THE ARTIST ALEXANDER RYBAK
Source: Magasinet, Dagbladet. Published 13.05.2017. Text: Silje Kathrine Sviggum. Photo: Agnete Brun. Found by Mónika Menyhért. Translated by TessaLa, revision by Anni Jowett.
Alexander Rybak (31) is still influenced by the time that he lost the 17th of May. The year was 2009 and «Fairytale» had brought home victory in the Eurovision Song Contest. When the confetti hit the floor in Moscow and Rybak was thrown into a congratulation swirl, he realised that he would miss the celebration of the 17th of May.
– It hurt more that I missed most of the 17th of May, than it was good that I won Eurovision.
– It really hurt, says Alexander Rybak while eating a lukewarm open sandwich at Holmenkollen Park Hotel.
– You really mean that? Rybak is nodding.
– Yes, I really love the 17th of May. We don’t have anything similar in Belarus.
He solved the problem by encouraging people to wish him welcome at Gardermoen when he arrived home. He thought only a few would show up . He landed to an ocean of people.
– It was fantastic that so many showed up. Every year after I won I have taken back the lost 17th of May. There are plenty of days where I just have to run to the shop with the hoodie covering as much as possible, and a kid still recognises me when I have a cold and I really don’t want to take a picture.
– On the 17th of May I give back for all the half smiling selfies I give the rest of the year. It is great to be recognised on the national day for a song you can stand for. I gladly contribute to those who are on Grand Prix artist selfie hunt, says the 31 year old.
Concerned with versatility
«Fairytale» has become a hit he always has to perform. The classically educated violinist graduated with top marks from the Barratt Due Music Institute in 2012.
He has been awarded Anders Jahre’s Cultural Prize, won the “Kjempesjansen”, received the Hedda award for the role of the Fiddler in the “Fiddler on the Roof”, thus winning the Melodi Grand Prix before he crowned it all by winning the Eurovision Final with a record score in Moscow.
After the “Fairytale” performance, he spread his wings so widely that the critics predicted a swallow dive. He played classical, pop, jazz, Christmas songs, rap.
He participated in a Russian imitation programme on television (where he came second), the Swedish edition of “Let’s Dance” (where he took fourth place) and wrote the official film song for the Disney movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2”.
Shouldn’t he go for what he is really good at? Rybak gets an intense expression in the already awake look.
– I am concerned with versatility. People should enjoy themselves in life, experimenting with their talent. Many new artists are ruined by listening to the big-experienced people with money saying that one must have a red thread in their career.
– They get their lives and their careers destroyed by feeling that they have just followed what others have said. Suddenly, ten years of their life, they will never get back, has gone.
“In my early 20’s, it was about flirting with the finest girls”
Now he is working on making a musical of the book “Trolle and the Magic Fiddle”, as well as writing the follow-up book. The recipe?
– All my success as an artist is about having good parents who mixed discipline and love. They showed me the way.
– If I said I would not practise because I did not bother, they only reminded me of the last concert and how well it went. I never felt the compulsion, just loving manipulation, said Alexander, with a smile about his musical parents.
After school his friends went to play. Alexander went home and practiced.
– This is the biggest cultural difference. In Easter Europe it’s not enough to have a talent, you always have to work hard.
– It was okay to go against the stream for me, but I will not demand my own children to practise daily if they don’t have a wish for it.
– Good integration
During Eurovision Alexander was asked by the Belarusian journalists if he felt shameful that he as a Belarusian represented Norway.
– When I think of how easy I had it as an immigrant child here, it’s very easy to stand on the Norwegian side and give something back as a Norwegian.
– Or at least as a Norwegian citizen. In Russia, this had never been possible for someone from outside.
Again Rybak praises his parents.
– There is a big difference to wholeheartedly make your child enjoy itself in his new homeland, as my mother did to me, than to be a Russian businessman who has found out that he can earn even more money in Norway but does not integrate his children.
– I was together with the Norwegian children, I was not sent to Russian gatherings one and a half hours away from home.
Suddenly Alexander Rybak starts laughing. Telling that he is going to New York this summer with his girlfriend.
– If I am a patriot, I must be an America-patriot. I love USA.
Thanks to his girlfriend the 17th of May will be a bit special this year. Rybak glows like a Romeo when he talks about his Julie (22).
– When I was single I didn’t look forward to this evening, because it was about who had the cleanest Bunad (Norwegian national suit) and who got the finest girl.
-Was it a competition?
– Yes, in my early 20’s it was about flirting with the finest girls. Previously I went to find a girl. But now I have the finest girl.
This post is also available in Norsk.