Milk.xyz Presents: Norwegian Pop Princess Astrid S
Astrid S just announced the upcoming release of her Party’s Over EP, which will surely mark yet another milestone in the career of one of Pop‘s fastest, most exciting new faces. We first fell in love with the Norwegian songstress when we heard the infallibly perfect “Breathe”, a cool and carefree, summer-ready gem that’s rocked up over 150 million plays on Spotify alone. The title track from the new EP is out now, which you can catch below.
A day before her sold out show here in NYC, we caught up with one of our fave new acts with a photo shoot at 11 Howard, one of the city’s most prominent new hotels. Days later, we spoke with Astrid over the phone while she was on her way to Canada for another slew of shows, continuing on her mission to conquer North America just as she did with Europe.
Check out the exclusive photos above, as well as our talk about the music scene in Oslo, being vulnerable in your art, and how Astrid defines success.
So how was your trip in New York?
I was there for two days, so I didn’t get to see a lot of things, I was just attending meetings. But it was fun, I had been there before so I got to see all of the touristy stuff earlier.
And when do you go back to Oslo?
I go back in about two weeks.
Are you going to take a little break after all of the touring?
Probably not [Laughs]. There’s a lot to be done. The EP is coming out, and then festivals, so no breaks.
Yeah, and I talk to a lot of artists and there are a lot that don’t necessarily like taking breaks or being still.
Yeah, I agree. It depends on which time of the year it is and what’s going on, but if everything I’m doing is for a purpose and I feel like I’m getting something out of it, I’m happy to work a lot.
And you’re fortunate enough where your work is a passion of yours, so it’s not really work work, it’s fun.
Yeah, it’s super fun!
With touring in general, how are you with traveling on the road? I know for some artists it’s their least favorite part, but also some that love it. For you, is it cool living in hotels and waking up in different cities?
I like the traveling part, I don’t know if I love hotels because I’d rather be in my own bedroom, but I do kind of like being in airports and I really sleep well on airplanes. It’s kind of like therapy when they make you turn off your phone.
And even with the live performance aspect, I know you’ve been performing live since you were really really young, do you ever get any sort of stage fright or are you just really comfortable?
Oh yeah, I’m super, super nervous every time before I go on stage. I have this technique where I think I’m able to hide my nerves on stage, or pretend that I’m nervous on stage and then after I’m like, “Holy shit.” But also, it takes a lot of energy. It’s really restraining, but it also gives you a lot of energy so after a concert, I’m in a really confused state of mind.
What are the differences for you when you’re performing in Norway or even somewhere else in Scandinavia where they’re way more familiar with your music than here? I mean obviously, you have sold out shows here and everything, but are the audiences different?
To be honest, the audience here is a lot more outgoing, they sing a lot more to songs, they’re dancing and having fun. Usually, when I have concerts in Norway, people are more like… listening. They don’t really participate in it, and I think that’s a type of culture we have in Norway where we kind of attend the concert not only to see the artist, it’s the entire experience—you grab a beer, talk to your friends, not there just for the music but the whole experience. I like those concerts, but it’s super nice to have those concerts like yesterday’s in New York where people are super energetic and they sing along and dance.
Yeah, because you feed off of that energy, it’s just all around good for everybody. This is kind of like a vague question, but overall, in Oslo, what do you think the music scene is like? For example in New York, you have a lot of rock bands living in Brooklyn, and Scandinavia is known for its pop music, so being from there, what is that music scene like?
Norway is very small, and a lot of artists and musicians live in the capital, Oslo, so everyone knows everyone. It’s really nice though, everyone is super supportive. Like, our neighbors are a rap duo, the people across the street are a couple of writers. It’s very small, you can write from one end to another of Oslo in about forty minutes. It’s just really small, everyone knows everyone within the music business. When you go to any of those music parties, it’s all relaxed and fun.
What was it like for you when you reached the point of being really successful in Norway and people really knowing your music, and then deciding to tackle the US and doing shows here, and even having the shows sell out?
It’s very surreal, I don’t think I’ll ever let it sink in that I’m doing shows here and even in Norway, or that I’ve even been able to do a tour. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and thought about it. I think even if it sinks in, even if it hasn’t in five years, I don’t think anyone could get used to it, or I hope I won’t. I want to be so excited for every concert every time.
Yeah and touching upon the creative process of when you’re more so in the studio or working on new music, I guess I wonder thematically in terms of the lyrics over the sound, what are the topics that you find yourself as an artist really drawn to wanting to sing about? I feel like artist can even find themes looking retrospectively at their work.
Yeah, it can be anything! I like it when you’re able to say something in a different way with a lyric, like tweaking or reinterpreting a saying, I really love that. With topics, I just write about anything, I can use the experience of talking with a boy, or my friends, or my families, just because I feel like I’m probably not the only one having those feelings about something and so I want to make a song so people can relate. But sometimes, I write something that probably nobody understands, like “Hyde” where nobody understands the lyrics, but it’s been a very important song for me. I just write about anything!
When you’re writing new music or a song, and it’s coming from something that happened in your personal life, do you ever have moments where you consider if you’re comfortable enough to share those experiences with the world? Because it’s like you’re an open journal to the public, so I just wonder if that ever gives you any fear or do you not care?
I don’t think it’s uncomfortable to release a song, I find it sometimes uncomfortable to sing it live in front of people. I’ve realized that especially here more so in Norway, because in Norway people don’t really listen so closely to the lyrics that much, it’s just like some words to a nice melody. That’s what I like about writing in English too, it makes me feel like I’m not putting myself out there as much as if I was writing in my own language. But even writing about personal experiences, I don’t think people ever think who I’m writing about.
And when it comes to your artistry and career, how do you define success in your life? I guess I’m asking what makes you feel the most validated? Is it seeing it perform well on the charts or having your fans have a certain reaction to it? What’s the best case scenario when you’re releasing new music?
That’s a really good question. I don’t really know… I think there are a lot of scenarios, but when I put out a song and I really really love it and don’t want to change anything about it, I think that’s very very important, because that doesn’t really happen often and it’s all me, so I have to make sure that I’m happy with it. The rest is just a bonus. I don’t ever make a song to be on the charts or on the radio, I just strive to make the song the best that it can be.
Yeah, so I guess for you that music is really something for yourself, it’s your therapy. If it resonates with people, then that’s great, if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.
Yeah, yeah, I mean it’s a really great feeling when people love the song, or play it on the radio, or want to listen to it, or when they know the lyrics at a concert, it’s the most amazing feeling.
Last question: I’m curious when it comes to the visual accompaniment to your music, what is your approach to that and are you ever sometimes for example writing a song and you see the visuals and how you want the music to be, you know?
Oh yeah, I’m very visual when I write, I’m always looking up pictures on my phone, because I’m very inspired by movies and photos when I write. Usually while I write, I’m already developing ideas for the covers and the music video. I had folders that I made for every song and I sent it over to my label so that they could make lyric videos inspired by those pictures, or I’d send notes for the music video of what I see when I listen to the song.
Got it, so that is just kind of the way your brain works, you’re thinking about all of it at once and I think it shows. I ask because I think the visuals and everything are really cool with the music, so I can see that you’re really strategic about it.
Images courtesy of Roxanne Hartridge
Stay tuned to Milk for more Norwegian badassery.