How were you as a kid?
We were a big family. with much going on… I liked to be by myself, play self. Just for the balance. I drew and hung everything up on a big wall.
But it was never important to have someone to look at them. Even today I feel extremely shy. I had never perform before Idol 2004. When I was
little and wanted to sing, I skipped school and ran over to the church where the priest let me be alone. There I sang alone. The place had nice acoustics.
Have you ever felt different growing up in Sweden because of your background or family?
I always felt different. When I visited Morocco, I felt more Swedish. In Sweden, I feel more African sometimes. I felt different in my town, I felt different even in my family from my
siblings because I raised them with my mother. We were both children and struggled together.
For me, different wasn’t so different. Different wasn’t bad. I think we are all becoming more different around the world and also more the same. I see myself as universal and connected
to all cultures.
When and why did you start to sing?
I started to sing when I was very young. Why I don't know, I just did it. I didn't think about it you know.
It just were. But I never sang in front of people, I didn't dare. I sang in the classroom as soon as the class went out.
I did my first performance with an audience pretty late.
Where did you get the gift of music from?
As long as I can remember I was singing. Music is a cultural thing. If you came to my
village in Morocco, you would see that every woman is singing. It’s part of their daily
life. When they rejoice they sing, when they’re angry they sing, they sing for everything
and every emotion. My mother took that with her and subconsciously it must have passed to me.
What was your big break?
Before Eurovision, my sister made me join the Idols contest in Sweden. That was first real
experience where I stood on a professional stage, in front of huge audience and dealt with media. I won 3rd place. That experience taught me a lot, it moved everything around inside me.
If you believe in God or something spiritual, it was as if something greater than me had come down and said ‘Loreen if you want to be an artist, this is what it’s all about.’ I went to Idol and all of a sudden people were telling me the “right” and “wrong” way to sing, the “right” and “wrong” way to look, it was painful but I opened my heart and just sang. It was a punch in the face and made me see that if I want to be an artist I need to know my craft and be strong. I didn’t want others telling me how to do my art, to write my songs for me, I wanted to own it.
After Idol, I took a pause. I wanted to find myself and learn my craft.
What did winning ESC bring you?
Eurovision song contest allows you to meet many people. I was a special experience. After that, suddenly you are were contact with everyone,
standing on a stage, where you always wanted to stand. I worked hard before ESC, as well as after.
Which message do you want to send trough your music?
There are many of them, but the most important one is that you have to ”feel”. Doesn’t matter if you’re angry, loved, happy, you’re listening to the music.
Music has a great power over your body and that’s why my message is that people should truly feel music. When I write music and lyrics, I don’t think if people
are going to like it, I feel it instead. Those are the things that just go out of me.
What does music and performing mean to you?
It’s give and take. In my tribe, in my family and culture, music has a purpose. When you sing either you want to cleanse your energy or give out energy.
When I’m on stage I usually end up in some sort of trance. The only thing that exists is me and the audience. There’s strong energy that goes out from me when
I sing and comes back from them, in a cycle of give and take. I want to create an energetic, sharing create atmosphere in audience. It’s an amazing feeling but
it’s not about getting a high or getting a kick. Music either closes or opens up things inside you, it makes you think, it makes you feel, and in my music I always
focus on what I can open up in me and in the audience.
What inspires you in your creative process?
People. Sitting here and meeting you. It’s why I work with human rights; people and their stories. Sometimes just a sound (Loreen taps a spoon on the side of the table as
she said this) will inspire me. I can record that sound on my computer and start tweaking it. I’m such a nerd when it comes to creating sound!
I never write lyrics as a first step. I go into the studio, put on a track and let the subconscious mind speak. I know what I want to say in my soul and the sounds bring
it out, not the other way around.
What kind of music do you prefer to listen to?
Right now I’m listening to the new album by Moderat. This band has totally flashed me. I have to sneak out and go to one of their concerts and hold a placard which says
“I want to create a song with you”. That would be great. I love this album.
Who is your musical icon?
All artists who think outside the box! There is a woman from South Africa named Lisa Gerrard, she did the soundtrack to Gladiator. She just sings, comes up with her
own words that may not exist. She has the kind of voice that you can’t tell if it’s male or female. It’s a very dark, really cool sound. It’s a sound that doesn’t
even sound human at times. She is a role model for me; a powerful woman with a very special voice that doesn’t care about the rules around music. I also really
admire women that can manage it all; juggle relationship, kids, look good and have a great job. That’s cool.
If you hadn't succeeded in music what do you think you would have been doing?
I would have worked with human rights. If something is wrong and if you can do something about then you got to do it, right?
Where do you find the motivation for your work in philanthropy and human rights?
I’ve seen things in my days. Having family that is still very poor today, having to
struggle to bring food and have shelter, changes you. I was born in Sweden but spent
summers and winters traveling to Morocco and seeing this— seeing poverty, seeing women
being treated differently. As a child, it bothered me so much but I felt helpless
because you can’t change it. Today, I can work to change it and I am.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Confidence, fighting for my own point of view and remaining true to how I want to sound and look, how I want to create. It’s in my bones but it takes so much strength inside to fight again the commercial side and people around you.
Today, I speak from the heart. I know how to write and produce my own songs but I prefer to work together with other creators like myself.
What do you do to relax on your day off?
I’m so bad at relaxing! But sitting like this with you drinking tea, this is relaxation for me, I love this. Perhaps it’s the French side of me but I love to sit,
have a cappuccino and take in the environment.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My mother used to tell me that her mother told her that you get as much as you can handle in life. One is you’re stronger than one understands themselves to be.
When I get overwhelmed and stressed, this advice gives me peace. I tell myself ‘I can handle this and more’.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Impatient. Universal. Is there a word for people that love other people very easily? I’m that too.