Alexander Rybak is working on his biggest project ever. A story about a troll who plays violin and hide in the forest.
– The freedom to do what I want, is both the best and the worst, says the still single artist.
Text to the main photo: Home-loving: – Nesodden means two things for me. Family and Thomas. They are two important factors in my identity. Mom and Dad reminds me of how ambitious I am, while Thomas reminds me how great guy I am, and how much fun I can have with a best friend.
A meeting with our man in the fame industry
Source: Amta.no /paper issue 10.10.14. Author: Ann-Turid Ford. Photo: Ruben Skarsvåg
Translated by Tessa La. Revision by Anni Jowett.
ON THE DOOR BELL PANEL on Bryggetorget at Aker Brygge there is no “Alexander Rybak”. A Russian-sounding name is, so I try that one, but no one opens the door. Then comes the 28-year-old with long strides across the town square. Tall and dark and slender and handsome, with a brown McDonalds bag in his hand.
– I removed the nameplate because there were so many people ringing the bell, he explains.
WE TAKE THE LIFT to the fourth floor. In front of the entrance door there is a large black suitcase which to his relief has reappeared after being away on the road between Nashville and Oslo.
The day before Alexander Rybak arrived back after a varied music visit to Tennessee’s capital city. Here he held among other things a concert with Scandinavian gospel, made recordings for “miscellaneous songs” – and he got a standing ovation after having performed Bach’s twenty minutes long “Chaconne.”
– It was fun. There were some musicians there who have long wanted to invite me, he said.
What Rybak prefers to convey to the local newspaper’s readers right now is that people should vote for him tonight.
Don’t think that “the song for sure goes further on anyway” encourages the artist – who has won the ‘Kjempesjansen” and Eurovision Song Contest, received the Anders Jahres Junior Prize, Grammy Award and Hedda Award, released six separate CDs and participated in around forty releases of others. He is still hungry for success.
RYBAK WANTS TO “shave the moustache” before we take pictures. And eat.
From the bathroom he answers questions. Ensures that it’s okay that we look around. On the wall hangs a Pondus strip of “Fairytale” and a puzzle for kids with Alexander as a bear. At the elegant fireplace stands the memory from Moscow in May 2009: The Eurovision glass trophy.
The shaving is done and he serves us Pepsi Max in cups. And offers vitamin bears from the United States. On the kitchen counter are several supplements, an entire small battery.
He doesn’t touch the soda before the contents of the brown bag is eaten up.
– It’s best to eat before drinking, so enzymes can work, he said. Since the artist has access to lots of good food, he must be aware of the diet and the body. He has begun to do the training at home. It was too much trouble with all those who took selfies with him at the gym. Now the former fitness instructor lifts bags filled with books in his living room, while he for example, listens to CDs people have given him. Or he goes through fan mail and signing autographs as he listens.
– I like to multitask.
Besides the pursuit of a hit, as we will see the fruits of tonight , Alexander spends much of his time meeting musically talented children around the world.
– I think it’s wonderful to get the chance to inspire young talents.
He helds seminars with youth orchestras and music schools throughout the world, Azerbaijan, Turkey, USA, Malta, Sweden and Belarus.
– During three or four days we practise some of my and others’ songs that I have arranged.
One of the nicest experiences, he assured, was with the musical children at Nesodden.
– Otherwise there are big concerts and TV shows constantly. Actually I spend even more time taking care of contacts, meeting managers in different countries, and sending emails. Many emails.
Having been a little bit envious of buddy and fellow student from Barratt-Due, Didrik Solli-Tangen, who is the host of “Shall We Dance” on TV2, he also recently joined the programme management. Once a month he is now radio DJ on NRK Classic. In two hours he picks out and presents his favourite classic pieces in the programme “My favourite music.”
– And I also I work on my biggest work ever, a story about a troll who plays the violin and keeps to himself in the woods. It will be both an audiobook and cd.
FROM HIS APARTMENT Alexander Rybak can, if he wants to, keep up with what’s going down in the square. Outside on the terrace, he gets an even better look. The dining table is filled with his more sophisticated and mostly pre-built LEGO structures. And Xbox equipment and the latest games. And Nintendo Wii.
– Often when I’m invited on a date by a model, I say I already have a deal with another, and referring to the Xbox. You know; there are many ladies, but only one xbox, he grins with disarming manner. Hard to know if he was joking or not. He dates only models?
– I like girls who are not trying to be something they are not, but instead play on their strength, he informs diplomatically.
The one who has sent the art interested artist pictures of her art via Facebook is not like that. And turned out to be a Miss Universe candidate in Australia. Amtas photographer, who is a few years younger than Rybak, understands this about games and ladies. The two talk about the latest Xbox games, about iPhone6, the HD TV with 3D, which dominates the living room and Rybak is very fond of , and the music system he recently switched to from an exclusive music system for ninety thousand krones. The designer system he donated to the children’s departemt at Ullevål hospital. They are also online when it comes to Twitter and Snapchat versus Facebook. It is the latter channel those who are interested best can follow Rybak movements.
– For example, Mom. The only thing that is silly with her is that she asks about everything instead of follow my updates on Facebook.
There is a lot to follow. Rybak is the known for his great versatility.
– I’ve been criticised for that I do not focus on one thing, but it was just for this versatility I got the Anders Jahre Prize. One can of course, even if if you do several things at the same time.
THE APARTMENT IS GREAT. A bachelor pad, which he points out himself, with a not quite lived in feel. A couple of boxes in the hallway tells that he is not completely unpacked. How much of his time does he spend in this house at one of the country’s most expensive addresses?
– I feel I have a good balance between traveling and being here, without bragging about and an incredible number of travelling days. Gradually, I learned to say no to things, to be generous to myself so I have time to prepare myself.
Saying no is not something he likes, he holds it strongly in his spine that he is reluctant to disappoint people.
He stress that with “gradually”.
– I dislike the tabloid wish to highlight turning points, “this is how I came through the crisis”, “this is how I quit doing this and that.” They have to somehow categorise everything, he sighs. For him the adjusment to a very special career has been more organic, grown up kind of. Like his desire to become an artist and entertainer.
– It came naturally and gradually. My healthy upbringing and patient parents prepared for it.
ALEXANDER has allowed the Amta readers to follow him from he when was a youth with an artist’s dream and all the way to the established artist in the top layer. What is good and what is bad up there?
– The freedom to do what I want, is both the best – and the worst.
He does not long back to the time before he became famous, but I am glad that there are countries like America and China where there are far fewer who know him.
– Where I can be a tourist and be inspired. I’m glad I didn’t first become a celebrity and then found myself a role in his life, but was a musician who had long ago decided my livelihood, who got the bonus of getting to be known for the music.
THIS SUMMER Alexander Rybak and Trine Rein went from room to room in the Practice Hotel in Schouskvartalet listening to songwriters. Tonight they will perform each selected ones among the six songs they could choose from. The system is like that the artists first chose two songs each. First this evening, at the end of the programme, we will know which of these two songs they have chosen.
– I liked all six, but it was still not hard to choose. Some of them I thought “Trine must take this one.” My tactic was that I didn’t chose the one that was best in itself, but the one that I felt I could add something to and do good.
He takes out his iPhone and lets us get an exclusive listen to a piece of the song. It gives me associations to a winter evening in early 2009 on the boat home from the city, when the young artist let a local journalist hear an extraordinarily melodious song: Fairytale.
THE TWO FROM NESODDEN found the tone at the Practice Hotel.
– Sometimes you meet an artist you’re really are in tune with. Along with Trine, I could be completely natural and myself, he said.
The two agreed not to chase through the so-called “room race” where you go from room to room, you hear the songs in order to pick the best one.
– We made a little “gentleman’s agreement” when we first talked together, confirms Trine Rein via e-mail.
– We both wanted to listen through all the songs that were picked out for us before we chose our two. Thus we had slightly lower shoulders when we were in the corridor to listen, she says. Rein sees Rybak as “a very worthy opponent” that she has great respect for. Like him, she keeps options open for a possible Rein & Rybak collaboration sometime in the future. They belong to slightly different generations and had not met each other before they met professionally.
– We know amazingly many of the same people within the music community, for Norway is a small country, and the industry even less, writes Trine Rein.
Despite all the nice words; Tonight they are competitors. Alexander is very happy with his chosen song and is excited to perform it together Bårdar dancers – and the fiddle.
-I always have the fiddle. It has always been the starting point for my music and can be used for everything. I am very excited to show off the song that I’ve been working on for several weeks. Especially given the current composition, and not I, who is in the focus. If it would not go his way, he assures that he will rejoice over Trine Rein says.