Of all the lessons that Ida Maria has learned in the past few years, the most important is that happiness cannot be planned. It's something that has to be uncovered naturally at the right time and place. However, the Norwegian singer and songwriter thankfully found it on her 2014 EP for LAVA Records, Accidental Happiness.
"It's been quite the journey to get this point," she admits. "For as much as I tried to force being happy and whole, I couldn't. Instead, I stumbled upon this happiness, blessing, and freedom."
That "journey" as she likes to call it is one "from destruction to construction." By the time early 2012 had rolled around, Maria had two successful full-length efforts out—namely Fortress Round My Heart and Katla—which spawned global hits like "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" and "Bad Karma". Her music had been placed everywhere from Scream 4 and Teen Wolf to Royal Pains and Gossip Girl, and she had built a faithful international following through countless gigs and storied festival appearances. However, she simultaneously faced the harrows of a haunting alcohol addiction.
"I couldn't have just one beer," she sighs. "I'd end up in the ER or in handcuffs, and it started to happen more and more. Alcohol was so helpful to me for so long. I didn't want to let go of it. I used the music as a thermometer for how I was doing though. I was making songs so destructive I could barely picture anybody wanting to sing them. That woke me up."
Maria checked herself into rehab and emerged with a new outlook. Even though she wasn't allowed a guitar or recording equipment while in treatment, she began penning what would eventually become Accidental Happiness as she continued to get herself better.
Maria continues, "I started doing sessions as soon as I got out. It was like my brain was finally working and waking up for the first time in decades. The music was different than what I'd done before. It's the sound of a locomotive that's just hit a good speed and is ready to go on a serious journey. It's emotion, love, anger, frustration, darkness, and light all in one."
In order to siphon all of those feelings into song, she teamed up with producers Dave Bassett and Anthony Rossomando [The Libertines] for sessions in Los Angeles. With Bassett, they harnessed everything from the vivacious punk snap of "Sick of You", which incorporates megaphone and coughing to the snazzy riffing and handclaps of "I'm Bad News", which could serve as a call-to-arms for females everywhere. Meanwhile, she personally constructed lounge-y piano meandering and howling of "Boogie With The Devil's Soul". In some ways though, the title track with Rossomando encapsulates her mindset both musically and thematically in its lush refrain and elegant instrumentation.
"I thought I was old when I was 18," she laughs. "I thought I had nothing else to live for. I've actually woken up to a new life personally. I know what it means to be happy and live a good life. I used to think happiness was stupid before because I didn't have it. I feel real joy in my heart though."
She also feels at home with LAVA. In 2013, label C.E.O. and president Jason Flom reached out and personally signed Maria.
"Jason saw something in me when I was at my lowest point," says the songstress. "After tumbling through the music business like some kind of orphan, I've finally found a place where I can be myself. LAVA restored my faith in the business."
Now, Maria is ready to share her Happiness with the entire world, and it's no accident. "Music has to be useful," she concludes. "You have to know that you're not the only person feeling the way you do. That's what music does. I want to make records you can live with. It's something you can cry to, party to, dance to, and live your life to."