DN.se: “I found myself after ‘Idol’” (20/05/2012)

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Text: Johan Åkesson

Loreen Talhaoui is right now in the middle of the Eurovision chaos. But her life will not fall along with the competition in Baku. She is constantly prepared that everything can fall apart. “So much has happen in my life, I’ve been through so much change – so I am use to it”.

Svalbard. A few degrees below zero. An ice-breaker breaking through the snow covered blocks of ice. Foggy covered peek, a valley in a protective bubble from the wind. And Loreen, walking, alone under her fringe.

But only in her thoughts, for now. She is actually sitting in a plain hotel bar in Stockholm. A place with opposite conditions. A shining sun, small drops of rain outside the window, a telephone that won’t stop ringing, shopping bags on the sofa and a recently bought laptop on the table. Right now she is in the middle of a hectic scheduled filled with taxi trips from and to the studio, the stylist, the choreographer, the record company and the journalists that won’t stop nagging. The quietness, which she recently integrated in her life, is gone with the wind.

Her whole life has been turned upside down ever since the 28 year old Loreen Talhaoui won “Melodifestivalen” two mounts ago. She can no longer meditate an hour a day, like regular, or drink “cappuccino with her buddies”.

– I have crazy much to do right now, a strong contrast to what I am usually used to. I’ve never been this none-present before, Loreen says and whispers to DN’s photographer that she wants Lapsang to drink, maybe fresh pressed Juice. The hotel bar have regular teabags.

Loreen says that she has notice the effect of a so sudden twisted life. A recite on that it actually is important to take it easy.

– Thoughts spin around, you are everywhere. Although it is not like I have changed as a person after “Melodifestivalen”, but it is harder to enjoy things now.

When I have time for daily meditation I get a chance to reflect over what happens and have time to appreciate it. But it is OK. It got to be this stressful, right now, Loreen says and turn her eyes to her phone to reads a text.

– But you can’t go on forever, I also get that. But I am good at feeling my body’s needs and soul also. I will take clear breaks to rest, travel and take it easy. It is not like I stand and wait for everything to fall apart, she says and laugh.

Next trip will be to Svalbard, if she gets to decide for herself, and she travels there alone. Loreen is not a “beach lady”, she says. She would more likely experience the glaciers before they melt down. And each other. But there is another trip on the list first – the one which caused the sudden change in Loreen’s life – the trip to Baku.

The history about Loreen began 2004 when she was a part of TV4’s “Idol”. She charmed the audience with songs from Alica Keys and Stevie Wonder but in a Whitney Houston hair cut. But, like most people competing in Idol, the competition was nothing more than just 15 minutes in the spotlight. It would take 7 years before Loreen stepped up on a stage again. Then an other E in her name had appeared and a fringe had grown out.

Last year she competed in “Meldofestivalen” with her own written song “My heart is refusing me”. This year she became a name for the Swedish people. But she did not win and disappeared again, but then rose again when her song became song of the year in the QX gala in Stockholm.

The years between “Idol” and “Melodifestivalen” she worked in a Café, was a kind of producer in a variety of TV production companies and also worked as a host on the TV channel TV400. But above all she worked with herself. Something that gave output in this year “Melodifestivalen”.

– “Idol” was the first time I actually stood on a stage. I was green and did not get what I gave myself into. But if I hadn’t been in Idol I would not be able to find my own expression. Questioning yourself start with first being questioned by people. “Idol” got my system going, it moved me forward, got me to hire a studio and learn everything. Today I can produce and write. Without “Idol” I would not understand the weight of being true to myself. You got to know exactly what you want to get your mind across in the music businesses, you need your integrity and your own expression.

It is actually odd that “Melodifestivalen” became her second breakthrough, and third. Loreen don’t like music competitions, she says. And the winning song “Euphoria” was not written by Loreen self. It was written by a skilled songwriter and for “Melodifestivalen”. So why go back to such a platform, again and again?

– I trust my intuition, I would usually say no to sing somebody else’s song. I want to tell stories myself. But “Euphoria”, truth to be told, I would also have written it. I can’t put my finger to it but there is something with the song. But I went through a conflict, will I or will I not? Because I realized that it was just a matter of prestige. The ego. The question was simple – do I dare to admit that somebody else has written a song which connect to me?

But you still struggle with the prestige?
– Yes, I always think like that. All of us have a big ego that sometimes takes over. Melodifestivalen is a competition and as a grown up you get that it is only a matter of taste. It is not really fare do judge a song. So by going through that whole thing, I went against my principals.

You put seven year of your life into finding your own sounds, then you let someone else write a song to you and you sing it in “Melodifestivalen”. Wasn’t you afraid of being controlled, changed?

– But this has not form me. It is me, as true as you can get. I have taken help from creators I like. I know were my knowledge ends, but I have self chosen the choreographer and the stylist. It becomes a project. But there never has been someone saying “Loreen do like this”. Everything you see on the stage is me.

You know the whole media business now – you have also worked with TV and must have notice that many wants you to be their product and earn money on what you do.

How do you do avoid being somebody else’s product?
– The thing is, I don’t think it is bad to try to make a living of what you do. I know that the record company and the manager wants to make money, I want to too. But you got to do something that is real, never look down on your audience. They feel if it is real or not, they don’t buy shit. Especially today where there is so much music to access, you got to have quality straight through. Everybody that works around me knows that, the record company let go much more today. They don’t know what works anymore, if they want to earn money they need to trust the creators that knows their thing.

Have you become rich on the song “Euphoria” or does the song writer, Thomas G:son, take all of the money?
– Haha, no, everyone that works around this earns money. There is no bad deal. I don’t invest energy if I don’t get anything of it. Everyone that works with me laughs all the way to the bank.

That puts pressure on you, doesn’t it. Many people’s salary depend on you?
– They invest time, I invest time, if things work out everybody will earn cash. If it doesn’t work out, we have all invested the same time. It is such a classic, not talking about money. I don’t get why it should be like that. What job do you want, what do you think it is worth? You should not be afraid of demanding.

How important is money for you?
– Money is energy. I would be afflicted with such a heavy energy if I would work without earning any penny and worry about paying the rent. Our society is formed this way, you need money to make things go around. But I’ve been flat broke, but I haven’t been less fucking happy over that.

Loreen will go to Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, to represent Sweden in Eurovision Song Contest. There is no “a-team” gathering up in secret trying to come up with strategists. Media training is not a topic – you can’t form Loreen anyway, she says what she wants. And she already has a stylist and trying to campaign in other ways is just pointless, Loreen thinks.

– You don’t have control, what so fucking ever, I don’t know what they listen to in Baltic countries. Maybe they like suggestive house, I don’t. Maybe they like women with big boobs and lips, tough shit, I am not her. I have completely other believes – you can’t change nature, the most important thing is that you are real.

Loreen talks like that – mix English words in every other sentence. She says what first comes up in her mind, she says that she feels like Bridget Jones when she sometimes “drop a brick”. The expression of her is that she is free.

– Well, everything is relative, but when I look at other people I notice how free I am. I am not afraid of change – If you would take away all this from me, just say “No, Loreen you are not going to Baku”, my world would not end because of that. In that way I am free. I have been through a lot in my life, much change. By having a life that goes up and down you get pretty use to it.

Loreen does not want to go any further in on the subject when she says that a lot of stuff has happened in her life. She is “a bit private”. But what has already been told in other interviews, and that she herself says affected her the most, is the loss of her father when she was 13. Loreen thinks that it made her more humble.

– It was like the other half of me disappeared, there is many bits and pieces that I won’t have the answers to, I’m still searching though them. But this also means that there is not much else that can shake me up. I have learned that everything is so relative, that music actually isn’t the whole world. Music drives me forward gives me joy, but I can’t let it take over me. It can’t.

What do you hold on to when things around you change?
Myself, Loreen answers directly

– But I got to tell you, it has been a process. To meditate might sound ridiculous, but it is about wanting to be by yourself. Others might think it is hard. The moment I feel like it is hard to be alone I question it. Why is is hard to be with yourself. You can dig up everything.

When do you get tired of yourself?
– When I overanalyse stuff. I often feel that “I just can’t let it go” since I work a lot with myself and analyse much. You tend to analyse more than actually think of the feeling, think about what your heart says. These times I get tired of myself.

How were you as a kid?
– We were a big family with much going on… I liked to be by myself, play self. Just for the balance. I drew and hung everything up on a big wall. But it was never important to have someone to look at them. Even today I feel extremely shy. I had never performed before Idol 2004. When I was little and wanted to sing, I skipped school and ran over to the church where the priest let me be alone. There I sang alone. The place had nice acoustics.

What did you sing?
– I played with sound, I could sing anything. I was in middle school, how old are you then?

Eleven maybe. Did your mother get many angry phone calls about you skipping school?
– My mum is a warrior, it was never the right time to call her up and say ”Loreen has skipped school”, she says with the voice of an old angry teacher.
My mum would questioned it: ”Why does she do like that?”

How did your friends react on you sneaking away to sing?
– I think people thought I was “strange”. I liked being to myself and had no problem with it. I probably acted more grown up than the others in my class, I was the oldest of my brothers and sisters, so I grew up faster.

Did you get enough attention back home – you had to compete with seven siblings that is?
– We all got a lot of attention. Mother was very aware of that we all would get it.

What does family mean today?
Extremely much. It is my crew. They are the ones who knows exactly how I work. We have been through incredibly much in a time when we only had each other. I can say, without sounding to cliché, my mum is my best friend.

What do you do when the whole family meet?
– Having damn much fun, being with each other, talk gossip. It is always much life, someone playing wii in the living room, music in the stereo, the brother cooking and me and my mum talking in the kitchen.

Is the family also going through this experience you are in?
– Yes, and it has always been a struggle, Loreen says and excuse herself for the lack of ability to do to things when the telephone lights up, and interrupts to answer a text.

Loreen has her root in Morocco and the Berber people. Today Loreen says that she belongs to Sufism, since it reminds her much about the Berber’s culture. She also calls herself “somewhat of a Buddhist” and says “because everything is connected in some way”.

– I am born and raised here, but I am carrying the culture from Morocco with me. I admire their interest in mysticism and the ability to get in a trance.

To get in trance sound a bit “goofy” to me, what does it really mean?
– Take a look at artist when they create, something like painting for example. They go in a zone, where the creator just forget about time and room. Everything just is and keeps on going. That state is trance. When you block out everything around you and only you exist. Trans is a out of body experience.

How do you get there?
– It is easy for me. Sounds evokes it. If someone were to play a piano I would disappear, especially if I play self. Some go to rave parties and just let go of the control. That feeling – you are in a trance when you let go of the control. You need to let yourself do it, disappear from thought and just create. When that happens I get how strange us humans are, we have access to so much more and we don’t even get it. Because it comes from somewhere doesn’t it?

People that paint big arse paintings, do beats live, that is not mathematics.
Where do you think the creation power comes from?
– I think we set too many boundaries, us humans don’t always get how cool we are. We are smarter than we think. The proof is in the art. I don’t know where it comes from but it is happening, you tell me…

Do you feel thankfulness when you create?
– Yes

Where do you direct it?
– I think things is happening for a reason. If something super good happens you have worked for it. But I also feel thankfulness to people around me. I am happy about having nice people with me who walks on the same line as me. I have chosen the ones I work with, people who have come into my life and I feel a belonging to.

How do you chose people to work with, strategically wise?
– More strategically than I actually think. I like to always have a plan on every level, it is easier to create then. But I never plan more than one year ahead. I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going to happen in my life, you need to be open. Although I know what I want to feel in five years.

What do you want to feel?
– That I am happy. Not that happiness that disappeared quick, but the happiness of feeling that I do right.

What do you want to do with your life then?
– I don’t know, what is the meaning of life? I just want it to roll on. Even if you go into and plan it never turns out as planed.

What don’t you want?
– Live in untruth. I don’t like illusions, being a pawn in somebody else’s game. I want to be the boss of my own life as far as I can take it. The boss over myself.

• Original link: http://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/film-tv/loreen-jag-hittade-mig-sjalv-efter-idol/
• Translation: Amanda | http://12points-to-loreen.tumblr.com/post/40086079109/i-found-myself-after-idol-dn-2012-05-20-part