Studious Wonderland readers (slackers, get it together) will recall Norwegian singer Astrid S from her acoustic version of “Hyde“, premiered exclusively on this little slice of the Internet. Now, she returns with latest single “Hurts So Good”, a sublime pop track both euphoric and heartrending in its account of a painful relationship that feels too good to let go.
Astrid has long since transcended her career origins as a contestant on Norwegian Pop Idol. With a string of hits under her belt – including “2AM” and “Running Out” alongside the aforementioned “Hyde” – she’s exceeded 100 million Spotify streams, clinched the 2015 MTV EMA for Best Norwegian Act and featured on Avicii’s “Waiting For Love” EP. She’s currently wrapping up a tour with musician and online sensation Troye Sivan, joining him for his European shows.
This month sees the release of her first, self-titled, EP, comprising five tracks of sheer ethereal perfection; it’s headed by first single “Paper Thin” for which she released a dreamy watercolour lyric video. Accompanying latest track “Hurts So Good”, meanwhile, is a gorgeously cinematic video, filmed in a summer house outside of Stockholm and embellished with luminous special effects.
We’d recommend sticking your headphones in, turning them up to just under hearing damage-inducing levels, locking potentially irritating flatmates/family members/cats out of the room and surrendering yourself completely to the EP. And when you’re done? Read our interview with the lady herself below.
You sing, write and play piano and guitar – when did your love for music begin, and when did you realise you wanted to make a career of it?
I’ve always loved music. My parents played music non stop as I was growing up, and I guess music has always just made me feel good. All of the best memories I have from my childhood are in some way musically related: going to concerts, singing with my dad in the car, trying out playing an instrument for the first time…but I never planned on making a career of it. Of course I wanted to be like Britney Spears and Hannah Montana when I was 11, but I never actually thought about actually wanting to be it for a living. I went to a sporty high school and had planned on joining the army after high school (which is a really popular thing to do in Norway). But after I was in Norwegian Pop Idol it just really hit me how much I cared about music and how I felt like this was something I was born to do. It is clichéd…but it’s true!
Was “Hurts So Good” inspired by personal experience?
No, not for me, but I can still relate to it – I think a lot of people can. It is simply about wanting to be with someone, but it doesn’t work, or you’re just not good for each other. Maybe they’re right person at the wrong time. I kind of picture these magnets when I sing the lyrics: you know how there are two poles – one plus and one minus? If you put minus and minus together, it won’t click. I don’t know if it makes sense, but it’s about having this attraction to someone but not being able to get together.
“Hurts So Good” continues the theme of vulnerability we saw in “Paper Thin”, the first single from the EP. Was this a conscious theme?
No. I actually would say both “Paper Thin” and “Hurts So Good” are very empowering songs. Paper Thin is about embracing your flaws, letting down your guard. Kind of saying that it’s not about being vulnerable, but strong! The strongest and most confident people I know aren’t afraid of showing their flaws or being honest about making a mistake. I guess with “Paper Thin” I’m trying to say that vulnerability makes you strong…and that might be a little similar to the theme in “Hurts So Good”, too.
Tell us about the video for “Hurts So Good”. What inspired it? Did you enjoy making it?
I loved doing that video! I made it with the Swedish director Andreas Öhman, who was amazing to work with. We wanted to do something different, with a little acting but also keeping it very simple. I’ve always wanted to act a bit, so it was a lot of fun to try it for the first time. Nothing spectacular of course. And honestly, it was a little uncomfortable. Especially because a lot of the scenes were going to have special effects put on afterwards, and I had no idea what it would end up looking like. The special effects are supposed to show this bond between someone…electrical or like a magnet.
We want to know EVERYTHING about touring with Troye Sivan.
IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. I never expected it to turn out the way it did. Troye and his crew are the kindest people! They are so friendly, and we’ve hung out a lot on this tour. Not to mention his fans! They are so supportive, and I can’t thank them enough for making this tour so much fun for me. They danced and clap their hands. Some of them even have posters of me and sing along to my lyrics.
Your headline New York show sold out in just one day – nervous? Excited?
Very excited! And nervous too of course, now that I’m used to Troye’s amazing fan-crowd. I don’t think it’ll be the same in New York. But whatever happens I’ll be dancing and shouting like I normally do. It’s going to be a fun night!
You first came to public attention on Pop Idol in Norway – do you think you’ve matured as an artist since then?
It’s hard to say. I’m a very different artist now than I was at that time. I think that the sound that I have now is more mature, and that I know a lot more about how I want to be perceived as an artist. I’ve also evolved as a songwriter.
You’ve already got a sizeable Norwegian following – how does it feel to be building up an international audience?
It’s very exciting and so much fun! I love that this is something I’m in for for the long run, step by step. You have to be patient, but it will be so worth it in the end. I really appreciate all of the new fan accounts around the world. They are so sweet, and help me spread my music further.
What’s your biggest, wildest musical ambition?
That’s the hardest question! I honestly don’t have one – I don’t dare to. I’m trying to come up with something now, but it is impossible. I was so blown away when my NYC show was sold out. But if I had to say, I guess maybe have a concert on top of a mountain in front of all my biggest idols.
What else have you got lined up after your EP release?
I’m touring in Norway this summer and finishing my second EP. And I hope I get to go to LA to write some new songs and get some tanning time in.