Norwegian pop provocateur with tunes to inspire a revolution
In 2017, more than ever, we need pop stars like Sigrid. With tumultuous times seemingly around every corner and a need for young people to find their voice and use it, the 20-year-old’s majestic debut single ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is an anthem for those ready to fight back.
Built around a bombastic chorus, the song features stinging ripostes to those who belittle others, and several self- celebratory calls-to-arms (“I’m young / I don’t care / I won’t quit”). “It was inspired by a previous writing session I’d been in where I was degraded by an older producer and not even wanted in the room,” she says. “I was so p**sed off at myself for not speaking up at the time, so that experience triggered this outpouring.” The song became a viral hit when it was released in February, racking up millions of streams and even getting the nod of approval from ’70s-legend-turned-new-music- tastemaker Elton John.
Her upcoming debut EP – which features slices of vibrant MØ-esque synthpop (‘Plot Twist’) and a heartrending ballad (‘Dynamite’) that Adele would probably weep at – is similarly upfront. Like on the brutally honest ‘Fake Friends’, where she calls out two-faced pals. But she doesn’t consider ‘confrontational’ a personality trait just yet. “I definitely think I’m a lot harsher and meaner as a singer and a songwriter,” she says. “I’ve not always been that fond of arguments in person, so I prefer to write about those feelings rather than screaming in someone’s face. For now…”
A few years ago, though, Sigrid Raabe wasn’t even fond of songwriting. She grew up in the small town of Ålesund, Norway, merely dabbling in theatre at school and hellbent on becoming a doctor or a lawyer, not a performer. It wasn’t until she was 16 that her older brother unlocked her pop star potential. “He’s a musician too and was playing a show in town the next day, where I was going to be doing backing vocals with him. He wanted to perform a new original song and said I had to write him one in 24 hours! I’d studied poetry for a bit, so I thought I might be OK, but this was on another level.” She got the hang of it sharpish and, just over a year later, in 2013, her demo ‘Sun’ found its way onto Norwegian national radio. “It was at that point I really fell in love with the whole process of making music, and was like, ‘Uh-oh, I want to do this a lot more.’”
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With the passion unearthed and the stage for stardom set, Sigrid is ready to keep calling things as she sees them – and not just for her own benefit. “It can be so hard for young girls and boys to speak up sometimes,” she says. “But if you do it from the heart and stand for what you believe is right, that’s all that matters.” If her contemporaries start taking their cues from pop stars like Sigrid, we might just be alright.
From: Ålesund, Norway
Buy: Single ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is out now
Live: The Deaf Institute, Manchester (May 15), The Great Escape, Brighton (May 18-20), Latitude Festival, Suffolk (July 14-16)
Best Track: ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ – What else? Sigrid’s belting pop banger was a debut like few others.
Strange But True: At age 17, Sigrid started a musical project with her sister and named it after their dead cat, Sala.
For Fans Of: Lorde, Aurora