The Norwegian electro-pop babe who’s gone from Pop Idol to international star.
The name Astrid S (the “S” is for Smeplass, FYI) may not be a huge blinking siren on your periphery just yet, but when you see her credentials – she’s supported the likes of Troye Sivan, Years & Years, sold out her own tour, and has over 480K followers on Instagram – you swiftly realise, it’s only a matter of time.
She got her break back in 2013 when she came fifth in the Norwegian version of Pop Idol (we all know the real winners don’t win anyway), and has gone on to become an internationally-known star, plus a national treasure in her own country.
In vibrant Scandi attire, her saccharine vocals and catchy electro-pop sound tell tales of fuckboys, estranged friendships and taking chances.
We chatted to Astrid S and talked humble beginnings, dream collaborations and her debut album…
You grew up in a tiny village in Norway, how did you start out making music?
I’ve always been very into music. I started piano lessons when I was 5 years old and from there I tried different instruments, played in bands and had singing lessons. It wasn’t before I was 15 that I started to write my own songs. I think the reason I started writing is because it forced me to put into words what I was feeling. If there was something bugging me, or I felt very hurt, it all just felt so complex and complicated. But as soon as it was put into words in a song, it didn’t feel as complicated anymore. Songwriting kind of feels like a close friend.
Who did you grow up listening to?
My parents are 80s geeks when it comes to music. So we would listen to ABBA, Queen, Madonna. I was also a big huge of Britney Spears.
It’s been about six years since you were on Pop Idol – how much is changed since then?
Everything! It’s been so long. Where do I start? I’ve changed and grown a lot as a person, so it’s only natural that I’ve done that as an artist as well. I think and feel differently about everything now than I did. I think I was more naive and confident when I was 16 years old. And I was more fearless with my songwriting. I didn’t even know what a genre was, so I had no rules writing songs.
I don’t like to regret. It might be cliché, but I like to learn from things instead. But I think it’s impossible to not make any mistakes. And some of the mistakes I’ve made have led me up to writing one of my best songs, or opening a new door for me.
Your sound has definitely matured over time with recently-released “Emotion” and “Someone New” – what are they about?
“Someone New” is very easy to understand. I wanted it to be a little childish and fun. It’s that feeling of obsessing over an ex meeting someone new. I think it’s a very specific feeling, and I think a lot of people go through it at some point. You feel very immature and stupid in the moment, but you can’t really help it. I think it’s kind of funny looking back at those moments, because I realise how much of a bubble I was in.
Have the topics you write about changed?
Both yes and no. I think it would’ve been boring if I only wrote about the same stuff. But I would say that it’s similar. I go through similar stuff now as I did when I was 16. I’ve realised that being 16 and 70 is pretty much the same at least when it comes to love and relationships. The one thing that we all can always come back to and relate to when writing in the studio is the conversations we have about break-ups and falling in love.
Is your debut album out this year? What can you say about it?
I’m not sure yet. We have a month we would like for it to be released, but I try not to think about a deadline as much. I just want to make the best possible music, and not stress too much.
How do you want people to feel after listening to your music?
I want them to feel understood. Less alone. That I’ve been able to make their day just a little bit better.
Describe your style…
I think it’s sporty. But I just dress in whatever I think is cool, and what I feel like reflects my mood and personality.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Troye Sivan, Alec Benjamin, Charli XCX, Alessia Cara, Zara Larsson, Billie Eilish, Khalid, Lauv.
What’s next for you?
I’m doing a couple of my own shows in LA and NYC. And after that I’m hoping to either do my own tour or maybe tour with someone else. I just want to play my new music. And then there’s my album of course! Which I’m really really excited about. Right now it feels so far away, but if I can finish an album and release it, I can be happy for the rest of my life.