Glasswerk.co.uk meets Ida Maria (pronounced Eeeeda) in the basement bar behind London’s Borderline, dressed in a polka dot ra ra skirt with dark bangs from behind which inquisitive Norwegian brown eyes stare out. Despite Ida’s already brilliant reputation for being a bit of a punk anomaly, we find her sweet and inoffensive in person, a stark contrast to the angry stage persona we later witness.
Ida is the latest export from Norway, from the tiniest village imaginable. She is playing the Borderline this evening with her band; a band gathered from her adopted homeland of Sweden’s Stockholm. When you’re a solo artist, and much of your ‘joie de vivre’ comes from your stage presence or from live shows (and not from your producer getting happy with some electronic airbrushing), you generally have to make a judgment call; you can choose to play acoustic and alone, you can employ session musicians (and hope they turn up) or you can adopt a band into your act. Ida has done the latter. So Ida Maria, is actually Ida plus three unassuming men folk playing the usual guitar, drum, bass ensemble. Even pop singer songwriters like KT Tunstall tour with a band these days. Whilst Ida may think herself a ‘pop girl’ over these shores, there is less pop than punk in her, which certainly provides more than the odd entertaining moment.
The basement of the pub is a little cold. But such coldness can surely not compare to the (literal) arctic temperatures back in Scandinavia? Ida tells us it’s very cold back home; even the wood in her fireplace is sodden wet. Ida and her band have been touring since January, and are looking forward to returning home for Christmas, having had maybe a few weeks’ break in between gigs. Before Christmas though comes the Levi’s ‘One to Watch’ gigs and the November tour with Good Shoes, which Ida is excited about, “I sent them an email saying ‘I think you make proper music, and so do we! I promise you some wild Scandinavian nights to remember (Ida lets out a filthy cackle). They didn’t reply but we just got the message that we are going on tour with them. I like them very much.”
Ida’s latest single ‘Oh My God’ was released on October 1st. The video for the single was recently filmed in New York in the basement of Brooklyn’s Ladybug Transistor, with esteemed director Andreas Nilsson (responsible for videos by Bright Eyes and José Gonzalez, as well as fellow Scandinavians The Knife). “We were in New York and we didn’t have time to do it somewhere else. The director had time to do it then, so he flew over. It was madness. It’s a fucked up rehearsal room video- very simple.” Ida and her boyfriend, Sebastian Fors (of the band ‘Sebastian Fors and the Ones that Got Away’), run their record label out of their house in Sweden which is named after the village where she grew up (Nesna). Both Ida and Sebastian are releasing their output under this visage.
Things are going well for Ida Maria back in the homeland; Ida tells us “We just won this big prize in Norway. It’s called the Alarm Award. It’s the coolest rock prize.” They also played Øya Festival this year, “That was madness. We didn’t know which stage we were going to play, we were hoping for a couple of hundred people and we got on stage and there were, I don’t know maybe, two thousand people there. It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for. So I celebrated by climbing up the roof and hanging from the ceiling!” Norway appears to be churning out some great bands at the moment; Ida’s favourites are currently Ungdomskulen, “I used to play with the drummer in a band. They’re lovely!”
Ida has gained herself a, not unfair, reputation for injuring herself at her gigs. She ended up cracking two ribs at a show. “It was one of the biggest booking agencies’ Christmas dinner in Sweden so they rented this big hall with long tables, and we were meant to do one song. I was playing games, kicking the shit out of those old grey haired bastards (we think she means drinking games) so we were tanked up before the show. I was jumping up backwards and I landed on my back. I felt that something wasn’t right so I thought ‘I’ll lie here for a while’ and then of course I went to the Doctor and he told me I had two broken ribs… People do think I’m a self harmer or like Iggy Pop. There’s nothing about me that’s like Iggy Pop. I’m a girl and I bleed enough every month, it’s not like I need to cut up myself!”
On stage, she is sullen and striking in equal measures. Johannes, the bassist from the group, dons a CBGB tee shirt- reminding us, one would suppose of their punk credentials. She screeches ‘Louieeeeeee’ into the front row’s faces; all at once, energetic and impassioned. Ida is angered, emotionally loaded doctrines spewing from her curved mouth as she violently exhales the words ‘I like you so much better when you’re naked’ from the deep depths of her diaphragm (on so named single); she is a dark haired Debbie Harry battling her way through early Blondie. All eyes are on her. Ida is often askew on the floor, screaming violently into the microphone, her limbs failing around members of her band; a force to be reckoned with; perhaps clumsy but definitely entertaining.
Ida is releasing the follow up to recent single ‘Oh My God’ before Christmas, and her album is due for release sometime next year. On her forthcoming schedule, she is most excited about touring in Iceland in December 2008, which seems a long way off, but with an MTV acoustic set booked in for the end of this month, you realise she must be very much in demand.