M2M’S much-anticipated follow-up to 2000’s hit Atlantic Records debut, SHADES OF PURPLE, finds the Norwegian teen pop sensations returning with their most effervescent and emotional collection to date. The girls, Marion Raven and Marit Larsen, have again teamed with producer/musician Jimmy Bralower (Donna Lewis, Jennifer Paige) and the result is a truly captivating collection fit to burst with passionate pop songs of remarkable craft and confidence. Self-penned songs like Miss Popular and Everything sparkle with irresistible melodies, smart and sassy lyrics, and of course, Marion and Marit’s trademark harmony vocals. THE BIG ROOM amply displays just how much M2M has grown since first stepping into the world spotlight.
“It’s two years later and a lot has changed,” the 17-year-old Marion says. “When we made our first record we were all about finding who we were. Now, the second album really shows us growing up, as artists and as people. Some of our fans will be surprised, but also I think they knew it was going to happen.”
“Our fans are growing up too,” Marit, 18, says, “and I hope they’ve grown with us. We write songs about what we experience now, and what we’ve gone through since the last record. They’ve probably gone through a lot of new things too. It’s very important that we show people that we’ve evolved. We never want to make the same record twice.”
THE BIG ROOM was recorded at the legendary Bearsville Studios in bucolic Woodstock, New York. The album takes its title from the main space at the renowned recording facility, as well as the fact that the songs were written while the girls were traveling the planet ý for M2M, the world became “The Big Room” as well. The duo took up residence at the studio for six chilly mid-winter weeks in early 2001.
“We were there in January and February, living in the houses there,” Marion recalls. “It was very quiet and nice, you could really concentrate. It’s so much better than being in a loud studio in the middle of a city.”
The sessions saw M2M accompanied by an extraordinary backup combo comprised of Tom “T-Bone” Wolk (bass, acoustic and electric guitar, organ, synthesizer), Jimi K. Bones (electric and acoustic guitars), and Kenny Aronoff (drums, percussion).
“It was pretty awesome,” Marit says. “We did 11 tracks in the first six days! We did all the basic tracks live in the studio, the old Beatles way of doing it, you know: One, two, three, four, let’s go! It was cool, because we got the opportunity to capture the energy that is missing on most records right now. Everything is so computerized, they want everything to be so perfect they forget the energy that’s already there within the music.”
The goal for THE BIG ROOM was to create a natural guitar-based pop sound reminiscent of personal M2M inspirations like Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, and Jewel, as well as such alternative favorites as Counting Crows and Travis.
“It seems like it’s a new wave that’s coming right now,” Marit says. “I think people are starting to look back to music from the 60s and 70s.”
“We’ll never be rock, though,” Marion notes. “We always write pop songs. We like to call it ‘organic pop.'”
In addition to eight self-penned songs like Jennifer and Don’t, the girls arrived at Bearsville armed with a batch of additional melodies and lyrics. To flesh out their ideas, they quickly set to work with Bralower and Peter Zizzo – the team who helped co-write their debut hit, Donýt Say You Love Me – resulting in three of the album’s 11 tracks.
“Most of the songs were written on the road,” Marion says. “We wrote tons of songs together while we were traveling. We had like 18 songs. Then we wrote two more songs – Everything and What You Do About Me – with Jimmy and Peter. We just love working with those guys. It’s really comfortable. It’s also really fun.”
Throughout the album, M2M’s songs capture all the many feelings of teenage romance, from head-over-heels infatuation to green-eyed jealousy.
“I guess we end up writing about love, because when you’re 17 and 18 that’s what’s in your head most of the time,” Marit says. “Not necessarily ‘I love you, do you love me too?’ It goes deeper than that.”
“The songs are always about things we experience, and think about,” Marion says. “This album is mostly about love, but there’s also songs about jealousy, about how we see the world. It’s different but it’s still M2M.”
The enchanting Everything is M2M at their best, an infectious pop charmer that carries all the sting of post-adolescent love, while retaining a wistful sense of hopefulness.
“That’s one of our mad songs,” Marion says. “It’s about a relationship with a really sucky boyfriend. It’s all about looking back at how this guy just ruined everything.”
“It’s basically about going crazy because a person doesn’t call,” Marit says, “and you know you should get over him, but there are so many good things about that person that you don’t want to let go. But it’s driving you crazy!”
Is it based on a real boy?
“Maybe,” Marion laughs.
Full to the brim with hooky melodies and deliciously surprising arrangements, THE BIG ROOM is made all the more delightful by M2M’s harmonies and personal, poignant lyricism. The process by which these elements come together is, like the two artists behind them, strikingly natural and unaffected. The two halves of the whole that is M2M are blessed with a somewhat symbiotic relationship that lends passion and purity to their music.
“We just make the music that comes out,” Marion says. “We make music we love, we don’t really like thinking about what’s popular.”
“People are so caught up in making money,” Marit adds, “they forget about the music and just do what’s safe, what’s selling right now. But we’re in this because we want to communicate with people, though our music.”
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M2M first arrived in the pop spotlight back in 1999 with Don’t Say You Love Me, the lead single from on Atlantic’s 1999 POKÉMON THE FIRST MOVIE ý MUSIC FROM AND INSPIRED BY THE MOTION PICTURE. A #1 airplay hit in Denmark, Norway, Finland, and throughout Asia, the single was a Top 20 success in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Ireland, the UK, and Holland, as well as a gold certified smash in Australia and New Zealand.
M2M quickly followed their successful single with their acclaimed debut album, SHADES OF PURPLE. The collection – which also includes the hit Mirror, Mirror – was a worldwide sensation, selling over 1.5 million albums internationally. SHADES OF PURPLE was especially popular in Southeast Asia, receiving 7x-platinum certification in Thailand; 6x-platinum in Indonesia; 4x-platinum certification in the Philippines; 3x-platinum in Malaysia; 2x-platinum in Singapore; and platinum in Taiwan and Korea. In addition, the album was certified gold in both Chile and Norway.
M2M and their SHADES OF PURPLE were also quite successful in the United States, where both Don’t Say You Love Me and Mirror, Mirror were top 5 pop hits. Powered by the two RIAA gold-certified singles, the album rose to the #1 position on Billboard’s “Heatseekers” chart of new and developing artists. SHADES OF PURPLE was also critically acclaimed in the U.S., with a bounty of high-profile reviews including a three-and-a-half star rave in Rolling Stone.
M2M made a number of promotional appearances to support the U.S. release of SHADES OF PURPLE. The duo’s performance at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center was taped for an exclusive Disney Channel special, titled M2M & BBMak In Concert. The program included live performances of all the duo’s hits, along with behind-the-scenes footage of Larsen and Raven as they enjoyed the many attractions at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. In the Fall of 2000, M2M accompanied Hanson on their tour of North America.
The follow-up single/videos Mirror, Mirror, Pretty Boy, and Everything You Do continued M2M’s streak of worldwide popularity. The duo traveled to a remarkable 22 countries around the globe to promote SHADES OF PURPLE, including visits to in Europe, Latin America, North America, Asia, and Australia.
M2M have also received a number of prestigious international honors, including the “Best Norwegian Group” honors at Norway’s 2000 HitAwards (along with a nomination for “Best Song”). The duo were also nominated as “Best Group” at the 2001 Spelleman Awards. In June 2000, M2M were named “Discovery of the Year” by the Singapore Radio Association.