Author: Eivind Sæther. Photographer: Lars Myhren Holand
Internet version of the article you can find here.
Found by Venche M. Translated by Tessa La. English revision by Katie Anderson.
Trophy Man: – I have become a trophy for women, says Alexander Rybak. Foto: Lars Myhren Holand.
ONE ON ONE
They send underwear in the mail, they want his autograph on their tits, they knock on his door. But for Alexander Rybak (26), it has become too much.
Snipp, snapp, snutte*
*common phrase used at the end of a Norwegian fairytale
Current: The Christmas album “Christmas Tales”and the single “Presents” he does along with Didrik Solli-Tangen.
Driving: – I am running hard.
Favorite words: – Privilege
Recent cultural experience: – I listened to Thorbjørn Egner’s original recording of “Dyrene i Afrika” (Animals in Africa) 20 times in a row when I drove by car in Belgium.
Moscow. Last promo tour. 40 interviews in three days. The Ukrainian agent has done a great job. Alexander asleep in the car, stuck in the queue between each radio interview. In his hands he holds a gift from a fan: a bronze statue of himself. It has been three years since it took off now.
– They do not understand that small gifts are the cutest,– Rybak says and looks around the empty hotel bar in Hønefoss.
– A small letter. Or underwear.
It’s the day after. The hotel key on the table. The suitcase from Moscow is up in the room, he has packed for three weeks. One more year in the sign of madness for Alexander Rybak. Christmas album on its way, orchestra concerts, love failure, events in Eastern Europe, and graduation concert with top marks at the Barratt Due Institute of Music.
Who, what, where. The last three years have been a period full of madness for Alexander Rybak. Now he tries to find himself, with help from LEGO and his own psychology lessons.
And of course: Noise. Rybak released the single “Leave Me Alone” about an Israeli woman who pursues him. In the video he sings in a straitjacket.
– There are many who see a gold mine in my story. We have been in contact with managers in Israel who think I should tell the stalker story there, that I can get lots of work after being on television, Rybak says and runs his hand through his hair, just as he does in music videos.
– You are accused, by the organization of Mental Health Youth, of bullying?
– I’m happy to give them some PR, I love to give, he replied with a wry smile.
– Don’t you exploit a mentally ill person in the marketing of your music?
– I did not release the video to keep a low profile, so to speak. It’s ok that people say what they mean, but they attack me by name. I haven’t mentioned her name once.
He falls silent. According to Rybak, the woman, who is in her 30’s, still follows him. He says she calls 40 times A day, she seeks out his friends and his family.
– Have you reported her to the police?
– No. I have called them. They could not help.
– People who are professional in this matter say that giving attention to stalkers make things worse, it can lead to “threats, violence, and attempted murder”?
– She has threatened me, but she has not tied me up or done anything physical. I have chosen this life and what follows, but when my friends and my parents are bothered by her … Mom calls and says there is a nice lady at the front door with a teddy bear in her hand. And I shout, “Mom, do not open the door, it can be a knife in that bear.”
The reception is full of kids. Rybak has red eyes, the whole all day he has taught 90 youths in the symphony orchestra. Arts and culture in the municipality. He relaxes with an alcopops.
The children’s man: Alexander Rybak says that he loves children, they give him energy and inner strength. Here he is concentrating during a rehearsal with Vestregionens Youth Symphonics and conductor Kjell Siem. – If I had not been an artist, I should have worked with children’s TV,- says the violinist.
– The music came back in my head,- he said.
– I had a girlfriend. And I will either be the best player or the best boyfriend. In the dating period, I wrote little music. I lost focus, spent the energy on giving her gifts, to call after a concert to say “the pictures you saw of me and that girl, when she gives me a hug, it’s nothing” and “now I’m all alone I promise you”.
The girlfriend was the doctor, Maria Slyngstad (26). He hangs over the arm chair, grinning.
– We were leading people both of us, so it did not work out well. I need a partner who can jump on me and want me to show her the world. When it ended this summer, I transitioned to become a songwriter like that,- he says, and snaps his fingers.
– Anyway, flirting is the most important matter,- Rybak says.
– Yes, I can not even help flirting with you now.
– With me?
– Yes, yes! You have to use the whole face, sit properly, be interested. It’s a nice thing. – His eyebrows go up and down a few times. And then:
– The easiest path for me had been to go to Russia, where everyone handles me with silk gloves, but that’s not what I want. I want the “Jantelov (Law of Jante)”, I want people to pull me down. I need it because I have to have something to work towards.
-Do women like you because of your celebrity status?
–I notice the same pattern over and over again: I have become a trophy for women. They sell themselves in by saying they love video games and that it is not a problem if I go to a strip club. “Just relax,” they say. He-he! But when they see that I give all my heart, they are suddenly a completely different woman. And I am like, “Huh? Was this the woman I was together with? “.
– Perhaps they are fascinated by …
–They like success.
– The fact that I travel around a lot, I get music awards and I won Eurovision, I do not like that girls are fascinated by that. I like when they see my inner success.
– The best compliment I can get from a girl, is if she sees that I am really tired and I really just want to beat the wall, but I pull myself together and do my job, and I do not say anything bad. Then I feel that this is a person I want to know better.
There was an anger in him. Violin crushed in the amusement park in Liseberg, yelling at producers, the situation when he left the stage at the Norwegian Embassy in Baku, when someone put on the wrong backing track during his performance. He could punch the wall until his hand starts bleeding.
– I’ve learned to control my anger, there is an inner strength there now. I’ve learned to shut up,- he says.
And then it’s like the music is playing in his head again, he disappears.
– The exterior does not always match the inner mood. In the biggest autograph signings after a concert, where there are tons of blondes that want an autograph on their tits, that’s not necessarily the situation when I feel the best inside.
– But I’m careful to not let the emotions take over and let it out on the poor blondes. “I’m a bit in a bad mood today,” I say, and I don’t bother to make A fake smile. Then I draw strength from it, and am able to keep things inside me.
– What happened when you ran away from your performance at the embassy in Baku?
– No, that was over exaggerated. It was only Swedish journalists who wanted to pull me down.
– It’s probably because you broke the violin at Liseberg?
– He-he. Where they actually invited me to return the following year.
– These stories may make Alexander Rybak look a bit unstable?
– Are you unstable?
– You have stopped punching the wall?
– Yes, I go jogging, or I get it out on stage. I’ve seen some “Star Wars” movies and learned to use the “force,” -he says with a smile.
The foot stomps incessantly on the parquet. It is certainly the music in his head.
– I had the choice between being a rebel like James Dean or to go to a psychologist and grow up, learn to live a quiet life. But I have chosen to be my own psychologist: Relax every night, think things through, evaluate, and all that.
He has stopped taking the sleeping pills he used too, things are a little better now. It is dark outside the windows.
– How are you your own psychologist?
– I use the “force,” and I build with LEGO. It’s very good. You develop good discipline and learn that one can achieve great things, but you have to start small.
Back in the apartment at Aker Brygge, there is LEGO everywhere. He builds the great ship from Star Wars Imperial Destroyer. 4800 blocks. He plans to build an electric railway there. And he will build different LEGO villages throughout the apartment, with various themes.
– LEGO has been a testament that I am home. I am forgetful of the life I live. Sometimes I wake up in a hotel and look around: “Are there any LEGO here? No, then I’m not home. “
It’s his dream is to become a composer. He wants to settle down, put the bronze statue of himself on the shelf, and work from home. Maybe write film music, or something for ESC? And maybe having his own children, and they can play out in the garden while he sits in his office.
– Approximately every third year I meet a woman I can share my life with, and I want to work where I live. Family life is sacred, and I don’t want to be half a father.
The bartender stands motionless behind the counter with all his clean glasses. Rybak leans forward, smiling.
– I really want to spend time with my children. At least the ones I have on purpose.
The audio plays a Spanish Christmas song. Alexander is yawning. The alcopops is empty and the bar fills up slowly by halfway dressed up men and women who will soon become loud and play the piano in the corner and laugh and cry, and some of them come over to greet him.
He does not belong here. Maybe he longs to to go home to his LEGO? Thousands of bits that in one way or another must be assembled.
– What has this fame done to you?
Alexander sighs, rubbing his eyes:
– No, Is not all we’ve talked about the answer to that?