The other week, Sigrid went to a park.
The rising Norwegian pop star had been touring for a while, and the cities were beginning to blur. “It’s a very intense profession,” she says. “You’re always on.”
So, when her taxi passed a park on the way to another hotel, she asked the driver to stop. “I thought, ‘Why am I going to hang out in a hotel for a few hours, when I can go to a park?’ I just walked around and I met an old guy and a dog, and I cuddled with the dog. It was great. What a joy to do something like that!”
The 22-year-old singer has been looking for ways to be spontaneous lately as her career takes off in earnest. She arrived on the scene seemingly fully-formed about two years ago, with the maddeningly catchy “Don’t Kill My Vibe.” From there, the streaming hits kept coming. Sigrid is undeniably a pop singer, but the music she makes is often several steps removed from what’s driving the charts at the moment. Instead of the trap drums employed (to great effect) by Ariana Grande and co., Sigrid opts for the straightforwardly anthemic. It’s the kind of stuff that would have torn up Hype Machine a decade ago.
“I’m very proud of being in the pop music scene, because you can do so many things within pop,” she says. (She’s also sure to mention that she loves Ariana.) “I get inspired by country music, pop music, rap, hip-hop, jazz, classic, house, rock — everything. I try to just make the music I feel like making.”
“Don’t Kill My Vibe” gave way to “Strangers,” Sigrid’s most popular song to date (it has over 75 million streams on Spotify) and the centerpiece of her debut album, Sucker Punch, which was released this March. It is, true to form, an impossible-to-get-out-of-your-head feat, and with it came the audience, the touring and the festival stages.
“I never thought about doing music,” she says. “I just didn’t have the thought — I didn’t know a music industry existed. And then I grew up.”
Sigrid is from a small city called Ålesund on the west coast of Norway, and she got her start in a decidedly old-fashioned way, through radio and gigs. She credits her first break as a feature on “The Norwegian equivalent of ‘BBC Radio 1 Introducing,'” and her first show with her current band was three years ago at a music festival in Bergen — “it’s sort of like a South By Southwest, but for Norway?” Along the way, she quit music for a year to focus on finishing school. From there came the label deal and songwriting camps and, not long after, the frenetic star-making pace of the internet.
When she began to make Sucker Punch, Sigrid didn’t change up the formula. “I just wanted to put out a collection of my favorite songs,” she says. “It’s a little piece of my brain.”
Even the title of the album wasn’t pre-determined — she just thought the title track had the best title. “I love that song — it’s about just going for something,” she says. “The reason I chose it as the title track is I needed a word that would summarize the whole thing. I think every single song is very opinionated, it’s all out there. It’s unapologetic music.”
It’s clear that, now, Sigrid is looking at being a pop star as a job. She describes it as a career, and is quick to repeat that she loves her life (“I get to get up every day and do what I want to do”), but adds that “there’s always a mix of emotions, a mix of thoughts.”
“In my profession, I do a lot of the same things,” she says. “I go to gigs, I do interviews, I do music videos. I do a lot of things, and I do them quite frequently, quite often.” In part to counter that, she’s developed an idiosyncratic approach to dancing along to her songs onstage (imagine a lot more finger guns than you’re imagining). “I have a few go-to moves,” she laughs.
“It’s so important to me to keep something — I can go up on stage and do whatever the fuck I want to do,” she says. “I’ll just feel it on the day. And it’s become a running thing for me. I need to know I can do whatever I feel that day.”