A chat with Astrid S, about what goes into making her music “128% good”

Astrid S is amazing. She’s a 19 year old Norwegian pop legend who cut through to the wider world after singing on Running Out with Matoma late last year, before plonking out a BONKERS EP a few months back, which has been on repeat for me ever since. She’s also toured Europe with Troye Sivan. We will always approve of that.

Chatting to her made me realise she’s a mature songwriter and has the kinda perfect head for this industry – she’s ambitious but understanding and always open to learning. What a legend.

HELLO ASTRID! The first thing I found of yours was the song Dust with CLMD, and from there I really quickly watched Paper Thin Hurts So Good come out, and a bunch of different sounds that surround the word ‘pop’ be brought into your sonic space. Is there a word you use to describe the pop you make?
With my own stuff, it’s definitively pop, it’s electronic – I think it has an urban twist to it – it’s not dark pop, but I definitely think you can hear a similar sound to Tove Lo‘s music or Aurora‘s, it has an edgy twist to it. But I think with my toplines and melodies, they’re very poppy, so with the CMLD track or the Matoma one, it was interesting to hear their production on it. I think they made my toplines sound amazing. It was a lot different to my own stuff and it’s cool to collaborate because you hear other sounds that you wouldn’t get from your own.

Are you writing all your own toplines on those features you do?
The Matoma & CLMD ones were my topline, but it’s really fun to collaborate – I’ve done other collabs where I haven’t written the song. Usually I love to write, I’ve written a tonne, and sometimes we pitch the songs to other artists but if a DJ type producer picks it up and I like the sound, I generally like to sing on it because you have a connection with the songs you write. Like with Running Out and Dust, I’m really happy I was able to be on those tracks.

Have you ever written for other people that we don’t know about, like under a different name?
No! Not like Taylor Swift. Haha. There’s nothing out yet, but there’s always songs on hold and the music industry is so unpredictable, you never know what’s going to happen. I usually say that ‘I listen with my eyes’ because I hear what people are saying but I never believe it until I see it!

My favourite song you’ve ever done is Atic. When the EP came out, I’d heard Paper ThinJump was the single that came out with it, then tucked neatly away in the middle of the record was this MONSTER. 
Oh my god! I really appreciate that.

I’m just obsessed with pop music that sounds like it’s stadium-ready. It has no bounds. Putting something like that next to something like Paper Thin, and the minimalism of that song, is that what you’re trying to do, really show the spectrum of pop that you make?
Both yes and no. I think with the first EP, I wasn’t really able to really dive into making a five-track EP and think that everything has to be connected, sound similar and have the same producers – I didn’t want that. I’ve been writing so much the last few years, like I wrote Paper Thin when I was sixteen, Hurts So Good when I was nineteen, and when I listen to it, I hear the development as an artist and the progression of my sound. It’s the same – but it’s different if that makes sense? I think I really wanted to show songs that were from different times of my youth, I guess.

That’s very cool. You can hear a real confident search for your sound in there. I tweeted earlier if anyone had any questions for you and the only response I got was the songwriter Jesse Saint John (he’s written for Britney & Charli XCX) asking me to ask you about Red Lights. What’s Red Lights.
OH YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH! That’s a song I recorded! I haven’t actually heard the demo. You’ve just reminded me to text the producer and ask for it, so thankyou for that!

I’m happy to be your assistant A&R. Does that kind of thing happen regularly, where you’re writing and recording a shitload of songs and you don’t hear the result for a stupidly long time?
Yeah. It’s something a lot of songwriters and artists experience. It’s different from producer to producer, the process of writing and bringing together a demo, some people don’t really care and just send it to me to live with but some producers are really strict and want their production to be totally perfect before I hear it. Sometimes I get a song in my email and I’m like “what’s this” and then I’m like “OH THAT’S RIGHT! I forgot I wrote this!”

Is it a bit frustrating sometimes to have been writing and working so hard and only have like, less than a dozen songs out into the world at the moment, or are you okay with making it a more considered process?
I go back and forth a lot on that. Sometimes – like a month ago – I asked my team for a meeting and started freaking out and wanting to put new music out. I was all over the place! They were like “we’re working this EP and Hurts So Good” and I wasn’t having it! But in this moment, I think it’s actually really nice to have time to go through all the songs and really dive into making it 128% good and be able to really take my time, find some new artwork & just have the time. I’m really relaxed right now. But maybe in a month, I’ll freak out again! It’s just the most exciting thing ever to put new music out, because all my fans & friends are so supportive, and it’s a really relieving and exciting experience to put music out. Especially with everything that goes with it – artwork, new pictures, music videos – I just often miss doing it but I’m staying patient.

You’re wise. But as a young person, you’re progressing so quickly & moving forward so quickly, so by the time music comes out you’re writing stuff that’s three times as good as that, right?
I feel like that! But some people might think my music gets worse? That is a very good point though, sometimes I’m putting out music I put out years ago and the weird thing about it is I have to perform it and sing it live and when I’m on stage, I sing something like Paper Thin and I go back to where my mind was when I was sixteen, and it’s weird because I don’t feel like that at all now but I still have to perform it and live those lyrics.

This music you’re writing at the moment, is it going to come out as an EP or an album?
Another EP. I like EPs. They’re so small and you can make four songs sound really good and put in loads of effort on every single song. There might be an album after this EP, and I’m excited to make that too.

Astrid’s self-titled EP is amazing, worth a listen, and you can buy it here.

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