FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
It’s been 12 months of sustained highs for Nordic chart-topper SIGRID. As she accepts Hot Press’s Female Artist Of The Year accolade, she talks about blubbing with joy at Electric Picnic, and foreshadowing #MeToo with break-out smash ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’.
Nordic chart-topper Sigrid talks about blubbing with joy at Electric Picnic, and foreshadowing #MeToo with breakout smash ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’.
IN A YEAR OF CLOUDSCRAPING success, it’s the tears Sigrid recalls most clearly. The ‘Strangers’ chart-topper took to the stage at Electric Picnic’s Electric Arena last September and was immediately blown away by the love emanating from the capacity crowd. Halfway through her set – her second at the festival, following a surprise turn at the Other Voices stage – she was openly weeping with joy.
“I don’t think I’ve cried that much at a gig before,” she tells Hot Press, as she receives her Female Artist of the Year accolade (right now you should have a mental image of her awkwardly accepting a massive wedge of Waterford Crystal, as we gingerly shake-hands and Marty Morrissey prepares to spring in with a follow-up question).
“I was taken aback. I felt such a sense of being home. That’s not something I feel a lot when I’m travelling. People were cheering and it meant everything.”
Sigrid is the pop star we desperately need. With her sensible jeans and oversized running shoes, she dresses like an average person, yet somehow imbues the lack of affect with impossible glamor. Her music is in much the same vein – stripped down, no-nonsense, with a melodic punch that knocks you sideways and make you see stars.
The last time Hot Press spoke to the resident of Bergen in Norway, she’d just won the BBC Sound Of poll for 2018. The award is bestowed by the great and the good of British music criticism on the artist they regard as best placed to break through in the 12 months to come.
Because nothing in life is so unpredictable as pop, the Sound Of… track record is spectacularly patchy. Previous top tips have included Adele and Florence and the Machine. But there have been a few busts too – whither Daisy Dares You, Delphic or Frank Music today?
Sigrid, though, has more than justified the hype. She’s the queen of streaming – ‘Strangers’ has 60 million plays on Spotify alone, ‘Don’t
Kill My Vibe’ 38 million. And, after selling out the Academy, and Olympia, she’ll be back in 2019 to play the 14,000 capacity 3Arena in November. She isn’t headed for the big-time. She’s already arrived.
Creatively this presents problems. Heartache and despair are the fuel that has driven her songwriting. But now all is well with her world. She does sometimes fret about running out of inspiration.
“You can always channel your inner emo,” Sigrid said in an earlier interview. “Light some candles, turn down the lights, shed a tear. But yeah, I’m very happy now, so I’m wondering what I should write about. Because when stuff happens like the BBC thing: ‘Oh shit, nothing very sad to write about.’”
She tries not to make a big deal about her “young person next door” image. Sigrid choses the outfits she does because she wants to be comfortable on stage. How can you be more at ease than by dressing as you do in the real world?
“In my daily life, I wear big jumpers, jeans and T-shirts and sneakers,” she said to The Guardian. “I think for me being on stage, the most important thing is that I’m comfortable in what I’m wearing and that I’m able to move in my clothes.
“Sometimes it’s really weird being an artist, and I deal with that best by being myself,” she added. “And if I can see myself in everything we do: if I can recognise my face, I recognise the outfits, I recognise the artwork, the songs… I don’t like to do a lot with my voice in recordings and stuff, keep it as pure as possible. Keep it raw, keep it honest. I don’t see a reason for why not. Why should I give control away to someone else?”
She is just 23 and, with her clear skin and cheerful manner, could pass for younger. But there is a steeliness that belies her youth. And while she is polite – no pop strops here – it’s obvious she won’t be pushed around.
Sigrid was certainly prepared to stand her ground when encouraged to collaborate with two middled-aged male songwriters several years ago. Bunkered down in the studio with these raging musos, she was taken aback by how readily they dismissed her ideas. Out of this came ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ – a banger about standing up for what you believe, which is applicable to almost any personal dynamic but which speaks, in particular, to Sigrid’s introductory experiences of the music business.
‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ was released in
February 2017 – months before the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the emergence of the #MeToo movement. In many ways, Sigrid was singing about issues later highlighted by #MeToo – male condescension, the expectation that women, in entertainment especially, should know their “place”.
“#MeToo should have happened a long time ago,” she tells Hot Press. “It was funny that people were surprised it was happening. As in, ‘Seriously – you didn’t think these things have been going on for a very long time?’ I’m a mix of happy, shocked and disgusted. But also empowered by all of these stories. It is definitely time for change.
“‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ was a comment on that fact I was feeling patronised. My opinions weren’t being treated well. I didn’t plan for the song to come out just before the whole movement. I remember being shocked at how I was dismissed. In my family, my mom is as opinionated as me. I grew up with all these very strong females. We have a family tradition of open discussion. I was a bit put off that my opinion wasn’t being taken well. I thought, ‘That’s weird’. I called my mum about it and she was like, ‘Oh fuck’. I’m happy I wrote that song. I was just so pissed off.” Sigrid’s debut album will be released next year. She plays 3Arena, Dublin on November 22, 2019.