Is there anything more refreshing than the sight of 22-year-old Norwegian pop artist Sigrid Solbakk Raabe skanking out? Long unbleached hair flying loose around a luminous make-up-free visage, wearing a staple of jeans, plain tee and trainers, the free-spirited singer effortlessly cuts through a world of imagery surrounding bubble-gum pop that veers ever closer to porn-star chic.
To interpret this unprocessed image as a signal of naivety or plainness would be to grossly underestimate this artist. In her relatable honesty and authenticity, there’s a liberated fearlessness, utterly resistant if not allergic to the traditional industry forces conspiring to process, mould and sexualise our female artists into unrecognisable, unattainable versions of themselves. As such, she joins the ranks of a rising cohort appealing to the millennial generation for their counter-perspective on femininity and pop from Christine And The Queens to Florence Welch, Lorde to Haim. Sigrid has something to say and isn’t afraid to say it. She is a young woman defiantly dancing to her own beat.
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Holding onto her identity hasn’t always been easy. “When everything went from zero to 100, I figured out that if I was going to do this, I needed to recognise myself in everything,” she explains over the phone from Cologne, ahead of a TV performance with her band. “I’m happy that I trust myself and I know what I’m comfortable with. I’m very strongly opinionated. I’m the one who’s going to promote things, so I need to be very comfortable with what I’m doing in the studio and what I’m putting out. It’s really important to know your boundaries.”
Indeed, her break-out track, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, emerged from a glimpse of the toxic environment artists can sometimes be exposed to: “It was inspired by a situation, a recording session with two older male producers, where I felt like my opinion wasn’t respected. I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t know how to speak up in that situation. To let them know that if I’m going to be here, I want to be respected. I didn’t say anything and that was really, really annoying. I was quite angry at myself.”
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Now two years on from that breakthrough single and an EP of the same title, she’s finally unleashed her debut album, ‘Sucker Punch’. As with the tracks that have already drawn her millions-of-streams strong audience (520 million in fact, and counting), those on ‘Sucker Punch’ are driven by Sigrid’s own personal experiences, from the friendship she has with her band on ‘Sight Of You’, to being courted by labels over lunches in ‘Business Dinners’, having a crush, to going through heartache: “I guess it’s about me, myself and I,” she considers. “It’s kind of a time capsule. So it’s all these moments and how I’ve been feeling for the past few years.”
The title captures for her a certain sentiment: “No matter if it’s a ballad or if it’s an upbeat song, they’re all quite in your face. Because that’s my favourite type of pop: pop that hits you in any way, whether it hits your nerves, an emotion or just hits you because you want to dance.”
And she’s been staunchly in the driving seat of every aspect of the record: “I’ve co-written and co-arranged everything so it’s really cool. I’m really, really proud of this album. I love every song on it.”
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'Sucker Punch' is out now.
Words: Sarah Bradbury
Photography: Francesca Allen
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