Marion Raven

Marion Raven Biography

“Atomic winter in my soul/From the absence of the sun/The only remedy I know/Is I gotta let you go.” “Here I Am” Like the pitch-black bird with which she shares a name, a nod to her Viking past, the songs on 21-year-old Norwegian-born singer/songwriter Marion Raven’s Atlantic Records solo debut songs are dark, vengeful, mysterious, dangerous, but ultimately uplifting and cathartic. Many of the songs, all of them written by Raven, some in collaboration with others, are about heartbreak and disappointment, the result of a real-life relationship gone bad. For example, “13 Days,” which she composed with Canadian singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk and Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, is about a fling she had lasting just that long.

“My ex-boyfriend is not going to be happy when he hears this album,” laughs Raven about songs like “The End of Me,” “Let Me Introduce Myself” and “Gotta Be Kidding,” which target infidelity with the raw venom of a woman scorned. “When I feel anger or disappointment are when the really good songs and lyrics come out of me,” she admits. “Sometimes I won’t be able to finish a song because I lost the feeling. It might be a year before I’m ready to work on it again.” Kreviazuk calls Marion “the real deal… Her presence is electrifying. Creatively, she approaches everything from a different place and is not trying to follow everyone else. She's creating her own unique brand and she continues to blow you away from the moment you meet her.”

Playing piano and both electric and acoustic guitar, Marion also collaborates with Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx (the eerie distorted art-rock of the vindictive “Heads Will Roll”), Everclear’s Art Alexakis (who duets with her on the country-flavored “At the End of the Day”) and producer/writers Max Martin and Rami, among others. Grinding blues-rockers “Crawl” and “Get Me Out of Here” reflect her own love of classic bands like AC/DC, the Stones and Led Zeppelin, while “Here I Am” and “In Spite of Me” show Marion is just at home belting out a power ballad to the back row of the arena. The rhythmic “Break You” and the tender “Little By Little,” co-written with founding Cardigans guitarist Peter Svensson, represent the dark and tender sides, respectively, of Raven’s fiery sensuality. Alexakis was impressed with Raven: “I won’t do duets with just anyone, but Marion is an amazing singer, songwriter and artist.”

Half of the album was recorded in Stockholm with Martin and Rami, the pair responsible for such worldwide smashes as Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” and the Backstreet Boys’ “Shape of my Heart,” but here, Marion brings a hard edge and emotional wallop to their crisp rock production. “In fact, Max used to be in a metal band in Sweden when he was younger,” Marion explains. “They just really listened to me as an artist. I got what I wanted as well as the benefit of all their great ideas.”

Martin says Marion was “one of the most talented singer/songwriters I’ve ever worked with.” He explains: “She has a big international voice, but with a Scandanavian melancholy that shines through in every note. It’s amazing someone so young can have a depth and presence like that. She sounds exactly the way she looks, with a charisma and aura about her.”

The other part of the record was cut in Massachusetts, at a studio once used by the Stones, with Steve Thompson, a veteran who’s worked with a variety of artists, including everyone from Korn and Duran Duran to Blues Traveler. “He’s just rock all the way through, and I thought that would help that side of me come through,” says Marion. “I feel like my album has a line going through, which is me and my songs. Having Max and Steve each do half of it was the perfect mix.” There were also side trips to Portland, OR, to write with Alexakis, and Los Angeles, where she partnered with Nikki Sixx, whom she’d first met in Oslo backstage at a Brides of Destruction show.

“We just hit if off and he asked if I wanted to write with him,” says Marion of the collaboration with the Mötley Crüe bassist. “And we came up with ‘Heads Will Roll.’”

“I’ve written with artists as diverse as Joey from Saliva to Meat Loaf and Vince Neil, but Marion is the f**king most talented new artist I’ve worked with since I’ve been making music,” says Sixx. Born outside Oslo, Norway to a father who was a teacher and a social worker mother, Raven was always destined for a life of music, singing at her neighbors’ homes and in the local gospel choir by the age of five and starring in The Sound of Music on the Norwegian version of Broadway at seven. Her parents played “everything from Black Sabbath, to the Beatles, Cat Stevens and Elton John around the house.” “I was singing and going on auditions before I could read,” says Raven, who began playing piano at eight, wrote her first song at 13, and started playing acoustic guitar at about the same time.

She was overheard singing the first song she ever wrote by a U.S. record company executive, who flew the 14-year-old to New York, where she auditioned for legendary Atlantic chief Ahmet Ertegun, and saw her band M2M signed on the spot. The group became a teen-pop sensation, with a worldwide hit in “Don’t Say You Love Me” and two albums, but Marion would prefer putting the past behind her. “It’s all part of my development,” she explains. “My experiences with M2M made me what I am today.”

Now living on her own in a downtown New York apartment, Raven spends the day practicing on her vintage red Gibson SG guitar and rehearsing her new band, listening to music and continuing to soak up influences. For instance, she recently immersed herself in the Doors, which comes through in “For You I’ll Die,” a haunting song on the new album inspired by the band with the lyric, “’This is the end, my only friend, the end,’ are words from our favorite band.” “I was in this Jim Morrison period where I was listening to the box set, reading his biography and watching the movie,” she says. “I was very touched by Jim’s relationship with Pamela, how she would always be there for him. The song is about being willing to do that for someone, but getting nothing in return except a spot in the grave next to them.”

And while she’s just getting comfortable in her new apartment, meeting friends and starting to have a life outside her work, Marion is looking forward to hitting the highway with her new band. Live, she’s an eclectic instrumentalist, picking up the electric guitar for a bump-and-grinding version of “Get Me Out of Here” and the acoustic for the chilling “Here I Am,” before sitting down at piano for the confessional “13 Days” and “Crawl.” “I want people to connect with this album, so I can go out there and connect with them live,” she says. “I’m not about flashy videos, manufactured images or hype. I know the record industry can use artists and then throw them away. I’m about having a long career and making albums 30 years from now.”

With her Norse roots and Viking heritage, this 21-year-old singer/songwriter is ready to create her own mythology. To quote this Raven… Evermore.

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