This article is published in Hello Alanya Magazine May 2013
Text: Cindy Olcan. Photography: Tarık Olcan & Murad Katkay
The original article here
Found by Alev Can
Alexander Rybak takes Alanya
Winner of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, Norwegian violinist Alexander Rybak, visited Alanya last month for a charity concert for the benefit of families of deceased soldiers. At his hotel at Cleopatra beach Hello Alanya Magazine spoke with the ambitious, energetic artist about his music, his travels, his plans and of course about Alanya. “At the moment I have many plans I want to realize and I love to travel. But if I am ever going to settle down, Alanya certainly is a good option.”
Alexander Rybak, the popular Norwegian musician and singer is in Alanya and for a moment that is the news of the day.
Ever since he won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 with his song Fairytale it has been played in almost all the bars in and around Alanya several times a day. Therefore, a press conference is organized a day after his arrival. Rybak talks about himself, his musical projects and plans, the concert he will be giving and his most recent song: Leave Me Alone. After the video clip is shown, and Rybak spoke extensively about how the lyrics of this song are about a woman who has been stalking him for over two years, it is time for some questions. The gathered journalists probably already have enough information because not a finger was held up in the air. But wait, there is a question after all. And fair is fair, Alanya wouldn’t be Alanya if we weren’t eager to get the answer to that one special question: ”Alexander, are you planning to buy a house here?” Rybak looks surprised for a moment but then answers: ”Yes, I am actually thinking about that.” Followed by a dry remark: ” Well, if no one wants to know more about my new song and the video, we can finish up here.”
A few days later we meet up with the 26-year-old at the pool of his hotel, before the concerts he will give on Friday April 12th, at Crazy Bull Night Club and on April 13th in Banana Hotel. Rybak is wearing big sunglasses and a casual t-shirt, making him look like a student. But behind this tousled appearance hides a talented musician with sharp comments, a good sense of humor and who knows exactly what he is doing and wants to achieve. “My goal is to make people happy with different music styles. I am first and foremost a classically educated violinist, but during my performances and concerts I also want to show you can play different styles with this instrument. I play pop, folk, ballads… Furthermore, I want to visit orchestras in the countries that I go to. There is often a lot of talent in these orchestras and I want to rehearse with them for one week and then give a concert. During my next visit I want to work with a Turkish orchestra.”
In the meanwhile the people coming to the pool are closely watched by two broad-shouldered, seriously looking men. They are Rybaks bodyguards during his stay in Alanya. Not to keep hordes of fans away from him but for just one determined Israeli woman. This woman has been stalking him for about two years and everywhere he goes she knows where to find him. “She calls me every day and always tries to meet with me,“ Rybak says while sitting at a table by the pool of the hotel he is staying. The night before she was spotted again at Buzzy Restaurant in Mahmutlar where Rybak was having diner that night. “She’s obsessed and for me it’s annoying. I don’t feel threatened by it but it is irritating.“ The woman is so obnoxious that according to Rybak he had two options: go to the police or write a song about it. Of course he chose the latter, and it resulted in the song with the appropriate title: Leave Me Alone.
Leave Me Alone is Rybaks latest song and was released in October 2012. It is one of many songs he will be playing in Alanya. “These concerts are the first I’ll be giving in a long time,” Rybak says. “But it is also the start of a series of performances I’ll be giving in several countries the coming months.”
The Norwegian pop star does not speak of a tour. “A tour in the traditional sense of the word means that the artist has recorded a new album and wants to promote it with this tour. I don’t have a new album. For me it’s all about making a living out of my music, and making people happy. In one country I’ll perform on stage, in another country I’ll be doing a TV-show, in yet another country I’ll work with local orchestras.”
Alexander Rybak was born on May 13 1986 in Minsk, at that time capital of Belarus and part of the Soviet Union. His parents, Natalia and Igor, were both professionally trained musicians, one a pianist, the other a violinist. It was obvious they let their son get acquainted with both instruments at a young age.
When he was five, he moved with his parents to Norway, to the town of Nesodden, not far from Oslo. The musical talent of the young Alexander did not go unnoticed and already at an early age he performed. Meanwhile, he had chosen the violin and decided to only play the piano as a hobby.
At the age of ten he went to the Barrat Due Institute of Music where he met other people with the same passion for music and it was there he no longer felt like an outsider.
He studied the great classical masters but also liked to experiment with other styles including jazz and popular music. He played in orchestras and travelled around the world. But because of Rybaks competitive nature, he decided to take part in the Norwegian version of Pop Idol in 2005. He didn’t reach the finals, but the experience made him more determined to present himself as a solo artist on national stage as well.
A year later he took part in another national talent show ‘Kjempejansen’, with his own composition ‘Foolin’. This time he won the competition. He suddenly became a national celebrity and one thing led to another.
In 2008 the Norwegian Broadcasting Company contacted him and asked him if he wanted to participate in the national qualifying rounds of the Eurovision Song Contest. It just happened to be so that Rybak came up with the inspiration for a song called Fairytale during his travels. The rest is history: Alexander Rybak represented Norway in the 54th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow in May 2009. He finished in first place with a total of 387 points which shattered the record of 292 points of Lordi in 2006.
Fairytale became a huge hit in most European countries. “The months after the Eurovision Song Contest passed in a daze. My managers said “yes” to everything so sometimes I had to perform three times a day in different countries. With private planes I was flown from here to there and sometimes it got so hectic I didn’t even know what I was singing anymore. And to the public it didn’t matter; they started screaming whenever they saw me. But at one point I woke up from that daze and I started to change things. I have become much more professional. When I can I plan things myself and I prepare myself for the things that are coming. For example, in about one and a half week I’ll be in England, and even before that in Estonia. While performing in Alanya, 5 percent of my thoughts are already in the countries I’m going next. Two weeks ago I was already planning things for my concerts here. It is much more satisfying to prepare for a concert and to consciously visit the countries I come to.”
Rybak first came to Alanya in 2011, and this was also the first time he visited Turkey. A country, he tells us, he didn’t know so much about. A promoter arranged a short performance for him in a club on May 17th, a Norwegian National Holiday. Nowadays Alexander Rybak is quite familiar with Turkey, and the country is ‘very important’ to him, he says. ”I have 600.000 fans on my Facebook page and almost 130.000 of them are from Turkey. It’s a pity I’ve never given a concert before in this country. But I’m making up for it now in Alanya.”
This time Alexander Rybak was invited to Alanya to celebrate the 168 year existence of the local police department ánd the end of ‘Onlar bizim hemşerimiz’, ‘They are our fellow citizens’, a project of the Antalya Police Department to emphasize that foreigners in the province of Antalya should feel safe too and be part of the community. In Alanya the project is very successful and the lines between the ‘new people of Alanya’ and the local police short.
Rybak understands that many Norwegians have bought a second home or even permanently settled down here. “What I like about Alanya is that apart from the beautiful beaches and beautiful women, it also has beautiful nature. This nature makes it unique, because beaches and women can also be found somewhere else.”
According to Rybak Alanya is truly a place to settle down. “And I’m seriously considering buying a house here. But before I come here, I first want to realize as many plans and ambitions as possible. Because this truly is a paradise, you don’t feel the need for travelling anymore. Norway keeps me active because it’s often cold, and you’re glad if you can visit other countries occasionally.”
At this time in his life Rybak travels a lot and wherever he is he has a busy schedule, like in Alanya; packed with performances, interviews and signings. “It’s a hectic life but of course I like it. If I didn’t love to be in the spotlight, I should have become a composer. And besides, I worked very hard to achieve this; I have been playing the violin 3 to 4 hours a day since I was six years old. And I compose the music of my own songs myself because I want to share something professional with my public. My talent is music. But in my opinion everybody has a talent. Maybe your talent doesn’t make you famous, but that doesn’t matter. I think it’s important to teach children how to work with this talent, whatever it is. That is why one of my projects, when I’m visiting orchestras in other countries, is to teach children how to use their instruments.”
And in the meantime his stalker is on his tail, wherever he goes. “Incredible, isn’t it? But I don’t have time to get preoccupied with it. There are two things you can do: get carried away with it, or live your own life. I feel good, also on the inside. I think that many people who travel a lot can relate to this: you have so much on your mind, and life passes by so quickly that you don’t have time for negative feelings.”
And besides, a good song came out of this. Rybak smiles: ”Yes indeed. Something positive had to come from this.”