Interview in the newspaper “Evening Moscow”. 22.05.2012

Alexander Rybak: “‘Buranovskiye grandmas’ are the same as me”

Photo: Alexander Rybak won the hearts of viewers of “Eurovision” in 2009.

Article published on  22.05.2012. Journalist  Ramazan Ramazanov. Photo: the agency “ITAR-TASS».

Link to original article here. Found by Ulli Cologne. Translation by Zhanna Sergueeva. English revision by Anni Jowett.

A special correspondent of the “Evening Moscow” at “Eurovision-2012” has interviewed the winner of “Eurovision-2009”.

– Alexander, they say that “Eurovision” is a disease that can’t be cured. Have you also caught it?

– Most likely, that is not about the competition but about the stir around it’s participants. When an artist experiences certain emotions (generally positive emotions), he will want to return to them again and again. So he goes there where he felt good once. And  “Eurovision”  is a festival of colours, emotions, vivid impressions, an acquaintance with a new country and meeting with old friends.

I admit, I like to go to small European towns more, to visit children’s orchestras. And that gives me more pleasure than large-scale, planetary shows. But, oddly enough, time passes and you begin to think about a large, global project on a big stage. I think that many artists come to “Eurovision” to feel the same excitement and bustle that sways around this competition. There are a considerable number of artists who come to the competition in order to show off for camera flashes on the red carpet. But I’m not interested in red carpet.

– I heard that you have become the person responsible for some global idea in the current “Eurovision”?

– I was approached by the producers of the competition with a request to come up with something interesting for the final part of the competition. I showed them the medleys I made of the songs of the last five years winners. They liked it and they asked me to develop the idea and fill it with something else.

– Do confess, aren’t you disappointed in show-business?

– At first, everything was rosy. But over the years I began to notice that artists more and more think not of their honour and moral character, but of the banknotes. They try to earn as quickly and much as possible, they become pragmatic. I have often witnessed that artists make their fans wait for hours without being particularly busy. Just so they emphasize that they are stars, and people should wait until they come down from heaven to earth. Journalists in Norway do not understand why first I communicate with my fans and only then with the press. Once even an egregious case happened. Journalists trying to take an advantageous position for their cameras hurt little kids next to them who cried in pain. I understood – a little more, and a chaos will start! I left without talking to the press. The next day newspaper wrote that Rybak had gone by car from the crying children.

– Despite the fame you are incredibly humble and even shy. Isn’t it difficult for you with such an angelic nature to co-exist in the cynical world of show business?

– It’s hard. But I try to understand my colleagues who wish to work out the funds invested in them. And as soon as possible. It’s hard for them to balance between morality and the thirst for profit. I can’t be like that, and I don’t want to. One can’t earn all money, and becoming a hostage of money is a terrible fate. Whatever happened in my life when I come to the stage I forget about everything, here I am a rightful ruler, the king, and I can afford whatever I want. The stage to me is something more than everyday life. This is the only place where I can think about nothing except music. Here I can let me to get starry. But after leaving the stage I take off the crown and become an ordinary human. And now I’m talking to you not like a star but like a simple guy Sasha.

– Will it always be like that?

– After winning the “Eurovision” I realized a simple truth: never say never. I started to speak carefully on the topic of my future. Earlier I said that I would write songs only for a representative of a single country-participant of “Eurovision”. Today, I’m betting on several horses at once. I’m already writing for representatives of several countries – my favourites, and I want them to perform my song the following year. Especially since they have already agreed.

In Russia the instant fame and honour waits for the winner of “Eurovision”, but with time it fades away…

They remember and love me. And not only in Norway but also in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries. Another thing is that for unconventional artists who have won the competition it’s more difficult to prove that they are still as popular as before the victory. I am the same unconventional artist. There is very little of me on radio and television. But nevertheless I don’t see any need to prove anything to anyone. I’m a classical violinist by education, and my music concedes to pop in terms of format. Now I am working on a children’s album that I have written for the Scandinavian countries. And I don’t expect that the world’s press will write about it. They are much more interested if a baby of Rybak will be born or if he gets drunk and smashes someone’s face. But it’s more pleasant to do music and not think how to get into the pages of the world’s tabloids.

– When does inspiration come to you – when you’re in love or when you’re alone?

– In love and alone at the same time. It’s good when you have feelings and you have time to write music. When a person is in love and he is immersed in the love in that feeling completely, that may interfere with the creative process. I mean when he sits all day with his beloved at the river and looks wistfully at the moon. After all when you’re with a girlfriend you don’t want to write music, you want to talk about the love to her. And the muse visits you when you are left alone. Lyrics come to me when I’m in love. Love intensifies poetry.

– Recently they say that  “Eurovision” is not a contest of a song and vocal, but of a well-thought out and well built show. Do you agree?

– TV pictures will always be stronger than the sound. What did you say, that concerns this competition least of all . Many people heard Lady Gaga, but not all of them have seen her weird show. And “Eurovision” is seen by many, almost by all of Europe, therefore the contest is criticized. Although there are a lot of shows and contests in the world, shows that are largely inferior to it in power of vocals. Eurovision is a much more serious show. All contestants know that Europe will be watching them and they will try to present the large-scale shows.

– Do you think it is right that Russia “has staked” to “Buranovskiye grandmas?”

– It’s really the right decision. “Grandmas” are unformatted just like me. But I heard the radio version of their song, and I want to say that it is a potential hit on the European dance floors.

– Do the Norwegian authorities distinguish somehow your achievements?

– They distinguish only my taxes (laughs), carefully monitoring and tracking of them. Because they know that I earn more than other artists. And therefore they are very strict with me. If I am not in time to pay taxes for the month, then the next month they charge me with much more than the allotted. Considering the penalties. So my fame doesn’t help me in this matter.

– And do you pay taxes in Russia and CIS countries?

– Of course! Is it possible not to pay? I am not accustomed to circumvent the law.

– You said that you drive around Oslo by tram. Haven’t you got a car and a driver?

– I can afford that, but that simply is not necessary.

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