The Norwegian teen soundtracking longing, lust and falling in love with her best friend.
“I make songs in my room”, reads girl in red’s Insta bio. Just your average 19-year-old teen, right? That was until a few months ago, when her song “girls” got 981K views on YouTube. No. Big. Deal.
“Can I tell anyone?” she asks on the summery indie pop song. “Afraid of what they’ll say, so I push them away… they’re so pretty it hurts/I’m not talking ’bout boys. I’m talking ’bout girls.”
Her frankness about teenage confusion, judgement and self-acceptance struck a chord worldwide, especially amongst the LGBTQ+ community. girl in red’s 5-track debut EP “chapter 1” tells tales of love, longing and self-discovery from a hazy heartbroken summer, articulating with unfiltered simplicity what many haven’t felt able to.
We spoke to the newcomer about heartache and rejection, stage-diving and being 100% true to herself…
How long have you been doing music?
Since September last year, that’s when it all started. I put my first single out in June 2015 – it was a Norwegian song, don’t try to find it, it’s terrible!
What music did you used to listen to?
My mum used to show me a lot of different songs. And on the way here, they played “If You’re Not The One” by Daniel Beddingfield in the car, which used to be my favourite song. Dude…
That’s like fate! Do you feel like those pop artists have influenced you?
Not really, I don’t feel like I’m making that kind of music. But it’s definitely pop music that I’m making, indie pop, left-of-centre sort of music.
Is there anyone you really look up to at the moment?
Anyone who doesn’t give a shit and is being themselves 100 per cent, not being a product of someone else. I think that’s really important. I love people who really like the music and don’t just want to be a one-hit wonder.
Where did the name girl in red come from?
I was at a festival last summer and I was really in love with my best friend. We were going to meet up at a gig and were looking for each other in the crowd. It was literally like in a movie where the crowd opens up and you just see that person, and she was wearing a red sweater. I texted her ‘girl in red’, and it sparked the idea. Then a few months later, I was super heartbroken because she was straight and nothing worked out. I bought a red turtleneck and took a picture of myself and thought – girl in red, oh shit! This sounds good, there’s something to it.
Do you channel those experiences of heartbreak into your music?
Yeah, especially my first songs, like “I wanna be your girlfriend”. Those songs were mainly inspired by this girl, so she’s sort of the foundations and root to this entire thing.
Do you want other people to listen to your songs and think ‘I’ve felt that…’?
Yeah, I want people to relate. I think people are relating, it’s not like 50-year-old guys are writing songs for me and I post it, it’s all coming from me.
What’s the song “girls” about?
I was in a relationship with a guy, and falling in love with a girl. The song is really just inspired by me coming to terms with my sexuality and accepting the fact that I’m actually in love with this girl and I need to break up with this guy because I don’t think I like guys!
Have you had a really good response to that?
Yeah, people relate to that feeling so much, people send me messages like yo, I came out to this song, this is a gay anthem!
What do you want your songs to mean to people?
The main thing is I want them to like it, to get something out of it, for it to make their life a bit better. A soundtrack to their life, that would be cool. When they’re older and they listen to the song, for it to bring back memories from that time.
How do you find live gigs?
One of the best bits of gigs is just talking to people. I actually got a review after a gig in Norway that said that I talk too much… but each crowd is different so I think it’s cool to talk and say whatever the fuck you’re thinking while you’re on stage. It makes that show 100 per cent unique and not just a product of being on tour.
Do you have a highlight performance so far?
When I played in Dublin and Paris as support for Clairo. That was probably the dopest thing so far, to go to a different country to play a gig and have people dancing. I stage dived… it was so cool.
Have you got new music coming up?
Yeah, I’m working on something right now. I’ve got a chapter 2 coming probably next year. I don’t really have any specific ideas but I’m probably going to come up with some cool themes.
Where do you want it all to go?
I want to make music, play gigs and have a good life as girl in red for as long as I can do it, as long as it’s fun and giving for both me and the listeners.