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’.

Hot Press - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW: ED POWER

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.

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