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22 December 2003
Forgivable Sinner
Source : In-side magazine (November)
She was just going to take a month off, but it became three years. Because Lene met the wall. We met 'The Come-back Kid' in London.

We're laughing of the fact we, who both are living in Oslo, have to meet here. However, Lene M. Pedersen is after all a busy pop star. Now the world is going to be conquered.

She almost bubbles over with happiness and energy there she's sitting, on the edge of the low chair. She is leaning forward, and is gesticulating eagerly while she's talking. And this she does all the time, it's almost like I'm not getting in at all. We're sitting in black leather chairs at the record company EMI's premises in London. Tonight she's going to Scotland.

- I'm so pleased! I will just have to say that, totally honest. You never know when you're coming back after four years, whether people have forgotten you. The response now is completely fantastic, I'm totally overwhelmed, Lene laughs. She reveals a row of teeth without an interstice between the front teeth. That, and whether it's over between her and the TV star Stian Barsnes Simonsen, has been a great topic of conversation this whole summer. Lene knows this, but she has learned to say no, and to set limits for herself.

- It's easy to get a guilty conscience, but it's not possible for me to participate in everything. I'm actually a very private person who loves to be with friends and family, and to create music. Other than this, I do regular things like everyone else. Lene is laughing, and tells us about a newspaper which thought it was because of the tooth braces she had stayed away for so long.

- I was actually supposed to have tooth braces a long time ago, but it just didn't happen.

Are you and Stian together, or is that over with?

- Ha ha ha ha, I won't answer that! I guess people will find out eventually, we'll see.

But you are good friends?

- We will always be good friends.

Met the wall

In May 1999, just a couple of months after having released her first album, she was racing across the world on promotion commissions. She was earning about 92.000 nkr a day - only 19 years of age. Before Christmas of 1999, she had earned almost 21 million nkr.

February 25th, 2000, became a red-letter day in her life. It was the Spellemann awards in Oslo Spectrum. Lene got four whole prizes. She had just exceeded one million records sold, and had tears in her eyes. However, they were not happy tears. When she was saying thanks for the final prize, she said:

- I'm asking for peace for myself and mine. I'm so incredibly, incredibly tired now.

The following day she went home to Tromsų. Only once before in the history of Tromsų Airport had a person been picked up by a car out by the airplane. Lene couldn't stand the chaos which would have arosen in the arrival hall. She was just going to celebrate her brother's wedding peacefully at home. She was going to take a month off, but it became three years. Because Lene met the wall.

Lost the control

She has a lot of black holes from the two first years of this millennium, she told VG a few weeks ago.

- It was horrible to feel I was losing control. All the commotion around me came so suddenly, I was altogether not prepared, and didn't know how I was supposed to handle it. I don't think neither I nor the ones around me had any idea what was happening. I'm not able to separate one year from the other.

Lene slept and slept, wandered restlessly about, and slept again. She doesn't blame anyone for how things went. Nobody could have foreseen that she was to go into a depression. In the midst of all this it was she herself that became aware of the need for help. She contacted a psychologist, something she today is incredibly happy that she did.

- It was totally problem free. No big deal. It worked really well for me, and it's really something I will keep doing. It's equally problem free as going to a doctor with a broken leg.

Was discovered by the girl friends

Lene Marlin got her first guitar as a Christmas present when she was 15 years of age. She was playing and singing in a regular manner in the girl's room, wrote her own lyrics and melodies. She performed them for her five years older brother, Rune, in addition to two girl friends, but was also recording them to a cassette tape. Lene's girl friends thought she had a fantastic talent, so one day they contacted NRK Troms where she got to record a demo. One day while sitting on the bus from the Tromsų city centre on her way home, a NRK journalist came up to her and said he had fallen totally for her and her music. And if he could be allowed to send the demo to an acquaintance in a record company in Oslo? And yes, it was all right with Lene, but she had altogether no hopes. The rest is history.

Now she thinks it's wonderful to be out with new music that people likes. It had to take almost four years.

- Everyone has been saying four years are a terribly long time, and I understand that, but now I got a chance to return, and that I just had to take. If I had released an album two years ago, it would have been a really poor record. At that point in time I was totally not ready.

Fashion and body

Lene understands well how young girls today have problems being themselves.

- One gets judged way too much by how you look and what you're wearing. I'm not much of a fan of rolling a dice on attire, and making fun of those not being 'good' enough. I think it's totally unnecessary.

Do you have a good advice to girls struggling with their self-confidence?

- I also have a lot of things I'm terribly discontented with, but you have to try thinking positively, and be building oneself up. You have to try to find something you know, something you could master, and work on that. However, all this is way much easier said than done. Some years are worse than others, you just have to get through it.

Earlier Lene has been doing well keeping in shape, but now the exercise has been skidding out somewhat.

- But, I will start! Soon! I got to, got to, got to! Promise!

Lene reveals that she isn't that good cooking food...Nice, then we get to pull her down a bit from the pedestal.

- No, that's right, I'm not so good at that, but on the other hand, I'm very good at ordering food! It's usually pizza, that's really tasty, and plain and simple. She takes a gulp of water, smiles, and looks towards the door.

EMI's representative, the incredibly friendly Mita, comes in informing us that our time has run out.

- We are not quite finished, could we have a bit more time?, Lene asks. It hits me that Robbie Williams could have learned a great deal here.

What are you spending all the money you've earned on?

- Well, I've just bought an apartment in Oslo. Else, I'm paying my bills, buying some clothes...

...from where?

- Now that I have been in London it has been a lot of shopping, but at home it's various. H&M and Bik Bok, for instance.

Lene can afford expensive designer clothes, but she's too down-to-earth for that. However, she's often been thinking about how life would have been if she hadn't got the record deal.

- I would perhaps have been living in a collective in Tromsų, studying one thing and another. Or perhaps it wouldn't have been in Tromsų, I was actually thinking of traveling abroad as well. It's not easy to say, because life is like Sliding Doors. Strange, Lene Marlin smiles. She is very tied to the home city Tromsų, and thinks it's great meeting familiar people. However, now it's she that is well-known to everybody. This leads to her looking down and away.

- It's strange having gone from a totally anonymous existence to being recognized everywhere. However, here in London there's not that many who recognizes me, so here I dare raise my head a bit. Most of the time, people do really are friendly, sparkles Lene. It's strange seeing her this high spirited, because on the record she gives the impression of being a totally different person. It's calm and minor tuned, with songs that slowly but most certainly come creeping under your skin.

- I get inspired by everything around me. Things I see, things I read. Stories being told. Things having happened to me. However, I never tell what my songs are about. I want for people to make their own conception about the story, and tie their own personal bond to the song. Another Day is different from Playing My Game, but it's a result of me having become older, and that I have developed. However, both the albums have been natural for me in the place I've been in life at that time, she smiles.

- What is your best quality?

- Best quality? Hm, no, what could that be. It must perhaps be that I'm very...hm, no, this was hard to answer. Yes, now I think I know. I'm very...I can't remember the word! But it is this that I am!

...and the worse quality?

I'm terribly absent-minded. I put things down everywhere and can't absolutely not find them again.

Lene opens a bottle of water and makes sure I'm also getting a glass. She swallows the water, but is not able to cough up some good words about herself. Instead, she's telling me about things that make her happy - to create music and to be with good friends and family.

- There is nothing more pleasant than dinner with friends. And then I'm always thinking oh, how fantastically great. It's most often the moments you don't plan all that well that's turning into the better ones. But Lene is also happy about being all alone.

- Yes, I'm very able being alone. That's also when I'm writing my songs - at home in my apartment. I think it's healthy being alone a bit. And then I'm walking a great deal, yes, I'm walking a lot! It's very good exercise! I'm walking and thinking and speculating - about in the city.

I get a warm hug and wish her all the best for the future. I'm taking the elevator down to the ground floor, and enters Kensington High Street to get a taxi. While I'm getting in, it hits me that the word Lene was looking for as her best quality was perfectionist.

Lene Marlin answers

Members of In-side info were invited to submit questions for Lene Marlin. Here are some of the questions and the answers.

- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I think I'm still writing music, if not for myself, then perhaps for others. Because that is something I find such incredible joy in doing. I hope I'd be satisfied, and I'll be looking back on the previous 10 years thinking 'Oh, how great!'

- If you could have interviewed whomever you want, who would you have chosen, and what would the question be?

Bono of U2 - I adore U2. Don't know what I'd be asking, but I surely would have thought of something!

- What did you think of Idol?

I watched Idol, and liked it very much. I fell totally for Kurt when he performed an U2 song, of course. However, I just hope that those how didn't manage to proceed didn't lose their courage even though a judge or another said 'you have nothing to do here'. I would clearly have been one of those who didn't manage to proceed. It has something to do with the setting.

- Who is your greatest ideal?

Now I probably should have answered Joni Mitchell or Susanne Vega or somebody else, but no, I don't have any particular ideal. However, I adore both family and friends in different ways. I admire the qualities they have. I'm often thinking 'oh, how great she is'. They are very able to define goals for themselves.

- How has it been recording the album?

Incredibly fun. I was traveling a lot between London and Oslo to record it, but always looked forward to continue working on it. The band inspired me also a great deal. I could sit upstairs writing, while I heard them doing rehearsals. I finished a song and ran down to them so that we could record it. Totally incredible fun.

- Why do you never play against the handsome boys in your videos yourself?

Ha ha ha ha, good question - I have also wondered about that! No, I have actually been an observer for the most part. However, it's great fun recording a video if it's a good thing, and that is usually the rule.

- What kind of clothes do you like?

I'm very fan of jeans...oh, could I make a request to the clothing industry? It's much easier to locate pants when you're dealing with sizes like 28, 30 etc., not just small, medium and large. Yeah, yeah. But otherwise I like everything that's comfortable, actually.

Lene Marlin facts:

Born: August 17th, 1980.
Raised: In Ullsfjord/Stordalstrand, close to Tromsų.
Brother: Rune (5 years older).
Eye colour: Green.
Height: 160 cm.
Snacks: Potato chips.
Is not fond of: Chocolate.
Have been playing: Soccer and volley ball.
Favourite movie: Noone in particular, but loves romantic comedies.
Favourite TV programme: Friends.
Music: All consuming; just now I listen a great deal to Magnet (Even Johansen). Other than that, it's just a lot of radio.

Translation by Tef Johs


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