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Astrid S

Chatting with 1883, Norwegian pop star Astrid S sits down to discuss her nostalgic inspirations, her writing process, and the meaning behind the album. 

There is a melancholic clarity amidst the rising discography of Astrid S. The Norwegian-born pop star has crafted quite a notable collaborations list, and amassed over 5 billion streams of hit singles like “Hurts so good,” “Think Before I Talk,” and “It’s OK if you forget me.” Her disposition is accentuated through her pop vocals, shimmering with authentic emotions and coming-of-age relatability. Enhanced with notes of indie, rock, and folk, her lush pop sound returns you to the nostalgia of youth, and presents you with the wisdom of growing up. Astrid S embarks on the whirlwind of her second album, Joyride, on May 24, 2024.

Chatting with 1883, Norwegian pop star Astrid S sits down to discuss her nostalgic inspirations, her writing process, and the meaning behind the album. 

First and foremost, congrats on your album, Joyride. How are you doing today? How are you feeling?

I’ve been feeling really good. This is the first day I’ve actually felt a bit shaky about everything, but it’s just, I guess, the part of the cycle when releasing an album. I’m mostly just very excited to get it out because I had it in my Dropbox for so many months now… So yeah, ready to go.

I feel like dropping an album you dubbed, “a road trip” album, immediately brings a sense of shared nostalgia… When you were writing it, were you returning to the places you visited as a child, going on a road trip of your own to recollect these memories? 

Yeah, for sure. I started the album process thinking about how I discovered music, where the love for music came from, and I came back to being in the car with my dad. That’s where I would listen to music mostly… and we didn’t necessary go anywhere to go anywhere. We were just driving, so I feel like that’s been in the back of my mind through the whole process, sitting in the car with my dad… So it’s very much nostalgic for me as well.

What song equates most to the scenes of these memories from the Norwegian country side? Is there one song that truly is memory set to melody? 

Yeah, there is one song… I feel like sonically, it’s inspired by what I grew up listening to, and then lyrically, it’s mostly what I’m going through at this stage of my life. There is one song that kind of captures that, which is called “I’m sorry, I love you.” It’s basically a song about how my dad has never said “I’m sorry” or “I love you,” but it’s kind of summing up all the ways he says it without saying it. One of those ways was driving me where I want to go. I don’t have [a] driver’s license, so he’ll come pick me up every Christmas in Oslo. It’s a five hour drive for him, so I feel like that’s his love language. Yeah, it’s kind of summing up a few things he does for me and his way of saying “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” He doesnt say it, and I feel like a lot of that generation doesn’t have that love language of saying stuff. 

This album is organic, raw, and an amalgamation of a variety of genres, giving listeners an inside perspective as to what your sound is, and where it has come from. Who were your musical inspirations as a child?

I think growing up, it was a lot of Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, a lot of Disney stuff as well… and then in Norway, we have had this thing called ‘Hits for Kids,’ which was a CD you could buy with all the biggest hits of those months. I didn’t have a lot of money when I was four or five or six years old, so my mom and dad were the ones who bought the CDs and decided what we listen to in the car. That was everything from Coldplay… early Coldplay, The Killers, Abba, Fleetwood Mac… and my dad also had this obsession with Anastasia, so we would listen a lot to her actually. 

Then, where those the same artists you were listening to while you were making this album? 

I think it it’s leaning more towards like the older stuff. I listened a lot.. I know this is illegal but we would burn CDs, so my favorite songs from each album that my mom and dad played me, I would have on my own CD. It’s a mix of a lot of different stuff from that time… and older, Fleetwood Mac. I think my favorite album… I think that came out in like the 1970s, so a lot of older references. Then, trying to make something that feels now and me.

You are a writer, producer, singer, and MV director. What has been the most influential lesson you’ve learned as a multi-hyphenate artist in this industry? 

Oh, that’s a great question.. I’m not sure how to say it in English, but I’m going to try. I think it’s the fact that for a long time, almost subconsciously, I’ve been working hard and making stuff for the validation of other people. I think more rarely than I assumed. I don’t know if it’s because of my genre, or you know the color of my hair, or whatever… or the fact that I love glitter and makeup, but I feel like over the years, people tend to take for granted that I don’t write, I don’t direct, I don’t produce… but I do, which is exhausting. Then, I let it go a few years ago and recently I’ve felt the switch, which has been really nice. I think what I’ve learned is to just do it for myself and not really do it for anyone else, and make sure that I am really proud of what I do. Yeah, it’s been a freeing lesson because it’s less exhausting for me.

You’ve also referenced the making of this album as a sort of “speed dating…” working with a variety of collaborators. How do you approach sessions? Do you have a set routine or go into the studio with more of an open attitude?

I find with specifically speed dating, is a bit hard to prepare for, because you don’t really know the people you’re meeting up with that day. So for me, it’s a lot about just being very open to whoever those people are, how they work, and what our chemistry is going to be like. Then, kind of adapt to that. I think I knew what I wanted this album to be early on. I knew the title and I knew the context for it…  with, you know, cars and road trips and where I grew up and gas stations. I had this pitch when I got into the studio, and I found that a lot of people had, kind of like you said earlier, they had their nostalgic memories. I think everyone can relate to road trips and what people listen to in the car growing up. So, that was a fun way to to start the sessions. 

I usually just make titles or I’ll make a chorus or have a chord progression… somewhere to start. That’s why I don’t prepare that much. I find it difficult when I work with a new people, I have to feel [out] the room of a bit, and then I’ll know what kind of idea I’ll bring into the session.

If you were to introduce yourself to new fans, how would you describe your artistry?

I would describe it as… Oh, that’s such a good question. I have this fear that I’m a very basic-girl-next-door, normal artist, so I would probably try to avoid those words. I feel like it’s lush pop. For me, it’s important to be inclusive. It’s usually really nice on tours, I have amazing fans and we do pizza parties and drink hot chocolate together. I don’t really feel like I have a great answer for this… 

That’s okay! I feel like you’re also saying that quality time is a love language and that relates back to the album as a whole. This blends the questions, but making music is often a reflection of where you are, and who you are, at a specific time in your life. Is there a line, a lyric, or a song on this project that you would say most aligns with your personality? 

Maybe where I’m at right now, I feel the title song, “Joyride.” It’s about diving in head first, and even though you know you’re going to fail or flop or whatever, you just enjoy it for as long as it lasts. We have this saying in Norway, ‘don’t take any sorrows.’ It’s like, don’t feel sad before you have to, don’t think about the worst case before it happens. I try to live by that. I guess, don’t overthink things too much and just fun with it. Then, if I fail or if something doesn’t go as I had hoped, I’ll feel sad then, but not worry about now… if that makes sense. 

I feel like the “Joyride” song is a metaphor. In that song, I’m talking about a relationship, but I feel like they’re so many ways to think of life in that way. In that song in particular, you’re just going for a relationship and you know it’s not going to last, but you’re having fun with it. I feel like that’s where I am in my career, cause I’m getting older and I’ve been doing it for a few years now… And then, especially in Norway, and I think a lot of other countries too, it’s become more localized and people listen to their mother language. It’s been harder to find my space, which to be honest, can make me a bit insecure. I’m starting to worry if there’s an expiration date coming up for my career and I know rationally it’s not, but it is something that I’m a bit scared of. So, I’m trying to just enjoy, it instead of thinking about the worst case scenarios.

Of course, and to move positively… Confidence, playfulness, and nostalgia are just a few words to describe this record. What about the release of Joyride are you most looking forward to? 

I’m looking forward to getting my driver’s license and to go on a road trip alone for the first time and listen to… I’m not sure if I’ll listen to the album… but maybe once just to do it. I’m really looking forward to playing it live in Norway and hopefully touring it out in the world.

Joyride is out now.

Interview EJ Saftner
Photography Alvin Santos

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