: “Sky is the limit” (2012)

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She’s the girl with roots in the Atlas Mountains and who enjoyed listening to the humming sound of the dishwasher. Kick off has met with the creator Loreen – winner of Eurovision Song Contest.

An orb of burning energy with a staggering associativity. I’ve only been at the restaurant Urban Deli at Nytorget for a few minutes – barely – and Loreen has already declared a bunch of her viewpoints. Everything from climate and zodiac signs to prejudice and origin. No time to waste here. With open arms she accepts me and invites me in. We settle down on the bench that belongs to one of the tables by the window. The sun is shining outside – the first day of spring is here.

– I can’t imagine living anywhere else but Sweden despite the fact that I’ve tried. I’ve lived in New York, Norway, Florida, Marseille. My favorite seasons are autumn and spring. I don’t like it when it’s really cold, but it can’t be too warm either. Right now it’s perfect. I’m not the Hawaii type of person. I’d rather go to Svalbard.

You have your roots in Morocco. Shouldn’t you be used to the heat?
– Yes, but my mother is from the Atlas Mountains and the temperature there is mixed. It’s so strange – if you look a certain way, everyone thinks you are a certain way. I look like a R’n’B girl but I hate R’n’B and I rather listen to Lisa Gerrard. I dress “clubby” and look like a party chick, but I hardly ever go out and party. I prefer sitting home and meditate and I’m kind of a loner, says Loreen, raises her eyebrow and her voice while stretching out her hands.
– I’m not really by the fucking book, but, she continues and lifts a challenging finger:
– I’m incredibly temperamental. It’s good because that’s where the passion comes out when I create music. But I don’t really have sex appeal. I’ve heard that when I’ve been photographed. I’m passionate but I don’t have any sexy energy, she says , laughs and adjusts the long and black bangs.

Loreen’s fish stew comes in. It smells nice, I say. Do you want to taste it, she asks immediately and looks at me. The next second she suddenly turns to the window. On the street a young girl walks by:
– Nice with the shaving!, she comments happily and loudly the girls’s haircut.
A lot of English words slip out when Loreen talks. Maybe it’s because there were several spoken languages in her childhood home. Loreen’s mother’s best friends was often at their place and she mixed Spanish and English expressions. In her family Swedish, Arabic and French were alternated. The reason for the mess has its roots in the past.

In a small village in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco Loreen’s mother grew up in a self-sufficient family. They grew vegetables and spices and had sheeps and donkeys. Sometimes they went down to the market and exchanged goods.
– My mother was a warrior. It was very poor in Morocco and the women didn’t have the same rights as the men. Her only contact with the world outside was a small black-and white TV.

She longed to get away. When she by the age of 16 years old married Loreen’s father a whole new world was introduced. He was from the capital city Marrakech, was politically active and had some sort of diplomatic visa which made it possible for him to travel around (Loreen does not want to reveal more than this). Together they moved to Åkersberga outside Stockholm – and started a new life. There they had six children. The first one was named Lorine. But today that only appears in the passport. Everyone calls her Loreen. When she was going to start school they got divorced and she moved with her mother and siblings to a house in Önsta-Gryta outside Västerås.
– I grew up early. That’s a side effect of being a big sister. My mother came from a Moroccan culture and I was the link between her and the Swedish culture – had her understand and had the others understand. That’s how it is. It’s a heavy load to carry aound with that many children. I had to be the babysitter and talk with my siblings about school and puberty.
They became a tight family and learned from eachother. Loreen was never a teenage rebellion and was very seldom out and about.
– When you only have one parent you don’t go the whole hog, you settle down and become more humble. My mother was having a hard time as it was. It was us against the world.
Since Loreen grew up quickly she thought her classmates were childish. She didn’t have the desire to take part in “chase-and-kiss”. Instead she sat in the classroom on her breaks and drew. Another thing that differed Loreen from her peer. The temperament. Once she brought a friends over to her house. When they were going to eat her mother and her friend had a heated discussion at the dining table. Her friend turned to Loreen and whispered: “Is your mother angry? Is you mother angry with me?”

If Loreen had the temperament then it was nothing compared to what her mother had. If Loreen came home from school and said that she didn’t get along with a teacher, her mother grabbed her hand and immediately rushed to the scool – pulled the door open to one of the classrooms where the teacher was in the middle of a class and said: “You! Come here right now! We’re gonna talk!”.
– She didn’t wait for the parent-teacher conference, instead she cut straight to the point. She didn’t care about the social codes. I’ve learned a lot from her – like the fact that there are no limits in my creativity. I don’t have such prominent frames that many other artist I meet have. Sky is the limit.

Were you ever ashamed of your mother, when you were younger?
No, we had such a nice relationshop and the age difference wasn’t large. She was like my best friend I looked up to her and she looked up to me.

To stand on stage was never what Loreen dreamed of. However, she was fascinated by sounds very early. Tones from instruments or just the sound of the water in the dishwasher was her way of getting contact with her inner self. She experienced something fierce when she heard sounds. In school she felt misplaced but in the world of sounds she felt home.
– Music gave me a sense of freedom. It made me whole. I used to turn the lights off in the bedroom, sing and listen to how to sounds would bounce off the walls.
21 years old, prompted by her sister, Loreen applies to the very first season of the talent show Idol – and makes the cut. But once infront of the cameras and the jury she feels that something’s wrong.
– Idol was a slap in the face. All the participants knew they wanted to be artists. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to mediate a feeling. When I sing I get in trance. After each day on Idol the distance to that became clearer and clearer.

– There were so distinct rights and wrongs. To open my mouth and deliver was unaccustomed. I had never discussed musik earlier and never seen music as something theoretic with all the massaging tongues and cheeks. For them it was mathematics, for my heart.

When Loreen – ending up in 4th place – was out of the contest she felt lost. Music was no longer what it once was for her. After a while she travelled to New York to visit a friend that worked there as a producer for a TV-show. And just like that, Loreen got the opportunity to make her own segment. She realized quickly that she had a great understanding for dramaturgy. When she got back home to Sweden she learend to cut in Final Cut and years of work as a director and segment producer för TV-shows, commercials and information movies waited ahead. The money she earned was invested in renting music studios. Loreen was determined to learn everything about the technique – all the colorful wheels, buttons and levers. This way she wouldn’t be called “honey” by the label bosses that were pushing her around.
– I can produce but I choose not to. For me it’s better to focus on the vocals.
One day in 2010 it’s time. She’s written the song My heart is refusing me. It makes the cut in Melodifestialen 2011 and Loreen makes a comeback after a 7 year break. The song doesn’t make it to the final but it’s a hit on the radio. Earlier this year she performed it at the QX-gala where it was voted as best song of the year.
– After Idol I’ve put on a different suit. Suddenly I got a flow. I met the right people in the business and felt that it was time. It’ll come when it comes, if it’s supposed to come.

Life’s good according to Loreen. When we meet, the final of Melodifestivalen 2012 hasn’t been held in Globen yet. Aside from the competition a lot is happening with gigs, the album that will be released in September (she doesn’t want to be like everyone else and release an album immediately after Mello) and the new single.
– There are a lot of things right now that I must consider – as the multi creator that I am. I don’t like the word artist, it sounds so narrow and doesn’t sound good to me. I prefer to call myself a creator, she says, bends down over the fish stew, puts the spoon in her mouth and smiles.

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• Translation: Rania |
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