Interview: Sigrid on her 'Don't Kill My Vibe' EP, playing Auckland City Limits, and songwriting.

Since captivating listeners around the world with her commanding debut single ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, Norwegian singer Sigrid has continued to astound with her follow-up releases - the sassy ‘Plot Twist’ and ‘Fake Friends’, and the more stripped back ‘Dynamite’, which all together make up the EP.

With an impending New Zealand visit planned (as part of Auckland City Limits Festival next March), we spoke with Sigrid about her ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ EP, her upcoming visit to our shores, and her unreleased music…

...you shouldn’t be afraid of speaking up. I hope that songs like ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ for instance, can inspire people to do that. You, or we, shouldn’t play by rules that were made several years ago - it’s time to change those kinds of norms.

COUP DE MAIN: So Aurora played in New Zealand at the beginning of the year, Astrid S was just here, and now you’re coming next March! The Norwegian pop artists are really making their mark in New Zealand - and we’re so super excited to see you live. Are you excited to visit NZ for the first time ever?
SIGRID: I can’t wait! Yes! I’ve heard the nature is incredible. So yes, I’m super excited to come visit over there.

CDM: You’re playing Auckland City Limits festival, are you familiar with any of the other artists on the line-up?
SIGRID: I haven’t gotten the chance to check it out yet, do you have any inside information?
CDM: Oh Wonder are playing.
SIGRID: Oh yeah! I remember that, we talked about this actually. We just finished touring with them in Europe, and that was really fun. We talked about how we’re going to get a reunion at the festival.

CDM: You’ve been playing a lot of new songs recently - such as ‘In Vain’, ‘Raw’, and ‘Doing You A Favour’ - are there any new songs that you’re particularly excited about playing at the moment?
SIGRID: The ones you mentioned, I really like playing them. I think ‘In Vain’ is probably my favourite song, because it’s very weird - it’s a weird build-up song, you don’t expect the drop at the end to come. I love it every time it happens. That’s probably my favourite.

CDM: I watched a live video of ‘Credit’ and it’s SUCH a jam. Can you pretty please play it in New Zealand?
SIGRID: Argghhh! Yes. We will play that one.
CDM: The “I was just being polite” bit is so sassy, I love it.
SIGRID: I know. That was funny. It was a really fun song to write.

CDM: Is there a Sigrid debut album on the way that you can tell us about at the moment?
SIGRID: I can’t say a lot about it, but there is an album on the way. I’m working a lot in the studio in between touring and promo and stuff. I’m always coming up with new ideas as well.

CDM Your song ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is SO powerful, it’s really commanding in its message. You’ve spoken super openly about the inspiration for that song, and how it’s particularly something that occurs because of your gender. You spoke with The Telegraph about the perception of women as bitchy or bossy when they’re just doing their job, and how men don’t receive the same level of judgement. How do you think young women can learn to assert themselves, and be powerful in themselves?
SIGRID: I think you shouldn’t be afraid of speaking up. I hope that songs like ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ for instance, can inspire people to do that. You, or we, shouldn’t play by rules that were made several years ago - it’s time to change those kinds of norms. For instance, when you’re being told you’re bitchy or bossy when you’re just doing your job - it shouldn’t be like that. Rule number one, when you see situations where you see girls or boys being mistreated, or you see something uncool is happening, speak up. The person is most likely going to be very happy for you doing it. And speak up for yourself. Just be nice to each other, and let people be themselves. Let people grow.

CDM: I love ‘Plot Twist’ - you open the song with the line, “I thought you were someone to trust.” Do you think trust is one of the most important things in human relationships?
SIGRID: I think so. I think being honest with each other and being able to talk about difficult stuff, which means you trust each other, that’s the basic thing you need in a relationship, and I trust all my friends. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I have they’re really, really close to me.

CDM: I think it’s almost better to have it that way, than to have heaps of friends who aren’t as close?
SIGRID: I prefer it that way! I don’t know, people like different things. But for me, it’s better to have it that way. I have some very, very close friends from high school - we stay close, we hang out as much as we can.

CDM: You’re very busy now, so you probably don’t have heaps of spare time…
SIGRID: <laughs> That’s true. But they don’t live in our hometown, they all study in Oslo. So they live in another city, the capital of Norway. So whenever I’m there, I visit them.

CDM: I love the line, “It's better to walk away than to run with fake friends,” in ‘Fake Friends’ - how do you think people can identify fake friends in their lives?
SIGRID: Thank you! Well that line for me, it means that even though it can be difficult to break up a relationship, walking is a slower pace than running, so it’s better to walk for a minute. It’s difficult getting over heartbreak, whether that be friendships, or a proper romantic relationship, but it’s better to do that for a while than be-- This sounds like a cliché, but be true to who you are, and what you want in your life, instead of experiencing everything fast, and thinking you get everything you want with fake friends. It’s really funny, because sometimes writing songs can be very intricate and you spend a lot of time on details, and sometimes you come up with a cool line and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that sounds good.’ It’s funny because ‘Fake Friends’ is one of those songs where, I wouldn’t say that I’ve never had fake friends, it’s just that it sounded really good, so I wanted to use it. So that’s probably one of the songs that are not that personal.

CDM: Your EP features an acoustic version of the song ‘Dynamite’ - was there a reason behind releasing the acoustic version only?
SIGRID: Well, that’s the way we wrote it. I love that version, I think it’s a very strong version because it’s only piano and vocals, and I wanted it to sound like that.

 

we played in a kitchen and a church in Ireland yesterday.

A post shared by Sigrid (@thisissigrid) on

CDM: Back in February of this year, you told i-D that you wanted to have a song on ‘The Sims’ soundtrack - and now your dream has come true, with ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ being done in Simlish! What was that experience like?
SIGRID: Yes! That was amazing. That is one of my biggest childhood dreams, was getting my song in a computer game. And ‘The Sims’ is my favourite game on the planet. It was really cool, I think I screamed when I got the message that it was happening, and it was the funniest recording session I’ve ever been a part of. The cool thing is that I actually recorded vocals for ‘The Sims’ thing together with O. Martin who I did the ‘Justice League’ track with as well, with ‘Everybody Knows’.

CDM: Was he also in Aurora’s band? I remember she told me about him!
SIGRID: Yes! He was the guitarist. He produces a lot too. He just released a record for his other band called Strange Hellos, it’s really good.

CDM: Astrid S is in our new issue and I know you guys are friends - what’s your favourite Astrid S song and why?
SIGRID: Oohhh. I think it is ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’, I just think it’s a beautiful song, it’s from her self-titled EP. I saw myself in that, I recognised myself in that song, it’s just heartbreaking. I love that one. And then I love of course, ‘Such A Boy’, it’s such a banger. It’s really good.

CDM: What was it like working with your brother on ‘Sister’?
SIGRID: That was fun, that was really cool. I remember we were back home, they were recording in Ocean Sound Recordings, which is a beautiful studio outside our hometown. It’s situated in the middle of the ocean, it’s beautiful scenery, lots of nature around it. He was there with his band and they were recording. He asked me to do some backing vocals, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll join,’ and then it turned out with me featuring on the song which was really cool. It’s my honour to feature with my brother. I’m very proud of him, and I love the album, it’s really good.

CDM: I know you’re a fan of Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze - do you find film and television influencing your writing at all?
SIGRID: I think so! This is a bit embarrassing, but I’ve watched seven seasons of ‘Mad Men’... <laughs> I’ve figured out Netflix has this thing where you can download offline now, so I can watch it on airplanes. So I think me watching seven seasons of ‘Mad Men’ kind of is a symbol of how much time I spend in airports and on flights - I watch it a lot on flights. So it’s been really fun. But I think actually some of those episodes must have inspired me, and whenever I hear, ‘That’s a good line,’ I think about it when they say cool stuff. And of course when I watch movies, it inspires me. But what inspires me the most is probably when things happen in my own life.

CDM: You contributed your new song ‘Strangers’, as well as a Leonard Cohen cover to the ‘Justice League’ soundtrack - how did that come about?
SIGRID: It was a really fun process. I got a very mysterious e-mail from my label saying, ‘We have this sync opportunity,’ but they couldn’t say anything - they could just say they wanted me to make a demo cover of ‘Everybody Knows’ by Leonard Cohen, and it was for an upcoming action movie coming out in 2017. So I got it and was like, ‘Hmmm, alright let’s try it.’ So I went in with O. Martin again, because when I saw the pitch ‘action movie’, I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s gotta be O. Martin, we can do something cool.’ It was really fun. It was very intriguing not knowing what movie it was for, because then we needed to use our imagination. It was really cool, the process of guessing what movie this could be. <laughs> We were on the phone with the writer later, Joss Whedon, which was really nice, we just talked about what we could change in the production - but we didn’t, the song you can hear in the movie is very similar to the demo we made the first day. It was a very cool and organic process.

 

@vevo has chosen me as one of their «artists to watch» for 2018thank you

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CDM: I know you enjoy working with other songwriters - is there anyone you’d love to write with that you haven’t already worked with?
SIGRID: Well, yes! There is. Would love to write with Astrid S, that would be really cool. It would be really cool to work with Julia Michaels one day, I’m a huge fan of her work.

CDM: How do you approach new sessions with writers you’ve never worked with before? Do you know instantly if the session is gonna be successful?
SIGRID: <laughs> I like seeing what happens when you come in, that’s usually when you get the non-calculated songs, the songs that come straight from the heart, from the nerves. I like that. I always start with just drinking coffee and talking. For me, writing sessions are 80% talking and 20% actually writing. I think it’s easier for me to write when I have a clear vision in my head of what the message of the song is - what are you trying to convey, what is the big theme? When you know that, and you’ve talked a lot about the details of the history, and then you maybe go out for two minutes for air and then come back in, all those details are stuck in your head. Then when you start humming and improvising over a beat or over the piano, I think that’s when you get the best lines.

CDM: What’s your ideal writing environment?
SIGRID: A cozy environment. The environment is that it’s all about chemistry. When it comes to the physical environment, I love writing with upright pianos, organic pianos. I love that. It gives me a very homey and cozy feeling, because we had that in my childhood home. I actually prefer upright pianos over big grand pianos. Grand pianos are cool too, but not the same.

CDM: Do you have a favourite song lyrically, that you’ve written so far?
SIGRID: Good question. I really like the lyrics of ‘Strangers’, they mean something to me. There’s this song we have that’s called ‘Savage In Our Blood’, which I actually wrote with O. Martin as well! I really like the lyrics of that one. We play it live.

CDM: What do you think is the best pop song of all time?
SIGRID: Oohhh, that’s a difficult question. This is hard. I want to say ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt. I’m a sucker for those songs. That’s my favourite, probably. I discovered it actually though Bon Iver doing a live session. So that's probably my favourite - I can’t decide if I like Bonnie Raitt’s version or Bon Iver’s version the most. Both of them are great - beautiful, heartbreaking.

CDM: If S.I.G.R.I.D. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
SIGRID: Ahhh! Sweet, Intelligent maybe? G for goofy. R, god, I wish this was in Norwegian and not in English - Raaaaa, I don’t know. Raw! I have a song called ‘Raw’. Oh my god, I feel stupid now! It’s an interesting challenge. I have no idea. Does it have to describe me?
CDM: It can be anything that comes to mind.
SIGRID: Oh, Irritating! And I don’t know what diligent means but that was the first thing I could come up with.

Sigrid's new single 'Strangers' is out now - click here to purchase, and watch the music video below...