Interview: Girl In Red

vor 3 years

“ ‘If I could make it go quiet’ is an attempt to learn what it’s like to be human; to deal with the pain of knowing I’m only flesh and bones; to be angry, broken and unforgiving yet still able to wear my heart on my sleeve; I’m shedding light on the darkest parts of my mind and I’m letting everyone in; ‘If I could make it go quiet’ is me simply trying to understand what the fuck is going on”

– Marie Ulven

It seems to be the most perfect picture of a road trip Hollywood couldn’t have painted out any better: 20-year-old Marie Ulven, better known as ‘Girl In Red’, jumps into her dad’s car and drives through the Norwegian landscape from Oslo to Bergen to sort out her thoughts and feelings. But instead of metaling and losing herself in other peoples songs, she writes them herself. After her great success with singles like ‘I wanna be your girlfriend’ in 2017, the young artist finally released her debut album ‘If I could make it go quiet’ earlier this year. And a juicy one it is! Starting with „Seretonin“, in which she sings about her mental health and battle with intrusive thoughts, over „You Stupid Bitch“, about an unfulfilled love desire to „It would feel like this“, when everything actually comes to a quiet. In her perfect coming out of age tracks love seems to be her constant muse.

In your new album you are dealing with the scariest parts of yourself. You describe it as a big, boiling pot of thoughts and things you haven’t said. Would you take me on your journey of creating these songs? What has it been like to vocalize all these thoughts and things you haven’t said before? I imagine it to be an intense process.

I don’t feel it was very intense, it was just a very long one. It takes time to realize „what the fuck am I feeling?“ and what it is that is actually going through my head. Sometimes it is easier to learn what’s going on when you get some distance to it. So most songs I started out making in 2019 when I started sketching out demos and in early 2020 I started making more of them and realized that “Oh, okay I am actually starting to get a lot of material right now.“ But at that point I mostly had verses and choruses for all my ideas, or maybe just a bunch of words I knew I wanted to use. I feel the real and proper process of creating the album started in Spring 2020. That’s when I feel I had defined every single idea and was sure on what I wanted to do. So over the year I went back and forth between Oslo and Bergen. Bergen is where I worked on the album. Every time I got back to Oslo I thought about what I have been working on. 

You produce, write and record everything yourself, which naturally makes your work extremely personal. Would you say you are someone wearing your heart on your sleeve?

Yes! In my music but also in real life. It comes natural to me, but it has also been part of growing up. I haven’t always been like this. If someone would have said the word “sex” to me six years ago I would freak out and be all like „No, don’t say that shit! Don’t say that word to me!“. Talking about stuff has never been simple for me but as I grew older I got more comfortable talking about things and now I don’t see anything as a big deal really. Unless you have done something really bad, then YOU GO TO THE COPS!!!

You worked with Finneas on „Seretonin“. Who else is on your list of people you are dying to work with?

Yes, a dream come true! I really want to work with Taylor Swift one day and Jack Antonoff, cause I know he also worked with Taylor Swift and Lana (Del Rey) and he just does a lot of cool stuff. I would really like to have Post Malone in one of my songs. I think he would be a good combo, but maybe I am absolutely wrong…I don’t know. I have never met him. But honestly, the dream collab would be meeting someone that you really get along with creatively. I feel like that’s the dream collab. So it doesn’t really matter who it is.

Except for the people that you desire to work with, who are your heroes in real life?

My assistant Blair, she is a daily hero! I also got my friends to look up. Just all the people around me and everyone making the world go around. Everyone really inspires me in their own way. My friend Izac! He is with me all the time, we hang out, we are neighbors now. So every time we walk outside we stumble into each other and that’s really nice. Just the people I have in my life. I feel I look up to them all in certain ways.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Now that I have a dog I wonder what it’s like to be a one. I really just want to know how she sees the world. It also seems chill to come back and not have any worries. When you don’t have to deal with the world but you can just exist and walk outside and chill. Or a bird maybe. I also really want to fly.

I’d like to hear all about your quarantine experience. Though I hear you have been busy producing a whole album over the year of 2020, what else have you been up to during the pandemic? How have you experienced this past year? Did you pick up any quarantine habits or find new hobbies?

One of my new hobbies would be interior design. It’s definitely something I picked up in 2020. I feel interior is really cool and you can play with a bunch of cool materials in your apartment and colors to make things more personal. I got a couch yesterday as a result of this awakening. I’ve never had a couch in my apartment. It is still weird to me that I couldn’t have a couch before. You don’t even have to have a good couch, you can literally get something that someone is giving away or get one online. But I never wanted one. I never wanted a place to just slack, I just wanted to work work work! I’ve been weird up until last year, so I am very happy I have a couch now. 

So am I! Congrats on your couch. 

Thank you!

You will be going on tour again next year and it’s already sold out. What is it you miss most about being on stage?

What I miss the most is seeing the crowd going nuts. That is the best feeling: when playing a show and suddenly being super aware that I am here and this is my job, this is what I am doing. I remember having those moments just thinking “What the fuck?“. I have friends back home that are in school and I am here on the stage, performing! To me, this is so weird. After all, I just got out of school. It is a strange experience, realizing that this is happening right now and that this is a real show and I am the one playing it. 

Last year you triggered the popular phrase “Do you listen to girl in red?“ used on social media as a subtle way of asking someone weither they are queer. I am not going to ask your comment on this as I know a thousand people have done it already. But how do you feel about always being referred to as a “queer artist“? Is this something you are proud of, representing queerness and the LGBTQ+ community, or are you also getting tired of people defining you through your sexuality?

I am really proud of my queerness and proud of being a queer person making music. But I also experience that the focus is often taken away from my work and suddenly it’s more about my sexuality. In my home country the conversation hasn’t always been so much about my music but it’s just been about me as a queer person. But, you know, I sometimes do find that weird but I am also incredibly proud and I am proud of my sexuality and I love being queer. It’s the best thing! Sometimes I’m like “Oh my god, I love women!“. I just feel lucky to be queer which is a privilege to say, because I live in the most safest country in the world to be queer. So yeah, I love it, but I also want it to be about the music because at the end of the day I am just making music like everyone else and I think that should be seen equal to anyone else making music.

Is there anything you would you like people to say more about you?

No, not really. I just want to give the entire world my new album. That’s what I want. I am very ambitious.

Red is probably the most controversial color out there. What do you associate with red?

The only thing I associate with the color red is this project and waking up every single day and doing a bunch of stuff related to this project and building my life around it.

How did you pick your artist name “Girl in red“?

Long story short: I fell in love with a girl and she was wearing a red sweater at one point when we met and I texted her “girl in red“. Fast forward, a few months later I also bought myself a red turtleneck and took a picture of me in the school’s bathroom. I posted it on instagram using the caption “girl in red“. A few days prior I wondered what I should call this new artist thing that I am doing right now. It was a bunch of coincidences that lined up. So I landed on “girl in red”.

I love that! I happen to be a sucker for romantic stories.

I know and it doesn’t even feel like three words to me anymore. It feels like a thing now. And I get that question a lot, but If you are gonna have a world domination, you might have to be having to tell anyone. So, I am preaching world domination! I have told this story over and over and at some point I went mentally crazy, feeling like a lunatic. But maybe this is something I need to get used to. I am not used to any of this stuff. I am just a 20 year old gal, cuddling with her dog, learning how to do stuff.



Interview: Ann-Kathrin Lietz

Images: Jonathan Kise

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