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Dagbladet: Morten Harket interview.

Monday, April 22nd, 2002
Dina Katsnelson / Joan Joergensen / Dagbladet

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Morten Harket interview for "Dagbladet" newspaper, April 16th, 2002. Dagbladet. By Hege Duckert.
Norwegian to English translation: Joan Joergensen
Photos by Agnete Brun, Tom Martinsen

Morten Harket (42) used to run away to a Coralocean, when the pressure got too big. He doesn't need that anymore.

Morten: Come on. Come closer. Look at him! That's a good guy. Plenty a character. If he's happy, his tail is orange. And then he gets into any holes he finds.

Hedge: Oh, a guy like that?

Morten: Look at the lobstershell! The lobster has just changed his shell and knows that there are some animals that would eat him if they had the chance. The Eremitcrap over there, has eaten the snail and taken over the house.

H: Like, live and let die?

M: It's about the same in the street. I learn a lot about humanity of this.


M: Jealousy, bullieing, sickness, territories. You have it in here, all of it. Some suddenly dies, because they give up. That always surprises me: you get enough food, you are fine, you have your lady around the corner. What's your problem? - But then you die anyway. A peacefully aquarium is a balance of power.

H: Have you seen "A fish called Wanda"?

"Yes - says Morten Harket. - It's a horror film for fish!"

In the living room of Morten Harket, it sounds like the back seat in a plane. Maybe he doesn't hear it, after 15 years with loud music. The noise comes from the cooling to 3 big saltwateraquariums, where Morten grows his own Corals and keeps amimals that you'll find on the plate in his neighborhood in the westend of Oslo - lobsters, craps, snails and fish in all the colors of the rainbow.

M: It's a big responsibility. In natural known environments many are skeptical about cathing wild animals and putting them in a glasscage in the livingroom. That's understandable.

H: But it's just

M: These fish are the best because they're fine, because I take very well care of them. Out there is a killing field between the ocean and the livingroom. It's not a long time ago that the loss was 95% when they were being transported. The most important argument for saltwateraquariums is that maybe here we can save the Corals. The knowhow could be used for natural growing of nature parks. But today people are more concerned about animals than about human beings. It's like they have given up on saving the people. Animals are innocent. Human lives are like dirty.

Morten Harket poses willingly in front of the aquarium, and discusses the lights and reflects with the phographer Agnete. He takes his glasses of. But eventhough he in a long time was the best to pose, he doesn't care much about what he looks like.

M: I stopped caring for some thousand pictures ago. I don't care much about my look.

But he cares about the styling of the fish. He feeds them to get them to move, moves the equipment in the aqurium, so the picture will be clear. Harket has a hobby with exotic stuff. It started with tropical plants when he was 11 and the orchidees when he was 14. On the walls there hangs stuffed birds and Indians equipment, made by his younger brother Kjetil. He dries the skin and puts it on feathers of eagles.

H: He's quite a family?

M: We have that in common that none of us has any safe income. Our childhood must have been very secure. We did develop confidence in ourselves.

H: You needed that?

M: Yes, I experienced a lot of bullieing when I was younger. I had a very long unpleasant time in school. When I found out, that I even though this experience, had been bullieing myself, it was a cold shower. I had all the experience to feel the pain, and even though, I didn't see what I was doing.

H: You seem like your life is more in a harmony than before?

M: Yes, I have a more simple relation to conflicts. I've become better to ask the right questions and know more about what works for me. But you know one thing: I might be further out than other people.

The life of being a pop star has again taken Morten Harket. a-ha will in these days come out with the new album, other than their "coming back together". And now it will soon be the big concert on Ulleval Stadium. Few Norwegians has experienced a sweeter success with the bitter after-taste than the members of a-ha, which in more than 15 years have been pop icons. Nearly against their will.

M: We came out so bad, you know, we were so young and it was so easy to promote us as a boyband. We went from an entusiastic glow to the feeling of circus. Suddenly it was all about my pants. We were so naive. Look at U2, they have been good at making out who they are. People thought they came right from the street.

H: When you came right from the hairdresser?

M: No, I cut my own hair and looked like it. But we got right into it. Today, I think, I understand why many artists travel around with a crazy number of stylists and assistents. Its not very smart, but I understand why. Normal people who comes in weird situations, looses what everyone else takes for granted. Your own surroundings, the possibility to take the bus without people staring and a cab without the driver must talk. The only relation which seems normal is the one you have to your hairdresser and make-up lady. You can use the little energy you have left to be yourself. In this market you arent a human, but more a product on the line with Ajax and Volvo.

H: You are 42 years old and still a rockstar. Will you always stay in music?

M: I think so, because I always have. But I don't listen much to music. Never in the car or at home. I hate the music in the background, you know, when music is a way of filling the air. Don't people have a need to think?

Morten Harket does. He is a thinker. Thinks very strange and does even say things that are even stranger.

...I have always been very curious and a guy who asks questions. It's better to get lost than to stop for an answer. Answers dont hold for long.
...But sometimes I feel sad. Sad about how much I have to take care of myself being well and in a good shape. Magne can break his arm, and we still do the concert - but if I get a sore throat we have to cancell.

H: Do you practice a lot?

M: No, almost not. I have a body which gives a fast response. If something is wrong, you'll see it. I think it might be annoying to some people. But to me, who's living in this body, the most important is I feel in good shape inside.

Harket goes for the diet of blood types, which he means has raised his energy. We go out to eat and he asks for meat - "a lot of meat" - and vegetables. But no potatoes and bread, thanks.

H: Wouldn't you prefer a fish?

"No thanks, - says Morten gently and kicks me under the table."

Will a-ha fill up Ulleval Stadium? Do people take their lunch, blanket and sunglasses to spend a day in June on the grass?

M: It'll be healthy for the music-environment in Norway if we can fill up Ulleval. When they invited us, we first said no, because the safety system didn't work quite well. They answered by fixing the safety very well. People expect certain things in an a-ha-concert and this we will have to accord with.

H: It went very well in Valhall last year?

M: Yes, the way we were met by the audience and media was so much over our expectations. I sat for a long time and waited for it all to fail, but it hasn't happened yet.

H: Has a-ha played any concerts in stadiums?

M: The biggest was at Maracana, the footballstadium in Rio, where we played for 194000. With so many people standing there for so many hours, you get raced by the statistic: someone dies, someone is being born.

H: Someone dies?

M: Not at our concert, but with Guns & Roses, who played just before, it happend.

H: How does so many people look like from the stage? There is a very long way down to the ones who are at the back rows?

M: There is a very long way to the ones who are with you at the stage, I'll tell you. If there is a little wind, you can't hear them.

H: What do you do then?

M: What you have to do. Go on playing.

"A band is like a relationship, says Harket. You have to make sure that your partner is happy. Then youll get the most from the partner and get your own stimulation. That's what I have learned from the last 18 years with a-ha, even though we haven't done that."

H: What's the most important thing to you now?

M: The kids. They are 8,10 and 12, plus a little more.

H: Plus a little more?

M: Yes, it's not very accurate right now. The youngest one is nearly 9 and the middle one has become 11.

H: You are divorced. Do you see the children a lot?

M: In periods. It's a constant battle between job and family, and both parts demand more time than they can get. Relationship and relation-break-up is something you have yet to cope with, but it doesn't disclaim your responsibility as a parent. Maybe the word Relation-break-up isn't the right word.

H: Isn't it?

M: You still live together, when you have children, even though you live in different places. It's still sharing.

H: Would you like more?

M: I would most like holidays. With the children. But I don't like the thought of deciding the number of children I'll have. Things come as they come.

The last years Morten Harket was creating headlines by driving into the ditch. He's a guy with a big G. It's fast in the curves.

M: I got my driving license in the worst time with a-ha, because I had a big need of getting away. Just before I took it, in Germany, we got someone to get me and Magne a bike. My plan was just to drive a little out in the parkinglot in front of the hotel. I thought, that when I got my helmet on, nobody would recognize me. But then I got very much recognized by a group of fans and I panicked. I went for the speeder and raced around the block to get away. There I got forced out in a one direction lane. I just disappeared out in Berlin and didn't know how to ride the bike. Didn't know the traffic rules. I had neither the money, nor identification card, and I didn't remember the name of the hotel. That was a crisis. My redemption happened to be a man in a Porsche behind me, who thought I was in trouble and helped me out of the traffic.

H: What did you learn from that?

M: I learned to ride a bike. After that episode I became a man.

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