Do you have any idea how long it took us to pin Sigrid down for this chat? It was months, you guys. However in demand she is now, it’s only going to get more nuts in 2018.
Four minutes into our international phone call and Sigrid is already humming the infectious hook to her chart-climbing banger ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’. It’s a melody that people all over the world would recognise, even 700 miles away from her native Norway via shaky phone line. This is a track that’s been streamed more than 23 million times on Spotify alone, and has found its way onto Lorde’s playlist ‘Homemade Dynamite.’
“It was in the studio with Martin Sjøllie,” she remembers, picturing the scene of Don’t Kill My Vibe’s conception. “We were playing the piano, and I was humming [it], and we were like, ‘Woah – this needs big production’.”
Humming. That’s what it took to take this 21-year-old from young Norwegian hope, to pop world darling-in-waiting. “I need to hum!” she laughs. And thank god she does. Sigrid Solbakk Raabe’s humming is producing some wonderful results.
The ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ EP is one of many to come. The title track, which charted in seven countries, is Sigrid’s “favourite to perform.” It’s “an empowering tune and feel-good anthem: when people hear it they start smiling!”
Hailed a millennial anthem for its determined resilience and whip-smart rebuff (“You think you’re so important to me, don’t you?”), ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is “a happy song”, but it’s a happy song that, Sigrid argues, “has some grit to it.”
“I have this mantra about getting something positive out of something negative,” she says, referring in part to the experience that inspired her lyrics: Sigrid’s meeting with a condescending group of bullish male producers. The result is a soaring diss track buoyed up on soaring synth and a trap style beat.
On the flip side, sadder songs such as new single ‘Strangers’ – about “the search for perfection; wanting something to be something it’s not” - is plenty upbeat. Of dynamic tracks with diverse content such as these, Sigrid is the queen. “I want my music to be something that you have to react to in some way; the type of pop that says something. I want the whole spectrum. I want to make very emotional pop that hits your nervous system.”
With her debut EP at Island Records, this pop star has already identified, fulfilled and exceeded her brief. Her tunes have pulled thousands to live shows, which have engorged exponentially. To use London as an example: headline appearances have increased from Hoxton Kitchen to a twice sold-out Scala, to the 2,000 person capacity Shepherd’s Bush she will play in March. “Madness” – that pause again as Sigrid considers – then: “crazy.”
Sigrid doesn’t mind if you don’t like her music: “Having people react in some way because it’s ‘in your face’” is preferable to apathy, after all. Of herself though, this star expects a lot. After all, this is a woman who wrote her first song at 16.
Her focus is just another reason for her readymade stardom. Case in point: when I ask which artists she enjoyed most at the many festivals she attended in 2017, she is sheepish in her reply: “I didn’t really see a lot of shows because when I’m playing one myself, I prefer silence afterwards… I just want to go back to the hotel and sleep.”
The reason behind such a sensible schedule? “I use so much energy on stage!” she says, her grin evident even over the phone. To see Sigrid in concert is to understand the sharp increase in attendees at her live shows. Dressed in mostly jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts, Sigrid bounces across the stage with fiery pep, delivering her lyrics with startling honesty.
Clad in her uniform of sober casualwear, acoustic sessions carry a similar vitality. Her piano session for Radio 1 this year prove that ballads are putty in Sigrid’s capable hands. Her vocals in EP track ‘Dynamite’ take us on a journey: listen live and just try to resist the hairs at the nape of your neck and the goosebumps on your arms.
“It’s weird opening your diary with people, but it’s a great thing as well: I get adrenaline from writing about my own experience,” Sigrid says of the themes that run through her material: “I find it easier to write about myself.”
Combined with that humming, it’s a winning formula. As we go to print, the songstress has 63k Instagram followers. Her comments are filled with emoji-laden messages of support and love. “It’s crazy to say that I have fans,” she says shyly. But she does. And a lot of them.
This incredulity, as well as a fear of fame “going to your head”, make me think that Sigrid hasn’t exactly considered the enormity of her new position in the ever-quickening slipstream towards mega-stardom. She sincerely repeats sentiments of gratitude and thanks at several points throughout the interview, as though her new life writing, collaborating, and performing hasn’t quite sunk in.
But who can blame her? Though her early releases gained recognition in her home country of Norway, it’s only in the past year that things have taken off on an international scale. Critical reception of her EP, and in particular, her single ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, has been overwhelmingly positive. She fulfilled a “childhood dream” when she played Glastonbury’s Park Stage in July. But if 2017 was Sigrid’s year, 2018 is going to be the beginning of the Sigrid era.
For starters, “there will be an album.” Though we know for sure that it’s coming in 2018 (and that it’ll be full of bangers), details are either secret or in early stages of development. At the dawning of the eleventh month, Sigrid is “in the middle of choosing the tracks for the album.” She might even write some new ones.
That electricity that emanates from her voice crackles on the subject of next year: “My calendar is full,” she points out; a quite needless clarification when you consider the exertion of writing and perfecting an album, a UK tour in March, and an inevitable flood of offers to play yet more festivals, radio shows and television slots around the world.
To take on the year in which Sigrid will be cemented as a household name, her plan of attack will not change. “I don’t do New Years Resolutions,” she insists stubbornly: “I’m going to stay the same.”
“My goal is to keep writing music for the rest of my life,” she continues, “and if people let me do it, I’m very lucky and honoured for the opportunity.”
Confident, charismatic, talented and determined, Sigrid has the voice, the demeanour and the Scandinavian beauty that predilects her for superstardom. As such, she’s going to push on, unforgivably herself: “I’m gonna be me,” she says, “I think that’s enough.”
2018’s pop heroine; we certainly agree.
Taken from the December 2017 / January 2018 issue of Dork, out now. Order a copy here.