Portrait from ”Magasinet” in Dagbladet, May 29th, 2010

Quote on the cover: “”I think I will have to change myself to be able to get a girlfriend”

Source: Magasinet, Dagbladet, published 29th of May 2010. Translation by TessaLa, revision by Anni Jowett.

Alexander Rybak

Born: 13 May 1986

Family: I am an only child. That’s perhaps why I’m so eager to find myself a girlfriend.

Right now: Performs at the final of the ESC in the evening, and the new album “No Boundaries” is in stores in about two weeks.

This provokes me:  Indetermination

In ten years: I have found myself a milkmaid ( a symbolic  Norwegian statement for a steady and reliable girl). A wife. That is very important to me.

Best feature: I never give up faith in people

Worst feature: The same

What are you afraid of:  To end up alone, and to have too many girlfriends.

I wish that: That everyone understood me. No. Yes. That everyone understood me.

Reads: FHM “For Him Magazine”. And there is a lot of clever humor in “Tommy and the Tiger.”

Admires: Mom and Dad, who have endured.

If I could travel back in time: Then I would go back ten years, to an orchestra tour in Austria. There I met my first love. It was not very romantic, rather drunkenness petting. I would travel back to experience the pure love without the knowledge of how wrong things can go.

You are free and can go wherever you want: New York. You get so much more romantic there.


When Alexander Rybak (24) doesn’t think about pretty girls, he writes music. About pretty girls.


– When it comes to girls, I’m much more calmer now. Under the marked brows, the clear deep brown eyes, look serious.

-Last year was a little, well, what shall we say? Flamboyant? Hectic? Wild? When there are eight girls outside my hotel in Russia and almost flashing everything they have, I just go to my room and send an SMS to her I’m interested in at the moment. She is the one I want to convince that I’m serious. But if  three or four hours pass by and I don’t get an answer, then … Rybak gestures with his hands.

– Then you take advantages of their offers?

– No, are you’re crazy? The reason I have become so good in Russian the recent months, is that I have been  alone a lot in hotel rooms and watched TV.

“Years ago when I was younger, I kind a like a girl I knew ……” Yes, we all know that one. Through the “Fairytale” and the other hits from Alexander Rybak, we realized that girls standing in front of, behind, under, above and on the sides of the artist’s universe. Now also the fitted Frikar-boys is replaced by a trio of violin-playing beauties, and Rybak wrote amorous songs to all the three girls. And in reality? Is the man Alexander Rybak equally single-minded? Of course not. Nesodden’s big son has other interests than pretty girls. At least one. Outside the Rehearsal Hotel on Schous Plass in Oslo hums the construction machines. But inside the sound proof little rehearsal room, rhythmic despair fills the air

“And everybody knows your name / You ‘re driving everyone insane / I saw you laughing with that guy / It made me jealous, do not know why” Rybak is singing. But the band don’t quite follow. Rybak explains, but when words fall short, he lets the bow slip across the strings. And then they start again. There is no doubt about Rybak’s musical talent. There is no doubt of his natural stage charisma and with a facial expression that only Ivo Caprino could have done better, he is a winner when it comes to charm. The verbal talent is more limited, some critics have noted that more than once.

The album “No Boundaries” is right around the corner, and the entire summer there will be performances both at home and abroad. The line of text above comes from the song “Why not me”, which is dedicated to Kathrine Hvinden Hals, one of Rybak’s violin-playing girls. As usual the text is based on his own experiences. Just like the ballad “First Kiss” which is dedicated to Maria Strøm Slyngstad and the ompa-song “Oah”, which is for the 18 years old Moa Meinich, Circus Rybak’s youngest member.

– I’ve been in love with all three of them, Rybak says and smiles.

Is he kidding? Or has he just a slightly different definition of what being in love means than others? Haven’t you just begun to play together with them?

– No, I have known them for a long time.

We have moved on to the restaurant “Bølgen and Moi” on Tjuvholmen, and Rybak  crunches happily on a sugar cube.

– They have all studied at the Barratt Due Music Institute. I think people understand that I do not have a harem.

Rybak makes no secret of the fact that one of the girls in the trio occupies him more than the others. Who? It takes no Einstein to find out. The annoying catchy chorus on the new single “Oah!”, is namely this: “Singing o-ah / I love you, Mo-a/ You’re way too young for me / But I do not mind.

But before Rybak continues with his girl talk: A little bit about tonight’s big happening, this crazy event that is directly sent to 125 million viewers from Telenor Arena. What does he think about Norway’s chances?

– I think there’s a chance that we will have to arrange the final next year too. We have the best ballad, and Didrik is able to make an okay song sound totally amazing.

– So all the talk about that Didrik Solli-Tangen and you are not friends, is just nonsense?

Rybak smiles, nods and swallows the last remnant of the sugar piece…

It was in Belarus, that time part of the Soviet Union, that Alexander Rybak was born. The Soviet Union was not the best place to live for people who put freedom high, and during a tour in Norway his violin-playing father stayed behind. There was a lot of drama and secrecy, but with the help of God and diplomacy it ended well. When Alexander was five, he and his mother moved to Norway, and the three settled in Nesodden outside Oslo. You have to start practicing early to be good, and with a violin playing father and piano playing mother, the kid showed an early talent for music.

– To what extent were you pressured by your parents to play?

– They don’t call this pressure in Russia. It’s just the way it is. But I’m not bitter at all. If I had a strong enough desire to play rugby, I had certainly been allowed to do so, he said.

With his convincing play, Rybak won the talent competition “Kjempesjansen” on NRK in 2006.  And last year’s ESC with the self-composed song “Fairytale.” The album of the same name received international release and sold around half a million. Norway had a new superstar, with everything that comes with both ups and downs.

On 18 February this year, fans and others read the following on Rybak’s own Facebook page:  “Dear facebookies, please give me a break. I am in deep shit right now. Yesterday I had a nervous breakdown and started hitting the wall (!) till my hands were bleeding. The big guys are against me, while you demand the whole world of me. Trust me, everything will be all right. “ So it had thus happened.

About half a year after the overnight success the star had broken down with such force that it sent shock waves through the newspapers and online forums far beyond its borders. Had he, who was known for his solid ground contact, lost footing? Had the artist, who answered thousands of letters and wrote autographs for hours, become tired of his fans? What happened really?

– It was a lot of people who sent me messages. “What is it with you? You have been so reserved lately”. I wrote that they had to stop bothering me and that I would come back stronger. That was all I wanted to say and it worked. What I did not think about was that everyone around me was called by all the newspapers”, he said.

The young man who had landed in the middle of the “butter eye”, was simply tired. There were concerts, TV shows, interviews, release tours and numerous hours on the road, on rails and air. And now all this hit him.

– The “big guys” didn’t understand the situation. I said: “Please, I need to sleep”, but the management did not listen to me, he said, and takes a little break. That’s when I found out I had to do something. It was an early morning at the airport, and Rybak was exhausted. And this time he didn’t bother to pretend otherwise. The first item on the schedule was an interview with TV2.

– My manager said I didn’t look good, and we therefore could drop the interview. But I wanted to do it. I wanted to show everyone how I really felt. It was a cry for help.

– You say that the management  overexploited you?

– They probably meant well. But eventually the reality had to be shown  on TV.

– So, the Facebook message was because you were pushed too hard?

– I was in the midst of management change at that time. I could not live with a company that saw things in the way that I worked for them, and not vice versa, he said.

Since that, Kjell Arild Tiltnes has had the primary responsibility for the practical in Rybak’s career. Tiltnes is used by businesses as motivator and speaker, and he has known Alexander since he was a kid. Whether it is due to Tiltnes’ capabilities or not, Rybak seems to be in good shape now. He is pleasant and seems relaxed. That despite that the expectation pressure on him is greater than ever. In the showbiz jungle there is a law of nature, that the faster and higher one flies, the more brutal the landing will be. The fact that Norwegians are fond of both building up and tearing down, Rybak has already experienced.

The single “Fela igjen” received unanimous slaughter earlier this spring, and “Oah!”, the first song from the new album, also has got very hard criticism, with dice 1 in Dagbladet as the lowest.

How do you handle criticism? Under the heavy, brown fringe, a couple of wrinkles are seen in the forehead.

– Last year I was given dice six for the album in Dagbladet. Then I was scared. “Shit, that doesn’t happen with good artists,” I thought. Then I got dice 1 in the Swedish Aftonbladet, which strengthened the belief in my own musicality. Then I realized that I actually am that musically that it irritates some of them.

– How do you think the new album will be received?

– The reviewers are probably not going to like it. If this had been the last thing I did in my life, I would probably spend a long time to make a lot of noise. To get revenge on people and stuff. But now I only think “yes, yes”. You always go up in life. Although it sometimes goes down, you ending up on top sooner or later.

– You have to explain that some more.

– Yes. Or .. now I have to talk me out of that, “he said before he again starts talking about his favorite topic.

-I’m not sure the Eurovision victory was the highlight.

– Not?

– No. The highlight for me that night, was to get the girl I at that time was in love with. Or very interested in, at that time. During the two weeks I was in Moscow because of the final, I met the prettiest girl I had ever seen. And when I was on stage I thought:  “Can’t I just hurry to win, so I can go out on a date! Ha, ha!”

– How many of the girls you meet are concerned about the person Alexander Rybak?

– There are of course some girls who find it exciting to try to get hold of me. When they realize that I’m not the “straight in to bed” guy, they say about me: “No, he’s too serious.”.  I’m not that cool artist they thought I was. And then there are some suitors who never give up. There are some girls around Europe that send me messages every night.

– Isn’t that a little uncomfortable?

– At first I thought they were totally psycho. Especially a girl from Sweden. But now I start to get a proper sense of her. Because she dares and she doesn’t give up. And now I know that she is not completely co-co. It’s probably people like her, I’m going to have a coffee with in about ten years. Not the one I tried to get in touch with in a bar, who said she wasn’t interested, just to make herself “hard to get”.

But attempts to check up strange women in bars is history now. The bachelor and fiddler claims that he will slow down. Is that good or bad news? Rybak flashing the smile that make girls from Vladivostok to Barcelona soften their knees.

– It is good news for those girls who really try.

– And now you are sure that it’s all about only one girl?

– Yes. There is someone special I’m trying to understand now. The problem is that I get too excited. When I fall in love, I want her to share everything with me. And I do not understand why she should keep doing her things without saying something about how much fun she has with me. You know what I mean?

– No.

– What happens every time I fall in love, is that I end up feeling fuzzy. Most girls think it is too much.

– It’s too much?

– Yes. I have to change, if I’m going to get a girlfriend. My approach doesn’t work in this world. We live in individualistic times … Oh, that was a long word for me, he says, looking genuinely surprised.

– Will you ever find love?

– I think I found it with Ingrid, the one “Fairytale” is about. It was very, very true love. So if I die now, I’ve certainly experienced it.

– At age 24, is it not possible that you may experience something similar again?

– Yes, I hope so. I hope that I will find the one and true love.

– And now: A little about war and peace, and politics and stuff. “Rybak gets yelled at by Amnesty,” said Dagbladet for exactly one year ago today. It was just known that the recent Eurovision winner had agreed to join a TV show in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko was present. “Untuned” Dagbladet wrote in the newspapers editorial, and emphasized that Lukashenko is described by both the EU and the USA as Europe’s last dictator. Why did Rybak do it?

– I was invited. Lukashenko was a nice guy.

– But he is referred to as Europe’s last dictator?

He shrugs his shoulders. – People like words. Dictator. Diva. There are few who know that he actually helped the Belorussian people, and that everybody has wealth. And those who do not have wealth, will be offered jobs as garbage collectors. Or they are banished to live in the countryside. And then the state doesn’t have as much responsibility for them. All are offered rehab if they are drug addicts, for example.

– Eh … You are not particularly interested in politics?

– No, says Rybak clearly. The criticism obviously did not impress Rybak further. In October, he posted a picture of himself and Lukashenko, arm in arm, on his Facebook page. Under the photo it said: “Because of him, Minsk is the cleanest and most beautiful city in Europe. Come visit! Alex “

Didn’t you understand that there would be reactions?

– Yes, he says pleased. It was either that or it would be writing about that I did not have so many people on my Russian concerts. Then I instead chose to post a picture of me and the president.

– To divert attention away from the fact that you were not as popular everywhere?

Rybak nods. – Last year I called Eurovision a gay parade, and it become a happy case in the newspapers. If I had said the same thing now, it would be published together with a real bad picture of me. I do not know how I did it, but last year I managed in a way to control the media.

– You said at one point that you should stop to read everything that was written about you. Have you done that?

– I did it in a while, but then I started again. It’s good to know what people are writing about me.

– Do you recognize yourself in it?

– Yes, definitely. I say some stupid things, make some mistakes and learn from them. And then I try not to hurt anybody on my way.

Alexander Rybak is famous in Norway, but he is even more famous in the former Soviet Union. And that creates money. But when the cake is shared, is the main character just one of many.

– Gross fees may have been, I do not know, ten million?

– How much is left for you?

– Let’s just pretend that I have received a great deal.

– The management has taken the rest?

– Among others, yes. I can understand anyway. They were eight, I was only one, he says and smiles.

In February Rybak dug up five million, and got an apartment at Aker Brygge. There is a swimming pool on the roof, and from the balcony the celebrity can look at the hectic nightlife without being seen. So Rybak admits that he has been left with something. That he is particularly fond of luxury, is not correct.

Some might think that an apartment at Aker Brygge can be described as a luxury?

-Yes, but I do not want unnecessary luxury. I got embarrassed, when I was offered my own car instead of driving in the van with the rest of the band. I rejected that. But I love knowing that I have a luxury escape room.

– Is it practical that the escape room is not so far away from  the boat to Nesodden and mom and dad?

– Yes, especially when I need to get my clothes washed. He-he.

– When millions of eyes and ears tonight are tuned into Telenor Arena at Fornebu, Alexander Rybak, like the rest of the country, is probably crossing his fingers for Didrik Solli-Tangen and his “My heart is yours”.
But it’s still not his favorite. And is it due solely to musical qualities?

– Didrik’s greatest competitor, and my favorite is Germany. Her name is Lena and something, says  Rybak and get a little lost. And then we are back to Rybak’s favorite theme. Again.

– Have you seen her? She is sooo sweet! Similar to Marit Larsen, except that she’s just so much cheekier. Very lovely, he said. Yes, and I’m going to invite her for dinner.

14 thoughts on “Portrait from ”Magasinet” in Dagbladet, May 29th, 2010”

  1. Aaah, thank you soo much. When I was in Norway, I bought the magazine, because Alex was on it, but sure I didn’t understood a word. 😀
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! <3

Leave a Reply