Marit Larsen is about to release her third solo album, Spark. Here is the story of her continuing success in Norway and Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Larsen has released two previous solo albums, Under the Surface (2006) and The Chase (2008). In GSA she released an album combining the two, entitled If A Song Could Get Me You (2009), which is also the title of her biggest hit thus far.
Under the Surface contained everything a debut album needed to make an impression, and the album achieved gold status in only three weeks. Critics and record buyers alike received the album with unreserved approval. Larsen appealed to a varied audience: music lovers listed Under the Surface among the best albums of the year, whilst at the same time the album included several radio and single hits. Her debut single, “Don’t Save Me”, topped the Norwegian charts for five weeks and won Larsen numerous awards, including the MTV Europe Music Award for “Best Norwegian Artist”. The follow-up album The Chase was released in Norway in October 2008 and was embraced by both the media and Larsen’s faithful audience, earning her further chart success. The single “If A Song Could Get Me You” was on the national single chart in Norway for 24 weeks. Larsen has sold more than 300 000 singles in GSA and about 250 000 albums.
Both of Larsen’s solo albums were recorded at Propeller Studios in Oslo, supervised by Kåre Vestrheim, who has worked with musicians including Hanne Hukkelberg, Morten Harket and Gluecifer. “Kåre and I speak the same musical language”, explains Larsen. “We don't care about genres; we just want to make great music. Between us we play a variety of instruments, so the two of us play around with ideas for quite some time before we invite other musicians into the recording process. It's a great creative environment to be in: everything is possible, there are no rules.”
Neither does Larsen care too much about the concept of a hit single. “Every song on the finished album is a hit single for me”, she explains. “Not necessarily because I can imagine every track being played on the radio, but because during the process of writing and recording an album, every song is my favourite at some point. You compose and you write, you write and you compose, and every now and then you get the feeling that nobody has ever written a lyric from that exact point of view, or you feel you simply can’t get a melody out of your head. For me, that’s what songwriting is all about.”
After the success of The Chase (2008), chart toppers in Norway and Germany, hundreds of acoustic versions of "If a Song Could Get Me You" on countless German radio stations, touring, festivals and two years living out of a suitcase, Larsen was not burnt out. Quite the opposite - she was ready to start working on her next album. She just needed some space to write new music.
"I felt a restlessness about the melodies I had yet to write, and about the songs I felt were missing from my live sets. I get this itch that simply won't abate until the song has been created."
So Larsen packed her suitcase and bought a single ticket to New York. She ended up staying about seven months. "It felt good to be a bit isolated, to have time to take stock. Who was I when nobody was listening? What would I write when nobody was expecting anything? It felt good to realise that the music I wrote still had strong parallels to the material I have created before. It was an important trip, both on a personal level and for me as a songwriter."
Larsen stayed in an apartment where she had a simple recording set-up consisting of a microphone, a few instruments, and Garage Band on her MacBook. She taped sketches and demos in the morning and when the sun rose she would walk the streets of New York listening to, and evaluating, everything she'd recorded. “I've always found it helpful to take new music with me out of the space or environment in which I wrote it. That way it's obvious what stands out, one way or another. That's how I find my keepers”. By the time Larsen returned to Oslo, she was ready to record her next album.
The first single off the new album, “Coming Home”, was written by Marit Larsen and produced by Kåre Vestrheim. The album, like her two precious ones, was recorded at Propeller Music Division in Oslo, Norway. “Our collaboration has been better than ever. Kåre is incredibly good at challenging me.” Larsen has written all the songs on the album herself, with “I Can’t Love You Anymore” co-written with the artist Teitur and “Have You Ever” and “Don’t Move” co-written with Peter Zizzo.
Larsen explains that the album title, Spark, “refers to the tiny moments in our lives that change everything: the first spark of something new – be it a new beginning or the beginning of an end.” The album will be released in Norway on the 18th of November and in Germany on the 16th of December.
Marit Larsen will tour Norway in January and February 2012 and in Germany, Switzerland and Austria later in 2012.