Artist Spotlight: Get to Know Marie Ulven, AKA girl in red


girl in red performing in Los Angeles in 2019. Photo Courtesy of Mia Ross.

On rare occasions, solo artists decide to pursue a music career with a stage name. Some well-known instances of this include St. Vincent (Annie Clark), Bon Iver (Justin Vernon), and Youth Lagoon (Trevor Powers). These artists each have their own reasons for doing this, but most of the time, an artist wants to be known by their real name. Not Marie Ulven. She’s decided to go forth with her stage name, girl in red, and if you haven’t heard of either of those names, it’s time to remember them.

The Norwegian artist recently released her debut album, if i could make it go quiet, on April 30, 2021. On top of that, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter just announced a two-month North America tour supporting the album. She’s one of the most exciting indie artists in today’s music. This expectation grew even greater when Pitchfork placed her debut album on The 49 Most Anticipated Albums of Spring 2021: Taylor Swift, Japanese Breakfast, J Balvin, and More. Before she explodes in popularity even further, it’s time we take a step back and examine the path this young artist has taken and see how all of this started in the first place.

Growing Up Quiet and Boring

Born in Horten, Norway, on Feb. 16, 1999, Ulven grew up with her sisters and divorced parents in what she would later tell Triple J was a “quiet and boring” environment. It wasn’t until 2013 when she first started to play guitar after receiving one the previous year and quickly losing interest. Ulven would later credit her grandfather for sparking her interest in music in the same interview. Quickly the 14-year-old started teaching herself how to play piano, guitar, and aspects of music production from the comfort of her own home. This would become the foundation of her bedroom pop genre she’s helping popularize.

Eventually, she would land at her dream college, Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology, where she would attempt to pursue a bachelor’s degree in songwriting and production. Around the same time, Ulven would begin to get music opportunities presented to her, such as a tour. She started asking her professors for extensions, then finally asked to take a year off. Fortunately, she was declined the opportunity, with the institution saying that touring wasn’t an appropriate reason, according to Stereogum. As a result, she dropped out and focused on her musical career that was clearly taking off.

“Then they kept calling me for months after I won a few Norwegian awards. They were trying to get me back. That’s so awkward. Imagine being that school,” she told Stereogum. “I won this award and then they posted on all their socials, ‘Our student Marie Ulven just won this really great award.’ And that was months after I dropped out and they wouldn’t let me stay in the school. I commented, ‘I quit,’ and I got a bunch of likes. Everyone was like, ‘Marie, that was so savage.’ They deleted all their shit.”

Her decision to quit would eventually pay off, as she quickly became the talk of the town and started to win various awards. She’s won at least two prestigious awards since 2018, starting with Norwegian Newcomer of the Year from the GAFFA Awards. Most recently, Ulven won Artist of the Year at the 2020 P3 Gull Ceremony.

Debut Album and Ensuing Tour

You may have heard one or two of her songs on the radio already. The young artist has recently received a ton of air time with her lead single “Seratonin,” from her debut album, if i could make it go quiet. As mentioned, the album was released just a few weeks prior via AWAL and has already received high praise.

Stylistically, girl in red has all the components to be the next big star. Although her biggest musical influence is Taylor Swift, according to Teen Vogue, she sounds like an explosive concoction of Joy Formidable, Metric, and Wolf Alice. Not only does her instrumentation move the listener with every chorus, but her lyrics are incredibly relatable. She has made a name for herself by being extremely open about both her sexuality and her mental health. These are two crucial aspects of life that everyone should carefully examine, especially the younger generation, which Ulven is a part of. This pandemic specifically has taken a toll on the singer, like most of us.

“I have a lot of health anxiety,” she told Billboard. “When suddenly the entire world started caring about health as well and being really worried about their well-being, things just got really bad for me,” she says. “I thought I had a tumor every single day and thought I was gonna die. I was dysfunctional for about four months.”

Now, she just recently announced a two-month North America 2022 tour in March and April. Despite this being her first studio album, it’s not the first time she’s visited the United States. The Norwegian star has opened for the likes of Clairo in 2018 and Conan Gray in 2018 and 2019. She headlined “The World in Red Tour” in 2019, but there is much more anticipation for her 2022 “Make It Go Quiet Tour.” It’s safe to say this young singer-songwriter has all the potential to become indie’s next big international star.

girl in red – 2022 North American Tour Dates:

03/08/22 – Nashville, TN @ Brooklyn Bowl
03/09/22 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
03/11/22 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
03/12/22 – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!
03/14/22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
03/15/22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
03/16/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
03/18/22 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
03/19/22 – Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
03/20/22 – Toronto, ON @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
03/22/22 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic Theatre
03/23/22 – Columbus, OH @ EXPRESS LIVE!
03/24/22 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
03/25/22 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
03/27/22 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
03/28/22 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
03/29/22 – Kansas City, MO @ The Truman
03/31/22 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s
04/01/22 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
04/02/22 – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues
04/05/22 – Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre
04/06/22 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
04/08/22 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
04/09/22 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
04/11/22 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
04/12/22 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom

To find out more information on girl in red, you can visit her official website here.

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