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flag Norway - Full Moon 80 - 04/16/03

Maria Solheim
An interview with...

"I have nothing to hide"

Barefoot was the title of Maria Solheims first album, first released in her native Norway a couple of years ago. It was a thing of rare beauty - a folk-tinged singer/songwriter album full of profound truths and moving stories you might expect from an ageing troubadour, but not an 18-year old girl. Two years we now get her second album, Behind Closed Doors, a record set to rival the likes of Heather Nova, Tori Amos or Kate Bush. Luna Kafé [and David Bluhm, Gaesteliste; GL] met up with the quite gorgeous Maria on the opening night of her last German tour in Hamburg.

Maria: "Tonight is special for me, because my record company is also based in Hamburg and some of them are coming tonight. The last tour also ended in Hamburg, we like it very much here. This tour is really exciting, because the last two tours we were the support act [for German avantgarde popster Poems For Laila and US folkie Josh Rouse] and now we're the headliners, so it'll be interesting to see if people come to see us at all!"

promopic LK: One difference between Barefoot and the new album is the backing band. What's the main difference between your own band now and the studio musicians on the first release?
Maria: "The main difference is that until now it was mostly my producers friends who joined me on the recordings and now it's MY friends (laughs). My band is like my family, we meet once a week for dinner or just talk and that's really important, just to be friends and to develop something that is beyond music. It's important just to spend time toghether and to know each other, because I think there will be a clearer expression when we play this way. We're not five different people on stage, we're like one person instead of five. We're just three tonight though and we really miss our drummer and our other guitar player."

LK: Did you write the new songs on your own or did did the other musicans helped you out?
Maria: "No, I wrote them on my own, because when I was writing these songs, I didn't know the other guys too well, we really got to know each other this year and with two of the guys I have been touring a lot, in Norway I play two or three gigs a week, alone or with my band."

LK: So is playing live more important than making records?
Maria: "I don't make music to make albums, but i make albums because I make music. Music is a way to express my feelings and thoughts and I get a distance to my own feelings, because I am a person with a lot of feelings, i'm really emotional. For me songwriting is a great way to sort out what I am actually thinking. And I think I'm always going to do that, even though I might not always release CDs. Making music is not a therapy, but a big help for me. And playing is so much fun. So it's not like: 'Oh, I'm gonna be a big star, I have to make CDs, it's just a part of the process of me being a human."

LK: You said before that the first record is an open book - so why Behind Closed Doors now?
Maria: "Actually, it's very open, because I reveal what is behind the closed doors! The subjects I talk about on this albums are the ones that maybe people don't talk so much about, like fear and the balance between fear and safety. I think that's very important, not only because of what happened in America in 2001. I just had to write down what is my safety and what I believe. Making music is always a process for ME and a way of dealing with my thoughts."

LK: I guess it's our job to find a catagory for your music, but do you consider your music to be pop music? Because most people think pop is light-hearted and your music obviously is a lot deeper...
Maria: "Oh, that's a nice compliment (laughs). I would say that Behind Closed Doors is a kind of strange pop, if you can say that. It's not light hearted at all, and as I said, it's a part of my life. On Barefoot it's my picture, my handwritig on the cover, it's me - but then again it's not all of me. To think that people listen to my thoughts in their car is strange. But in the end, if I can communicate with people and if these songs make for a good conversation, that's one of the geeatest things that can happen. I'm really interested to learn, I don't know everything about life, but I'm interested to learn and to get to know other people's fears and other peoples way of looking at life. So it's really exciting and it's also very exciting to travel outside of Norway."

promopic LK: Could it be that it would be more helpful if you wouldn't become a big star and people would approach you as "Maria - the superstar"?
Maria: "Norway is not a big country.... Actually, I had some wonderful conversations with drivers, who've beend driving me from the shows to the hotel and all those people in these kind of jobs are really interesting and they are trying to figure out things about those stars and they really have some interesting questions. And to me that's really good, because I want to know why I say the things I say and I feel the things I feel and believe the things I believe. But I think you have a point with that "a star on stage that nobody dares to talk to". But actually I haven't experienced that yet. At home in Norway I try to be Maria and just Maria. And to my friends I'm only that. I try to stay away from the people who alway make me compliments all the time. I try to stay with my old friends, people that were my friends before I made CDs. After I made these two CDs in Norway, I've been more aware of the fact that I'm not that strong. And talking to all these journalists I have to be aware of who I am and that's been a hrd process for me, but still it's been really helpful for my life. As I said, I wanna talk to as many people as possible - and I think that I will (laughs)!"

LK: I didn't mean to say you don't have a chance to deal with the situation!
Maria: "No, no, you're right, there's a danger in it and that's one of the issues that I have to deal with. And if I allow myself to be that star, I have a problem, but then I have lost the whole point of doing it. I think you can go quite far and still stay the person that people will talk to. Jesus for example. He was really well known, but hehad the nerve to get down to the people and that's the nerve that I need (laughs)!"

LK: Your lyrics seem to be very open at times. You can usually interpert them in several ways, some wrong, some right...
Maria: "Yeah, that's really interesting, because people think they know me because they know my thoughts and they go: 'Oh, I know what you meant in this song, you meant...' and that's exciting to see. When I'm talking to the Norwegian media and people are asking me about the songs, I tell them that I don't want to tell them what they are about, because I don't want to ruin people's chance to have the wrong thoughts about me."

GL: But you are prepared that the media could piant the wrong picture?
Maria: "I had a dream last summer and I imagined that the media knew all the worst things about me that they possible could know, but then I thought, it's okay, because I'm only human and I'm not a big star and I have the problems than everybody else. I have nothing to hide."

GL: What would've been your job if you wouldn't have had the chance to become musician?"
Maria: "Hmm, maybe I woud've worked with youths or i would have become a missionary in China or something (laughs) I don't know! But I think even if I would quit music, I probably wouldn't want to study to get a certain job, but then again I'm only a child yet.

GL: To end it all - any Famous last words?
Maria: "There is an answers to every question. Sometimes it's not really obvious and sometimes more obvious than we can see and that is my main motivation to talk to people because I know that there is an answer!"

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