Sigrid Talks New Album ‘How to Let Go,’ Surviving the Music Industry

  • Sigrid recently spoke to Insider about her sophomore album “How to Let Go,” released last Friday.
  • The Norwegian singer-songwriter said she grew up “shy” with dreams of becoming a lawyer.
  • Now, as an acclaimed pop artist, she’s learning to “grab life” and leave childhood behind.

I met Sigrid on a damp morning in early April, perched on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, more than 3,400 miles away from her hometown.

The Norwegian singer-songwriter had just completed an acoustic set in the iconic building’s observatory, where she confessed to the intimate crowd that her new album title, “How to Let Go,” is more aspirational than instructive.

“I don’t know if I know how. That’s why it’s called ‘how to’ because I don’t know properly yet,” she chuckled. “But I’m 25, so give me a break.”

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Sigrid decamped to her parents’ house in Norway for nearly two years. Traveling back and forth to a small studio in Copenhagen, she pieced together her much-anticipated sophomore album, which paints the portrait of a brave and supremely well-adjusted woman.

“The thing I think I’m most proud of in my career is that I’m still fine,” she told me. “Because this is a really fucking tough industry and it can break you down.”

sigrid empire state building

 

Sigrid performs at the Empire State Building on April 7, 2022.

Callie Ahlgrim

Sigrid famously penned her debut single, 2017’s “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” following a recording session with older male executives that left her feeling patronized and small. “You think you’re so important to me, don’t you?” she sang with gentle scorn.

She spent the next several years proving just how mistaken they were, selling over 1 million global copies of her debut album “Sucker Punch” — earning rave reviews for her “near-perfect collection of belting pop” and “down-to-earth vocal firepower” — and racking up 1.3 billion global streams.

But throughout “How to Let Go,” which was released via Island Records last Friday, Sigrid spends far more time grappling with her evolution than she does bragging about it.

“I’m happy with my age and what I’ve done and my career, and I’m super, super grateful,” she explained. “But of course there’s a bit of bittersweetness to not being a kid anymore — that pureness of growing up in this tiny town with 50,000 people living there, sleeping in my childhood bedroom with my parents and my siblings and our cat.”

“It was very quiet and nice. We would go skiing and hiking. Now, Empire State Building,” she added, gesturing to the ceiling above her.

Sigrid may claim that she doesn’t know how to let go, but her new album makes a compelling case to the contrary

“How to Let Go” kicks off with the confident double punch of “It Gets Dark” and “Burning Bridges,” wherein Sigrid throws herself into the inky, vast unknown, leaving people behind who can’t match her passion.

Sigrid learns similar lessons throughout the 12-song tracklist, largely within the context of a breakup she initiated. (“It’s all true,” she clarified modestly. “I’m not going to tell you what happened exactly, out of privacy.”)

“I need to let you go, ’cause when you know, you know,” she sings wisely on “Thank Me Later,” later insisting, “I just changed, I never pretended” on “Last to Know.” The show-stopping single “Mirror” is a self-love anthem that was sparked by newfound solitude: “It took me walking away to really know / I love who I see looking at me / In the mirror.”

In Sigrid’s hands, these words don’t feel trite or obvious. Instead, she embraces the powerful role of a young woman on the go, unsure of her destination yet barreling ahead anyway.

Even the song titles themselves (“Dancer,” “A Driver Saved My Night,” “Grow”) suggest there’s inherent value in movement.

“I am on the constant move. I’m never really settled,” Sigrid agreed, noting that she’s been touring at a near-constant pace since she was 20.

“Often, it’s a couple of days in each place and then you move on to another thing,” she added. “That is very inspiring, and there is freedom in that, for sure.”

sigrid concert brooklyn steel

 

Sigrid performs at Brooklyn Steel.

Callie Ahlgrim

In fact, the thrill of performing has become one of Sigrid’s primary inspirations. She said she often considers how a song will course through a concert venue as she’s writing it.

“This whole album is made for live shows,” she said.

‘Give a mic to fucking anyone and they’ll turn up the charm’

The evening before our interview, Sigrid took the stage for a packed show at Brooklyn Steel in New York. Animated and effusive, she bantered with fans in the front row and even teased a few over sharing her astrological sign (“Any fellow Virgos in the crowd who relate to these songs on another level?”).

Although Sigrid described herself as “shy,” she said her onstage identity is not an alter-ego, but rather her natural disposition “turned up a notch.”

“It’s just my personality when given a microphone,” she explained. “Give a mic to fucking anyone and they’ll turn up the charm.”

Despite feeling like the wallflower in her “loud” and “political” family, Sigrid was raised with reassurance that her opinions and emotions held merit.

“I’ve always been very curious. I remember with my grandmother, she used to tell me that she loved our conversations,” she said. “I was probably not very insightful or deep. What can a 10-year-old really say about life? But I did feel like she really took me seriously and was listening to me and asking me questions.”

As for her parents, they had just two simple rules for Sigrid and her two siblings: “Do your best and be kind.”

“Slacking was not cool,” she said. “They didn’t care if I got a good grade or not, as long as I tried my best. And that was an important lesson because I can get quite self-critical if I’m not getting the result I want.”

sigrid concert brooklyn steel

 

Sigrid performs at Brooklyn Steel.

Callie Ahlgrim

At its core, “How to Let Go” is Sigrid’s attempt to release this self-criticism, trust her own instincts, and refuse to settle — both physically and emotionally.

The album ends with the contemplative and optimistic “High Note,” partially inspired by the Corpus Clock at Cambridge University. According to Sigrid, the “Harry Potter-esque” monument was designed to “remind the students of time, how we need to really grab life and do everything that we want to do.”

Sigrid described her album’s closing track as an ode to “life itself.”

“I never ever thought that any of this was going to happen,” she explained. “I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a pop or rock artist. I wanted to be a lawyer.”

“But I’m not trying to hide my music. I want people to listen to it. I’m very ambitious,” she added a few minutes later, a blazing look in her eye. “Yesterday at Brooklyn Steel, feeling the energy in that room? That’s why I do what I do.”

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