Rybak in Iceland – I have to focus on integrity

Rybak in Iceland – I have to focus on integrity

Alexander Rybak came, saw and conquered for Norway in Eurovision in spring 2009 with his song “Fairytale”, and got more votes than had ever been given in the competition. He has since then been popular around the world. Alexander has written and performed clicks a revelation, he has won awards, written a children’s book about bullying, and this weekend he has concerts with Greta Salome in Akureyri and Reykjavík.

Source: stundin.is Published 19.03.2017. Text: Svava Jónsdóttir, Photo: Heida Helgedottir.

NB! The interview will be revised by an Icelandic speaking person. The lines marked with red, doesn’t give meaning and will be corrected by reviver. Meanwhile you can enjoy the interview and pictures 🙂 

A gray day in March. Black dressed. Black-headed. Dark eyed. Black violin bag.

However, it is something bright with Alexander Rybak. Sincere. Lovable. Even a little bit shy.

He reaches black coffee in a white cup.

We talk about music. Violin. Concerts with Greta Salome. We also talk about his childhood.

Alexander Rybak was born in Minsk in Belarus on May 13 in 1986, 10 days after the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Bergen, Norway.  Hanne Krogh and Elisabeth Andreassen in “Bobbysocks” won the year before with the song “La det swinge”. Sandra Kim from Belgium won in Bergen with the song “J’aime la vie”.


Alexander family moved to Norway when he was about six years. 
– My parents are musicians, says Alexander. My mother is a pianist and my father is a violinist. I started playing the piano and violin when I was about six or seven years. Mom and Dad realized that it was better for me to play the violin, so I began to focus more on the violin.

He rehearsed under strict discipline for several hours a day, and took part in concerts as very young.
-I played such a concert with Oslo Chamber Orchestra when I was nine.
-I was compared with young Mozart.

– It is not my words, said Alexander humble. People heard that I had talent. They heard a special sound that began to develop. 

He knew early what he wanted to be.

–  Eight years old I knew that I would be a musician.

Wrote a pop music hit.

Alexander began studying at Barratt Due Music Institute when he was 10, where he learned about classical masters, but he also thought outside the box and eventually began playing jazz, popular songs and pop music. Alexander already composed in young age, and he toured around the world with different orchestras.

– You know that some teenagers become rebellious. Mom and Dad were so lucky because I was always playing classical music and my rebellion was that I wanted to play pop music hits. I felt as a bad guy because of mom and dad, however, they were happy with it. 


When he was 17, Alexander first took part in the Idol competition in Norway, but was refused. However, he managed a year later.
– I therefore hope to encourage others, he says, meaning that people should not give up, after all, no pain no gain.

People said I didn’t have a typical voice for pop music. I kept it in mind. I then took part in the talent competition “Kjempesjansen” in 2006 and won the competition.
It was the second try, and Alexander sang his own jazz song “Foolin” and played violin. (Seems like the journalist mix up Idol and “Kjempesjansen” – translator’s note).

The fairytale had started for real.


Alexander played in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”.
– This role was tailor stitched for me, he says. And he got Hedda Award (Newcomer of the Year) for his role.

At this time he followed the footsteps of fiddlers from the old days. He traveled the valleys and islands of Norway and played his violin in place of accommodation and food. It was on such a trip he got the idea for the song “Fairytale”. He qualified for Eurovision for Norway 23 years with the song. He came, saw and conquered on behalf of Norway in Moscow in the spring of 2009. He was simply a hit with audiences and received more votes than ever in the competition.

I have always enjoyed Eurovision because the competition is always held in May around my birthday. This year, the final is on my birthday, 13th May.

Alexander says that the victory in Eurovision has not changed his career.
– The victory strengthened my career. It pushed me further in the direction I was heading. It is of course easier to start my own projects when people answering emails from me and I no longer need to send 20 emails before someone replies.


A wide range of projects

A lot has happen in May 2009. Alexander has written, sung and played like no tomorrow and has given concerts and TV shows around the world, has released CDs with his songs, singing and playing the violin as well as he has starred in film and given voice to a Norwegian version animated film from DreamWorks. He was supposed to end the studies at Barratt Due Institute of Music in 2011, but because he had made a break in his studies, he graduated in violin in 2012 with the highest grade.


He is sincere.

I’m afraid I will never again write a song that will enjoy as much popularity  as”Fairytale”. However, my fans know that I do so many other things. Most people who have won the Eurovision have got a revelation with the desired track, and then they continue with other tasks that may not be as large, but even more important. I think, for example, a program for children in music education in various countries.

Alexander has a busy schedule. Concerts in Iceland in the near future, concerts in Lithuania in late March, he appears in a play, Soot-Spelet in Norway in the summer, as well as the Mid Summer Festival in July. A seminar with a youth orchestra in Norway in July and then there are concerts in the Czech Republic and Spain in the autumn.

I say no to several projects now because I have become more professional. I, for example, declined two projects this week. I would have benefited financially but it’s not about that. It’s about integrity. This is also about focus.

“I have to focus on integrity”

He claims to have a 10-year plan.
– I hope that after 10 years I will be known as a composer and violinist rather than a singer, and I want to compose for other artists. I have to focus on integrity. 

– It is all about the music. Music connects instinct inside.

The troll without tail

Alexander Rybak is more than a composer, violinist and singer. He is also a writer and his book about the troll without tail, “Trolle and the Magic Fiddle”, was published in 2015. Trolle is bullied because of the missing tail. One day he finds a magic violin which gives him great power and his life changes. The book is really about the importance of friendship and trust and how to overcome fear and prejudice. Alexander wrote 13 songs associated with the book and the CD and an audio book are included with the book.

Alexander gives me a copy of the book intended for children aged 5 to 10 years. A total of 119 pages and fairytale scenes.

Alexander and Greta Salome

The time flies, and it is soon time for Alexander to be in Harpa.

– Can you drive me there?, he asks.

We go out in a gray day in March. Me and the Eurovison- and violin genius Alexander Rybak with his black violin bag.

The coming days Alexander and Greta Salome will have concerts in both Akureyri and Reykjavik, with rock band, string orchestra and dancers. There will be great hits, and Greta Salome and Alexander offers pop, rock, classical and everything in between; e.g. the Eurovision song.

“I am very pleased that genuine a musician as Greta Salome is,  has invited me to play with her. She has a wonderful orchestra and she is a great singer as well as having a splendid stage presence. I am also happy to perform with another Eurovision legend. I like to perform myself, but I like to bring out other talents.

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