Posted by Barbara Lesz

With a multitude of talents, clear opinions and powerful femininity Marita Isobel Solberg is a fascinating person to interview just before Woman’s Day.

Marita Isobel Solberg is an overwhelmingly talented and very busy musician, performer and artist. She was born in Manndalen, Kåfjord, the home of Riddu Riđđu, and studied at The Academy of The Arts in Oslo. Utropia had the honor of interviewing the artist for the female focus issue.

An early start…

-My passion for music began very early, just when I started to talk. My father was always playing a guitar, singing with me and teaching me songs. I already knew then that it was what I was going to do.

As Marita grew old it became clear to her that music alone was not enough to vent all her emotions and ideas.  She added ceramics and performance art to the list of her favorite media. Moreover, the artist has a number of projects within the individual media. Within music she works on The Tom Waitress (interpreting Tom Waits’ songs), Mara & the Inner Strangeness (her author project), and Time Machine (old tunes from 40 and 50s). She has also just begun a new project including a mix of Indian music with Norwegian folk and retro pop songs that the artist enjoys.

Marita and her inner strangeness…

Marita already played in a band when she was sixteen, and this is when she started planning her future project. The idea of Mara & the Inner Strangeness first came to her during her studies at The Academy of The Arts in Oslo 2002-2007. She came back to Tromsø in 2008 and started looking for musicians she’d fancy to cooperate with. Everything began in late 2009/2010.

-Some of the people I’d known from earlier, but we were never close before. I knew, however, even then that I wanted these people in this project. But I never dared to ask. Then, we’ve found new people together.

When it comes to musicians that inspire her, Marita names Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holliday. The list continues with more modern artists like Mark Lanegan, Tom Waits, PJ Harvey and progressive ones like King Crimson. She likes all kinds of music from rock andjazz to classical music.

She finds inspiration for her lyrics in the performance art of Robert Wilson, Tom Waits and the books of Ketil Bjørnstad, Jan Kjærstad and Haruki Murakami. She insists, however, that she has her own way of writing and her personality influences the lyrics much more than any outer phenomena.

Another place where Marita finds her inspiration is the objects she uses during her bands’ performances on stage. It can be a balloon, a ball of wool or a dried-out beetle

-I like having new things that give me inspiration, make me improvise. On The Tom Waitress or Mara & the Inner Strangeness every performance is a new thing, you don’t get the same experience twice, because I always bring new things or say new things.

Tom Wait-res-s

Tom Waits has been one of Marita’s favorite artists for a long time. It was a challenge in the artist’s songs that has drawn her to the idea of dedicating a single project to him.

- I wanted to develop my voice and to learn how to stretch it. I didn’t want to destroy it, but to cross certain limits. I started to rehearse Tom Waits songs – I was singing, screaming, and suddenly I felt I could do anything, whatever I wanted to.

After practicing the songs Marita contacted a friend from Mara & the Inner Strangeness, Herborg Rundberg, and they started rehearsing together. After including another colleague from the band, Stig Arne Sigmund Pettersen, they decided to have a first concert at Tom Waits Festival in Grillefjord in 2010. After the show the number of band members has been flexible and involves new musicians from time to time. Moreover, Marita tries to make each performance of Tom Waitress an interesting and new experience – she from time to time invites strange personalities, performance artists, dancers, poets, acrobats or jugglers.

Artistic career…

On the top of all the musical projects, Marita has her art career. She was awarded a degree from The Academy of The Arts I Oslo and spent some time at the prestigious Watermill Center in New York, founded by theatre artist and artist Robert Wilson. She also has been on residencies in Japan and worked with theatre groups, architects and musicians from Sicily, Taipei, Barcelona and New York. The artist’s focus is on ceramics and metal. When it comes to performance the artist uses the things she creates as a source of inspiration, be it a text or a picture, that can either be still or move. 2013 may be the year of her first big solo exhibition.

Gender issues…

-I’m a doer, I just do what I do. I’m honest and I hope to get respect for my actions. Sure, I like to talk and discuss issues, but I’m more a person that likes actions instead of just a thought of an action. If I were male, I’d do the same thing. I don’t expect anything just because I’m a woman. I know that people may treat me in a given way because I’m a female, but I try not to let it affect me that much. I do what I want to.

She admits that the fact that she’s a woman does influence her art, but so do plenty of other things that determine her character.