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Interview: Margaret Berger

Photo: Pal Laukli

We’ll forgive you if you hadn’t heard of Margaret Berger before May this year. Hidden away in her native Norway, she fell from the mainstream with her sophomore effort ‘Pretty Scary Silver Fairy’ and it’s before-it’s-time mixture of electronics and pop hooks. Thankfully, the Norwegians saw the error in their ways and submitted Margaret and her groundbreaking single ‘I Feed You My Love’ into Eurovision. It didn’t win, granted, but it captured the hearts of many a European. ‘Human Race’ is the next single and, guess what? It’s another romp of electro-brilliance – oh, and she’s promising more of the same on ‘New Religion’. Colour me excited.

‘Human Race’ is the new single and it’s sublime! It has a really refreshing and unique set of lyrics. What inspired them?
The song and the lyrics just came to me on a day where I had found out we are about to lose both the rhinos and the elephants if we don’t do anything soon. My heart just broke, why do we have to be such a violent race? And also I would love it if we could find some other lifeforms in space soon, because I think that would give us better perspective on everything. Can we hurry up and be like Star Trek, please?

Are there any plans or a promo video?
I’m not sure that we’ll do a video for “Human Race”, but we’re working on two other videos at the moment, so some amazing visuals will be out there very soon.

‘New Religion’, the upcoming record, is shaping up to be a brilliant record thanks to the two singles – what are your favourite songs from it?
Well, it changes all the time, but right now it’s a song I did with Lo.Fi.Fnk in Sweden called ‘Mountains’ and a song called ‘Vagabond’ that I did with Trondheim-songwriter Martin Mullholland, and the producers in Machopsycho.

Will ‘New Religion’ follow the dramatic, apocalyptic vibe that runs through ‘Human Race’ and ‘I Feed You My Love’?
The album is a lot darker then what I’ve done before, but I think listeners will find humour and playfulness within the apocalyptic dark stuff. Let’s not get too serious, it’s just entertainment.

Tell us about the first time you heard ‘I Feed You My Love’ – was it love at first listen?
Yes I absolutely loved it at first listen! It was a bit different then, but had the same vibe, and grabbed my attention immediately. But I had to think about the setting and Grand Prix/Eurovision – if that was something I wanted to do or not. My conclusion was that I certainly didn’t want anyone else to get the song, so I would have to live up to the challenge.

The incredibly talented Karin Park wrote ‘I Feed You My Love’ – had you heard of her music beforehand? Does she make any more appearances on the upcoming album?
Karin is amazing! I love her music and it was a big honour when she asked me to perform her song but, being a songwriter myself, I focused on my own writing on this album.

I see a lot of people comparing you to Björk and even Lady Gaga – do the comparisons bother you, or do you take them as a compliment?
I love both comparisons, because they are so different also! Björk is one of my absolute biggest heroes and so many great female artists FOLLOW in her footsteps in a path she carved for us all. When it comes to Lady Gaga, it gets frustrating when people think I stole her sound, when I was doing very electronic synth music in 2006, before she was doing it. But I still love love love her, and I think she is a great ARTist actually; we need her!

Photo: Pal Laukli

Who inspired you when you first began making music? 
Whitney Houston, Beatles, Björk, Alanis Morissette, Michael Jackson, The Police, TLC… An extremely eclectic mix.

…and who are you listening to today?
Today I listen to: The Knife, TLC, Disclosure, Rudimental, Major Lazer, Calvin Harris, Rihanna, The Police, iamamiwhoami, Dizzee Rascal, Iggy Azalea, Kanye West…

As somebody that has risen to fame with ‘Idol’, what do you think of reality TV shows like ‘Idol’ and ‘X Factor’? Is there still a place in music for shows like these?
People will always want to be entertained. Keep them entertained and both shows and artists can survive. Underestimate your crowd – that’s when you’re fucked.

What would be your advice for an artist considering taking the Eurovision route?
Go for it! The time of my life, really – and that’s what life is about; making good memories that you can enjoy later in life. Don’t be sitting on the bench.

Finally, any messages to your fans in the UK? Can we expect to see you performing live here soon?
Oh God I hope so. It’s about time, and I hope I can get something going internationally now so that all the eager, super supportive fans everywhere can benefit from it. If it weren’t for my fans outside Norway, I might have given up a while ago but you love so unconditionally, and it inspires me more than you can imagine!

Interview: Simon McMurdo
Photos: Pål Laukli

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