Melodi Grand Prix’ comeback-kids :
Good friends compete for the victory
Three of this year’s contestants in Melodi Grand Prix stand out from the rest : Stella Mwangi (31), Aleksander Walmann (32) and Alexander Rybak (31).
All three of them have previously represented Norway in the international Eurovision finals. But none of them thinks that they can have overly high opinions of themselves just because of that…
Source: VG newspaper, published 19.02.2018. Text Jørn Pettersen, photos: Helge Mikalsen . Translation by Jorunn Ekre. Revised by Anni Jowett.
Alexander Rybak’s victory in international final in 2009 is almost legendary. During one night his whole life got turned upside down when “Fairytale” went to the top in Moscow.
– This time I don’t see MGP as a place where I can promote myself, but rather an arena where I use myself to promote my music, says Alexander Rybak.
Stella Mwangi and her song “Haba Haba” didn’t get past the semi-final in Dusseldorf in 2011.
– I feel very self-confident now. This is a part of my musical journey and in many ways it’s just another new day at work, says Stella Mwangi.
Aleksander Walmann and his partner Joakim With Steen ended on a good tenth place as JOWST in Kiev last year with “Grab the Moment”.
-I would never have had the guts to do it entirely on my own this year without all the experience I got last year. Just being part of this company is a victory in itself.
Alexander’s interview with VG.no the 15.1.2018 when the MGP songs were presented.
– Actually, I’m not here first and foremost to win, but out of love for the music. We are good friends, more than rivals. At the same time I think all three songs can win, and that they individually can do well in the final in Portugal, continues Aleksander Walmann.
After the victory in 2009 it was a resolute Rybak who said “never again MGP”, but admits that he has to swallow those words with “caramel and sugar on it”.
– Earlier in my career I’ve had my heart in the wrong place, that I’ve been too preoccupied with myself and my own concerns. It’s more important to be concerned with the things close to you, the people around you, one should keep that in mind. I regret not paying better attention to how people around me have been doing, says Rybak.
This year’s MGP song from his hand is called “That’s How you Write a Song”, which is about the fact that everyone should be able to dare to do exactly that, write a song.
– Young people often contact me to get advice on how to get started with things like writing a song, dare to perform. Sometimes I manage to convince them to take the first little step. If I can inspire someone to do it, it’s a pure happiness, Rybak continues.
Stella Mwangi is concerned with the Law of Jante. Ever since she came to Norway as a five year old, she’s heard about the Law of Jante that everyone talked about.
– When I became 28 I had to educate myself on the Law of Jante, and that’s how I became familiar with Aksel Sandemose and the novel “En flyktning krysser sitt spor” (A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks).
My view on the novel is that the author sent a message of concern on how we shouldn’t think. I consider it an in depth psychological insight into society’s oppression and subjugation of the individual. Therefore I think you should think highly of yourself, because all of us are born with something unique and this should be celebrated, not suppressed, says Stella Mwangi.
This year’s contribution from her is called “You Got Me”, and she performs together with Alexandra Rotan.
– All artists have their “safe zones”, like Instagram, where we have people who follow us because they like us and mostly give nice feedback. The comments on the web is worse. There it can get really rough.
Stella Mwangi doesn’t hide that she has had to handle many setbacks.
-I have learned to deal with it throughout the years. Everyone can have an opinion about me, but I choose myself who I want feedback from, and that’s my siblings. They are the ones I think of who most honest with me. My little sister can say: “Relax now, would almost believe you are Stella Mwangi”.
– But at the same time I also like honest fans. I remember well a Greek guy who contacted me last year in connection with the international final. He wrote a lot of positive things, but ended it with that I should start working out. He felt it was needed, and if I did it, I would definitely win the final, tells Aleksander Walmann.
Like Stella, he and Alexander Rybak seek advice from their closest ones.
– When you go home to your family and those closest around you, you fast get your feet on the ground, and it’s great knowing that you’re just a normal guy from Flåtten in Porsgrunn (a place in city Porsgunn). Right after I had recorded “Talk to the Hand” and no one had heard it, I went home to my Mom. Proud as can be, but it didn’t take long before I was told to take out the trash. In that sense you can’t have overly high opinion about yourself, says Aleksander Walmann.
– Mom is my worst critic and I was really scared to present my new song to her. I just had to leave the room when she heard it for the first time. But for once she gave me the thumbs up, and then I was ready for Oslo Spektrum, Rybak tells.