“I’m an old talent” – Alexander Rybak interviewed by Eurovision.be 29.06.2014.
Provided and translated by Olivier Vanhoutte and revised by Anni Jowett. Link to original interview here.
Alexander Rybak : “I’m an old talent”
Five years after his victory at the Eurovision Song Contest, Alexander Rybak tours again around Europe. This time to promote the movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2″, and his song on the soundtrack “Into a Fantasy”. The Eurovision victory was the beginning of everything. “Fairytale” is my business card, “says the 28-year-old singer.
“In countries where I am not so well known, people point at me and sing “Fairytale” without knowing my name. The song is more famous than I am, but I find that good.” The classically trained musician just wanted to escape from classical music when he won the Eurovision Song Contest. He looks back with satisfaction to his victory, but remains very calm underneath: “In this business you need to be happy with the chances you get and stay loyal to yourself.”
Alexander the dragon trainer?
One of the opportunities that came in his direction after Eurovision was the DreamWorks movie “How to Train Your Dragon”. Alexander Rybak was chosen to give the Norwegian voice of the main character Hiccup. This year he is doing it again for the sequel “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. Both movies are about the friendship between Hiccup and the dragon Toothless. DreamWorks sought inspiration in the book by Cressida Cowell, books that Alexander has not read yet. “I’m not good with books. I have so many thoughts in my head and to escape from that I need a big TV-screen and a lot of sound”.
He doesn’t find it surprising that the makers of the movie chose him to dub voice. “Hiccup and I look alike. We both talk through our noses and we have cow eyes. I think producers are looking for people who look like the character.” The outward appearance is not the only similarity. Like Hiccup also Alexander looks with humour to the world. “You have to, as an artist you need to have a strong stomach.”
“Into a Fantasy”
For the second movie Alexander also wrote a song for the soundtrack. The song, “Into a Fantasy” will be heard in Europe and Russia during the credits. He originally wrote the song for a Norwegian musical, but then he realised that it is better suited to the animation movie. “I watched slips of the movie, turned off the sound and sang my own song. Everything suited, just like at the Eurovision Song Contest.”
The accompanying video had to suit the movie and the producers insisted that the video could only be shot in area of nature similar to the movie. Once the location was found, the preparations lasted a week. The singer is in the video surrounded by people from Vestkapp and children playing violin. “The video summarises my mission over the past years; Inspiring young talents to do what you want to do”. All the children who took part he knew from projects he has done earlier.
Nevertheless, in Alexander’s video there are not only happy singing people. The little boy with the toy makes the balance. He just wants to make that guy happy. “All my songs are about balance. Balance between happiness and emotional moments in life.” With this modern version of a fairytale, Alexander seems to again sing about the same theme. He himself doesn’t see it like that: “I like to sing about feelings and the confrontation between them. ”Fairytale” was actually a sad song, but it was about believing in who you are. “Into a Fantasy” is mainly about friendship and believing in each other.”
A difficult periode
When he submitted the song two months ago, he never imagined that it would appear in the movie. “I was lucky with that one.” Alexander has not had an easy year. He wrote the lyrics for “Into a Fantasy” in that period. “Instead of writing that life is hard; I wrote that anything is possible.” The reason for this difficult period was a Norwegian project, which he arranged for Didrik Solli-Tangen. He was working on it for a month, and when it was finished, he got the response that it looked too much like “Fairytale”. Nevertheless he created something big and calm. “I wondered if a Norwegian producer didn’t find this good, why should people in Los Angeles?”
A future as a composer
When this adventure is over, other projects are already waiting for Alexander. One of the things that he would like to achieve is a music project with Flemish children. “You are very diverse in the development of talents and this in different domains and styles” During such a project he sends scores and comes three days before the concert for rehearsals. Then he performs on stage with the children. “We have fun and this shows to the audience. They don’t see an artist who some hours before flew in to the show to do his stuff.
That was something he after his victory in 2009 found difficult. “I said yes to everything, so I arrived two hours before the concert and I knew nothing. That didn’t feel professional. “He prefers the 100 concerts a year that he does now instead of the 500 that he did after the contest.
Yet he wants to do less and less as an artist and get more known as a composer. “Fairytale” was also written by me, but many people don’t know that. “He is still working on a Norwegian musical about a troll who is shy and plays violin, the same musical “Into a Fantasy ” was originally meant for. “It’s not about me” he adds just to make that sure. “I especially want to compose and get known for that. Yet it is not just the career that counts. My personal life is important and I’m not going to get that until I slow down. I don’t want to become a father who sees his children only once a month”.
The song is about new talent, I’m an old talent.
In March, Alexander was also at the Sports Palace for the celebration of the final of “Eurovision 2014”. Rumours told that he also submitted some songs that could suit the candidates. “This is not true but I’d love to do it.” If he wants to be defined as a composer, Belgium seems to him to be a good start. “You have a lot of good artists.”
One of the artists he likes is Maureen. However, he thinks that he cannot offer a song. “She probably will have her own team of composers. I need artists that really fit my kind of music.”
The winning number this year, “Rise Like a Phoenix”, could please him. “I thought it was a really good song. I’m still undecided whether the concept was really needed or not. “He makes the comparison with Michael Jackson. A white man who sings with the voice of a black. With Conchita Wurst it is the same. You see a woman, but hear a male voice. It’s mostly about the song and not about what I think of Conchita. The song was good and well sung and won, not the beard. Loreen did not win because of her crap dance, but because she performed well. And the same with Lordi. Would he take part in a preliminary round himself? “Yes, but as a composer. The contest is about good music, but also about new talent and I am an old talent. “