Alexander Rybak: Me and my ex-girlfriend don’t even talk to each other
Article published at www.obozrevatel.com 03.11.2012. Written by Elina Sergacheva. Photos provided by MasterManagement. Link to original article here
Found by Sonya Luzina. Translation by Zhanna Sergueeva. English revision by Anni Jowett.
The whole world learnt about Alexander Rybak after his victory on ESC. The smiling Norwegian conquered the audience not only with his charisma but also with his talent as a composer. The song which was acknowledged as the best one almost unanimously by European countries in the international contest, was personally written by the performer. Sasha is very proud of this fact and continues his cooperation with the committee of this contest now as the author of lyrics and music.
They say that after Dima Bilan’s victory at Eurovision, the fee of the Russian soared to $200.000, but Rybak on the contrary didn’t change his price policy. His rider is still quite modest, it doesn´t have any refinements and special requirements, just a good hotel and a possibility to rest away from female fans.
At the same time Sasha is absolutely not against communicating with his female fans. In fact, he regularly holds meetings with his Kiev’s fan-club. But now he is forced to hide the details of his location – one obsessive female fan has really tired him out. And knowing that the heart of the handsome one is free again, the girls arrange a real hunt for the winner of the ESC. “Obozrevatel” (“The Columnist”) has talked personally with Alexander Rybak about this and many other things.
In the real life, the artist appears to be a very soulful and down to Earth young man. When eating he can lick his fingers shamefacedly, he can laugh at himself and is slightly embarrassed for making mistakes in his Russian. At the same time Rybak is a really gallant man – he gives his hand, helps to take off someone’s coat and to sit at the table – the things that our stars never consider worth doing in their communication with the mass media.
– Sasha, tell us what are you working on now and what do you plan to surprise the audience with in the near future?
AR: Now I work locally almost in all countries. For example in Sweden, I have a project with young musicians. 2-3 days we practice and then we give a concert together with these children. In Ukraine I see a big potential in terms of development of pop-culture. I am now working most actively on my new repertoire, writing the songs. In Ukraine and Sweden two of my albums were released, now I am recording the third – A Christmas one.
– How busy is your schedule?
AR: I try to focus on one thing. The next 3-4 weeks I will spend on recording the Christmas Album. For this thing I have to refuse other suggestions. This is difficult for sure because in this period I was invited to Serbia, Germany and Malta. But I am used to focusing on one thing and to primarily work qualitatively. Therefore, I have to choose. Soon I will have a tour in Norway. Three popular artists will participate in it beside me. We will perform in churches with Christmas songs and give 48 concerts in one month. I am just worried not to get sick during this time because the concert schedule is very tight.
-Sasha, you have Belorussian roots, a European today and a Norwegian citizenship. In what language is it easier for you to create?
AR: The easiest way for me to write lyrics is in english. But at the same time I speak better in Norwegian. Regarding Russian songs I have a wonderful fan-club in Kiev, and it´s members help me a lot with this issue. There is a girl Julia who finds good translators. Regarding my songs in the whole, I always like to try myself in new genres. Now around the whole of Europe they play my song. The Russian version of it is called “Dostala” (“You’ve driven me up the wall”). In many countries they play two of my singles, but at the same time the producers want me to write 4 songs a year for all. And this is absolutely not easy. Therefore I write a lot now.
– Regarding your song “Dostala”/”Leave Me Alone”, they say you dedicated it to your obsessive female fan?
AR: It’s true. There is a girl who has pursued me for three years. Initially she called me 60-70 times a day but now she has started to annoy my family and friends. A change of number doesn’t help, she gets the contacts somewhere again and not only mine but people close to me. I suspect her father works in some agency and helps her.
At first she wanted to marry me. Then she understood I was not interested at all and started to seek a meeting with me. But then this meeting happened. The girl flew to one of my concerts in another country. Even though she said nothing, I understood who was in front of me. You know she had those crazy eyes, an inadequate look.
She claims she is from Israel but she speaks Russian at the same time. And it would be okay but such an attention tires me a lot. I sleep bad because of her calls. And I have to follow – if she comes to Oslo then I don’t spend the night at home, but stay with my friends and every time change my place of overnight.
-Didn’t you try to sue her or hire security?
AR: I used to turn everything in my life into positive. I wouldn’t like to call the police – to write a song about it is more interesting. That I did. It has had an effect in a way. She loosened her grip a bit, she is probably happy that she got some attention. But at the same time she calls me as often as before. (laughing) She leaves about 60 messages per day on my voicemail.
Regarding security I don’t worry about myself. I feel sorry for my parents who get all this as well. At the same time I feel awkward to hire security. I was born in Belarus and we, Slavs, are proud. What you get – me, normal adult guy will set security upon a 30-year old girl? It’s somehow not nice. So I try to resolve all the issues by myself.
– Do you not think that your song is a peculiar encouragement and there will be more female fans behaving inappropriately like her?
AR: Fortunately, I have only met just one fan like this. The rest of my fans are very good people. For example I have a big fan-club in Kiev and on the whole, I have a vast audience in Ukraine. These are people who love my creativity and for that I am grateful. And I tell you I am totally pleased when they call me and thank me for my songs, when they give me teddy bears. But everything should be in moderation.
– In what country do you live now?
AR: I live in Oslo but I travel all over Europe. More precisely, as they say now, I live out of a suitcase. (laughing) Yesterday I travelled to Bergen, woke up at 4:30 to catch the plane, and the next I was in Kiev. Before that I have been to Sweden and not too long before that in Moldova.
Now it’s an active working period for me, and I can come home for 5 hours maximum. But I don’t complain – I set the schedule by myself. I have a possibility to work in a new country every day. But I don’t like to dissipate myself in the creativity. I need to control the situation and to know that the work is held qualitatively in these places.
– How often do you get gifts and which one was the most original?
AR: I won’t mention the most original one because children can read “Obozrevatel” (laughing) I often get gifts. For example my Kiev’s fan club bring to our meetings magazines and newspapers with the publications about me, toys… But collecting souvenirs is not my favourite hobby – I fly often and every time my luggage grows and grows. (laughing)
But it’s nice, for sure, that they start to send me some necessary things when I just mention in an interview about a new hobby. This year I got involved in boxing, and they sent me 5 or 6 parcels with boxing gloves during one week. By the way my mom organizes and keeps all my gifts at home. She has already created a whole museum. (laughing)
– And what are you interested in now?
AR: I have a new hobby- LEGO building kits. I have spent about 5000 Euro on it this year. I exhibit my new works of LEGO on the big table in my apartment. And this is probably the only thing that reminds everybody that I still live at home. I really like the philosophy of LEGO – big things start from a small thing. I agree with that and I think that you need to have patience and then, everything comes to you in this life.
– Tell us, and how often do the girls try to get into your bed?
AR: You know, I have the best team ever. Therefore nobody never knows where I stay. And if I want to pick up a girl, I can only do this myself, the girl can’t manage by herself.
– Tell us about your private life? They say you broke up with your girlfriend Maria?
AR: I think friendship is much more important than love. But I don’t even talk to my ex-girlfriend now. I am just a guy that, when I am involved in a relationship, wants to spend 100% all my time with her. But when she travels away I can easily start to flirt with others, especially if 2-3 months go by.
And that was what happened in our case. Either she was in South America for 2 months, or she spent 3 months in Tanzania. If I am in love, then I want to be the best guy ever. I can’t be somewhere in the middle.
– What kind of girls are interesting for you?
AR: Regarding appearance, I like different types. And regarding personal qualities, it’s important to me that the girl can express her emotions. I don’t know how about Ukraine, but in Scandinavia the girls are really restrained, and they play games too often. For example they will wait 4-5 days after the date to reply, just to not show their interested in the guy too much. I don’t like it. I like sincere ones.
At the same time, generally, I make the first step. But if the girl takes the initiative, I am just as happy. I always have a privilege, it’s easy for me to communicate with people because they know who I am and what I do, so it’s easy to start a conversation.
– Don’t you have a wish sometimes to run away somewhere where nobody knows you?
AR: Sometimes that is what I do. I often perform at corporate events in Japan and Australia and there, only the Russian and European audience knows me. Also this year, I was on holiday for a whole 2 or 3 days, that was my longest holiday. I spent them far away from the places where I could be recognized.
– Do you prefer an active recreation or a passive one?
– Watching TV for me is a more active recreation than playing football. Because I draw inspiration and new ideas from TV. You can say that Sasha Rybak is a mixture of many characters from the popular TV-series. For example one of my most favourite ones, is the character of David Dukhovny in “Californication”…
– But Dukhovny plays a bad guy…
AR: Rather he is a good guy that finds himself in bad situations. Besides this on the plot he broke up with his girlfriend too and tries to live a new life.
– Don’t you have a wish to participate in ESC again?
AR: They ask me about it in different countries. But I think that you shouldn’t try to repeat a big sucess, you’ll never manage this. But I will participate in ESC with great pleasure again as a composer.
My European and international career started from this contest. But I am already pretty bored of when they introduce me at concerts as the guy who conquered everybody with his smile in 2009. In general I smile rarely. (He is cunning and smiles right away – author)
Actually both then and now it’s much more important to me that my song won on ESC. Therefore I plan to work on this contest further as a composer.
– For whom do you plan to write your songs?
AR: It should be serious people with their idea and budget. I can take on people from different countries. But our cooperation doesn’t have to be like this: Sasha, you have the name, write a song… I want to work with people who like my style and my creativity.
– On ESC you had close contact with Svetlana Loboda, but do you keep contact now?
AR: Unfortunately, we don’t communicate now. She has her career and I have mine. But I’m starting to focus more and more on Slavic territory and hope we start to work with her. I respect Loboda for her single-mindedness. I have to make a video with her…
– How important are style, fashion and image in everyday life for you?
AR: I don’t understand artists who wear concert costumes in everyday life. But I understand that it’s necessary to differ from others on stage. At the same time on serious corporate events, when billionaires sit in the concert hall, I try to dress presentable. And for rock-concerts I choose another image.
Recently I played heavy metal on the violin in Norway and was dressed all in black, only there was a cartoon Mickey Mouse on my T-shirt. (laughing).
In everyday life I wear very simple and low-key clothes. My favourite clothes are loose leisure pants and a T-shirt without sleeves.
– Recently you were filmed naked in the video “Strela Amura”. Was it difficult for you to go without clothes in front of the camera for the first time?
AR: Taking off your clothes is not the most difficult, more difficult was the proper nutrition and working out for many weeks. Now I am not on any diet, I just have so much work that I don’t put on weight whatever I eat.
In addition I sleep little because of calls from the annoying female fan and that has it’s effect too.
– Do you have accounts on the social networks?
AR: Yes, on Facebook. There are about 500.000 followers. I am proud of it because in Scandinavia no other artist has so many friends in the social networks. Even the famous group A-HA has less fans on the web.
– I counted more than 100 of your fakes on the social net VKontakte (an analogue of Facebook in CIS). Do you take offense that people communicate on your behalf?
AR: On the contrary I am just happy. I give people not only music but a possibility to communicate more. Maybe somebody can find a girlfriend this way.
This post is also available in Русский.