'She wants to get better and better': Island's Annie Christensen explains the magic behind Sigrid

'She wants to get better and better': Island's Annie Christensen explains the magic behind Sigrid

Annie Christensen has been captivated by Sigrid ever since a bumper package of demos landed in her inbox some time in 2016.

Island’s senior A&R director flew directly back in the direction the songs had come from, travelling to Bergen, Norway, with label president Darcus Beese to set in motion a process they believed would make Sigrid a star. 

Now, with a hard-won record contract long since signed and two million global sales in the bag, their plan is coming to fruition nicely.

This week, Sigrid stars on the cover of Music Week, and we joined the 21-year-old on her recent UK tour to hear how the full story, from teenage piano lessons to a Top 10 hit, industry accolades and a string of sold out shows.

Here, we present an extract from our Q&A session with Christensen, with Sigrid’s upcoming EP, debut album and more up for discussion. But we begin with Christensen’s bid to define the magic that makes Sigrid so special…

What are the qualities that define Sigrid as an artist?

“She had some radio success when she was 16 and made the decision to go back to school. I think that is indicative of all of the decisions that she makes. She’s often the person that dictates what our moves are. She’s got a very good gut, very good intuition. Generally speaking, she’s right on the money and I think that’s why she’s such a good writer and such a good performer. She’s instinctive, and she’s quite entrenched in culture. She just has a feeling about things. I think she’s probably had that all her life.

The Raw EP is coming in May. Are Island building to a debut album this year?

First of all we have to finish it, and that will happen around May or June. We’re doing it in Norway, in a beautiful studio called Ocean Sound, which is five minutes from her house. It’s the perfect place to do it. For the [new] EP, it seemed like I was sitting on all this amazing music that is so diverse and so creatively intelligent. It’s beautiful, some of it’s pop and some of it’s melancholy and some of it’s just clever. I felt like it was a bit of a travesty that the rest of the world wasn’t able to hear it. So I had a chat with her, and we just decided that it would be nice to be able to show some depth and some breadth. Because the songs that she has released, for the most part, apart from Dynamite, are more upbeat, more produced. We feel like there’s a diversity to Sigrid that not everyone is aware of. Even the lead single [High Five] isn’t trying too hard to be a pop smash. It’s mid-tempo, it’s not an obvious lyric, it’s unassuming but it’s a banger. Raw is quite out there, quite different, too.”

Sigrid is instinctive, she just has a feeling about things

Annie Christensen, Island

Who is Sigrid writing with now?

She feels very, very comfortable and does her best work in Norway. Some people think they do their best work when they’re out of their comfort zone, but for Sigrid, she feels best creatively when she’s in it. I have a very strong working relationship with Martin Sjølie, who co-wrote Don’t Kill My Vibe, Strangers, Fake Friends, and the upcoming single High Five. Emily Warren is also a co-writer on High Five, she’s probably best known now for [Dua Lipa’s] New Rules. Then there’s another writer/producer, Odd Martin [Skålnes], who Sigrid has known for a long time. They’ve been delivering as a core group, and I don’t see any reason to break that at the moment. She feels that there’s a special energy with those people. She can be completely honest, herself. I think that’s really important to her, to be able to express herself in the most honest way possible.

Things have been progressing fast; does the team need to protect Sigrid at all?

I think in the same way that a lot of true artists are fragile, sensitive and emotional, she is the same. And that’s what makes her so brilliant as an artist, performer, and writer. But the thing we have to protect is her time. She needs to know that she’s got breaks, that she can go back to Norway every so often. She loves being outside, going skiing, going for hikes, walking. She likes to refresh her brain every so often, she’s still learning how to be an artist.

What would you say Sigrid’s ultimate ambitions are?

She’s very ambitious. I don’t know if it’s about sales, I think it’s about being the very best version of her. She just wants to get better and better, that’s why she’s so receptive to criticism. I’ve sent things to her, whether it be about a live set or a song or performance, and she takes it on board so well. What she wants to be is just the very best that she can.

Subscribers can read the cover story – which includes contributions from Christensen, Beese and the rest of Team Sigrid – here.

Catch up on Music Week’s On The Radar interview with Sigrid here.

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