Interview: Zara Larsson

Pop is definitely having a female-dominated moment. Right now, the charts are adorned by a fierce crop of exciting new female artists such as Dua Lipa, Camila Cabello and Little Mix. The likes of Rita Ora, Katy Perry and Sia have enjoyed lengthy bouts of success and a new album from Taylor Swift looks set to test even the most impressive of streaming records. As we speak, Beyonce is probably readying another pop culture shattering record.

Zara Larsson can certainly consider herself a prominent figure in this period of significant female artistic output. With 5 no.1 singles and 2 no.1 albums in her native Sweden, a number of top 10 singles in the UK, including her collaboration with Clean Bandit that went to no.1, Larsson has quickly cemented herself as a popular artist across Europe and the world.

Right now, Larsson is well underway with her first UK tour which includes a stop at Portsmouth’s very own Guildhall on October 27th. And to celebrate that, Larsson took some time out of her busy schedule to chat about the issues closest to her heart, the new musicians that excite her the most and her obsession with Beyonce.

What’s the coolest thing about Sweden?
“To me, it’s just my home. It’s where I grew up. I love the fact that you guys get four seasons and we just get fucking snow! I love that we’re very liberal and very accepting in general. We’re very progressive with equality.”

Who are the artists that have influenced your artistic style the most?
“Beyonce and Rihanna in particular.”

What one cause is closest to your heart?
Because I identify as a woman, and because people treat me as a woman, I feel that issues regarding women are very close to my heart. But because I’m a feminist and I take a lot of pride in being a feminist, I try to be really involved in issues regarding LGBTQ, people of colour and people with disabilities. It’s not only about equality between men and women, there’s a whole other spectrum that cannot be forgotten. There’s so many issues and topics and problems right now, it’s like, should we stop rape first? Or should we stop the discrimination of black people or any other people of colour? Should we stop the criminalisation of gay people in parts of the world? I don’t know what’s more important, I think just being a feminist and wanting equality for everyone is the way forward. Trying to involve a feminist perspective and way of thinking is what I want to do. It’s so hard for me to pick one topic to work on. But women’s health and women’s issues are close to my heart.”

Out of all the places you have visited on tour, which is your favourite?
“I loved Paris, I loved Amsterdam. I’ve never been touring in the UK which is so weird. I’ve only done festivals so I can’t wait for the headlining tour to create a lot of new memories. We’re going to Iceland which I’m really excited about but just the UK tour in general I’m really excited for. Also, I just love to be on the bus with my band mates and my dancers and it’s a great vibe. So the whole experience is really fun for me.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
“Probably ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ or ‘No One’ by Alicia Keys.”

What are you listening to at the moment that’s really grabbing your attention?
I listen to a lot to playlists and I listen to a lot of rap, but I wish that a lot of these rappers didn’t get as much attention. There’s so many out there like Kodak Black and XXXTentacion and artists like that, I mean, why are Spotify promoting them? XXXTentacion beat up his pregnant girlfriend and Kodak Black was in jail for rape. Why are they supporting this? It doesn’t make sense to me. But other than that I like Post Malone’s new songs, I love Kehlani. She definitely deserves more attention, she’s incredible, I love her. I love the new girls in pop right now too, like Camila Cabello, Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie. There’s so many cool girls that are coming up, obviously Dua Lipa already has a number one but I wish them all continued success.

What three things can you not live without when you’re on tour?
A good pillow, my noise cancelling headphones and a lot of snacks. I love popcorn. We’re not really crazy when we’re on tour. We’re super chill, like the most crazy thing we’ll do is leave the candy wrappers on the floor. We’re not a rock star crew at all.

Who are your ultimate male and female celebrity crushes?
Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonce.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you want to do for a job instead?
Probably still something in entertainment. Maybe go into acting, I would like to do that. I’m super picky with movies so I wouldn’t be on some corny shit. My boyfriend, he hasn’t seen a single good movie in his life so we’re currently going through all the good movies. We just saw The Shawshank RedemptionPretty Woman and I was like, what! You haven’t seen those? So something like a classic of course, and something entertaining and creative. If not that and I had to have a 9-5 job, I’d like to be a teacher because I just know how much my teacher helped me through life and how he made the bonds in my class so strong. My classmates are my family and I feel like my teacher did that. He was so good at bringing us together and a good teacher can make such a difference.

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