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    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
  • Honest and uncovering about her life

    In a week Maria Mena's fourth album will be released. There she tells her story as undisguised as never before. Not because she wants to, but because she has to.

    Maria promises that the album will surprise because she is exposing herself and the people close to her, both when it comes to good and bad things.
    - Would that mean that you are both hailing and campaigning against them?
    - Yes, a bit of both. Not exactly tormenting, but I give both praise and criticism.
    At the age of 22 the Oslo-girl has travelled and experienced more than others have during an entire life. In calm periods Maria is out travelling two - three days a week. The artist has got Europe as her playground. That is the reason why Dagbladet had to schedule their interview with Maria between landing and take off.

    It is one week left until the record "Cause and Effect" is being released, and she says this is her most personal record of all the records she has released. And those are big words, because the previous three are really candid.
    - Why so personal?
    - I wish I didn't have such a strong need to be so personal. When I think of reasons why, I think that deep down it is a wish and a need to be accepted.
    - It is a form of therapy - like letting day light in on trolls so that they burst, says Mena.
    The young girl Maria Mena has become a woman. She isn't any longer ashamed of her height, and she wears shoes with real heels. But it is early in the morning, she has been awake since 4 AM, and she isn't really awake yet. Despite this and although she would rather be withouth the blitz and the stares from other travelling people, she is elegant.

    But exactly the content of what she sings about, she doesn't want to reveal. She doesn't want to talk about it, people get to hear and read the lyrics when the record is released.
    - I've been returning to being as honest as I am in my diaries. I mention many in my presence in the lyrics - both when it comes to good and bad things. Those who are written about in the lyrics, have heard what I sing so that it doesn't come as a shock. I tell my story, says Mena - who had to make this record as candid and revealing as she promises that it is.
    She describes "Cause and Effect" as a grown up record which is more vocal demanding than earlier - an album that inspires reflection.
    - You know what, I have never been happier than now. I am doing really good and with this record I have described important things in life.

    Hotel rooms, airports and club scenes round about in Europe are to consider her home. She is more on the road than she is home in her apartment.
    - It is fun on tour, I like that life. When I live in and travel with a bus I feel like a real rock star.
    - I get driven hard, therefore I have become a good live artist, says Mena who will tour a lot in Europe this autumn - but she will also have time for a couple of gigs in Norway.
    She describes "Cause and Effect" as a varied and at times quiet journey in her personal universe. Here is pop, country, russian folk music and ballads defined in her way.
    - I have switched producer, Arvid Solvang thought it was time I got someone else to spar with. I guess it was time, and I am very satisfied with what I and Martin Sjølie have made.

    Original-Artikel - Übersetzung: Thea Bjertnes
  • 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
  • In der Maria Mena Community gibt es jetzt verschiedene Styles zum Auswählen! Jedes Mitglied in der Community kann sich in den Profileinstellungen seinen Lieblingstil einstellen. Zur Auswahl stehen "All This Time (blau", "Cause and Effect (braun)" sowie "Cause and Effect (rosa)". Da dürfte für jeden etwas dabei sein. :) Neben der farblichen Veränderung erscheint auch in jedem Stil ein anderes Bild von Maria Mena als Kopfgrafik der Community.
    Viel Spaß!
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