte die Hörer nicht ihrer eigenen Fantasie berauben, deshalb ist meine Antwort: Nein. ;) Ihr müsst einfach warten und eure Fantasie benutzen.

    Wie schwer war es für Dich neue Songs zu schreiben um das Album zu komplettieren?

    MARIA: Es ist niemals wirklich schwer, aber diesmal war es anders, weil mein ehemaliger Produzent Arvid Solvang aus dem Projekt ausgestiegen ist, gerade als wir mit den Aufnahmen anfingen.

    Dein neues Album wird im Oktober in Deutschland veröffentlicht. In welchen anderen und ggf. auch neuen Ländern wird es außerdem veröffentlicht?

    MARIA: Ich glaube für diese Frage bin ich eigentlich nicht die richtige Person. Oft weiß ich nicht mal was ich morgen tun werde! Aber ich versuche es... Schweiz, Österreich, Finnland, Deutschland, Holland und natürlich Norwegen!

    Gibt es einen Song, den du eventuell neu aufnehmen wollen würdest bzw. am liebsten von einem deiner Alben löschen würdest?

    MARIA: Da gibt es einen Song auf meinem ersten Album, er heißt „Ugly“ und er ist ugly (hässlich)! Ansonsten mag ich die Aufnahmen wie sie sind und sie live vorzutragen ist meine Chance ein wenig mit älteren Songs zu experimentieren.

    Du hast viele Konzerte in den letzten beiden Jahren in Deutschland gegeben. Außerdem warst du in Österreich und in der Schweiz. Wie gefallen dir die Länder, welche Städte gefallen dir am meisten und was magst du besonders in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz?

    MARIA: Ich liebe sie alle aus unterschiedlichen Gründen. Ihr stellt riesige Fragen! Es ist schwer diese in einem Satz zu beantworten. Ich mochte die Show in Zürich, sie war traumhaft! Deutschland ist ein großes Land, ich mag verschiedene Städte aus verschiedenen Gründen. Berlin und München sind zumindest die beiden in denen ich die meiste Zeit verbracht habe.

    Als Musikstar bist du viel auf reisen. Magst du es rund um die Welt zu reisen und was sind deine Lieblingsländer?

    MARIA: Ich sehe leider meistens nur Hotelzimmer. Aber ich bin ein großer Fan von Italien.

    Vor längerer Zeit gab es ein Foto in deinem Blog: Du in einem Mercedes sitzend und den Mittelfinger zeigend. Hast du überhaupt einen Führerschein und ein eigenes Auto?

    MARIA: Das wäre eine große Gefährdung für alle anderen Verkehrsteilnehmer, deshalb verspreche ich, dass ich niemals den Führerschein machen werde!

    Welcher Film den du bisher gesehen hast, hat dich am meisten beeindruckt und deine Gefühle berührt?

    MARIA: Ich bin generell ein großer Fan von Filmen, aber einer meiner Favoriten ist „Requiem for a dream “. Er ist aufwühlend.

    Glaubst du deine Persönlichkeit hat sich verändert im Laufe deines Lebens und was denkst du war der Grund dafür?

    MARIA: Ich denke Veränderung ist eine gute Sache und ich glaube und hoffe, dass ich mich verändert habe mit den Jahren. Seit ich 16 war, habe ich soviel Professionalität erfahren und das hat mich und meine Denkweise über das Musikbusiness sowie über Menschen generell ohne Zweifel beeinflusst. Auch die Menschen um mich herum, meine Freunde und Familie, beide haben mich herausgefordert mir das Selbstvertrauen gegeben mich weiterzuentwickeln.

    Was magst du an deinem Charakter und was würdest du am liebsten ändern?

    MARIA: Das hängt vom Tag ab. Manchmal wünsche ich mir, ich würde nicht zuviel reden wie ich es tue und außerdem würde ich es lieben geheimnisvoll zu sein. Ich bin wirklich neidisch auf Leute die geheimnisvoll sind.

    Du hattest mal einen Hund. Magst du Tiere und welches ist dein Lieblingstier?

    MARIA: Ich liebe niedliche Tiere und wenn ich die Zeit dafür hätte, würde ich definitiv einen Hund haben. Heute hat mir tatsächlich jemand einen Hahn angeboten, aber seit ich mitten in der Stadt wohne, musste ich ablehnen.

    Was wolltest du schon immer mal sehr gerne tun, hattest aber bisher nie die Chance dazu?

    MARIA: Ich wollte schon immer mal mit dem Rucksack um die Welt reisen. Aber so wie die Dinge derzeit laufen, wird das wohl in nächster Zukunft nicht passieren, aber vielleicht nehme ich mir einfach etwas Auszeit und reise einfach. Das würde ich sehr gerne tun!

    Du hast einen Fanclub in Holland und seit letztem Jahr auch in Deutschland. Nur es gibt keinen in Norwegen. Wie denkst du eigentlich über Fanclubs und warum gibt es keinen in Norwegen?

    MARIA: In Norwegen haben wir einfach keine Kultur für Fanclubs. Ich weiß nicht warum, aber so ist es und meiner Meinung nach macht es das zu etwas besonderem euch zu haben! Ich fühle mich geehrt Fanclubs zu haben und eure Präsenz und Meinung bedeutet mir viel.

    Wenn du noch populärer wirst, wirst du dann weiterhin Konzerte im kleineren Rahmen geben?

    MARIA: Für mich war die allerwichtigste Sache immer die Möglichkeit zu haben mit dem Publikum in Verbindung zu treten. Das ist generell einfacher in kleineren Veranstaltungsorten, darum hoffe ich dies meine ganze Karriere lang tun zu können.

    Hast du ein Ritual bevor du auf die Bühne gehst?

    MARIA: Nichts außergewöhnliches. Ich habe immer einen speziellen Kräutertee den ich trinke und ich mache Aufwärmübungen und versuche mit meiner Band zu relaxen.

    Was sind deine Lieblingsmomente auf der Bühne?

    MARIA: Da sind gewisse Momente, wenn die Musik, das Publikum, alles einfach funktioniert und ich glaube das sind die Momente nach denen du als Künstler strebst. Wenn das passiert, ist es einfach magisch.

    Auf deinen Konzerten bekommst du viele Reaktionen zu deinen Songs. Gibt es einen Song den du durch deine Konzerte mehr lieben gelernt hast?

    MARIA: „Sorry“ ist definitiv einer dieser Songs. Ich wusste nicht wie viel Leute ihn mögen, bevor ich begann ihn live zu singen.

    Du bist auf registriert, aber schon seit längerer Zeit nicht mehr dort online gewesen. Viele Künstler machen Werbung für sich mit myspace und einigen hat es schon geholfen bekannter zu werden. Warum tust du dies nicht und warum warst du dort schon so lange nicht mehr online?

    MARIA: Ich weiß nicht wirklich viel über Computer, das Internet und das ganze Zeug und um ehrlich zu sein merke ich, dass mein Blog das meiste davon wieder gut macht. Aber ich verstehe die Wichtigkeit von myspace und vertraue meiner Plattenfirma, dass sie das Beste tut um mich auf myspace zu repräsentieren.

    Zwei letzte Fragen:

    Was trinkst und isst du am Liebsten?

    MARIA: Ich liebe Früchte und esse Mangos zum Frühstück. Und mein Lieblingsgetränk muss Cava sein – jedoch nicht morgens. :)

    Bist du religiös?

    MARIA: Ja, aber ich habe mich noch keiner Religion namentlich angeschlossen.
  • The last week Maria Mena has felt bad. Her baby, the album "Cause and Effect", a piece of work she describes as "my fourth love child", landed in the reviewers' hands a couple of days ago, and the 22 year old has been sitting at home and dreaded the reviews.

    - How does it feel to let go of something you have such a strong relationship to?

    - It is never funny. I've had a week off and I've been sitting at home and feeling bad. Today, however, it feels really good. I've got some good reviews, and now I can start talking the journalists' heads off, she chuckles.

    It is producer Martin Sjølie who has had the main supervision with Maria's fourth album.

    - I experience the new album as bigger when it comes to arrangements, and maybe a little more bombastic in a positive way?

    - I experience it as the opposite. I've switched producer, and where we earlier would fill every free room in the songs in a more normal pop way, we've tried to make the contrasts bigger. That being said, it is incredible how many opinions people have about this record, she says.

    - Did you know beforehand where you wanted?

    - I had no idea. I've noticed that my way of writing songs has changed. I have been letting myself getting inspired more by music I've heard the last three years, and I've played with new genres, she says.

    Mena's distinct voice is the most central thread on the fourt album as well.

    - I've always been spoiled in proportion to my voice. It is easy to recognize.

    - Is it so that you can play with several genres and still be sure that it sounds like Maria Mena?

    - Yes, maybe. I try not to limit myself. So people rather get to stop me if I get into heavy metal, she grins.

    Mena has been inspired by everything from country to Russian folk music.

    - Three years have passed since the last record. I am not among those who listen the most to music. I had a little period where I listened to Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins. That resulted in "Cause And Effect", the song which was a little inspired by country. The song "Eyesore" I made after I got a record with Russian folk music after a visit in Berlin, she tells us.

    She still hasn't bothered to learn how to play an instrument.

    - In many ways my songs become what they are because I can't play an instrument. I and the songs become more intuitive that way. It is 100 % driven by fantasy, she says.

    The lyrics and the melodies she makes she give away to the producers, and together they work on it until they got the final result.

    - For a long time we discussed if I should learn how to play instruments. If I had learned to play three chords I am afraid all the songs would have contained only those three chords afterwards, she says.

    Throughout her entire career Maria Mena has let the listeners get to know her innermost feelings. She has served very personal stories that some times have been criticized for being a little too self exposing. That is also how it is this time. The stories are strong and the themes are oftentimes heavy and serious, and they are a contrast to the private happiness she experiences with the boyfriend Eivind Sæther.

    - The lyrics are a retrospective glance. I had to write them. I am aware that my lyrics will cause reactions, but I had a need to finish writing about certain themes. Most likely it will be an entirely different record next time, she says.

    She is a little surprised that the success in Germany and the Netherlands haven't made more headlines here in her home country than it actually has. If we judge by gold records in Germany and the Netherlands, five million views on YouTube, concerts in front of ten thousands, and a European record sale in over 250 000 copies of the last album, she might have a reason to be surprised. And she is visibly proud about the success.

    - I am a bit disappointed that journalists don't ask more questions about it. I was, after all, one of the biggest newcomers in Germany, she reminds us.

    That might also be the reason why it isn't many concerts in Norway in the first round.

    - I'll do two concerts in Norway in October. One in Bergen and one in Oslo. That is mostly to check if people show up. I haven't really established myself as a concert artist in this country, she says.

    The Netherlands will follow, and then christmas holiday, some other countries and a long tour in Germany in February. After that there may be more concerts here in Norway.

    Original-Artikel - Herzlichen Dank für die Übersetzung ins Englische an Thea Bjertnes
  • Original-Artikel zu lesen unter:

    Maria Mena tells us about personal lyrics, German stalkers and ambitions to become an author.

    Maria Mena has been a pop star since the middle of her teenage. It is quite incredible, but "Cause And Effect" is the 22 year old's fourth record.

    Side2 meets Mena the same afternoon that the most eager critics in Akersgata has directed their sharp knives in the Oslo girl's direction once again.

    - Even though the reviews so far are differing substantially, it feels surprisingly releasing to be back. I am doing great these days, she sparkles.

    Is accused of social pornography

    - You are being accused by VG because they think you are being social pornographic  with your very personal lyrics. What are your comments on that?

    - In a way I knew that "Cause and Effect" would be received differently. The reviewer in VG writes that my lyrics are too much of the good thing, and I just have to respect his opinion. So far there has been three reviews and they all give different views of which quality this record has (Aftenposten gave 5 out of 6, Dagbladet gave 4 out of 6 and VG gave 3 out of 6). Naturally I choose to believe in Aftenposten's 5 out of 6, Mena says and laughs.

    She reveals that the press's reactions are mirroring the opinions her friends have.

    - Some of them dig that I expose myself, but others are more like VG's reviewer. Hehe.

    - Gets over some crap

    - I decided in advance that on this record I should write about some of the crap I've  experienced. I am looking back on this I've experienced before, nothing that reflects my situation today. I could have portioned out the content on several records, but I chose to put everything onto one record, Mena explains.

    Mena seems to have a relaxed feeling about the attention she has gotten from the press and media.

    - I was told just now that I'll be on TV2 tonight. I went like "do I really have to?". But I do know how many bands and artists who had been incredibly grateful to get that attention, she says.

    Big on the continent

    It isn't only on home ground that audience watches Maria Mena's carreer. Both the German and the Dutch people have clasped her to their bosom. But that, too, haven't happened without drama.

    - It is going really good in both Germany and the Netherlands at the moment, and the two fanclubs that I have in each of the countries, are fighting tooth and nail. It is important to them to be number one with the latest news and they are mean to each other on the internet, she laughs.

    The leader of the German fanclub have even become Mena's first real stalker.

    - I was eating at Delicatessen on Grünerløkka a while ago, and suddenly he came walking outside the window. He didn't see me, but he'll get cred for being an "expensive stalker" who travelled all the way from Germany.

    To keep in touch with the non-stalking fan base, Maria has an own blog.

    - These days I mostly write about music related things. But when I started blogging, I didn't really understand that I put things on the internet where everyone is able to see it. Never drink and blog, that is my advice!

    Looks ahead

    Mena has toured non-stop the last three years, and with her new record she has more than enough to keep her busy. But despite this she is looking forward to do other things than music gradually.

    - Before I do something new after this record, I want to travel around the world with only a backpack and a small amount of money, like all of my friends have done. I am in that age where you should do such things, she says dreamy.

    Maria does also have some thoughts about what she wants to further in her career.

    - On my next record I want to do something else. Write about other people, perhaps? Until now there have been much brutal honesty and intense feelings. Right now I think of writing about everyday love, for instance. For example, I think it is very interesting that people can live together for fifty years.

    A coming author?

    - I would really like to try my hand at being an author. I've always dreamed about that. But first of all I think it will be something I do for myself. Then we will have to see if anyone is willing to publish it after I've got some help with all the og/å-mistakes.

    Herzlichen Dank an Thea Bjertnes für die Übersetzung ins Englische!

  • - We should have been making out all the time

    Maria Mena has her video of her dreams played out already in her head.

    - Who are you starstruck by when you meet them?

    - Very very few. But, I was when I met Stevie Wonder backstage on an intimate Prince-concert. And earlier I've lied and said that I have shaken hands with Stevie Wonder, but I didn't. I was asked if I would like to shake hands, but I didn't dare to and I said no. What are you supposed to say to him that he hasn't heard before?

    - Which famous people who lives today would you ask out for the dinner of your dreams?

    - Oh! That would have been an intimate dinner with only me and James McAvoy. And then it should have resulted in getting laid, haha. He is on my list over who I am allowed to be unfaithful with. I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I hope it ends up at a point where he can star in my video and we should have been making out all the time, just as they do in that Kent-video...

    - Why James McAvoy?

    - Have you seen "Atonement"? That movie speaks for itself. I rented it again lately and I saw it five times the same night. And I have been putting up posters of him.

    - Do you ever get to hear that you look like someone?

    - No, not really. Except from in the children's school, back then they thought I looked like Queen Latifah,  haha. They called me bongo-Mena. But I do get questioned quite often if I want to work as a model when I am travelling abroad.

    - What do you answer then?

    - No thank you. That I work as artist, and I think it sounds like it is more boring to work as a model.

    - What is it that you are the most afraid of?

    - Right now it is that someone might say that my record is a flop. I've been lucky until now, but if it happens it happens.

    - You are going to play at John Dee in October, why did you choose such a small venue?

    - I start stressing if I am supposed to play at Rockefeller. Last time I did that, I had a bad feeling in my stomach the entire way and I talked a lot. It is Oslo! It is huge! It is that venue that you have been in often, as a part of the audience and you've seen the biggest artists play. I've never been as nervous as before my Rockefeller concert.

    - Did you watch your live performance from David Letterman again?

    - No, I don't know why I should have. It is as if you have to see yourself screw up on the celebration you have because you've finished school, why would you do that? You don't learn anything from watching your most embarrassing experience over again, you can't fix it anyway.

    - You have very personal lyrics and you are open in interviews. Are you as candid in your everyday life?

    - Yes, but this time I've surpassed myself in the lyrics on the new album. That might be why I am so nervous about the reviews. I often think about it, that I maybe should be little less honest, but I think I have a form of honesty-touretts.

    Translation: Thea Bjertnes
  • 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
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