|15 October 2003
|New courage in the chest
|Source : Det Nye magazine
After the breakdown four years ago, Lene Marlin Pedersen (23) has been licking her wounds in silence. Now, she finally dares to put her big toe into the circus ring again.
- I have been away for so long that it's just like starting over. Exciting, but terribly sinister.
Nervous and worked up, Lene Marlin gets out of the cab - two days and one hour too late for the interview. We have just had the time to say regards, before another person slips out of the taxi. And another one. And another two. Who are all these women?
- I have started my own girl's band, says Lene. She laughs, but looks a bit embarrassed. Because, this doesn't look like any girl's band at all! And sure enough, they turn out to be representatives from the record company, who are going to watch over Lene's well-being in the two hours Det Nye has got her to our disposal. They're smiling formally to Lene's impertinent comment, and trample into the photo studio. Here, there is enough work for them all. One takes notes of everything that's being said, one makes sure Lene gets her favourite coffee (coffee mocha), one is freshing up the lip gloss, while the last person keeps a close eye on her hair style. One should think it was Madonna herself who has paid a visit to Grünerløkka this afternoon.
Marlin and Madonna do have a few things in common. Other than that they are both slight and short, blonde in their forelock, and, until recently, shared a distinct gap between the front teeth, they both broke through over night, and became multi millionaires. However, the similiarities end there.
Lene's success quickly developed into a dark nightmare. The influx from the press and the fans became a too large transition for the young Tromsø girl, and ended up in her withdrawal from the limelight, and she isolated herself for three years. Now she is back again. The Lene of today radiants a glow which indicates that the years have made her safer and stronger. Dressed in sneakers, jeans, and a black sweater, she kips down into the sofa in a way that makes her coffe splash over. She laughs it away, and repeats that it's unfamiliar to be back.
- I'm overwhelmed by the interest from the media. The press wrote previously that I had to be prepared for having been forgotten. And that's what I believed myself as well. The fans have found new artists they like, and my music has changed. I withdrew at a time when I actually should have followed the success. But I didn't have any choice. I got sick, and I just didn't manage to continue, Lene says quietly.
Met the wall
The interest for Marlin exploded - without her being able to move along with it. The girl who had recently been sitting at home and picking on the guitar in all secrecy, was now on top of all hit lists, and was rewarded with a prize on MTV as best nordic artist. The record sales rocketed to the skies with 1.8 millions. The album Playing My Game sold to platinum in Norway, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Taiwan. While the female classmates, well, they had barely caught the fact that Lene was even playing the guitar. She had never been with a band, she didn't know any notes, and had not performed in any other connexion than at a school performance.
She got discovered by an NRK journalist, whom had been listening to a recording, and when he accidentally met Lene on the bus, he asked if he could send the recording to Virgin Records. Yes, you may very well do that, Lene answered. Not long after this, she sat with the first single cover in her hands.
- I went totally bananas! I remember I was shouting with joy, and running through the halls of my high school when I got to hear that I was in a 35th place on the hit lists. It was so huge! Then the carusel started to whirl faster and faster, and I didn't manage to digest what happened. Many could perhaps envy me all the traveling, but the only thing I saw was hotel rooms, airports, and TV studios. The success was far beyond what I had ever dreamt of, I am still not able to comprehend it.
Lene noticed she was about to lose control of her existence on a promotion tour in the East.
- It started at the airport in Taiwan. I had caught a food poisoning in Korea, and I felt terrible. When I entered the arrival hall, there were seven - eight TV teams ready with their cameras directed towards me. I got totally panic, and tried to hide my head behind the luggage. The focus had become much larger than what I had wanted, and I discovered I couldn't control it, Lene tells us. Shortly thereafter she showed herself in public for the last time. This was at the Spellemann awards 2000, where she received more prizes than she could manage to carry. New-comer of the year, song of the year, pop solo artist of the year, and artist of the year. In the speech of thanks she gave a strong request to the media about leaving her and her family in peace.
Then the great little pop star went below ground. She didn't attend neither premiér parties nor interview sessions, and pulled the hood sweater above her head when she moved outdoors. The promotion plans for Playing My Game in England had to be cancelled, and she was vigorously criticized when she didn't show up to receive the honorary prize from the council of Tromsø.
- It was very hard to receive criticism, because I got so grateful and delighted about that prize. At the same time I knew very well what the cause was for me not being able to show up, even though I had both the desire and the time. I didn't choose to withdraw myself. It was a matter of necessity. Actually totally, totally necessary.
Lene had to seek out professional help when she met the wall.
- These were things I didn't want to occupy myself with on my own. I was terribly tired, both physically and mentally, and in the beginning I needed a lot of sleep and quiet to think about what had actually happened. The spark had gone, and I couldn't manage to continue. Luckily I got an understanding from the record company, and they gave me the time I needed. If I had released an album a year ago, it would have become very awful!
Hates the paparazzies
Lene considered for a long while to leave it with the one album. She could have continued to stay far away from photographers and journalists, and instead created songs for other artists. She could have gone into further education, or worked with young talents and contributed with her experience. However, Lene Marlin chose to return to the things she had ran away from. After having made her fans wait impatiently on a come-back for three years, Lene released a single in July, which strikingly enough was entitled You Weren't There. And from not being there at all, she was suddenly everywhere. Paradoxically enough, the record company prepared for a massive promotion already from day one, and sent her out to do 25 straight radio interviews. The following day it was the daily press waiting, before she was sent as an elastic ball between various European cities. Now the album Another Day is out on the shelves.
- I don't have an overview of my own schedule. I don't even know where I will be the next week. However, I'm prepared to do an effort to promote the album, as long as I don't need to uncover my private life. That is a holy thing for me, Lene underscores. There was not everyone who respected that when she withdrew. Several times she experienced paparazzi activity outside the door to her apartment at Frogner.
- Sometimes I couldn't bare to go outside because of the photographers sneaking about in the bushes. It was very unpleasant. I detest people like that, they don't own any respect or normal civility. Everyone has the need for a private life. My girl friends noticed that I scanned the area before I got out on the street, and that I often looked over my shoulder when I was moving about in the city. It happened totally unconsciously.
When Lene now treads into the wolf jaw of the pop industry once again, she claims to have conquered her fear.
- I have a naive belief that I will get a better experience this time, and in any case I don't believe that this record will be an equally great success as the previous one. I have of course considered to let the music be my private hobby, but when the girl friends heard my new songs, they said to me that Lene, this you just got to do something about! I really do love making music! It's a privilege being allowed to do it. I get happy about making songs, and I already feel the longing to make a third album. At the same time, I've gotten older, and I have learned a lot from what happened the last time. It is good to have made this decision.
- What have you learned since the last time?
- For instance, that I have to be able taking time off, allow myself to have a bad day. I'm deliberate that not everything is about music. I need to have a life besides it as well.
- Do you think the record company is afraid of pushing you too hard again?
- Yes, that might very well be.
- What if you are butchered by the critics?
- That I am taking with a stoic calmness. The last time I didn't get much good criticism either, I was evenly on a three. It's the fans I'm excited about. I don't want to disappoint them.
When Lene was in the media storm the last time, she had the boyfriend Stian Barsnes Simonsen by her side. The two of them lived in a large apartment at Frogner, and Stian, who is both an actor and have been working as a program host, was a great support for Lene when the celebrity was a heavy burden. Later on they have moved apart.
- How is it being single again?
- It's not a certainty that I am single!
- Do you got a new boyfriend?
- I don't answer such things.
Lene is smiling secretively. She characterizes the man of her dreams as charming, with a good smile. Something more concrete she can't say.
- You often have a clear conception of how he is supposed to be, but always ends up with someone totally different. Thus, it's just silly to create a picture like that.
When Det Nye met her four years ago, Lene admitted she had a low self-image both in relation to men and to appearance.
- That has probably improved somewhat, but I still don't bubble over of self-confidence. I like to wear clothes I feel well in, and only wears dresses at very special occasions. I am frequently thinking about how I should be doing excercises and eat more healthily, and I often decide that today is the day to get started. However, it never happens, says Lene, clearly uncomfortable with the topic.
She has never before held a real concert alone, and is terribly excited how it will be to get so many eyes directed towards her at once.
- You won't be seeing me at Valle Hovin! It has to be a smaller, cozy place. I like intimate concerts, not large crowds. That is both frightening and impersonal. Currently there are no concrete tour plans. I'm trying to take one day at a time.
- What are you doing in ten years?
- No, I don't know that either. However, I hope I can think back on the ten years which have passed, and think YES! I've had a great time! I'm hoping I'd be happy and satisfied. Like I am now.
The risen again pop star disappears up the stairs from the studio, and the girl's band tramples after her.
Outside the cab is waiting.
Translation by Tef Johs