Three interviews to the Greek press in 2009

Found and translated by Yannis Papadopoulos
Revision by Anni Jowett


1) «I move forward when everybody tells me to stop»

2) «I would like to be in Greece all the time»

3) «I just put my feelings into a song. I never regretted it»

(in chronological order)


1) «I move forward when everybody tells me to stop»

Interview – “Ta Nea” newspaper

June 4, 2009

By Pepie Ragoussis

His 387 votes (the most since the beginning of the competition) make a good reason for a non-eurofan to spend some time on Alexander Rybak, who represented Norway at the Eurovision.

The 23-year old musician, born in Minsk, Belarus (13 May 1986), a few days after the Chernobyl accident, settled in Norway with his parents early. He’s already considered a wonder kid in classical music.

He’s the son of two internationally acclaimed musicians, the violinist Igor A. Rybak and the pianist Natalia Valentinova Rybak. He began studying violin and piano at 4 and during his teen years he was already participating in big classical orchestras. He has been awarded repeatedly in Norway, both as a musician and actor (his last stage appearance was the “fiddler on the roof”), but he was also rejected from a TV talent show.

Two weeks after his triumph, his song “Fairytale” is peaking the download charts in Europe and Australia and it’s positioned steadily in the top-5 of radio charts across Europe. He’s close to be proclaimed the most successful Eurovision song since the Abba – something he seems to enjoy.

“I thought the Eurovision’s echo would last for a few days. I am glad you still care about me, in Greece and elsewhere”, he says.

Q: Wasn’t your aim to have this international career, when you decided to participate?

A: Not even victory was. Thinking of it, the Eurovision star is still shining upon me. It is gonna fade eventually, my hype will be lost, and everything left behind will be who I am in real life: a classical musician, a violinist who is also a songwriter.

Q: Don’t you consider yourself a singer?

A: Of course not. I went to the contest as a musician. And that’s what people liked, I think. Sakis Rouvas [the Greek contestant] is perhaps a better singer than me.

Q: So why did you go to the ESC, although you are a musician with classical background?

A: Because I don’t believe in borders. There is only one music and only. The difference lies in the approach. There are honest light songs and not honest pieces that pretend to be serious. Eurovision was a vacation for me, from my professional obligations and my ongoing studies. I wrote the song in my vacation. I was walking in the Norwegian countryside. Suddenly, the “Fairytales” melody came to my head. I dropped my luggage, I took the violin and played it. The first living creatures ti hear it were cows, horses rabbits, birds… whatever it was in that field.

Q: Did you notice the aggressive tone Greek TV reporters had towards you during the ESC?

A: Whatever happened, I hope it wasn’t my fault. I am a very moderate person, shy perhaps. Maybe they tried to support Sakis, a very important artist, I think. Even if they exaggerated they were partially justifiable.

Q: What would you consider as a compromising in your career, 10 years from now?

A: To not do something I believe in, merely because others don’t approve it. So far that usually happens. People surrounding me disagree with my decisions. But I move forward when everybody tells me to stop.

Q: Couldn’t this be called “arrogance”?

A: I am not arrogant as a person. But I have strong confidence in what I do as an artist. Maybe I do it with arrogance. But being arrogant like an artist and being arrogant like a star is not the same. The first pushes you forward, the latter can be a trap.

Q: Which was your secret key to your success in the ESC?

A: “Fairytale” was just an honest song.

Under the picture: «Regarding Greek music, I am familiar with the works of Mikis Theodorakis. I have played many of his compositions in orchestras. ‘Zorba’ is one of my favorite pieces, I consider it very important.»


2) «I would like to be in Greece all the time»

Interview – “Down Town” magazine

June 7 2009

by Nikos Georgiades

Q: How do you feel after your victory?

A: My feelings have changed a little since that day. But when I was on stage, I was fully devoted to my plan. I knew someone would win, and I said “why not me?”. When I won I felt relieved, not surprised.

Q: Your song has broken many records. Why do you think it was loved by so many different cultures?

A: Honestly, that’s strange… or maybe just difficult to explain. It wasn’t supposed to be an international hit. It was only a song I wrote during my vacations. It stuck to my head and I couldn’t push it away. Then I said: “why not to write about my first love?”. Then I had the idea about the dancers. I thought it would be nice to introduce the song with them. I was planning to incorporate it into a musical. But then I said to myself: “next year’s Eurovision is in Moscow. It would be a good chance for me, given that I speak their language, and my roots are in Belarus”. But first I had to win the Norwegian contest, that was the hard part (laughs).

Q: Since your song is about love, tell me what’s the craziest thing you have done for a woman?

A: I turned my story into a song. People are usually selfish and like to be hidden in masks. You know this story, “The Beauty and the Beast”, where the bad guy becomes good and sacrifices everything for his beloved one. I am on the other side: instead of being nice to her, I told our story to the whole Europe!

Q: Have you spoke with her since you broke up?

A: No, I told her everything I had to say with this song.

Q: Where you annoyed to see the photos of you two together leaked to the Internet?

A: No. We had shot many photos during our affair. I wasn’t disturbed, I know how she looks! She is a violinist too, but she plays in night clubs. I wish her all the best. But I disagree with her decision to sell our photos. But of course, my decision to make our common story a song wasn’t too kind either.

Q: Have you ever been in Greece?

A: Yes, I come all the time for vacations. I have visited Athens, Kos and Crete. In the next time I’ll bring the dancers and the band and we will do a concert, I hope you will like it.

Q: I didn’t know you like our country!

A: Greece is a very popular vacations destination in Norway. If I had more leisure time, I would spend it there. But at this moment I have to focus on Scandinavia and Russia, because that’s my base. But Greece is the most beautiful country.

Q: Have you ever spoken to Sakis Rouvas?

A: Yes, I like him, it’s remarkable how he stays a star for so long [ca. 20 years].


3) «I just put my feelings into a song. I never regretted it»

Interview – “Big Fish” magazine, July 2009 (printed issue only)

After his huge Eurovision success, when he has set new records, Alexander Rybak keeps touring the Europe and he visited Greece to promote his debut album, “Fairytales”. He gave an interview to the “Big Fish” magazine, when he made nice remarks on our country and Sakis Rouvas, with whom he would not refuse to collaborate. He also spoke about the girl who inspired him to compose the winning song for the contest. Read his analytic interview below:

Q: Is this the first time you visit Greece?

A: Yes. No (laughs). Every time I am asked this I tend to say no. But I correct it. I have visited Rhodes, Crete, Lesbos & Kos and I liked them. Greece is the first choice of Norwegians for vacation.

Q: What do you like here?

A: The food of course! I like souvlaki and moussaka. But what I like most here is the people’s warmness. I’ve been in so many places after the Eurovision contest, but only here I met such passion and smartness.

Q: You have achieved a huge success, but you are only 23.

A: I’m not very young. I’m grateful for what I live and I try to enjoy every moment of the day. It’s pleasant to be so popular, but I haven’t realised that fully. I just enjoy it.

Q: You were raised in musical environment, given the profession of both of your parents. How did this affect your occupation with music?

A: My parents are descended from Belarus, where schools are very strict, especially to talented children. However, they considered love more important than improving whatever talent I had and I thank them for that. My occupation with music came naturally.

Q: Who is your favourite artist?

A: Gene Kelly, probably. “Singing in the rain” is my favorite song. He was a hard-working artist who hated showing incomplete works. I think I resemble him. He is one of my greatest inspiration sources.

Q: Is there any Greek singer you would like to work with?

A: I don’t know many. I only know Sakis and I have been impressed by his energy. Of course I consider Mikis Theodorakis a magnificent composer. I wish to meet him.

Q: What about appearing with Sakis on stage?

A: I certainly suit Sakis as character. We share the same energy and we could fit on stage. He is a real star, respecting himself. He does not pretend to be a teenager. I would like to collaborate with him in this year or in the future.

Q: How do you feel when you listen to your song, which has conquered the whole Europe?

A: I sing it very often for shows and concerts. I try not to listen to it, I think I will get bored.

Q: Turning a painful story into a song means you will never forget it. But you took your chances…

A: Having feelings for somebody else is not bad. It’s not stupid to express yourself loudly. Writing this song was not risky to me. On the contrary, I think it’s beautiful to live with your memories. I would never like to forget my love story.

Q: How do you feel for this love story being your biggest hit so far?

A: Sometimes I think about this girl, I can’t forget her anyway. She hurts me, but she’s also the reason for my life today. My friends told me to forget about her, but I never listened to their advice. I had never regrets for writing this song. Maybe it’s my destiny to be heartbroken (laughs).

Q: Do you still love her?

A: Sometimes I feel I love her, sometimes no. Feelings cannot be explained.

Q: Do you expect a reunion through “Fairytale”? A phone call maybe?

A: I never expected anything. When I wrote this song I was on vacation and I knew it was over. This song is just a hymn for a lost love. She has her own life, I have mine too. Only the memory lives.

Q: Are you in love?

A: No! I am rather busy for this right now. I have to travel a lot and I am always out of time. But I keep flirting. Like James Bond (laughs).

Q: Your favorite “Fairy Tale”?

A: There are many, but I think I like most “The Beauty and the Beast”. I’m a romantic guy, what to do about that?

Q: Who is Alexander anyway?

A: Alexander has two lives. Don’t let me be misunderstood. When I am single I want to have fun, to meet people and flirt as much as I can. But if I fall in love and I have a true relationship, then things will change. I will stay away from everyone and everything.

Q: Your summer plans?

A: I have no time for vacation. I will perform many concerts in Norway. I want to communicate with people. In the autumn I will make a European tour and I will come to Greece again.

Q: How do you think you will be in 10 years?

A: I hope I will be as famous as now, but I know I will not. What I would like is to have a regular job which will not force me to travel so much.

2 thoughts on “Three interviews to the Greek press in 2009”

  1. I agree with you Sofia, I’m also from Greece and I love our sweet Alex <3 I'm looking forward to a concert more than anything! We should never stop hoping, I'm sure Alex will come one day to our country and give a fantastic concert!! :):)
    Also thank you guys for publishing the interviews here! 😉

  2. Alex we are still waiting for you in Greece since your victory… You came here in 20th of july in 2009 but only to be interviewed… I’m still looking forward to a concert here even if I know that now this is probably impossible to happen…

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