Tue Apr 17
The Independent
08:00 PM
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Sigrid is the popstar you’ve been searching for. She might be from a small town in Norway, but she has a mind, attitude and voice bigger than any other 20-year-old. With a silky-gravel to her Norwegian-accent and a smile which often opens into fits of laughter; she personifies ‘cool,’ but doesn’t know it yet, and is worth getting as excited about as when Lorde first appeared with Royals. Born and raised in Ålesund, which sits at the entrance of a UNESCO-protected fjord surrounded by sea and mountains, it was as if Sigrid was always fated to drive the ten minutes across to the neighbouring island of Giske and make musical magic in the idyllic Ocean Sound Recordings – coincidently where much of Sampha's new album was laid down.

With Neil Young’s biggest fan for a father and a mother with a deep rooted love of Joni Mitchell, the importance of great song writing was instilled in Sigrid from the start, her piano lessons charting a path from the tender age of seven. In her early teens she discovered the likes of Coldplay and Adele, and began learning covers before ultimately deciding she’d rather deconstruct the songs; taking parts from here and there, changing the chords and rhythms, and piecing them back together as her own creations. It was her improvised introduction to writing music, and while she was very much a fan, she was more focussed on getting good grades.

So how did she go from learning covers to actually writing her own songs? “My brother!” she smiles. “He forced me!” When Sigrid was 16, her older brother Tellef, also a musician, had a show coming up and with two weeks notice he invited her to open for him – so long as she wrote some original material. Cue Sun, some vocal guidance from her older sister, a successful first performance, and she was soon recording the song at OSR, using session time earned by her choir in exchange for assisting at the studio’s annual festival. Her brother suggested she submit the track to Norway’s version of BBC Introducing and not only was it was picked up, but she was soon announced as their artist to watch. The first song she had ever written resulted in phone calls from managers and labels and if she’s honest (she is), she was a little overwhelmed.

Sigrid was swiftly snapped up by Norwegian indie label Petroleum, also home to her friend Aurora, and attempted to juggle school and music for a while. “It was going so fast and it was amazing getting the attention, it was just so hard to find time for things. I couldn’t do shows. I couldn’t do promo. I had a history test to revise for!” She released a third single with them and it was immediately playlisted on national radio, but she needed time to figure out what she wanted to do and eventually, at 18 - just two years ago - she moved further down the West coast to Bergen where she found herself a part of its burgeoning music scene.

Fast forward to now and following two years of working on her craft, Sigrid has signed to Island Records and is currently splitting her time between Bergen and London. She still counts the music she was raised on as her main influence and already seems destined to occupy a wonderful space somewhere between the slightly leftfield pop of Danish singer MØ and the butterfly-inducing something special of a young Adele. “I guess the key thing that’s always inspired me is just really well written pop songs,” she decides. “Playing piano and singing whatever comes naturally is the best thing for me.”

Sigrid’s debut single Don’t Kill My Vibe was written after she was put in a difficult writing session with some older men who, well, killed her vibe. “They made me feel like I was in the way. I totally got that they might not be excited to work with me, but they didn’t have to be rude!” she explains. “I called my mum and she told me to go back in there and do my best.” She did, and in doing so made a mental note of exactly how she was feeling. “I wish I had just told them, ‘you can’t behave like that’, but I’m not that good at being confrontational. I’d rather back away and write about it later on.” Thank god she did, because the result is a completely addictive pop banger produced by Martin Sjølie, full of playful melodies, a huge chorus and the perfect dose of “hey!”

The rest of Sigrid’s yet unnamed debut EP, due 7th April, is a window into what's to come from the precocious popstar. All very much autobiographical, the record features the just as impressive Fake Friends, which is also produced by Sjølie and as empowering as the lead. Dynamite is a powerful and heartstring-tugging ballad (she can do those too - really well) about her terrible love life, and Plot Twist is about a certain guy who played a certain role in the former. With dynamic range and impressive control, her vocals reach powerful raspy heights with flashes of Hometown Glory-era Adele throughout.

Already best friends with her new band, she can currently count the number of live shows they’ve done together on one hand (The Great Escape will be their first UK show), with an abundance of idiosyncratic energy, the synergy between the band and Sigrid is matured beyond their years. “I like the challenge,” she laughs. “People stand with their arms crossed and if I can get them to move then I’ve won.”

Looking further into the future and aside from daydreams of computer game syncs (“The Sims was my childhood. I wanna sing a song in Simlish!”) And fantasy dinner parties, (“I’d invite Taylor Swift’s cat”) Sigrid can’t help but look back to that island, “I think my dream is to buy a house on Giske and live there with my cat. Seriously, it would be so cool to invite people over to write music and then bike over to the studio together to record it.” But until then, she’s got an arsenal of killer pop tunes to drop. Just don’t kill her vibe.


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