Last December 26th and 27th, website of Norwegian daily Aftenposten had a long interview and article on Alexander Rybak's projects. Stian Fikseaunet sent us a translation of the article by Arve Henriksen.
Aftenposten meets up with Alexander Rybak and his 15-men crew on his tour in Finland. That is Rybak’s third tour in Finland in less than 6 months. Rybak is especially popular among teenage girls, and he often spends hours writing autographs for his fans. Press officer at EMI Music Finland, Nora Norrlin, states that she's never experienced such excitement around one single artist as long as she's been working for EMI.
Rybak is a very fan dedicated artist and is doing his best effort to reply to as much fan mail as possible. Even during the flight, he has to write autographs, even for the cabincrew. The media attention around Rybak has been huge, his tour manager Dan Olosson says. The interest among fans is the craziest one in Finland, Russia and Ukraine, according to Arne Johannesen, one of the dancers of the Frikar-company who accompanied Rybak on stage in Moscow. Rybak tells in the interview that the biggest change after his victory is the lack of time to be just by himself. He has not had any time for relaxing, playing TV games, watching movies or making music. He has not been alone just by himself for 5 months now.
At the same time, he makes clear that he will probably never participate in the Melodi Grand Prix again as an artist, mainly because he believes it would be impossible to repeat the kind of success he had this year. Though, he tells us that he will probably write songs for the Melodi Grand Prix in the future and therefore participate as a composer, but as an artist it would be impossible to top the experience Moscow became. As Alexander suitably puts it: "It is possible to live with the memories".
After the first concert, when he finally arrives at the dinner reception, he is carrying an armful of gifts. He's telling that he's got so many teddybears from his fans that they have cost him over 40,000 NOK (€ 5,000) in overweight charges! This time he is planning to give away the teddybears to children in hospitals for Christmas. The next day, while going to Tampere by bus for the next concert, Alexander is spending his time trying to compose some new music. The goal is to release a new CD album in 2010. "Swedish producer Amir Ali will be the producer of it", Rybak says.
Rybak’s debut album, Fairytales, has sold approximately 110,000-130,000 copies in Norway (different pages come up with different numbers) and is the 2nd most sold album in Norway for the year 2009, only beaten by the Christmas album by the duo Sissel (Eurovision interval act in 1986) and Odd Nordstoga. Fairytales has reached 3 times platinum status in Norway, twice platinum in Russia and went gold in Sweden.
While scoring a major hit with his winning song Fairytale, reaching the top spot on the official charts in many European countries and the 3rd spot on the overall European chart, he has also been meeting up with other famous European artists, like Philip Kirkorov, Carola, Elisabeth Andreassen, Arve Tellefsen and also Wyclef Jean. He has performed for Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, performed at the Nobel Peace Price Concert where he got to meet president Barack Obama the day before and also got in touch with world recognised artist Wyclef Jean. Wyclef Jean has admitted being a fan of Rybak prior to the Nobel Peace Prize concert, and now they got to meet up for the first time this December and also got time to spend time in the studio together. Jean also made a statement to the Norwegian tabloid paper VG that he would like Rybak to compose the orchestral composition on a new song which he will include on his next album.
Rybak was also welcome as a hero in his native country Belarus, where he met up with the president. Rybak participated in the Ukrainian version of Idol as a guest artist and has recently become heavily promoted in Russia with the theme song of the Russian action movie Black Lightening. He has himself starred as an actor in the movie Yohan, the child wanderer, where he plays the role of Levi. The film will premiere very shortly in Norway. Recently, there was a DVD-documentary called Fairytale, the movie, which focuses on Rybak's time and the following tours after the victory in Moscow.
Some other rarities of Rybak’s exciting year are, for example, getting a penguin named after him. In 2010, the Norwegian postal services will release new stamps with all the Norwegian Eurovision winners on. At the end of the interview, Alexander declares: "I am most pleased with myself for not listening to all the advises I got, like that I shouldn't bring my violin along, or not to have ompa-rythm in Fairytale and especially the one that I definitly should not take part in the Melodi Grand Prix. They said it would kill my career, but I listened only to myself, and I won."
Special thanks to Stian Fikseaunet, author of this article.