Alexander Rybak’s TikTok success – Interview in VG 5.6.2021

Alexander Rybak “couped” fan account on TikTok.

Featured photo: Busy: Alexander Rybak, pictured during last year’s “Allsang på grensen”. Photo by Thoms Andersen/TV2

Now Alexander Rybak studies composition for film music.

Alexander Rybak reveals info about his studies, about nerves that still give him palpitations, and the sudden success on TikTok.

Source:, published 4.6.2021 and the paper issue 05.06.2021.
Translated to English by Jorunn Ekre, revision by Anni Jowett.

For the past year, Rybak has studied for a master’s degree in composition of film music at a college in Chicago, online from his parent’s place in Nesodden. The pandemic prevented relocation.

-Not to brag, but I got an A in all of my subjects, says a proud Rybak in a FaceTime interview with VG.

Film: Alexander studies film music, but is in front of the camera in Will Ferrell’s Netflix- comedy “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”. Photo: Claire Folger/Netflix

But it hasn’t come without a price. He hasn’t had time for any girlfriends, nor football nights with the guys.

-I was a bit afraid to live at home, in view of all the temptations. Luckily I have good friends who understand I have to prioritise. I have barely been on a date in eight months, he confides.

Not much time for romance

Rybak has great admiration for fellow students who have a partner.

– The studies take up all time from morning till night. So I’m very happy I’m single, he says laughing.

But he does take time out for the video platform TikTok. It started when the Russian head of a fan club sent Rybak a message asking if he wanted to take over the account with 30.000 followers for a few weeks.

– I found it touching. So I got the login info. Since then it has only gone one way.

Right now Rybak can be proud of having almost 800.000 followers and over 10,4 million views on his most viewed video. He never returned the account.

Alexander Rybak on TikTok

– But I do hope people don’t believe the first posts are my own, all those “Look how handsome he is” videos, chuckles Rybak and wipes sweat off his forehead.

Rybak shared his first video on January 17.

– It’s a bit crazy that the most popular video is one where I just look into the camera and say “Wow”, grins the artist, who was a bit afraid of being depicted as a nerd.

– I do talk about TV-games and classical violin. I’m not trying to imitate the young people. They have a totally different energy.

Huge platform

With this tempo Rybak will soon have passed his 830.000 followers on YouTube, a channel he has had for years.

– It’s totally unbelievable, he says and adds that YouTube, TikTok and other social media platforms are great platforms for everyone who isn’t with a big record company. Earlier, radio stations were important for reaching out. Rybak himself estimates that he has sent 20 songs to P1 (Norwegian radio station) in recent years and has received the same amount of rejections.

– I’m not complaining though. It’s probably because they have so much responsibility and new artists from the big record companies they have obligations to. But on social media I reach out to a new audience.

Rybak, who is what’s called an indie artist, meaning independent artist, gets old songs relaunched at TikTok.

– “Fairytale” has had a revival with a whole new generation, he says, and is one of the viral songs in Europe. That’s spot on right now when most of my time goes to study projects.

Duet: Alexander often invites to do a duet on TikTok. Some people imitate duets, too. That’s normally when you feel most successful, Rybak jokes.

Nervous the whole time

Currently Rybak is wading in assignments for director and producer students, which he is very happy about, but also comes with pressure. He has post-withdrawal symptoms from the pill addiction he talked about last year.

– Every day I wake up thinking about surviving. Not because I’m in so much pain but because my brain is prepared for nervousness and achievement from morning till night, he says. But at the moment I can’t try and change my mental state, so I just accept being nervous all the time.

In March this year he lost his grandmother. She lived in Belarus, and they didn’t get to be with her towards the end.

– Every day for the past three years Dad played the accordion and the violin to her over Skype. Towards the end I saw him crying himself to sleep, and then the next day be a hero to his students. I’m so proud of Dad. When I see how strong he is, my issues become very little.

Partners: Alexander Rybak and Hanne Krogh perform together this summer with 100 people in the audience at each concert, and only 20 in Oslo. Think about how much good space they get for their legs in the Oslo Concert House, he laughs. Photo: Alexander Rybak on Instagram.

In the autumn, a school year is waiting for Rybak in Chicago, before he rounds off with six months of practice with a supervisor in Los Angeles. He has let out his apartment in Oslo for two years, to a football player he won’t divulge the name of.
-The studies cost 3-400.000 a year, so this was a good deal.

The dream about music

Rybak has dreamt of making film music for a long time, but has so much respect for the subject that he wanted to have college (the education) as a basis.

– I love to frolic with various genres, something that is praised by the various directors I work with now. But in the pop world and record production it is almost looked upon as a downside, he thinks.

The college professors say he should aim internationally, but Rybak wants to contact Norwegian directors first.

– I want to start in Norway, because I think Norwegian and Scandinavian movies are great. And the Norwegian audience is the best, says Rybak who is currently touring with Hanne Krogh (65).

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