Norwegian pop star Sigrid on Leonard Cohen, her ‘Justice League’ track and her new sadbanger ‘Strangers’

"My favourite pop tunes are always the ones that makes you wanna cry and dance at the same time."

Norwegian pop star Sigrid had one of the biggest songs of the year so far. ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, a track the 21-year-old wrote after being patronised by two older, male musicians during a songwriting session, was streamed more than 10 million times in just a couple of months and became something of a millennial anthem. She’s written around 40 demos for her in-progress album, has recorded a cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic ‘Everybody Knows’ for the upcoming Justice League superhero movie and is poised to release her massive new sadbanger ‘Strangers’. We phoned her up for a wee chat about how it feels to be on the cusp on greatness.

What does Leonard Cohen’s music mean to you?

 I didn’t grow up listening to him – my parents listened more to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell – but I lived in a flatshare for two years and my flatmate loved Leonard Cohen. He would always play him when he got home from the studio or something. He’s one of the great songwriters of all time, so it’s a huge honour to be able to cover him. You’re always nervous of what people will think when you release something new, but mostly I’m happy that I’m now in the Justice League!

Are you a superhero fan? 

I am – I don’t read the comics but I am a fan of superhero movies. I wasn’t a huge fan of superhero movies before I watched Wonder Woman. That was a really cool film – I really like all the stunts. Wonder Woman is so badass. She’s just as badass as all the guys that have been in superhero films.

You did a photoshoot recently at David Hockney’s old house. Are you an art aficionado? 

The first year I was in London to write music, two years ago, I was on my own a lot and went to art museums all the time. I’m a huge fan of Renaissance art. It’s very direct. They’re paintings that hit you in the face in the same immediate way that a huge pop tune hits you in the face.

‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ became a huge anthem. Did you anticipate the track’s massive success?

I didn’t expect it to go as far as it’s gone and to give me so many opportunities, but I knew that it was a special song. I knew the minute I got out of the studio that it would be an important song for me. I just didn’t know at what scale. One: it was a song that I couldn’t get out of my head. Two: it has an important message. And three: I loved it – I couldn’t get away from it. The song is about not being respected for who you are and I think that has particular resonance to younger people. I get so many people telling me: “I really see myself in this song.” 

People often talk about the song in terms of gender…

I write from personal experience, but we didn’t want that song to be girl against guy or woman against man. Because this is something that young boys can feel as well. Yes, that was written about two older male producers I was working with, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be about that [for the listener].

 You’ve been called “the new Lorde”. How does that feel?

It’s an honour. I love Lorde’s music. She put me on a playlist of music she had been listening to when she recorded her album. I listened a lot to her music while I was making my EP, which is kind of fun. Would I like to collaborate with her? Yeah, sure. If she would be up for, that would be cool. She’s a brilliant songwriter.

Your next single is a sadbanger called ‘Strangers’. Lyrically, what are you saying with that song?

It’s about wanting something to be something that it’s not. A lot of people – especially people my age – want things to be perfect, and therefore you lie to yourself. For instance, you think, “This romantic relationship is so good,” but then it turns out that it’s not. You just wanted it to be. It’s a really, really sad song. My favourite pop tunes – like ‘Dancing on my Own’ by Robyn or ‘Green Light’ by Lorde – are always the ones that makes you wanna cry and dance at the same time.