Sigrid interview: ‘Pop is a treasure hunt’

Francesca Allen

“Writing a good pop song is difficult,” says Sigrid, the Norwegian pop star who has just won the BBC Sound of 2018.

“It is a challenge, but it is a good one – and when it turns out that a brilliant hook is the best feeling.”

The 21-year-old only started writing music four years ago, when his brother – who is also a musician and invited to play a show with him on the condition he stopped playing Adele covers.

“I think he understood that I had something in me, and I need that little push,” he told the BBC at the beginning of this year.

Certainly worked.

The then-teenager, the first song, the Sun, was playlist Norway’s national radio station, and, after a short break to finish school, his next series of demo-sparked a record label bidding war.

Island Records has got the gig after having earned the singer around Bergen; and launched Sigrid’s international career last year, exuberant, and eccentric, and charismatic, Don’t Kill My Vibe EP.

The title track is his calling card. Inspired by a disastrous recording session in London, where older, of male sex, to which participating producers and demoralized you, it’s a challenge to optimistic anthem for his own force.

And ‘ given the opportunity to play all over the world; bowling over the audience with his characteristic and uninhibited performance (she is, to use a euphemism, from the Gross dance school).

Immediately after being told that we would have won the Sound of 2018, Sigrid sat down with BBC News to discuss circuses, socks and the elusive search for a perfect pop song.

Congratulations on winning the Sound of 2018! How do you feel?

I am truly honored. I just want to swear a lot, but I know I can’t do it on the BBC, so I’m trying to hold it in!

Previous winners include Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding. What does it mean to be in their company?

Adele is one of my favorite artists! It is huge and I don’t think I’m going to understand how great it is until I walk out of this room.

It is true that the first time you sang in public was a sort of home-made circus?

Haha!!! Yes! That was my grandparents ‘ cabin, which is located in a bay, 20 minutes from our house in Alesund. The children arranged in a circus and we took the money to the people to come, we spent on an inflatable dragon we could play in the sea.

What songs?

A Norwegian, the song that Steinrøysa Black Bakken by Alf Prøysen – is as a traditional, old-school song.


Is that in the moment she decided to be a singer?

That took quite a bit, I think. I was very shy. Very shy. But I started doing theatre when I was six years old, and that really changed something. My more playful side came out of me.

Then, when I was at medium and I have started to do a cover of Ellie Goulding, Adele, Coldplay, Keane and would like to change the rhythm or the melody to make it my own. This is when I discovered that I like to invent things, not just copy and paste.

Then the first original song was taken from the Norwegian equivalent of BBC Introducing.

That was a great moment for me. It was the first time that someone told me that I made the cool stuff outside of my school.

But the thing was, I was very torn on what I wanted to do. I had a record contract, but I took a small break from releasing music, because I wanted to finish school. At that point, I wanted to become a lawyer. I wanted to be a teacher policy. I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted to do!

You don’t end up studying the world of politics?

For two months! Three-year degree, but I had only the introduction. I’m very glad I stopped.

But I want to study some day. Maybe after my third album I go to Uni. That would be really cool.


Can you tell me about the recording session that inspired Don t Kill My Vibe? What did he do to you?

Only a few comments. I’m not sure if I want to go in depth.

However, the song is not about me being a diva and say, “Oh, you don’t respect me.” It’s like saying, “Just be friendly and helpful. That is all I am asking for.”

He writes mostly at the piano. Why that instrument in particular?

You can get so many moods. The entire spectrum of emotions.

[Getting up to play] This is my favorite chord – F Major 7. It is so bittersweet.

The plane flips over on the Dynamite that I’ve heard people compare Adele someone Like You. What was going through your mind when you recorded?

I was trying to be as sad as possible. Like, on the verge of tears. We did it once.

The end of the Youtube post of BBC Radio 1

A lot of other songs from negative emotions and transform them into something of power.

This is intentional, surely.

You set this goal when it is back in the studio?

Not necessarily when I go in the studio. Maybe an hour in the session to settle our goal for the day.

But I always have a greater vision, yes. And my vision is to make interesting pop music that has a nerve, that is catchy, that has a sense of humor.

There is something about Scandinavian pop that makes it stand out to British ears?

Surely my accent! My accent is strange. When I listen to some of the words that I am saying ” Don’t Kill My Vibe, I think that could have been better! Even today, I feel as if my English is terrible. I have not spoken to in English, Christmas.

But I think that the Scandi “thing” is very intricate melodies. English is our second language, and that creates a barrier in which you have to concentrate on the melody. Because of this, I think there is a story of a good vocal hooks – and that makes good pop music.

Francesca Allen

There is a great time of your last single, Foreign where you suddenly go “whoop!” in the middle of the chorus. Why?

I don’t know! I just think it’s a funny sound.

I like to be dramatic in my music, because that’s when it gets to your heart. You want to have the chutzpah to do it. But I also like the mix of fun things like the “cry” because it melts and makes it even more interesting.

I am always on the search for the magic ingredient?

Oh, yes! In each and every song. This is my favorite quest. I like to get in a single line and spend an hour on it. It is fascinating. It’s like a treasure hunt.

What has been the highlight of being a pop star?

The most beautiful thing that we had in our pilot of wool, socks. That happened once in Norway and I have never been so happy!

There is a merchandising opportunity for you: Sigrid socks!

In fact, we have socks! For the european parliament, the creative team at Island came up with the idea of having a ” Don’t Kill My Vibe t-shirt, and then a Plot Twist scarf, Fake Friends socks and a Dynamite polo sweater. And they are all real.

How will you keep that going? Will single number 40 be Sigrid meat dress?

Ha! That would be really cool.

Finally, how close are you to finishing your album?

The fact is that I want to be a little bit secretive about it, if this goes well? For me it is very important that when I release it, I’m going to drop it because it’s finished. Not because it’s expected to be out. But I’m aiming for the 2018. It’s very exciting!

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