Sigrid Is Already a Pop Expert

Sigrid Is Already a Pop Expert

Before making her New York festival debut at Panorama, the pop phenom opens up to V about songwriting, Robyn, and why Scandinavian pop is so damn good.

Before making her New York festival debut at Panorama, the pop phenom opens up to V about songwriting, Robyn, and why Scandinavian pop is so damn good.

Photography: Luc Coiffait

Styling: Henna Koskinen

Text: Jake Viswanath

As any self-respecting music fan would know, some of the most pristine and immaculate pop tunes come from Scandinavia. From Denmark, the obscenely catchy Euro-pop of Whigfield and organic soundscapes of Oh Land continue to fill our ears. In Sweden, there’s an entire museum justifiably dedicated to their largest pop export, ABBA. And in Norway, a new powerhouse is paving her own way into pop: Sigrid. 

Her home region immediately connects us when I sit down with the rising artist before her set at Panorama, marking her solo New York festival debut. One mention of Scandinavia is all it takes before we gab about perhaps the most important pop event of the year: the return of Robyn. “I’m so excited for that,” she squeals, alongside my own frenzied fangirling. Her eyes light up once again when I inform her that the new single is quite great. 

Swedish sensation Robyn has emerged as a cult pop icon of sorts by creating quirky delights with blush-worthy lyrics and storming dance-pop you can cry to, catering directly to the hearts of true pop aficionados. Sigrid may very well emerge as her Norwegian counterpart. The evidence lies within how well you can remember her songs after only one listen: the empowering punch of “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and pulsating synths of “Strangers”, for starters. She’s only 21, and yet it seems that she has mastered the art of the pop hook better than most. So what’s in the Scandinavian water that turns these singers into pop experts? “Bad weather,” she exclaims. “Bad weather keeps us inside and I think it makes us creative. We don’t really have a lot to do.” 

She had to get crafty to keep herself entertained, and at first, that meant expanding far outside of music. “It took me awhile to figure out that [music] was what I wanted to do. I wanted to do everything else. I wanted to become a lawyer, a teacher, a children’s doctor.” But it seems she was destined to be a musician from an early age. “I started piano when I was seven and got into singing when I was 13, but no one pushed me. No one ever pushed me to do music. I made my own choice. When I was 16, I wrote my first song and that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, this might actually be more than a hobby.’ I loved it. Now, I’ve just been gradually growing into it.”

There are many ways to write pop music, but Sigrid seems to balance them all. At times, she can get personal; often, she’s subtly political. But the music is always universal, relatable, and wrapped in a delectable hook. “I guess that all of my songs come out of personal experiences, but it’s storytelling. It’s never 100 percent exactly right because that would be a boring story,” she says with a laugh. “I remember when I started writing, I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t write about myself because my life is so normal. I don’t have any huge heartbreaks.’ This was in high school, there was nothing. And then I started writing my own stuff and I tried to find some stuff and go with it somewhere, and that was interesting. I’ve just continued with that.”

That being said, she doesn’t think that writers must draw from some sort of tragedy to make great pop music—or that you even have to be sad yourself to make sad music. “That’s something I figured out not that long ago, that having proper time to be relaxed in the right headspace, having a good time, and just being happy is very important when you’re going to write about sad stuff. Because then you’re not afraid to dig deep. Then you can go really hard into difficult stuff and then get out of it and be like ‘That was a song. It was good to get out. I think if you’re not in a happy state, then it’s much more difficult to go there.”

It’s safe to say that Sigrid will go there on her forthcoming debut album—although she won’t spill much about it. “I’m going to stay secretive about it,” she says, laughing. “I don’t want to say it. I’m sorry. You don’t want to jinx yourself.” She does reveal that she’s not fixing what’s not broken. She continues to work with musicians from Norway and draw from the same songwriting process that’s led her to Panorama, where the audience faithfully sings along to songs they barely know, a testament to the power of pop. “I don’t know how I am as a person, but I like to write about things that are a bit dramatic because it’s just more fun to sing. It’s like, rahhh,” she emphasizes with the melodrama of a teenager. But the future could hold anything, and she’s not one to make any predictions. “Obviously, I have some master plan. I am ambitious, but I like to keep things open. There’s something really fun about that too, not knowing. You don’t need to know everything all the time.”

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