Sigrid: ‘I feel discredited, for my talent and all the hours I spent at the piano’ | pop and rock
In 2020, Sigrid had a crisis of confidence. Forced to return to her parents in Norway by the pandemic, she rediscovered her old teenage insecurities. As a child, she had never considered herself cool, often choosing to play the piano at home rather than socializing with friends. Then her life changed: she became a successful pop star, with hit singles, 1.3 billion streams and more, and fans all over the world. “With the success, I felt like maybe I was cool,” she says. “So… boom! Isolation. Back home with my parents, in my childhood bedroom, remembering the hard times of being 14.
“I was a little scared of how quickly I adapted to this completely alternative life, where I got up in the morning, had breakfast with my parents, went hiking and skied,” she admits. . “For example, the whole day consisted of getting to the top of a mountain, skiing and then coming home to talk about the snow over dinner. There were no emails. There was no stress. I had this serene, alternative life, but there was this really scary thing going on at the same time. I think that’s what a lot of people felt.
Speaking from her flat in Oslo, her eyes bright and eager to chat, she doesn’t seem like someone who doubts herself. Since releasing her first single at the age of 20 – the triumphant rejection of music industry sexism Don’t Kill My Vibe in 2017 – Sigrid has found herself on an unstoppable streak: she won the first prize in the BBC Sound of 2018 poll, achieved a platinum single with gigantic pop banger Strangers, became a staple of festival lineups and embarked on his own tour.
When the campaign for her debut album Sucker Punch ended in 2019, she actually felt relieved. “It was a crazy few years,” she recalls, her perfect English tinged with a Norwegian accent. “But I also remember feeling a bittersweet feeling at the end. My band, my team and I were all Norwegians and experienced everything for the first time. It was so exciting. The energy was unstoppable and you’re just running on adrenaline.
Before the pandemic hit, she was in Los Angeles for the early and anxiety-inducing process of creating her new album, How to Let Go: “Everyone is talking about the difficult second record, and I didn’t quite understood what I wanted. To do. It stressed me out for, like, a month.
It wasn’t until Sigrid wrote It Gets Dark with Norwegian songwriter Caroline Ailin and Danish producer Sly that things fell into place. The song addresses themes of isolation and overcoming adversity. “In my life, I can appreciate the good things because of the things that have been difficult and where I come from,” she says. “Being away from home can be sad, difficult and lonely, but the highs that come with it are so worth it.”
I suggest that Sucker Punch was an album that helped shape her into a touring artist, while this new record was about shaping her into a recording artist. “Shaping is an interesting word,” she said, bristling slightly. “It’s something that people commented on in terms of my authenticity. They said, ‘Is it authentic? Is it real?’ At first I laughed but then I got sad about it You feel questioned like nothing I did was really me and someone else cares I feel like I’ve been discredited, both for my talent and for all the fucking hours I spent at the piano working on it.
Such hard work seems to be at odds with its laid-back aesthetic, even though it’s seen by some as a carefully crafted marketing plot. “If you take a picture of someone and slap it on a billboard, that picture is a lie,” she says in reference to the ubiquitous image of her wearing a white t-shirt and a Jeans. “It’s not natural to be at a photoshoot and then see that photo replicated over and over on different things, even though it’s from an authentic location.”
Although she disregards accusations that she is a “factory factory”, she is atypically deliberate in her career choices, treating being a pop star like the business she is. Citing Taylor Swift as an inspiration in this regard, she says: “I’ve seen interviews with her where she explains that it’s good as a woman to have a career plan. It’s not calculated, it’s just clever. It’s smart to have a plan. In fact, it was such a plot that landed Sigrid on the overall theme of How to Let Go, an album about moving on from past relationships and letting go of who you once were. “But it’s also about letting go of the doubts and fears that I have,” she adds. “I’m afraid of things, and that means a lot to me because I’m ambitious, like I think a lot of artists are. I’m afraid of losing him because it means so much to me.
There’s also an existential thread, and High Note, which closes the album, sees Sigrid reflect on her own mortality as she sings, “I’ve got so much more to do / When I’m out of time / I wanna know that I’m finished.” Like any young person who has lived through political and economic upheaval, a global pandemic, and who is witnessing the climate crisis in real time, thinking about death is understandable. “The world feels smaller and smaller every day. It’s a scary time,” she said. “I think sometimes you can almost be paralyzed by that fear.”
Those concerns are why she also dabbled in disco on How to Let Go, including the self-love anthem Mirror and the scintillating oddity A Driver Saved My Life, an explosively tuned ode to the back of an Uber: “With the world feeling scarier, I think people just want some kind of escape.
Morbid thoughts aside, Sigrid has emerged from the identity crisis she suffered at the start of the pandemic. “This is going to sound so corny, but I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more fun than I think,” she says. “Sometimes I have thoughts about what life would be like if I didn’t do this and lived in Norway, but then I think, ‘No! This album really taught me that nothing moves me like music. I’m back and I’m hungry to go.