| The Raft interview (23-09-2003)
'Another Day', another album from Lene Marlin!
Raft: Your last album 'Playing My Game' came out in 2000. What have you been
up to in between and were you worried that taking a break you might lose the
momentum you built up?
Lene Marlin: Ahh, what have I been up to? I slept for a while (laughs).
No, I just went through many changes in my life and so I needed to relax and
do other stuff and not to go to all these hotels in different countries.
I just needed to relax and not think about anything else. They always say
when you take so much time from your first till the next album you might lose
some fans or whatever but I think I just needed to use that time both
personally and musically. Because if I released an album two years ago,
that wouldn't have been good. So now I'm very proud of the album and I know
that this is the right time.
R: What can fans expect from your second album?
LM: I'm older now. The last time I was 17 and now I'm nearly 23 so I think
my songs have changed, naturally, it's just a natural development.
I don't really know what to say, I guess people will have to give it a
chance and have a listen.
R: Why did you choose the title 'Another Day'?
LM: Because one of the tracks from the album is called 'Another Day' and also
it has more meaning to it but I don't want to say, people have to interpret
their own meaning of it!
R: When you sat down and started writing 'Another Day', did you have a very
clear direction you wanted the album to take? Or did you just go into it
with an open mind?
LM: It was a bit strange because I wrote half the album in the studio
because it was so inspiring. I sort of knew the songs I had before wouldn't
be on the album, because I hoped I would be able to write some new songs.
Then I started working with Mike Hedges and his team of people and
everything went so well and it was so inspiring so I wrote so many new
songs. It didn't really turn out the way I thought it would, it was so
R: When you took your break were you still writing?
LM: Yeah, I did write the whole time. Some of the songs I knew were just my
songs and I didn't want anyone else to hear them.
But yeah I wrote a lot of songs.
R: What is your favourite song on the album?
LM: Oh, I should have prepared for this question! (laughs) My favourite song
is a bit difficult to say because I'm so attached to all of them because I
wrote them and I know what all the songs are about.
I can't really say that I have on favourite; sometimes I listen to 'Sorry'
or 'My Love'... it all depends. It changes.
R: Is the single 'You Were There' written about anyone in particular?
LM: Ah, yeah (laughs). I can't tell you! Not even my friends know what the
songs are about and the reason why is because it's so personal.
Some of the songs are about me, some are not but I don't want people to know
which ones! And also I want people to make up their own stories to the songs.
R: Where did you shoot the video for the song?
LM: That was shot in Stockholm in Sweden. We spent two days there.
It was so hot. It was in June sometime.
R: You have worked on this album with Mike Hedges, who has produced albums
for people like U2, Travis or The Cure. How did the collaboration come about?
LM: I wanted the right producer to take my songs and push them a bit further
and a friend of mine said 'you should check out Mike Hedges'. So I thought I
should get in touch with him and the record company started to speak to him.
I met Mike in London just for one day just to say hi and he was just this
great guy. He had this big smile on his face and he said all the right things.
And I thought hopefully it will work out musically as well.
And so I went back to do a couple of songs and we found something special,
we had the band coming in and I think instead of doing two songs we did like
five. It was really a good vibe.
R: Was he the only producer you worked with on the album?
LM: Yeah, he's the only producer.
R: Were you a big fan of Travis, U2 or The Cure?
LM: Yeah that's the thing U2 is my favourite band and I love Travis!
R: As you said earlier you took a few years off, do you feel under pressure
with the release of your second album considering the success of your first
album, especially because 'Sitting Down Here' was such a huge hit all over
LM: The thing was everything was so overwhelming and I didn't expect the
album to do that well so when I had my little break I needed to sit down and
absorb everything and think about all the good things that had been
happening. I think yeah of course there's some kind of pressure, but what I
tell myself is that I'm older, time has changed this is not when the first
album came out. Some of the fans have moved on to listen to other stuff and
hopefully I still have some left. All I know is that I feel that I've made
the best album that I was able to make right now.
I probably wouldn't make the same album if I was going to make it next year
or whatever, it all depends.
R: Now you've had time to listen to the album for quite a while, are you
fully satisfied with the final result or do you wish you could have changed
something? At what point do you draw the line and say -that's it?
LM: I think you can always change something. And because we started to
record it in October I've written new songs already and I wish they were on
the album. But we have to leave it because we've already got the ten songs
we want. I'm so pleased with it, even though I've heard it I don't know how
many times it's still something I'm so proud of and I'm so happy with the result.
R: Did you have more creative control over this album than the first one?
LM: I think I knew more what I wanted this time. I think that was the great
thing about Mike. Because he's a very successful producer he could have easily
said, 'let's do this, let's do that' but we sort of agreed. He just knew what I
wanted and I just knew what he wanted so that made up the perfect team.
It was just an amazing thing. I really enjoyed the whole recording process
because it was a lot of fun.
R: How do you go about composing a song? What comes first the lyrics,
the melody or the music?
LM: It all depends. I can be on a plane or just sitting in a cafe...
If you suddenly get this idea you just sort of find something to write with and
hurry to get the lyric down. But I think sometimes I stay at home and just pick
up my guitar and just see if something happens.
But you know sometimes the lyric comes first, sometimes the melody, sometimes
both at the same time.
R: What lyric are you most proud of?
LM: The lyric that I'm most proud of? Ah! You know, I should've seen that
coming as well (laughs). Oh that's difficult because they're all...
I couldn't tell you it's very....
R: Do you ever write something and think 'wow that's damn good'?
LM: Yeah, there have been moments where I have thought 'ah, yes!' (laughs).
I think it's the whole song, the minute I feel that okay so this is a song that I'm
happy I wrote then I just want to play it to people. The whole album, there are
ten songs that they just had to be on the album; and I couldn't really pick
R: How many songs did you record for the album?
LM: I remember the last song that I... not wrote but the last song we did recorded
was a song called 'My Love'. And originally we already had the ten songs ready,
I mean the album wasn't finished but we knew which songs we were going to use.
But then I just said we have to get this song on. And so we did.
R: And one had to go?
LM: One had to go yeah (laughs).
R: Will that be held back as a B-side?
LM: I don't know what I'm going to do with that song. I'll figure something out!
R: I hear you've been writing some songs for a Norwegian singer called Sissel?
R: Will your fans see you writing for a few more artists?
LM: I would really love that, I mean I love writing songs and that's something
I've thought a lot about and it's something I want to do in the future, write
songs for other artists. Yeah, definitely.
R: Talking about writing songs, which song do you wish you had written?
LM: Oh, good question! (laughs). I wish I had written 'With Or Without You'
or 'One'. Those are the two songs I've thought 'oh why!' There are others,
but every time I hear those two songs it's like oh they're so great, they're
R: So would U2 be your dream collaboration?
LM: I think it would, yeah (laughs).
R: Have you contacted them?
LM: I don't have the guts you know (laughs). But yeah, I think they're an
R: Talking about inspirations, who inspired you musically when you were growing
up and who do you listen to at the moment who's in your stereo?
LM: When I was growing up, it was all radio really. I haven't really listened
to music this past year I've just sort of, sometimes I just discover this CD
I've had for years and listen to that again.
So right now, what can I say? There's not really anyone in particular.
R: You recorded your album in London, how did you find living in London?
And what did you miss most about Norway while you were away?
LM: I mean the thing was I travel a lot back and forth from London to Oslo and
I just had the best time being in London during the recording because we had
so much fun. And the team of people were just amazing. Every time I went back
home I sort of thought 'okay I'm going to have a couple of days off', but I
always looked forward to coming back. It never felt like work so every time I
went to the airport to go to London it was something that I really looked
forward to do. It's a bit sad that it's over, but yeah.
R: You were speaking earlier about the unexpected success of your first album.
How did you cope with the pressure and the attention? And if you could go back
to that 17 year old and give her some advice what would you say to her?
LM: I think everything that you do has its good side and the bad side,
here's always something. The thing is now, hopefully I've learned a lot more,
I know more now than I did then; know more what it's all about. When I sort
of had my little break I just needed to find that good feeling about writing
a song because then suddenly all I really did was talk about myself when I
wanted to write music. I think just going back to that feeling when I sat in
my parent's house, in my bedroom just sitting there with a guitar and just
come up with something and I think 'ah this is great'.
You know if I were to give any advice to anyone, it's just you have to allow
yourself to say no and you have to allow yourself to have fun and basically
take good care of yourself. Yeah, that's what I would say.
R: What has been the high point of your career so far?
LM: Ah, there have been so many high points (laughs). I guess just being
able to have the privilege to do something that you love, you're actually
able to record the album, and release an album and present your music to
people. It's just something I'm so grateful because I love music.
And of course it's very overwhelming when you think all these people
actually went to the record store to buy your album. I've had some time to
think about it, I still can't really understand, I still have a problem
saying that it happened because I didn't expect it at all.
R: Do you sometimes walk down the street and think
'oh my God I'm Lene Marlin'?
LM: (laughs) Not like that. But it's when you meet these people [fans] and I
think well it's only me, there's nothing more to it. And some of the award
shows I went to and just having all these people shouting out your name,
it feels so unreal and it's not something that you can prepare for.
When I think about those moments I smile a lot and I think 'amazing'!
R: And what was the low point in your career?
LM: Because of the fact that I didn't expect my albums to sell,
I didn't expect anything, I couldn't really say anything was a low point
because my ambitions weren't that high anyway. I mean there are things with
being in this industry that I don't like, which is like paparazzi and stuff
like that but it's not like a low point of my career.
R: And also you were quite young to be handling all that pressure and attention.
LM: There was a big change in my life from being totally anonymous to suddenly
being recognised wherever I went, so it was quite a change I have to say.
R: Why do you think Scandinavia more so than any other region has had so much
success in the Anglo markets?
LM: Oh, I don't know. I don't know.
R: There are so many like Roxette, Abba...
LM: Oh, I have no idea.
R: ...And Aqua.
LM: Yeah! I couldn't' tell you.
R: Even Spain, Germany or France even don't have that kind of success!
LM: But I think that as long as people like your music it doesn't really matter
where you're from as long as you have someone that loves what you're doing.
R: Is it frustrating that the Anglo markets aren't quite so embracing of songs
that aren't sung in English, or are you happy singing in English?
Would you rather be able to sing in Norwegian?
LM: Oh no, for some reason it just feels natural to write in English, every
time I think of a lyric I think English. I don't know what I'm going to do in
the future but I don't really see myself now making an album in Norwegian.
LM: No, I don't think so (laughs).
R: How much harder is it being Norwegian to break into the Anglo market?
There's a lot of competition already.
LM: As I said, it's just... when I think about it, it's just still overwhelming.
And now with the single out and... over in Italy, I have this amazing Italian
fan club that's just so supportive. It has been a long time since the last
album and getting this feeling that someone still remembers me is a good
feeling. Whatever comes I don't know what to expect.
R: Out of the current crop of female singer songwriters are there any that
LM: I don't know.
R: What do you think of Avril Lavigne and Nelly Furtado?
LM: I remember hearing 'Complicated' for the first time and I thought that's a
great song. She's had amazing success, and when you hear the album and when
you hear the songs you know why, because they are good songs.
R: What do you think of reality TV shows like Pop Idol and Fame Academy?
Do you think they get it too easy?
LM: You know I wouldn't say that people got too easy because sometimes I think
I got it too easy. I think that my only worry about those kinds of shows is
that sometimes people get their dreams sort of killed because judges can be
very cruel to you saying that you don't belong here.
That's my little thing about it. Because I know if I had been a part of Idol
in Norway I think I would've been one of the people that they said 'please'
(laughs) 'you shouldn't be here at all'. That's my only little worry about
that, when you have someone who really loves music, and writes music or
whatever they do it's quite hard to get that thing in your face of you don't
belong here and shouldn't be doing this.
Hopefully not too many of those people have quit doing music.
R: Although you didn't have judges as such you did have journalists and
LM: I mean everyone has an opinion about everything, I've realised.
They want to talk about the single, the video, your hair, your clothes,
everything. I guess you have to sort of say to yourself that's one man's
opinion and the next one can mean something else. If someone is really cruel
to you of course it hurts, they can give you a bad review as long as it's
done in the right way.
R: Constructive criticism!
LM: Yeah. It all depends on how they do it really.
R: How do you relax when you are not working?
LM: I just hang out with my friends, read a book, watch a movie, just doing
normal nice stuff.
R: Do you still have the same friends from school?
LM: I don't live in the same city anymore so I've been so lucky that I've
managed to make some new friends. I still talk to my old friends though.
R: How do they relate to you now you're famous?
LM: They make me very proud just treating me the same way as they always did.
They say I'm just Lene and not the one they read about, so they treat me the
same which is great.
R: What do you like best about your job? The writing? The recording?
LM: Right now I have this album and I really want to play it to people and
make people hear it. I think just the privilege of being able to do what you
love. I love it. I love writing music. I think it's the best thing.
R: If you weren't writing music, what would you be doing instead?
LM: Oh, (laughs) I have thought about what I would have been doing if I
didn't get the record deal but it's impossible to say. This is sort of my
R: Are you planning some live dates in support of the album?
LM: It's something I really want to do. Hopefully we'll get time to do that.
Just small little clubs, sit there, little stage, play to people.
R: Have you played here in the UK already?
LM: Not now, I did last time with 'Playing My Game', I travelled around a bit
to do some little acoustic sets but that was a long time ago.
R: Why do you think your songs manage to touch so many different people in so
many different countries?
LM: I have tried to find the answer to that one and I cannot do that (laughs).
I don't know.
R: What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
LM: That changes everyday. I'm going to prepare for the release of the album.
And just sort of travel somewhere. I don't really know what I'm doing.
R: Are you going to make us wait another three years for your next album?
LM: (laughs) No, hopefully not. I actually have started to write songs for
the next album, so hopefully it's not going to take that long!
R: It's been great talking to you, thank you very much.
LM: Thank you.