Best new music 2017 – Sigrid: your new favourite pop star
Written for The Telegraph [12/5/17]
Who is she?
A 20-year-old Norwegian pop superstar in the making whose debut single Don't Kill My Vibe has racked up nearly 12 million Spotify streams.
Sigrid deftly delivers punchy, euphoric tunes in the vein of Taylor Swift, the fruits of which can be heard on her first EP (out now on Island Records). Bergen-based, she has been a hit in the UK with a Hottest Record accolade on BBC Radio 1, an appearance on Later... with Jools Holland and a sold-out headline show in London next week.
How did she get here?
Sigrid, born Sigrid Solbakk Raabe, is from the west coast port town of Ålesund. When she was 16, her musician brother Tellef asked her to write a song to perform with him on stage during a hometown gig. She rose to the challenge by coming up with one in two weeks.
It proved a catalyst, and Raabe began creating music whenever time permitted during her high school studies. "I was not a good singer," she says, explaining how her classically trained older sister taught her. "You know those children who are like 'I'm gonna be a pop star' and they sound amazing from the day they were born? I was not like that."
In 2014, aged 17, Raabe signed to Norwegian indie label Petroleum. She moved to Bergen the next year to study politics at the city's public university: "I think I wanted to study something that was safe and had a job at the end of it. With music you're just trying it and seeing how it goes." Her academic pursuit was halted when Island signed her in 2016. "It's all happened pretty quick", Raabe says, with Don't Kill My Vibe released in February and her debut EP released last week.
What does she sound like?
Earworm melodies, trigger-sharp beats and bright, Scandi-pop synths characterise Raabe's joyful music. Most of the songs on her EP build to pure catharsis during the choruses – whether because of the leap from choppy samples to a musical maelstrom in Plot Twist or Raabe's defiant yells of "don't kill my vibe!" in the title track. Her vocals flit effortlessly between a lucent falsetto and husky bellows. She is a pop star who truly understands her voice.
Who are her influences?
Raabe's parents brought her up on a steady diet of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. "They are are very important to me," Raabe says. "I especially like how direct Young is with his lyrics." She values "great songwriters", citing Adele, Coldplay and Keane as key influences. "For me, the song is the most important thing about the music. It's [that] and how they capture the audience," Raabe adds. Her songcraft idols are legendary Swedish songwriter Max Martin and Julia Michaels, responsible for Justin Bieber's hits.
What does she say about her own music?
"It's definitely borderline cheesy and cool at the same time."