M2M was a pop music duo formed by two Norwegians, Marion Elise Raven and Marit Elisabeth Larsen. They released three albums under Warner Music Norway: Shades of Purple, The Big Room, and The Day You Went Away: The Best of M2M, a greatest hits album released by their record label after they disbanded.
Marit Larsen and Marion Raven both hail from Lørenskog, Norway in a district of east Oslo. In the spring of 1989, Marion had just moved into the neighborhood when she and Marit met at the mere age of five.
To quote Marion: “Marit and a friend were in the woods near our house picking flowers.
My mom saw them, and asked if they would play with me.”
They soon realized their mutual interests in the world of theater, song, and dance.
At the age of eight, they decided to form their own band called “Hubba Bubba” after the chewing gum. When they weren’t proactively playing with their band at various kindergartens, they also did voices for cartoons, sang on many different children records, and would perform in several musicals including: “Annie”, “The Sound of Music” in 1993, “Bugsy Malone” in 1994 and “The Wizard of Oz” in 1995 – all on the Norwegian Broadway.
The duo was then discovered by the Norwegian music producers Kenneth M. Lewis and Kai Robøle.
The girls were signed to a contract with Oslobased Waterfall Productions and at just twelve and thirteen, Larsen and Raven who, by this time dropped the name “Hubba Bubba” and began calling themselves “Marit and Marion” began recording their first record. It was a children’s record sung in Norwegian called: “Synger Kjente Barnesanger” (Norwegian songs for kids). It was released on March 5th, 1996.
To hear Marion explain it: “Marit and I were discovered, and we got the opportunity to make our own record. We used old children songs and made them new by using more modern music and up-beat tempo.”
The album gained in popularity, resulting in a nomination for “Best children’s record of the year” at the Spelleman Awards (the Norwegian Grammy Awards).
When talks began for a second record, the duo decided that they were too old to record another children’s album, so in turn, they were sent song demos and decided that the demos were simply too “grown up” for them. The solution was clear, Marit and Marion wanted a more authentic approach and decided to try their hand at writing their own material.
According to Marit Larsen, lyrics came naturally: “Instead of writing in a diary, we’ll write a song about the things going on in our lives,” she told Billboard reporter Chuck Taylor. “People try to write songs for us, but it’s hard to relate to what older people try to say. We write about things like experiences with guys and family, if a friend treats you bad, if you’re in love, anything like that.”
Upon hearing Marit and Marion’s sweet vocals, a Swedish manager became so impressed with their work that he brought the demos to New York and played them at various music corporations. Atlantic records showed sincere interest.
Marit and Marion flew to meet with the executives and to audition for them accompanied only with piano played by Raven and guitar played by Larsen. Soon after they were signed to a recording contract.
Next, they decided to pick a new name for themselves. They wanted to call themselves M&M – a combination of their initials. The name was already taken, though, by both a candy brand and the notable rapper Eminem. Ultimately, the teenagers decided to call themselves M2M following to a contest that they held for their fans. The name took off, as did the careers of the two young performers.
They jumped in head first into the pop music scene with an already vast pool of female headliners and soloists, however, it was their genuineness, and their ability to sing and write their own beautiful lighthearted pop melodies that set them apart.
The album boasted creative input from the Spice Girls’ and Backstreet Boys’ producers, lending a contemporary feel to the girls’ acoustic sound.
Unknowingly, following in teen singer Tiffany’s footsteps, M2M embarked on a mall tour to introduce themselves to America. A special-edition CD was created for the tour, with the girls hosting autograph sessions after each performance.
The group’s first single, “Don’t Say You Love Me”, appeared in 1999, and was featured on the soundtrack of Pokémon: The First Movie (albeit with an edit to the lyrics from “we’re sitting there and you start kissing me, what’s that about” to “We’re sitting there and you said you love me, what’s that about”). The film helped the song to reach success worldwide, including peaking at No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart, their only hit in the UK. The duo released their first album Shades of Purple in 2000. It debuted at number one in Norway and several Asian countries, entering the Top 40 for most other countries. In September that year, they toured with Hanson, performing as the opening act.
TV appearances where plentiful: they appeared on various TV episodes of All That, Top of the Pops, Say What? Karaoke and MTV’s Hot Zone.
They also performed a concert at Epcot in Walt Disney World. It broadcasted on April 29, 2000, under the name “M2M and BBMak in Concert”. On this show, they performed six songs. During the breaks, video clips of them walking around the park, flirting with boys, dressing up in classic Norwegian clothes, meeting and playing with dolphins, and riding a roller coaster were shown.
Around this time they learned that their responsibilities could not be ignored. In April 2000 they where forced cancel a free concert in Arlington Heights, Illinois, as they were obligated to complete their studies.
Once school exams were completed, M2M’s promotional efforts resumed. They included a shopping spree, a junior spa day, a guitar lesson with Marit Larsen, and a partnership with the Cookie Dough candy company. The teens “were featured on candy bags in school vending machines with a discount coupon for their album.”
As their profile rose, M2M began evoking comparisons and garnering reviews. They were the most notable pop import from Norway since A-ha hit the U.S. They were “Norway’s answer to ABBA,” according to Australia’s Herald Sun; or a “female Hanson,” in the words of Boston Herald writer Sarah Rodman.
The praise from journalists arose – “Impossibly cute doesn’t begin to describe M2M …,” exclaimed an enthusiastic Joey Guerra in a Houston Chronicle article. “Genuinely talented seems more fitting.” Guerra cited the duo’s vocals with a “more introspective tone” on such numbers as “Girl in Your Dreams” from Shades of Purple.
Just four more singles were released from the album: “Mirror Mirror”, “The Day You Went Away”, “Pretty Boy” and “Everything You Do”. They enjoyed some popularity in Asia; releasing a song sung in Mandarin, “Pretty Boy”.
In 2001 they were featured in Atlantic Records “Teensation” concerts.
In 2002, the duo returned with their second album “The Big Room”. It was recorded at the legendary Bearsville Studios in bucolic Woodstock, New York. The album was named after 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.
The Big Room, was a significant departure from “Shades of Purple”. It was a more mature, organic pop-oriented sound. In two years, they had grown up. Their voices had naturally evolved with age.
Marit Larsen (aged 18) addressed the change in direction: “Our fans are growing up too, 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 first single from the album was “Everything” followed by “What You Do About Me”. “Don’t” was released as the third single in the U.S. and Latin America’s radio stations. While “Wanna Be Where You Are” was released primarily in the Philippines, both “Everything” and “Wanna Be Where You Are” also did a bit of chart climbing in Australia.
The promotion for their album included: various TV appearances including a performance on Dawson’s Creek, on in the 100th episode of the show at the end of its fifth year. They also participated in the Pantene Pro-Voice concert series that aired on MuchMusic USA.
This time around, praise of their work wasn’t always so cheery. Sunday Herald Sun reviewer Karen Tye said the compilation’s mix of acoustic pop and rock represented “a far cry from the glossy and peppy tracks” of the duo’s previous music.
That same year the girls went on tour with Jewel, herself a one-time teenage musical prodigy. Marit Larsen shared some road stories with Colin Newton of Brisbane, Australia’s Sunday Mail: “One show in Mexico everything went wrong for me. I started playing our song ‘Mirror, Mirror’ and the keyboard didn’t work. And then the next song, I was sitting playing guitar with a microphone stand and the stand broke. And then the third song was a guitar solo and my string went. I was so mad.”
The equipment issues further amplify a significant difference between M2M and their fellow pop entertainers. The girls play their own instruments. They dubbed their style “organic pop,” (as referenced earlier) as opposed to the computerized noise/music most often utilized by other pop artists.
As for writing their own songs, “The record company gave us a lot of power,” Marion Raven stated to Cameron Adams of Australia’s Daily Telegraph. “They could see we knew what we were doing after we played them demos of the songs we’d worked on at home.”
Ms. Larsen and Ms. Raven describe their musical influences as the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Jewel, Sheryl Crow, and many more. The topic of many fan related websites, the two are forthcoming about their “favs” in food (Larsen: chicken noodle soup; Raven: barbecue chips) and other topics. Speaking about the young performers, Atlantic vice president Ron Shapiro told Billboard’s Carla Hay: “These girls are extremely bright and conscious of the world. They’re not overly managed. They’re very proactive in their career.”
While on tour with Jewel, they learned that they had been dropped by their company Atlantic Records who claimed “lack of record sales” despite its critical acclaim and its success in Norway, Asia, and Australia.
The two went back to Norway and decided that after four years of playing together as a band, they were ready to call it quits. Part was due to Marion Raven decision to take Atlantic’s offer of a solo recording contract and Marit Larsen went off to attend a university in Norway.
Also known as: Marit & Marion, Marit and Marion, or Marit og Marion
Origin: Lørenskog, Norway
Genres: Pop, teen pop, pop rock,alternative rock, Organic pop
Instruments: Acoustic guitar, piano and vocals
Years active: 1998–2002
Labels: Atlantic, Warner Music Norway
Past members Marit Larsen and Marion Raven