Astrid S On “Pretty,” Navigating TikTok, & Her Creative Process

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From touring worldwide to surpassing a billion Spotify plays, Astrid S is taking over the charts. She’s one of the most exciting pop artists to make both regional and international waves, captivating an audience with her powerful vocals.

Smeplass logged countless achievements during her adolescence not many her age could do. At 16-years-old, she participated in Norway’s music competition television show Idol, which was followed by her debut single “Shattered” in 2013. Since then, she has rapidly risen to become one of the world’s biggest pop stars amongst Gen Z through ballads such as 2020’s “Hurt So Good,” which has over 350 million Spotify plays alone.

After releasing a series of EPs, Astrid S unveiled her eagerly-awaited debut album Leave It Beautiful in late 2020. Comprised of 10 songs, including “Marilyn Monroe” and “It’s Ok If You Forgot Me,” the full-length release takes her ethereal voice and lyrical prowess to the top of the charts. The following year, she updated the project with six new songs featuring collaborations with Brett Young and EDM duo NOTD. Not to mention, Astrid played the titular role in 2021’s Three Wishes For Cinderella. Now, the 25-year-old musician has returned with her latest offering “Pretty” with Dagny, a collaboration between two of Norway’s most exciting artists.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Astrid S about her latest single “Pretty,” her career trajectory, and much more! Read on for our interview.

How has the new year been for you so far, both personally and professionally?

Really good! I’ve been able to travel and write for the first time in a while so it’s been very productive which I like. It’s been really strict in Norway and I’ve been very careful, but now I just have to work.

I usually have a New Year’s resolution but this year it’s kind of hard because you don’t know what’s going to happen this year either. I’m not sure yet, but usually, I like to just have one. I don’t like to set resolutions like workout three times a day or eating healthy, it has to be a project or something where I fix something I don’t like about myself. I’m not sure what it’ll be this year yet.

Your most recent single with Dagny, “Pretty,” is an iconic collaboration, to say the least. Tell me the story of how it came about and what the record means to you.

Thank you! Me and Dagny have been fans of each other for a long time and we didn’t really know each other that well until we decided to go into the studio together. The plan wasn’t to write anything together for us, it was actually a year ago exactly, and we said “let’s just start the new year writing together and see what comes out of it.” We made “Pretty,” which we really love, and decided that we should do this as a duet.

I think this song came from us feeling like, especially when you’re in a relationship, where you remember why you loved it so much in the first place or wanted to be with this person. I think that’s what this song for me is about, and I’m really happy we were able to make it a duet. I’m a huge fan of Dagny, she’s usually on my top five by the end of the year on Spotify Wrapped so I listen to her music a lot. It’s so cool to have a song with her.

What do you think are some advantages of short video platforms like TikTok for musicians such as yourself today?

I find TikTok very nerve-racking because you never know what’s going to work. It’s become so important now, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any songs chart and not be on TikTok. I think it’s kind of turned everything upside down a bit because I find that even with my team, we used to be able to tell what works, now we have no idea. Which I think is also cool because you see a lot of new artists and songs go viral so it’s a good thing.

I spend a lot of time on TikTok now figuring out try to use it and see what kind of music connects on that platform. Hopefully, at least for me, I try not to think about it while I’m in the studio. I just make the music I want to make, but so many people now are like “but will this work on TikTok?” I’m trying to block that out because I feel like if you try to make a song just for TikTok, I don’t think it’ll really work out.

You’ve been creating music for a bit over nine years now, which is incredible considering how some artists tend to come and go—what keeps you from burning out as an artist?

I think it’s because I love it so much and I’m constantly challenged. What I love about making music is that I find it so difficult which makes it so rewarding. It always keeps me on my toes if that makes sense. I never feel comfortable in it and I find that very exciting.

I work the best when I’m under pressure so I prefer not to have a lot of breaks. What I like about being an artist is that you get to have a month of writing in the studio then you get to do a tour and music videos. So I’m constantly bouncing from one thing to another so I don’t feel burned out because I’m not doing the same thing every day. I feel like I’m taking a break from writing when I get the chance to work on something else.

I’m curious to know how has your creative process changed over the years?

What I’ve learned is that creativity doesn’t come easily and it doesn’t spark randomly always. So sometimes I have to force it and I’ve learned a lot of tools on how to do that. My creative process is pretty much the same, but I work with so many people now that help me and they’re so talented so it’s a lot easier for me.

What was your initial reaction when you found out you would be playing the titular the Three Wishes For Cinderella?

Disbelief is the word! It wasn’t a normal audition because I was basically drinking coffee with the director and talking. Then we did some improv stuff and I was really bad at it, but she saw something in me that I didn’t see at the time. I trusted her and we went with it. That was really cool because lockdown lasted so long where I live so I wasn’t able to write, travel, or play concerts at the time. It was really awesome to have a job and try something new.

When it comes to you and your career trajectory, is there anything in particular that you’re really grateful for?

I think I’m the most grateful for is the life I have, because if I wouldn’t have gotten into music, I don’t think I would’ve met some of my closest friends or anyone in my team. I’m really grateful for all the people that I have in my life that I love so much. Especially my fans, which I would’ve never been able to meet if I didn’t do music.

Considering the immense amount of inspiration you’ve been able to provide over the years, what do you want people who look up to you to take away from your journey?

I would want for them to have a space where they feel understood or maybe my music can make their life a little better. I really miss touring because I have the ability to create this space where everyone has in common these songs. It’s crazy to be on stage because you see that everyone is different and they come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Still, these pop songs about relationships, love, and boys or girls bring people together.

We’re moving back into the normalization of the music industry where there’s fan interaction, concerts, and tours. How has that transition been for you or what or you looking forward to?

Just meeting people and being able to see their reactions. Releasing music without being able to tour, you see the numbers on Spotify but it’s hard to understand that people actually listen to it. I love seeing how people react to the song live and that’s how I’m able to see the songs connect.

What artists or genres have you been listening to lately? How have they influenced your recent music?

I’ve been listening to old Britney Spears and the new The Weeknd album, that’s a great one. I’ve also been listening to ANTi by Rihanna, I’m so excited for her to release new music when that comes. I feel like I keep going back to old stuff that I listened to when I was a kid.

It doesn’t consciously influence my music, I don’t go to the studio and ask to make music based on a specific song. Probably subconsciously, especially since I grew up in the ’90s, I have a lot of those influences from early 2000s pop music for sure.

Could you share any upcoming projects your fans can look forward to?

They can look forward to new music, which is going to be a tiny bit different from what I’ve done. Hopefully a tour and live concerts, that would be great!

Elsewhere in music, Disney star turned musician Erika Tham chats with us about her debut single and upcoming EP.