Interview Astrid S: “I don’t want to work with ‘yes people'”

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Astrid S at Melkweg. Photo by Michiel Vos, A Bit of Pop Music.

Astrid S is a pop star of the online generation. With numerous exciting electro pop tracks to her name, The Norwegian singer and songwriter gained a loyal and active fanbase. To promote her latest EP Party’s Over, she is currently touring all over the world. Before her show in Amsterdam, the lovely Astrid sat down with us to discuss the secret to success of Scandinavian pop, making sense of Britney Spears lyrics as a child and having to swallow some camels. Wait… WHAT!?

So far you released two EPs, but not yet an album. Can we expect one in the near future?
“I haven’t really had the time yet to sit down and make an album. For me it felt more natural to release EPs so far. I’m going back in the studio in January and I will spend three months writing and recording, so hopefully an album will come out of that. I want to take the time to figure out what I want to sound like and how I want things to be.”

That’s exciting! So tell us,with Zara Larsson, Tove Lo, yourself and numerous other Scandinavian international pop stars out there, what is your secret?
“Well, one of my theories is that, because streaming was already really big in Scandinavia early on, earlier than in the States for example, we had the chance to share our music with more listeners. People seem to listen to more music, because it is readily available to stream, so that gave our music extra exposure. It’s really cool that nowadays it does not really matter where you’re from anymore. With your music available online, anyone could be seen and heard. At the same time I do believe girls like Zara Larsson and myself are making quality pop music and we’re hard working.”

Absolutely. You girls keep coming up with one catchy hook after another…
“I think it helps that we are mostly melody driven. Growing up we listen to a lot of American pop music, while we did not know what any of the lyrics meant. When I was a kid, I used to dance around the house singing ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ by Britney Spears. Obviously I had no idea what that song was about back then. Now I know haha!”

We’ve all been there! Which of your songs are you most proud of?
“That’s a tough one, but I have to say ‘Such A Boy’. It was a struggle to write that one because the producer and I disagreed all the time. On the production, the melodies, the lyrics, everything. It wasn’t easy, but in the end it turned out to be a good experience. I don’t want to work with ‘yes people’ in the studio. I might be the artist, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m always right.”

“I might be the artist, but that doesn’t mean I’m always right”

So what does that song mean to you?
“It has made me realize a lot of things. In pop music, there are not a lot of songs out there in which boys are being described as dramatic, while it is always about girls behaving that way. The same goes for real life. To be ‘such a girl’ did get a negative connotation to it, which does not make sense. So I decided I wanted to turn things around with ‘Such A Boy’.”

Did you write it with a specific boy in mind?
“No not one specifically, but believe me when I say I have met a lot of dramatic boys!”

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome in your career so far?
“There definitely have been moments where I had to sit down and figure out if this is what I wanted. If it was worth all the hard work and the camels you have to swallow… (bursts out in laughter) That’s a Norwegian saying! It means something like: the compromises you have to make. But so far, every single time I had this discussion with myself, it was a definite yes in the end.”

How do you motivate yourself to keep going at such a moment?
“Well, take this tour for example. 80% of my time on the road is definitely not that much fun. The travelling can be hard work. But then there is that 20% where I am on stage and get to meet the people who love my music. To see what it means to them, easily makes me want to go through those 80% of boring hours on airplanes and tour buses. You also get used to it. I sometimes forget there is a life outside of this. I don’t even remember the last time I called my mom…”

Do you have any set goals you are working towards in the coming months and years?
“Most important for me is to do this as long as I’m having fun. I feel like my generation is obsessed with being perfectionists, but I’m not. I don’t know if that is a smart thing to say, but I just want to do this as long as I enjoy it and I am not so focused on the size of the venues I play or where my singles chart. For now I just want to enjoy the ride.”

Do you ever fear that at one point it is all going to end?
“I know at some point it will stop being fun for me, maybe in ten years from now. Perhaps I would like to have kids and I still want to study. I haven’t decided on what direction yet as I change my mind every week. Luckily in Norway I can start studying anytime, so I could still become a doctor when I’m 40! I have all the possibilities in the world, but for now this career is so much fun and I think it will stay that way for quite a while longer!”

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