Killer Queen: An Interview With Ida Maria

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Sure, we’ve been talking about her for a while, but this week was a special one for our number-one Scandinavian sweetheart: at long last, Ida Maria’s debut record has arrived (it’s been out abroad for ages!). On the power-popping album, Maria makes good on the promise of her demos, ingeniously revamping summer party anthems like “Queen of the World,” “Better When You’re Naked,” and the unassailable “Oh My God.” And live she’s even more inspired: Whether rolling around the stage, slopping blood all over her strings, or just howling like a madwoman, Maria imparts her tales of sex and insecurity with unhinged emotion. In the wake of her long-coming ascendancy, we rang Maria up in her native Norway to talk sexual liberation, synestisia, and sore throats.

Flavorwire: You’ve been kicking around for awhile, playing the same songs for several years in other countries. With the US release, has the pace suddenly increased?

Ida Maria: It just gets more and more and more really… I was planning on having my second record out by now, but it just hasn’t happened.

FW: How’s your voice holding up? People said the last time you were in the US that your voice got a little rawer with each show. Is that something you worry about?

IM: I try not to do more than three days in a row. On the fourth day my voice is always a bit broken. Also, I wrote all my songs in the wrong key. They’re all way too high.

FW: How do you prepare for the live show? I’ve seen you rolling on the floor, screaming, going crazy… I don’t understand how it’s possible to do that every night.

IM: I think I was born with a certain amount of natural energy…

FW: It’s certainly party music. Are you a late night person?

IM: Yeah, sometimes. I don’t think all the songs are pop music. I think some of them are much more than that, but they are all different sides. I wouldn’t say I’m a more late-night person. Basically, when I’m in my natural habitat, in Norway, I’m more of an outdoor person. I love to climb mountains and be an extreme sports person.

FW: Personas are really interesting. In the US especially we’re overrun by female rockers in mini-skirts. You’re not one of the Pussycat Dolls, but, on the other hand, a song like “Better When You’re Naked” isn’t entirely different on its face than what they do. How do you think about that type of sexuality?

IM: When I wrote “Naked” that was very much a comment on all this objectification of the female body. I’ve been over to the UK a couple of times and seen the Page 3 girls with the boobs. There’s always so much hysterical media around the female naked body. I am very much interested in the male nakedness. I felt like someone needs to point that out: It’s not only guys that like to see people naked. I just wanted to clown it around, just make it very loud and clear, that I’m not necessarily the object. I’m actually the subject; I’m actually observing you.

FW: Do you worry about a tendency to paint you into a category?

IM: That’s a big issue in the music business. I’ve been fighting so many fights to be able to keep my integrity on that point. There are so many expectations, even though I’m actually a songwriter. You can get that: “You should put more make-up on; you should wear this; you look better with you hair like that.” I’ve just gotten to the point where I don’t take any crap from anyone. I want to be part of a female league that’s actually making a bigger space for female musicians… I think a lot of girls are doing that, actually taking our space. With more or less luck; it’s a hard business, a very cold and finicky business.

FW: Has anyone asked you to do anything that you said “no” to?

IM: When I do my show, I always go by the feeling. If I want to put some make-up on, I put some make-up on. I’m not doing it to be sexy. Sometimes, I like to wear lots and lots of make-up, but do it in a more artsy way. Not to be prettier or sexier, but to actually represent something.

FW: I’ve heard you have synestisia [a brain abnormality where the senses become intertwined]. Is it just an overwhelming emotion?

IM: Yeah, you see shapes and backgrounds and things in the air all the time, in transparent sort of vision.

FW: Do you feel effects on stage?

IM: I suppose it affects my stage performance. But at the same time, music effects people. Music makes people want to move I can’t really figure out the difference between how I experience music and you do.

Those of you lucky enough to hit up Coachella this weekend will have the chance to see Ida Maria perform on the 18th.