Photo credit – Isak Jenssen
The past 12 months has been the ultimate rollercoaster for rising Norwegian singer/songwriter/producer Marie Ulven, better known as girl in red.
Hitting hundreds of millions of streams, playing several sold-out worldwide shows and garnering widespread critical acclaim is just the tip of the iceberg of a movement with unlimited potential broadly called World In Red.
Today you get the first glimpse of her yet-to-be-named debut album in the shape of brand new single ‘rue,’ a song about escapism that shows Marie in a completely different light, one much darker than ever before.
Watch the exceptional video directed by Niels Windfeldt below.
Explaining why “rue” came to be, Ulven explains “I wrote this song for my loved ones who are affected by my mental health. i will always try my best to get better for them, and i am forever grateful for their presence in my life.”.
‘rue’ is the start of an exciting new chapter; a track which swirls with ominous depth as Marie’s sound outgrows the confines of the bedroom pop that’s been tagged besides her name before today. Taking cues from escapist fantasies, soundtracked by Robyn’s Body Talk and Lorde’s Melodrama, Marie’s melancholic euphoria turns off all the lights and lets the storm play out in real time as she races through the night searching for catharsis and freedom.
Written like no song she’s ever created before, ’rue’ began in a Guitar Centre in Times Square where she was trying out acoustic guitars and happened upon its chord progression. Taking further shape at the back of her tour bus, it’s inspired by the parallels she recognised between herself and the character of Rue in HBO’s Euphoria.
“She is a drug addict, which I’m not,” says Marie.“But a lot of the stuff she’s felt and is trying to escape from is shit I’m dealing with all the time.” Returning to Norway, she began to construct a far bigger arrangement. The song sees Marie battle with mental health struggles. “That’s some heavy ass work,” says Marie. “It’s not physical work but it feels like it because it’s so hard.”
Striking a chord with listeners thanks to her unfiltered songwriting, girl in red is a zeitgeist-shifting artist who’s openness to discuss both her queerness and mental health has sparked feelings of hope, solidarity and togetherness among her fanbase. “A lot of people don’t know about mental health,” she says.
“People lack knowledge and don’t understand that your mental health isn’t necessarily who you are. You can be depressed but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to go outside or you don’t have feelings. To me it’s not taboo at all to talk about mental health. Everyone has a mental health. I don’t see talking about sex as a taboo thing either.”
With these boundaries erased, Marie’s own fearlessness will no doubt continue to inspire others to open up and come to terms with their own challenges and perhaps those of the people around them. ‘Rue’ follows ‘Midnight Love’ a song about self-realisation & learning which saw her feeling the love in Australia from the likes of triple j, Rolling Stone, NME, Pilerats, Alice D and many more.
Her audience growth is nothing short of incredible, with over 5.5million monthly Spotify listeners alone, 1million+ YouTube subscribers with millions of views for her music videos. girl in red’s 2020 couldn’t have started better after becoming the first cover artist for Gay Times this year & ranking among the NME 100 2020 plus scoring their first Big Read of the year.
She also wrote and performed on the soundtrack for film The Turning, that boasts Steven Spielberg as its executive producer, with a song titled “kate’s not here.”
This momentum comes off the back of a huge 2019 for girl in red, having released her chapter 1 and chapter 2 EP’s in a special vinyl bundle titled beginnings that has so far been pressed 10,000 times. She went on to play these out on multiple US and European tours totalling 15,000 tickets last year.
The songs released on beginnings were completely made by her, from bedroom to how you see them. That DIY approach has seen her go on to garner support of a wild hoard of tastemaker praise across the globe for her high energy live performances and music online that speaks on a highly personal level to her fans.