Alexander Rybak -Interview in the Ukranian magazine “Otdokhni” (Have some rest) June 2020

“The only hope for a normal life is giving up the pills”

Source: Online version of the paper issue of “OTDOKHNI” nr 27/2020 published 26.06.2020. Thanks to Yana Pryadka for informing about the interview and Anastasia Silakova for the English translation.

Some info: Alexander has made an Russian version of his song “Give Me rain”. The title in Russian is “Позади” (pronounced Pozadi, which means “Behind” in English. The music video of the Russian “Behind” you’ll find below.

Sasha, you’ve recently scared your fans with an honest confession: you had been addicted to sleeping pills and antidepressant medication for 11 years! Knowing you as an outstanding artist, it’s hard to believe…
Actually, my intention was not to scare my fans but to comfort them (smiling). Because many of them suspected that I had health issues. For the past years I’ve smiled less and less, I’ve moved slowly. I’m sure they are glad I’ve finally pulled myself together.

When did you realise that it’s time to kick your habit? Was there any turning point?

The thing is that for 4 years I’d been trying to figure out why I had bellyache every day, why I couldn’t think properly, enjoy life and even breathe! And when last year I realised that all those struggles came up in between the doses of Diazepam and sleeping pills, I figured my only way hope for a normal life was giving up the pills.

Tell us about your way to recovery.
Have you gone to rehab?

Yes, I started my rehab course this January. Thanks to my doctors I’m gradually getting better. This struggle is not easy for me: after all, I’d been addicted to pills for 11 years! During the past years the pills made me weak and scared. It affected my brain, my muscles, my stomach and the overall condition of my body. But that’s not it yet: my addiction ruined my relationships with many people and it almost destroyed my will to live. I know there are many people who struggle with the same issues, so I’d gladly share my experience with my Instagram followers (@rybakofficial). I’d be happy if it’s helpful for someone. At the same time I’d like to highlight the fact that it’s merely my story. I’m no sleeping pills and antidepressant expert. And something that has ruined my life might, on the contrary, save others’. Mental problems are extremely individual.

Tell us who was with you in time of need.

My family gave me a huge support. I’m thankful to my family and friends for giving me the time and freedom that I needed. People are actually different. Some may feel better when surrounded by a bunch of friends and communicating with others on a regular basis. I, on the contrary, needed to be locked in my own home alone. For a long time.

The music video of the Russian version of his new song “Give Me Rain” with the title “Позади” (Behind).

New experience

The pandemic has ruined the game for many artists – how much did your artistic plans for this year change?
Due to quarantine I of course lost many jobs like all of my show business colleagues. I had to act differently in new circumstances. For example, I recorded and arranged both my songs “Give Me Rain” and “My Whole World” by myself at home. I’m happy with this experience. I have a lot of plans for this autumn, but due to the pandemic situation and visa issues I can’t share the news with you.

You spent the quarantine in your flat in Oslo. What did you do? Have you tried at least one new recipe?
I have lived in the coolest neighbourhood in Oslo for the past 10 years. But I had been on tours so much that it was only during quarantine that I found out that my building has not just one rooftop swimming pool but two! Can you imagine?! So now I sunbathe every day. And when it rains, I shoot music videos. (Smiling). On the topic of cooking… Recently I’ve cut down on meat: it lies heavy on my stomach. It still hasn’t gotten out of the habit of getting pills. I cook vegetables every day. You can imagine how boring it is…

I rarely fall in love

The fans are very much interested in your private life. What status can you apply to it – “in a relationship”, “searching”, “do not disturb”?

I’m keeping the “do not disturb” sign for my future girlfriend. Yup, I’m that kind of a guy, ha ha! By the way, I think that the best gift one can give to a modern girl is complete freedom! And a couple of diamonds as well. (Smiling). I want to find a girl who will be able to give me the same kind of freedom. But I don’t need any diamonds.

You have 250k followers on Instagram. How often do girls write to you? Do they come up with naughty suggestions?

I take it as a huge complement that girls write to me all the time. I used to blush seeing naked photos, erotic videos of beautiful girls in bikinis… Now that I’ve grown older I enjoy those, ha ha… (Smiling).

Are you a susceptible guy?

I fall in love, but quite rarely. And I only fall in love with unique characters, girls who are not ashamed or scared of anything.

Do you have a plan for your life? Getting married at a certain age, having children at a certain age…

My plan has always been about music. Well, I’d also like to “jump over” my first marriage/family to have less drama with my second one.

What would you say to your Ukrainian colleagues? Are you ready to work with them?

Now that I have a chance to chat with the coolest magazine in Ukraine I’d say this: now I don’t have energy for solo concerts but I’d be happy if Ukrainian artists or orchestras invite me to tour with them!

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