Article in Russian. Published by 26.04.2018

By Artur Gasparyan 

Photos: The Press-service of the artist and 

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Alexander Rybak: “I have learned to control myself better”

Hero of Moscow “Eurovision” made it to Lisbon “not just so”

 From day to day in Lisbon, the first rehearsals of the Eurovision Song Contest-2018 will start. The current motto of the musical “Olympics” All Aboard (“All on Board!”) Symbolizes not only the completion of the nightmare for the organizers because of last year’s squabbles around the “Crimean greetings in a wheelchair” from Russia, which led to a boycott by Russia itself in Kiev, but it has other, more pleasant meanings: for example, a record number of countries – 43, including the same Russia with the same Julia Samoylova, who will finally realize her pink dream of participating in the contest, as well as the presence of extremely iconic in the context of “Eurovision” characters . One of these cherries on the cake was the appearance among the contestants of the famous Norwegian-Belarusian Alexander Rybak.

Fairytale, 2009.                                                         Photo:


Without Rybak, the whole picture would look, of course, if not poorer, it is still different. He is not just a winner of the Moscow “Eurovision-2009”, but a formidable record-holder who collected 387 points that were unheard of at the time, with the biggest gap from the closest pursuer (singer Johanna from Iceland) to 169 points.Last year, for example, the gap between the winner Salvador Sobrad and Bulgarian ambassador from the “Bilan” Voice, Christian Kostov, was 143 points, while under the new counting system, the Portuguese also had a record 758 points, which resulted from the mathematical addition of separate votes viewers and professional juries.Under the previous “unified” vote-counting system, Alexander Rybak still remains an “unbeaten” record-holder. 

His positive Fairytail hit and the pathetic image of the boy with a squeak became a hit for many months after the competition, the artist enjoyed the laurels of the euro hero throughout Europe, became in fact a pop icon in his native Norway and, of course, a universal favorite in Belarus and Russia, board of a talented artist who at the age of five parents so insidiously and forever took Minsk from the country to colorful fjords and fabulous trolls.

Meanwhile, exactly the day after the grand final at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon, Sasha will celebrate his 32nd birthday on May 13. No longer a boy, but a husband – although all with the same squeak. With a light nostalgic and ironic enough sentiment for this notorious violin, his song and That’s How You Write a Song (“That’s how you write a song”) begins, but further to conquer the Eurosong with the next ambitious bid to win, Alexander will be completely in a different capacity and style, while remaining himself.

– What can you do, – Sasha smiles, – the violin is very natural for me, this is my talent, and this year’s song for me is about not forgetting and believing in your talent.I do not get tired even in the year of the 20th anniversary of creative activity to seek and make interesting experiments (at the competition), show something new, invent a new chip …

“That’s why I’m bursting to ask: Sasha, why?” What did you miss? Well, all right, Bilan – he was on his way to victory. But you are already a winner! Or is this what they sometimes say about – the atmosphere of Eurovision sucks?

– I always liked this international atmosphere and will like it. In Norway, I was invited several times to participate in the contest again. More precisely, did not offer, but as if asked: they say, do not I want to? But I did not have a song, and somehow I did not think about it. In recent years, I’ve been showing more work on YouTube, trying to find the most vivid and effective way to bring my creativity to listeners. And the song That’s How You Write a Song has become a kind of response to all the letters from children that I receive in a huge amount, where they ask me for advice. Write: Sasha, I have a talent, but I’m afraid to take the first step, I do not know where to start … This song is like an answer to all these children. Although sometimes they are 95 years old …

Photo: Press-service of the artist


– Ha-ha-ha! And I seriously began to listen to you …

 – And I’m serious! Sometimes grandfathers and grandmothers write, who are very worried about their grandchildren and ask my advice how they should do with their talented children, they believe. Write and adults who are afraid of stereotypes and take the first step. First I wanted to make a serious training clip, but then I decided that this message deserved the attention of a wider audience and decided to write a song and put it on the Norwegian Grand Prix, our national selection for Eurovision. By the way, I was not initially so sure that I would win it.

– And for some reason I did not doubt that Norway would simply cling to its nationality and just so you will not be let off from this election …

“I would not say that about all of Norway.” Here, just like in Russia, and in other countries, “long-playing” artists, it happens, and some part of the public is bored, there are different points of view, disputes. Many people say that you always want to find someone new, to support young talents. And when our new “general” for “Eurovision” (as we call this post) Steve Carlsson asked me if I would like to participate again in the contest, I initially refused, explained that I do not want to enter this water a second time and to glorify yourself with this competition. I clearly understood for myself that there are artists who want to and through themselves promote their music and ideas. It is to this category that I relate myself. Therefore, it became interesting for me to popularize music and to give people confidence in their ideas thanks to such big events as Eurovision, if they are also in demand at the moment. I had not thought about this before, and then I decided that sometimes the message was more than the artist himself.

“But this is not only a holiday, but a grueling enterprise …”

– Yes, this is not an easy question. When this song appeared, I decided that yes, it was with her that I wanted to participate in Eurovision. But then I began to think about how to deal with all this, how not to forget about people …

“Do not forget who?”

– I remembered the Moscow Eurovision Song Contest. There everything was so tense and stormy that sometimes I lost sight of people, the audience.

– Again an unexpected turn of thought, Sasha!

– No, I was, of course, a polite guy, but young, inexperienced, everything was new for me, and often it turned out that I kind of pushed people away from me who wanted to talk, get autographs, take pictures. And it is very important for the artist – to behave correctly with people. This time I’m very happy, how I got in the Norwegian selection, when I managed to find a couple of minutes for everyone who wanted it. Not like before. In general, I learned more control over myself and the situation. I kind of did my own lesson.

“Anything was ready to hear from you, but not such sentiments …”

– It was an internal challenge. Of course, I’m not only participating in the Eurovision Song Contest for everyone, to shake everyone’s hand, but now I do not forget about it either. It is very important for me. I really hope that in Lisbon you will see me a little different from that of Rybak, whom I knew before.

“But you never looked like a star, a kind of arrogant lucky one and all that …”

– Yes, I always smiled at everyone. But the more you do it, the more likely it was that someone would break. It was like that, you just did not see it. I work a lot and therefore “zazvezdit” I simply do not have neither time nor desire.

– Of course, you are not the first who is not the first time going to this competition. Even the winners broke, and not only once – and the Swede Karola, and the Israeli Dana International … The question arises of your own kind of “euro-vintage.” Do you understand that to you special attention as to already held the winner?

– Absolutely. But it’s all about the song. If there was just a song in which I would like to once again show Alexander Rybak with a violin, if it was the second Fairytail, then yes, it is difficult. I would then just been overwhelmed at the national preselection, I’m sure of it. This year, I have a song first for the stage, I need to see the show number, in which I tell the whole story in three minutes, I show how connecting the details, you can get more result. And this time I have a completely new style, a new genre, and, of course, I’m going to win. As, however, and all the contestants.

Photo: Press-service of the artist

– Well, not all …

“It seems to me that everyone dreams to win in the soul … I really like that I’m not in a situation where I try to find five or six references to say: I’m currently engaged in this. Everyone says that I have a little bit of everything in this song: Michael Jackson, folklore, jazz, etc. I myself answer simply: last time, at the Moscow Eurovision Song Contest, I had folklore, and today – jazz.

– Today you play jazz, as they say in Russia, and tomorrow … I saw your battle with the Swedish participant Benjy Ingrosso, with whom you are walking, as they say, nostril into the nostril, predicted by the bookmakers, and you seem to have sprinkled on each other icy waterfalls of good-natured sarcasm? Although, of course, I did not understand anything in Swedish …

– Well, there was a funny moment when he was asked how old he was when I won Eurovision in 2009? And I told him: do not say that you have not been born yet … His mother is a well-known actress, and he still boasted that he had all these posters – Batman, Superman in his childhood. And I said that I had a poster of his mother on the door in the room …

– Elegantly …

– Actually, I was the initiator of this battle, because I found out that we have songs in the same key. In general, I always welcome maximum cooperation, I try to play with other artists. I’m going to, for example, release a video soon, where on the violin I will perform covers for the songs of other contestants. I already did this with the numbers of the participants of the Norwegian Grand Prix.

– Yes, this is absolutely wonderful movie …

– And it had a big resonance. It is always important to show your talent in new ways. A violin is my talent.

– Your song you put yourself a sort of meter that teaches others how to compose, yes?

– Rather, I show how easy it is to write songs, how many ways to do it. You can, and you, and you, and maybe even succeed … There still is irony. It is to inspire. First of all my fans. And, of course, I hope that now I will find new fans in Europe.

– The irony is great! How do you feel about the betting odds?

– Sometimes I look. The most important is the place bookmakers will put after the performance in the semifinals. Then I have an important advantage in the sense that many artists release first only a video clip, and after a live performance at the competition bookmakers, it happens, they are very disappointed. My number is already known, and, as they say, I’m not a cat in a poke. And as soon as I came up with my number at the national selection, Norway immediately rose from 22nd to 8th place with the bookmakers. It went not down, but up, this is the most important thing.

– Of course. However, in this eighth place Norway is stuck … And at the Moscow Eurovision, as far as I remember, Fairytail instantly broke into the favorites.

– I think bookmakers take into account statistics. They know that in the entire history of Eurovision, only Irishman Johnny Logan won twice. You did not remember about it, by the way, when you listed the winners who went to the contest again …


Parents Natalia and Igor were and remain the first mentors, teachers and fans of Alexander Rybak.Photo: the press service of the artist.

“I did it deliberately, so as not to embarrass you …”

– But, first of all, I have a birthday with him on the same day – on May 13, right after the final. So in any case, I will celebrate something. And the statistics? I will not, of course, compare myself with Real Madrid, but after they won in the Champions League two years ago, everyone wrote that no one wins twice in a row. And all the predictions put them in the last place, because historically it was impossible to repeat the victory. But they still won.

– Like Johnny Logan in 1980 and 1987 … Credible confidence, despite the statistics. This is a quality fighter.

– Of course, I’m not sure who and how they will vote. But you need to be confident in your room. And it’s important not to be self-confident, not to look at the camera, counting scores, but to inspire people. This is a very difficult balance, but I think that I will succeed.

– Which of the contestants did you notice?

– This year Eurovision is much more diverse than in 2009. Although the contest in Moscow was very strong. Everyone was afraid that after the victory of Salvador, there will now be only ballads, without tools, without effects …

– Yes, such repeats of the previous winner’s chips, including your violin, have been in the past …

– Absolutely right. But no, this time is different. Salvador showed all musicians that there was no notorious “Euroformat”. No rules. If you have a good idea, then just show it. And this year there are many strong rivals. As a musician, I like most of Waylon from the Netherlands. They say that he certainly will not win, because it’s country music, old-fashioned. But a year ago I won, I would say, not the most modern song.

– I wish you and in Lisbon to repeat the holiday, which you brought in time to the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow!

– Let’s see what the result will be. I have a mission – to inspire people and give them positive. Whatever it is, this result, I hope to say a lot of positive things to my fans, who, I hope, will continue to follow my work further …