Simone Larsen: A Domesticated Rock Star Shares Her Old Neighborhood

simone larsenWe arrived in Oslo today at 8 am, and it was a quick and easy train ride right into the center of the city. At the Thon Hotel Panorama the view looks out over the fjord where cruise ships disembark. This morning the Queen Elizabeth was moored right in view, then she set off headed to Copenhagen.

Today we had interesting people to meet and our first guest, Simone Larsen, a musician who has toured internationally with her band D’sound. We met her in the funky neighborhood of Grunerlokka, ¬†at a retro joint called the Nighthawk Diner, complete with a wall-sized image of the famous Hopper painting that gave the place its name. It’s an American style diner and even the waitresses barely have accents–some don’t even speak Norwegian!

With her four-week-old son in a babyseat on the floor, Simone told us about her life that began in far western Germany and has taken her to the top of the pop charts and a huge fan following in the Philippines and South Korea.

These days she’s been doing mostly songwriting, and raising her two kids with her music producer husband on the outskirts of Oslo. She says her favorite city is Seoul, and showed us a video of a barbecue joint there and told us about how musical the country is. She said there are amazing undiscovered musicians in the Philippines too, and when she visits she encourages them to make more music, and not just copy American and British band’s sounds.

We asked Simone about what Norwegians are like, realizing that we were stepping into an opportunity to generalize, yet pleased to have another Norwegian woman with us to corroborate her thoughts. “Norwegians don’t invite you to their house for the first few years they know you, it’s not like other places where you might meet someone and they go ahead and do that. Homes are private, it’s not lik e in the US or in Turkey. Status isn’t as important here people don’t put the same value on material things as they do in other places.
Norwegian girls are more expressive then males. People here are a little naive, perhaps a little too trusting. ”

Armed with Simone’s recommendations on cheap eats and cool funky bars, we were now ready to explore the city.