Girl In Red at Reading Festival 2021: “I’ve exchanged words with Taylor Swift – I adore her”

The Norwegian queer-pop sensation tells us about new romance, new material, supporting Billie Eilish and her love of Haribo

It’s the final day of Reading & Leeds 2021 and while we’re all a little weary, the energy that the crowd has reserved for Girl In Red‘s closing set on the Festival Republic stage rivals pretty much any audience reaction we’ve seen all weekend. Marie Ulven feels it too, spending almost as time in the crowd in the arms of her loving fans as she does on stage at first. Speaking to NME backstage just before the show, she tells how she saw it all coming.

“Leeds was fucking insane, the crowd was lit,” she says. “I stage-dived. I was just mosh-pitting. It was just a really good time. Everyone’s telling me that Reading is going to be more insane, so hopefully I’m going to be able to shake the crowd tonight as well.”

This weekend mark Girl In Red’s first shows since before the pandemic, and the first chance to hear tracks for her effervescent 2021 debut album ‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet‘ – with the queer-pop anthems of angst, depression, young love and shameless lust all coming into their own in the live realm. “They’re definitely getting a new life and I’m going to make sure it’s a good one,” she laughs. “I’m a parent, you know. I’m a stage mom, at heart.”


Girl In Red at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME
Girl In Red at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

She’s always had a very close relationship to her followers online, but does she feel closer to them having given so much of herself away through her raw and honest songs?

“I don’t know if it has changed because I haven’t been able to see my fans in real life,” she replies. “I feel like people are seeing a different side to my songwriting and production. People are getting to know me better, they’re getting to know me better as an artist, which is interesting.

“I’m already working on new stuff, I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen. Life is so weird, dude. Two months ago, I didn’t have someone that I was into romantically – now I do. Two months ago I was a completely different person, just like you probably were.”

The last time NME spoke to Ulven, she told us how she had already been “working on new sounds” and was “low-key bored of singles”, hell-bent on having another full record to drop soon. How’s that been going?

“I’m working on those sounds still,” she says. “I still don’t think singles are that interesting. I honestly don’t even know at this point. Whatever comes to mind, happens. I’m not going to set any parameters of what I do and don’t like. I’m just sitting by the keyboard, making some tunes and some weird sounds.


“It’s not gonna be metal and it’s not gonna be bedroom pop, but it’s gonna be Girl In Red. Even this last record, I don’t even know what that is.”

Girl In Red at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME
Girl In Red at Reading 2021. Credit: Emma Viola Lilja for NME

We can’t wait, and we’re not alone. Girl In Red’s star has been rapidly of late, even receiving the stamp of approval from Taylor Swift.

“I love you Taylor! She knows that very well,” Ulven tells us today. Does this mean they’ve been DMing each other?

“Yep, I’ve exchanged words with her. I would say we are very much strangers, but I adore her and she knows I adore her. She could slit my throat and I’d still be like, ‘I love you! Don’t kill me’.”

Another famous fan is Billie Eilish. After her brother and producer Finneas collaborated with Marie on the bittersweet hyper-pop of her single ‘Seratonin‘, Eilish picked her to support her at an upcoming show at The O2 in London.

“My manager called me up and told me that this was something we were going to do and I was like, ‘Oh my Lord!’” says Ulven. “I’m really stoked about that. I think it’s going to be so cool. We need to put on a really good show, not just a normal good show but something insane.”

Should we expect an on-stage team-up with Finneas on the night?

“He’ll already be playing another show, but I don’t think I’m gonna bring him out,” says Ulven. “It’s going to be a one-off show for me, but they probably have some crazy cool ritual of taking care of themselves. I’m going to be flying home hungover, regretting everything I said. I’m going to have drunk anxiety!”

Watch our full video interview with Girl In Red above, where she also tells us about her backstage rituals, what’s on her rider, her favourite Haribo, her dog’s growing jealousy and her remaining plans for 2021.

Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.