CULTURE
Marie Claire Australia|May 2021
YOUR FIX OF FILM, MUSIC, ART & BOOKS
COURTNEY THOMPSON

GIRL in RED

Meet the indie musician with her eyes set on world domination

Marie Ulven is used to working alone. Better known as “girl in red”, the 22-year-old Norwegian musician has built a career as a bedroom pop artist, a genre that isn’t defined by a type of sound but rather a way of working: with personal lyrics and lo-fi, DIY production, all done from the sanctuary of your bedroom. Think: Clairo and Billie Eilish (who records in her childhood bedroom with her brother, Finneas), but with a Norwegian twist. With more than eight million monthly listeners on Spotify, and a breakout single – 2018’s “i wanna be your girlfriend” – that has been streamed more than 150 million times, it would seem working by herself is paying off for Ulven.

Ulven’s music is intimate and direct: her lyrics show an emotional acuity that is razorsharp and hyper-specific. Her debut album, if i could make it go quiet, is the manifestation of her talent for mining the recesses of her inner world and turning it into something musically captivating and universally relatable. “A lot of people have these thoughts,” she says, “but they don’t talk about them.”

It’s this willingness to air those thoughts that has meant Ulven’s fervent fans feel comfortable sharing their relationship and mental health struggles with her. Their trust is something she’s grateful for, but she’s had to figure out how to establish boundaries. “I had to learn, ‘Oh, OK, I can’t be anyone’s therapist, I can’t be online 24/7, I can’t keep up with people’s lives in a full way,’” Ulven says. “I used to feel really guilty because I want to help everyone, I want to do everything. But I’m just a person.”

Ulven’s top priority is making music she can be proud of and that her listeners can find comfort in. “Right now as a queer person and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m just making music and focusing on making music about my experience, and not trying to –” she pauses. “I don’t want to be something that I can’t be, if that makes sense. If anyone relates to my music and my experiences, I just feel that’s the end goal.”

LONDON Calling

Thanks to the UK’s National Gallery, you can take your European sojourn without leaving Oz

More than 100 years ago, Vincent van Gogh studied sunflowers in Paris and Arles in southern France, creating a series of 12 paintings that are now so iconic that conjuring the image in your mind requires little more than someone uttering “the sunflowers”. Usually, seeing the paintings in person requires a plane ticket to Amsterdam, Munich, Philadelphia, Tokyo or London, where the originals are kept.

Well, not anymore.

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