The state of pop stardom in 2019 is pretty matter-of-fact; either you have it or you don’t—the fame, the fashion, the little blue check next to your Instagram handle. It’s so much less than the magical, mystical, mystery-shrouded fame we knew circa noughties-era Britney, Christina, Mariah, where waxy white limousines, pages-long riders, and first name monikers were a status quo, and where a cameo on MTV cribs was as intimate and in-your-face as we could get. Please, a moment of silence for the popular culture of yesteryear. Gone but not forgotten, the new order is here.
Breaking down the fourth wall of the celebrity existence is Astrid S, the 22-year-old pop star who is blowing out your speakers and blowing up your feed with her sweet, relatable songs, her platinum blonde bob, and, of course, her little blue check. If you’re not already part of her nearly 500k (and counting) followers on Instagram alone, I’m sure you will be soon.
The internet has vastly improved our ability to know everyone who is anyone. But I guess I’m always taken aback when creatives who are so readily packaged as brands, defined as personalities, and scrolled through as social media stars—essentially lives that feel larger than—are actually so very…normal. Now, normal isn’t a four letter word. In fact, in the case of Astrid S, it’s quite the opposite: There’s no smoke and mirrors here.
Astrid grew up in the spotlight after placing fifth on Norway’s Idol at just 16. Since then, she’s dropped her last name (Smeplass) for a much shorter, much sleeker, and much more pronounceable ‘S.’ And, in just five years, she’s gone from relatively local celebrity to international sensation.
Below, COOLS caught up with the songstress at the end of her second US tour (this time with fellow Scandi export Zara Larsson). At a tender age where adulthood and identity fall upon us like a ton of bricks, Astrid S is navigating life—and an impressive career—with a smile.
What does music mean to you?
“Music, to me, is something that brings me closer to myself. It brings me closer to everyone around me—all of the people I work with that I’m so grateful to have in my life. It brings people closer together. It’s always been that thing that makes me very calm—it’s kind of my escape. It’s a cliched answer, but it’s something that makes me unbelievably happy.”
What do you want your music to mean to your fans?
“Kind of the same thing. Something that can bring them closer to me or…I’ve seen [some of] my fans become friends through my music, which I think is really special. I’d like it to feel like an escape, something they can get lost in.”
Where do you draw inspiration for your music?
“It’s really hard for me to write happy songs. I like writing about heartbreak and darker feelings of love, so I write about what other people are going through. My friend was in a really toxic relationship and I couldn’t really understand it, so I wrote a song from her perspective. [Writing music] makes it easier to empathize with people.”
You moved to Stockholm at 16 to pursue music. That’s a pretty tender age. Did you feel you were simultaneously propelled into adulthood?
“Oh definitely. There were things like house insurance that I had never thought or even known about, and adult responsibilities that were all of a sudden part of my life. But I was living on my own in a big city and really living every teenager’s dream.”
Do you ever miss having the regular teenage experience?
“Not really, because I’m having all of these amazing abnormal experiences of my own. I was living the teenage dream, on my own in the big city. But there is this one thing—Russ, where everyone in Norway who’s graduating at the time comes together. It really unites everyone.”
Is it important for you to be transparent on social media?
“I try to be transparent, yes. But there are also certain things I know I will keep for myself. I want to start being more active about politics and social issues because I’ve gotten really passionate about that lately, but then that opens me up to trolls and haters.”
What are you passionate about?
“Climate change. There’s this Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, and she’s just amazing. I’ve gotten really into environmentalism and also political issues on a smaller, local level at home.”
How is touring this time around?
“It’s been great. I feel like the venues I’m touring with Zara [Larsson] are a step above. It’s fun to be on tour again.”
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
“It’s kind of boring, but obviously I do my vocal warm-ups. Also, doing my makeup has become a ritual for me. I have my glitter eyeshadows—my pink, silver, and gold.”
When you’re not on tour and on-mic, how do you practice self-care?
“I work out, do my skincare, drink a lot of water [laughs]. I love being outdoors, doing sports. Being in nature, hiking, [camping]. I used to be really into soccer, but I don’t play that often anymore.”
Okay, let’s talk about fashion! How would you describe your personal style?
“Wow, I don’t even know. If someone asked me what was chic, I wouldn’t know what that means! Maybe it’s the language barrier, but I really just wear what I like. I’m really sporty, I love clean silhouettes—the Scandinavian way of dressing. I’m very into bright colors and neon at the moment.”
What are some of your favorite brands today?
“Ganni—I love Ganni!—Acne Studios, and Fendi.”
You were just in Milan with Fendi!
“I was. That was amazing.”
Was it your first fashion week experience?
“No, I went to New York Fashion Week last year. I just love all the people watching. The street style is crazy and there’s so much to see.”
How have you evolved since you started? Both personally and musically?
“I’m a lot more humble now. When I first started doing music, I felt like I could do and say anything. I felt invincible. I’m a lot more self-aware now. But at the same time, I’ve also become more self-conscious. I’m in my head and I think a lot more about what I’m saying and doing.”
Listen to Astrid’s new single ‘The First One’ here.