“The pressure will always be there – what are you going to do?”
There was a moment early in Sigrid’s career when the internet threatened to kill her vibe. Fueled by hard-hitting and uplifting anthems, the Norwegian pop star had enjoyed a rapid rise into the Global Top 40. and a makeup-free skincare regimen — was a marketing stunt dreamed up by her brand. She knew it was a figment of social media’s imagination. Nevertheless, negativity entered his head. For a moment, she wondered who she really was.
“I don’t want to feel like it’s a massive life struggle. It was more of an embarrassment. Like, ‘bleerugh.’ t-shirt had been invented by my marketing team – it was completely wrong,” she said on Zoom from her brand’s London office.
“It’s jeans and a t-shirt. I’ve worn it since I was a kid. I am practical. I got a little confused in the end. You hear something so many times. . . Then I woke up and I was like “no”. It’s my life. It’s my body. I’m going to do what I want to do.”
A bundle of big sister energy onstage and charismatically understated offstage, it’s hard to imagine Sigrid suffering a crisis of confidence as she blitzed the charts with kicks like Strangers and Don. ‘t Kill My Vibe – the latter writes about a condescending male producer she was briefly paired with.
But as she counts down to the release of her steely fizzy bombshell of a second album, How To Let Go, on May 6, she remains struck by the double standard she was subjected to on her way. towards the top. Male pop stars, let’s not forget, wear jeans and t-shirts all the time. Nobody accuses them of being the puppets of their record companies. “I think there’s definitely a gender issue,” she shrugs. “I try not to worry too much about it.”
Has she watched any of the recent Britney Spears documentaries? Obviously, Spears and Sigrid have next to nothing in common. And yet, these films painted a damning picture of a music industry all too willing to exploit female artists, regardless of the impact on their mental health.
“Well, I think the way she’s been treated by the media is absolutely awful,” says Sigrid of Spears. Her tone suggests that this is as far as she will be drawn on the subject of Britney Spears, her rise, fall and redemption.
She is happiest talking about Ireland, with whom she has a long love affair. In 2017, with Don’t Kill My Vibe still a dormant hit, Sigrid received a taste of international fame when she went to Dingle for the Other Voices festival.
Twelve months later, she was back in front of a crowded tent at Electric Picnic, where she wore an Other Voices t-shirt and was so moved by the crowd that she burst into tears (Sight Off You from her debut LP, Sucker Punch , was inspired by the concert). Last year, meanwhile, she braved stormy weather and a busy schedule to return to Other Voices again. Getting to Dingle is rarely straightforward: Sigrid had to go straight from Norwegian TV to a waiting plane. And then drive to South West Kerry to play his show.
“We might not be able to come. But we managed to get to Ireland. It was a long trip. We were so tired. The show was great. We played in the same old church we were last time which was lovely. And then we went to a few bars. A lot of them were like, ‘we’re closed’. And you could see, like, 20 guys in there drinking,” she laughs.
“We met in the hotel lobby. Irish musicians were playing. And we started to sing. We didn’t play a single Sigrid song. There were only hits: Robbie Williams and Oasis.
You won’t find much of Robbie Williams or Oasis on How To Let Go. The LP, recorded during lockdown in Los Angeles and Denmark, however, pays homage to one of Sigrid’s first musical loves, Coldplay. You can hear the echoes of Chris Martin’s stadium-chirping melancholy on It Gets Dark and in the guitars popping in the clouds on Burning Bridges.
This musical progression is accompanied by unwavering lyrics. Mirror, for example, could take aim at critics who told her she was a sham for stepping onto the stage in jeans and a T-shirt. “I like who I see looking at me / In the mirror, in the mirror,” she sings. It’s a pop song with steel balls in its veins.
“Lots of guitars, electric basses, lots of real strings,” she agrees. “I worked on singing a little differently. It was [about] give new colors to my voice. Lyrically, it’s probably about digging a little deeper, which is fun. A little scary too.
I will not return to this Sigrid who was not an artist, did not go around the world
On her first record, Sigrid feels like she’s running to catch up with her rise overnight. Success had come in the blink of an eye. One moment she was a starry-eyed teenager from small town Norway, the next she was signed to a major label and radio all over the place. It wasn’t that she never felt ready. She was, however, so, so young and things were going incredibly fast. Second time, soon to be 26 and in a long-term relationship (she is dating pro skier Nicolai Schirmer), she feels more in control.
“I think it’s a question of growth. I guess, in my lyrics on the first record. . . How old was I? I was probably 21. It’s the second time I’ve done it. I’m more comfortable. But, of course, it’s easy for me to say now that the songs are out. It’s still exciting.
Born Sigrid Solbakk Raabe, she is the youngest of four children and grew up in Ålesund, a town of 60,000 people in western Norway. Her father is an economist, her mother runs an architecture firm. Their family is very successful: Sigrid’s older brother, Tellef Raabe, juggles a career as a songwriter and studying for a doctorate in “the economics of news media” at Cambridge. Sigrid herself dropped out of college in Norway, where she had enrolled in a politics course, to pursue music full-time.
As she grew older, she began to reflect with renewed intensity on her childhood. She feels a certain sadness to have to say goodbye to the period of her life when she was perhaps the happiest. She sings about it on Grow, a ballad on the new LP. “I have one foot outside and one foot inside,” she hums, mourning the passage of time and the end of childhood.
“There is a certain melancholy,” she says. “I talk about the fact that I will not find my childhood. I won’t go back to the fact that Sigrid, who wasn’t an artist, didn’t go around the world. And had a very good life in Norway. And of course there is a certain melancholy in not going to university. All my friends go to college. It’s an experience I won’t have. Because I gave up after two weeks.
She works with a variety of co-writers on How To Let Go. It Gets Dark, arguably the strongest track, was co-written by Emily Warren, a rare female voice in the male-dominated world of production. and musical writing. “Some of the best songwriters in the world are women,” says Sigrid. “All the hits, I listen to – the big, big hits, usually there’s a woman [involved]. I don’t have the statistics. There are some brilliant composers. I want to work with talented people.
Besides frowning slightly at the mention of Britney Spears, Sigrid is in good spirits. She appreciates a lot rests on the shoulders of How To Let Go. But she also knows that it is a fantastic album. And though she occasionally experiences wobbles in her self-confidence, there’s always that voice in the back of her head that says everything’s going to be okay.
“One day I’m feeling super confident, another day it’s like ‘oh my god, how’s it gonna be? It’s probably related to being in your twenties. Its good. It’s all part of it. There is, of course, immense pressure on the second disc. But the pressure will always be there. I’m sure there will be enormous pressure on my third album. What are you going to do about it? You have to make the music you love. And that’s what I did. And I’m so proud of this record. I love that.
How To Let Go releases May 6