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28 March 2009
10 Years With Lene
Source : Nordlys
Lene Marlin took Norway and the world with a strong, Northern-Norwegian breeze as an 18-year-old. She herself was nearly blown away.

- HAS IT BEEN TEN YEARS? Has it been only ten years? I'm thinking that it has taken a very long time, and gone by very quickly, says Lene Marlin Pedersen.

In a super-dimensioned sham-sofa at Olympen in Oslo, almost hidden behind a massive pinewood table, Lene Marlin is sitting and thinking about herself - and the latter ten years.

15 years old, the girl from the little blue house in Stordalstrand at Ullsfjord got her first classical guitar. She has been writing songs since the 8th grade, and has been singing since she could word sounds with her mouth.

The classmates at Kroken higher elementary school were looking a bit strangely at her in that time. A girl who believes she could play the guitar and write songs? Even in the early 90-ies, the guitar was a men's domain in regards to music in Norway. The songs she immortalized on a cassette recorder.

Until the day one of the cassettes fell into the hands of NRK.

17 YEARS OLD Lene Marlin is threading the way for female singer/songwriters in Norway for the eternal future. And when the record-button was first pressed, it was to give Hit Awards, MTV Awards, Spellemann awards, request for a main role in a Norwegian movie, and success in Japan - among other things. The debut album, "Playing My Game", sold to Platinum in Norway, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark, and Italy in 1999. Alongside a-ha, Lene Marlin is the greatest Norwegian pop artist of all times. Lene Marlin's career unfolded in a way that only natural evolutions could do.

She has in the posterity stated that she has had a bad conscience for the apparently effortless road from anonymous guitar picker, to becoming the whole of Norway's pop favourite. Where others have spent blood, tears, and hours in a basement with poor isolation and parents with a gradually increasing migrene, Lene Marlin hasn't done especially much to get famous.

When she got the chance to be recording her first album, she thought "cool, this is what every artist is dreaming of". However, the 18-year-old wasn't prepared for the world that was to appear in front of her.

- I loved the music. It was the most important thing to me. I wasn't aware of the enormous apparatus in the music industry. Or of the chase that was to come. I wasn't even prepared that there existed most-played-charts for radio, says Lene Marlin. Simultanously with the recording of her first album, she insisted on completing high school in Tromsdalen. At that time, she stated to Nordlys that she would like to be working with people when she grew up, and would like to be traveling for a year following high school.

Ten years later, Lene Marlin does not know who Lene Marlin without music would have been.

- I can't see myself be doing anything else. At that time, I was living with my mind in two separate worlds, says Lene Marlin, looking back on her 18-year-old self.

School pupil and pop star. Every day from Monday to Friday. First flight to Oslo Friday after school. Studio work during the whole weekend. Last flight home on Sunday.

- I was home at 1 AM every Sunday (evening). Was asleep at 3 AM, and then it was rising again at 7 AM for school. I remember I had problems concentrating with the Norwegian curriculum when I had come home from a studio weekend, and I could be thinking about the curriculum when I got into studio.

In her calendar, it could say: Read pages 100-130 in religion. At 17:00 hours: Interview with Dagbladet.

In addition, there was to be an amputated graduation celebration for the singing bird.

- It was the saddest May 17 celebration I've been to, says Lene Marlin. She would just rather be an ordinary pupil that day. She didn't want to be photographed.

However, she did go with the graduation procession, well protected by fellow pupils. Hidden in a black garbage bag, behind the slogan about anonymous alcoholics. Media had showed up with the great expectation of seeing the pop favourite. The same year, chief editor Svenn A. Nielsen of Nordlys wrote that the graduation celebration had reached a low point with Lene Marlin's batch - equally sad as the garbage bag that Lene Marlin was hiding in.

It was to become five years from the debut record to the sequel, "Another Day", was to be on shelves. Three years outside the limelight gave Lene Marlin time to reflect on her life, and the road she wanted to go.

- Now I've learned to say more 'no'. It works pretty well. Earlier, I quickly got a bad conscience for everything I didn't manage to participate in, says Lene Marlin.

IT'S THE YEAR 2000. Lene Marlin is standing with tears in her eyes after having received the third prize during Hit Awards (sic). The brother of her's is about to get married. She is urgently requesting the media to respect the family, and leave them alone.

- And I'm so incredibly, incredibly tired. Sometimes I feel the need to be hiding away, she said.

This the artist also feels today.

- Just like every other person who doesn't want to go in the middle of main street and be meeting people on a bad day, I also feel the need to be hiding away. Most people respect that.

- By being open about you becoming tired and exhausted following "Playing My Game", you hoped to be left more alone by the media?

- That's obvious. It did create an understanding with somebody. However, not everyone managed to respect that, of course.

The single "Unforgivable Sinner" sold a dizzy 35.000 copies before Lene Marlin had the time to say "Sitting Down Here". In May 1999, Lene Marlin goes to the top of Tokyo's official radio list in its first attempt. She is not just Big in Japan, but in several countries in Asia - where for instance Chinese stars have done re-recordings of her songs. She earned a lot of money on her musical talent.

In 1999, she she made her debut as a recording artist, she got entered with the sixth largest income in the whole of Tromsø. An incredible 4.8 million NOK did the then 18-year-old Lene Marlin earn, net income, in 1999, and the figures revealed a fortune of ten million NOK already.

Two years later, in 2001, she didn't do a single musical public appearance. Despite this, she earned 6.5 million NOK.

However, all the money did cost a lot, on the more personal level. Lene Marlin got sacrificed on the altar of the record industry. When she today is looking back on the first time period in the industry, and in the limelight, she is comparing herself with a obedient dog who is trusting its owners.

- You follow the owner wherever you're going. I could be in three countries in one day. It went by so quickly, I couldn't manage to enjoy the moments. I was directing very little of it myself.

The moment at the MTV European Music Awards, and the prize as best Scandinavian artist, was bolted in the series of hectical, greater events. Three minutes after the participation, she was on her way to a new place.

Has Lene Marlin managed to avoid the strain today?

- It's important to be living in the moment. It's now it happens. I've gotten very good at that. Now there is an exciting time, and it's good being me, she says.

More control over what's going on and when it's going on, has given Lene Marlin more control over her existence. In addition, she knows what she's heading for.

- Of course I've become grown-up. It would've been sad if I still was an 18-year-old. I'm more laidback, but I also get provoked by people lacking good manners. However, don't we all?

The council of Tromsø was bursting with pride about Lene Marlin's prize at MTV, and promised an honorary prize when Lene Marlin was stopping by the home city.

However, the prize was unclaimed for several years at the City Hall. The dream of taking a year off traveling after high school didn't exactly turn out the way she had thought.

THE SUMMER OF 2000 the media is starting to wonder where Lene Marlin has gone. There's been half a year since she appeared in public, or gave any interviews. To anyone. She has taken a vacation on an indefinite time period, says the record company. What should have been a month's vacation in March became three years. The pop queen of Tromsø went silent.

- I had the need for distance, but I was writing songs all the time. For me, it takes time between each record. I need to be in a record mode, says Lene Marlin.

When "Another Day" came in 2003, she stated that she was not a royal or a politician. She just wanted to make some music. Nothing worse than that.

The third album, "Lost In A Moment", Lene Marlin took complete control over herself. None other than the producer, musicians, and some friends knew what she was doing - until she proudly delivered her work to the record company. Now there are only a few days until her next album, "Twist The Truth", is being released. Almost to the day ten years after "Playing My Game" was launched.

- I'm very proud of all the albums of mine, but this I believe is the best I've done. I'm both dreading and looking forward to it being released.

Together with Even "Magnet" Johansen as producer, Lene Marlin has created an album that she is characterizing as honest and authentic. The artist didn't want to be stressing the production of "Twist The Truth", and was set on spending the time it took.

- It would have been nice reaching the Christmas sale, but we didn't do that, and it is fine. The spring is nonetheless a wonderful time, so it is perfect for the album release.

Lene Marlin is formally bubbling with spring joy and energy. It is hard to imagine she could be tired. Last year, she moved to London together with the boyfriend Kåre Conradi. There the couple have bought an apartment.

- However, I haven't been there that much yet. It's very nice in London when I'm there, but now I'm living a constant commuter's existence between Oslo and London, says Lene Marlin.

However, what will the future bring Lene Marlin?

- I don't know. Now I've been thinking so much on the ten years that have passed, so it's difficult imagining ten years ahead. I just know it's good to be living at the moment.

Translated by Tef Johs


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