It’s hard to believe that 24-year-old Sigrid has only been in the popsphere for a few years, her larger-than-life bangers filling stadiums and arenas all around the world. Erupting onto the scene officially in 2017 with her debut hit ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, the bustling star has woven her way into the hearts of millions (she currently has over 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify) with her warm, down-to-earth energy and anti-superstar aesthetic.
Donned in her casual uniform of jeans and a white tee, Sigrid has already achieved accolades most rising stars only dream of. In 2018 she was the winner of the famous BBC Music Sound of …, an annual poll that sees industry insiders and critics find the best new talent. She’s written songs for Rudimental and Paloma Faith, toured with Maroon 5 and George Ezra, smashed a Glastonbury set and her own headlined, sold-out UK tour, and her debut album Sucker Punch was the ninth biggest-selling album of 2019 (in the UK).
Returning to her throne with the fizzing self-love single ‘Mirror’, Sigrid used the world shutting down as an excuse to get personal and look within. Over a fuzzy Zoom call, the star talks identity, music biz pressures, creativity in quarantine and the absolute need to always have fun on set.
Hey, Sigrid! How are you?
How’s it going? I’m good! *Muffles* Sorry, I’m just finishing off a banana.
It’s freezing in NZ right now; whereabouts are you at the moment?
Ah! I’m at home in Oslo in Norway and it’s actually quite warm.
How lucky. Hey, congratulations on everything. You’ve had such an extraordinary few years. How does it affect you as an artist when things go from being on all the time to coming to a complete stop with the Covid lockdowns?
Ooh good question! I mean, it was a very difficult year last year especially for the industry I’m in and the live industry. All the crews, the promoters, the management, the booking … everything. It’s been tough, but you know, you try and look for the silver lining and I think I needed a break. It was probably good for the band too as well. It’s really tough touring and I think [it was good] for all of us to just get a little breather and live for more ‘real life.’ Because it is a bubble when you’re on tour, it’s very intense stuff, so being in the same place for like a week was a first for me almost. Like, the first time I was home in my apartment in Oslo for more than 2 weeks I was like woah, this is weird. Is this my home?! But yeah, great question. It’s been positive and negative, that’s what I’m trying to get to.
How did that change your creative process? I understand you wrote a lot of Sucker Punch on tour, is that right? What has this new shift been like?
Absolutely. I mean, I didn’t really write things on the tour bus. I’ve seen other people do that and I just don’t understand how! I don’t really write notes. Sometimes I might write some on a flight but usually I’ll just play The Sims instead. But [we had] writing sessions in between, like one day here and one day there, and we’d make a demo and I’d cut a vocal in a day and usually that was the vocal that ended up on the record. Because I didn’t have time to redo it, or rethink do I actually wanna say it like that? But this time around, for the first time in my life, I got time to go back and rethink. It’s been good. It’s been more of an old school approach to music making maybe. Very chill. I had a summer in Copenhagen last year that was amazing, there was a travel corridor between Norway and Denmark so you could travel back and forth. I wrote a lot of music with Caroline Ailin (Dua Lipa, Julia Michaels) and Sly (Jonas Brothers) and we’d go swimming in the ocean, go back and have lunch, write some more. It was really nice.
Let’s talk about ‘Mirror.’ Huge tune. I think it’s a really important track for young girls specifically to hear. Is there one message in particular you’d want them to take away from it?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I worry quite a lot; I always wanna do my best. I would say I’m naturally quite lazy as well. I do take my time off but sometimes taking time off makes you feel bad because you’re like oh, I should be doing this, I should be working. And I think that [because] I’m in a crazy industry being an artist, there’s always pressure. But that pressure is kind of everywhere now, especially with social media. We all see perfect images of everyone all the time. If people interpret ‘Mirror’ as a body positivity song, I’m all for it – that’s great, but also for me it’s more about that personality thing. I think that’s just as hard on social media; how you see people do this and they’re so good in their career, they’re getting straight A’s and everything, and I think that’s super hard to grow up with. When I grew up, I had Facebook, but it didn’t show the whole world in front of me like it does for young kids now. And that’s tough for young girls, young boys and everyone. So yeah, it’s a song written for everyone who feels like they’re not good enough. It’s a reminder that it’s okay to do as good as you can and it’s okay to take a break and it’s okay to not be successful in everything.
All that tricky adolescent stuff is hard enough for us normal people to go through, but how do you navigate it through such a public lens?
I guess I was kinda lucky that [everything] didn’t really take off until I was about 19, so you know a few things when you’re 19, but maybe I put too much weight on that too. I was like oh you know, it was easy for me because I was 19 and not 15 like a lot of young artists were or are, but at times it’s definitely been tough. I think I’ve been extremely lucky with my team, they’re really good and I’ve always felt like creatively I can do whatever I want to do all the time, so that’s been super chill, but it’s a tough industry because there’s just a lot of opinions. From everyone. And there’s just always that pressure of you can do more. It’s very different to how I grew up in Norway. Norway is changing now as the world gets smaller and smaller but growing up it was definitely an 8-4 situation for most people. Your spare time after work at 4 was very important, but for me now work is always there. But I love it, I really do.
Talk to me about the music video. I love the visual of you battling with yourself. How did the ideas for the video come about?
It was really, really fun. I hadn’t done a music video for like a year so I was like can I still do this, am I still an artist? I was nervous before going on set but once I got there and I had been in front of the camera for 3 seconds I was like *does a theatrical pose* “I’m an artist, let’s do this!” It was so much fun. I got to wear all this amazing fashion and play with makeup, and it’s quite a chaotic video but it’s also because I like to stay busy on video shoots. I need stuff to do so it was fun with all the action elements of running, dancing, driving, bow and arrow, chameleon, just a lot of stuff happening!
What music video has been the most fun to shoot?
I think my favourite is probably ‘Strangers’. I love that video because it wasn’t planned. I didn’t have any movement choreography, and no one coached me, they just put me in front of the camera and were like “do your thing!” So, I was just dancing the whole day and it’s quirky and very me. It’s so sweet.
Musically, who or what was the inspiration for ‘Mirror’?
I mean, is it wrong to say I was inspired by myself? *Laughs*. It’s kind of inspired by ‘Don’t Feel Like Crying’ because that’s been a favourite of mine. I love that song and I love playing it live. But then I added a little spice. It’s got a lot of heavy bass; I grew up listening to a lot of Muse and they make really catchy hooks but always with powerful production. I wanted it to be a heavy version of a pop song, so that’s kind of the production idea. Then of course you’ve got the strings, which I love strings, and [there’ve been] times where we’ve played it live and we’ve played the guitar as well which is super cool.
It’s been two years since your debut album Sucker Punch, how have you grown both creatively and musically since then?
It’s probably too early for me to say, it usually takes me a little while to absorb everything and think about it and reflect, but I’m sure I’m gonna write a song about it! The world seems smaller because I’ve travelled so much, I think that’s a big one. Because I grew up in a very small town – it’s kind of like the fiords you have, very scenic and beautiful but 100% countryside – I had a very protected childhood, and I had no idea what the music industry was until I found myself in it. Now I’ve travelled to so many places and met so many amazing people. There’s been intense times and some pressured times, but there’s been some really great memories. I especially look back at all the festivals and I just can’t wait to go back!
Lastly, what three words would you use to describe Sigrid right now?
Oooh! Sleepy, because I’ve been sleeping so much for the last few days. I’m in travel quarantine and I’ve had a very intense week at work before this so now I’m just chilling. Excited. I’m excited to go back on tour and go back out and play. And actually, quite creative. I feel creative right now. I’m excited about writing again!