A year into the coronavirus pandemic, Zara Larsson is ready to have fun. “I’ve just been staying my ass at home,” she tells Elite Daily, joking that in Stockholm, Sweden, where restaurants are open and lockdown measures never took place, “you get harshly shamed if you go anywhere.” For that reason, the 23-year-old pop star is sticking to the routine so many have grown accustomed to: ordering takeout and binge-watching Netflix series like Lupin. “Whenever I find something that I’m obsessed with, I have to finish it as soon as I can,” she says. New series might prove comforting, but her sleepy routine is (thankfully) about to get a makeover: Zara Larsson’s Poster Girl album finally drops on March 5.
Since winning Sweden’s Got Talent at a ripe 10 years old in 2008, Larsson has become a music industry pro, collaborating with a wide range of artists (think: David Guetta, Tyga, Sabrina Carpenter, and BTS) while topping the Billboard Hot 100 charts with singles like “Never Forget You” and “Ain’t My Fault.” Yet Poster Girl — four years in the making — feels especially momentous. “I would lie if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but I think it’s gonna be super fun, and I’m very proud of it,” she says. “I think it’s a good selection of bops and bangers and I can’t wait to perform them live, whenever I get to do that.”
Those bops and bangers include 2020’s “Love Me Land” plus “Talk About Love,” her collaboration with Young Thug that directly explores the album’s throughline. “My theme always comes back to love, which is unique, girl sings about love,” she says, jokingly acknowledging the cliche. “I find it so fun to write. Not really like, I love love this person, but in different aspects of life, mostly the attraction you have to someone. It’s just so powerful and literally why we’re alive — to feel love and be loved and to give love.”
For Larsson, making and listening to music about love offers an escape, something she’s needed these past few months. “I still walk into my bathroom and I stand in front of the mirror and I put on a whole show. Like, I put on my high heels and I dance and I’m like, ‘Let me hear you sing it louder!’ It’s full-out,” she says. “Pop music has always been that for me. This album in general is quite positive. I wanted something fun and upbeat, full-out dance.”
Luckily, she’ll get to live that “full-out” fantasy on March 8 (International Women’s Day), when she’s set to headline a digital YouTube concert in celebration of Poster Girl. For now? The bathroom will have to do. Below, Larsson revisits select performance memories while discussing the highs and lows of pop stardom.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Elite Daily: This look is so much fun! What was going on that day and where’d you score that bodysuit?
Zara Larsson: It was made by Lazoschmidl, who mostly does clothes for men. [The Swedish designers] have really nice fabrics and the quality of it feels super nice. We met each other and it was like, “Hey, would you make a suit for me, just like a one-piece looking really snatched with a beautiful fabric?” It felt so comfortable to move in because when I’m on stage, not only do I want things to look nice, I have to have stuff that feels good. I just cannot wear something that is uncomfortable and I’m really scared things are gonna break — especially when you dance. And so this one is perfect. You can do whatever in this.
ED: The caption you wrote — “im an old man in a young mans body” — is so funny and random. Can you explain it?
ZL: Sometimes I do write weird sh*t, but this wasn’t too deep. It was just me taking a video of myself. If you slide [the post], it’s my ear technician guy who’s in the background, like, “I am an old man in a young man’s body.” People started commenting that and I was like, “Haha!” I just quoted him. Everything doesn’t have to make sense.
ED: So was this photo taken on a casual day?
ZL: I would love that to be a casual day. I was performing in Sweden and [it was] the most Swedish show. It’s once a week every summer and it’s like a sing-along show. It’s so cute. It’s definitely a national treasure. Whenever artists have something out and want to promote, it’s like one of the biggest shows to do summertime in Sweden. It’s called Allsång På Skansen.
ED: You toured with Ed Sheeran back in 2019. Did you always wear these silly wigs backstage?
ZL: No! This was the last show in Iceland that we did. I didn’t know they were going to do this. I was on stage singing and I turned around and I was like, “What the f*ck!” Everybody just looked like Ed Sheeran. So it was their little prank or whatever — very innocent, very cute. And then I had to put mine on and we were all Ed Sheerans on stage and the audience loved it. When I tried that wig on I was like, “I’m going to color my hair orange!” which I did later on.
ED: What is Sheeran like in real life?
ZL: He was so amazing to tour with. He was just a dream. I just couldn’t think of anyone better. He was so sweet, so nice. And because he is such a lovely person, I feel like everyone else around him was that too — and then it drizzled down to the catering [crew], even the truck guys. Everybody just had good spirits. Definitely an inspiration if I ever get to that level, to just be a decent human being, say hi to people, treat them with respect. It’s so much more fun if you’re just normal.
ED: Do you get nervous performing for such large crowds?
ZL: It’s funny because after you’ve done that tour you get so spoiled and you’re like, “What?! Ugh!” if you do a festival and there’s only, like, 30,000 [people] in the crowd. I want the arena! I want the big crowd! I’ve always thought that. My dream and my goal in life, at least in my music career, is to have a stadium tour. That’s the biggest thing you can do and it is a very powerful feeling to see tens of thousands of people, close to 100,000, coming together for one night to sing along with each other and experience the same things. It was powerful but almost to the point where you can’t really take it in. It’s just an ocean of people. It was insane.
ED: You always keep it real on Instagram. In this post, you wrote about feeling proud to get out of bed, especially after a year that was “so hard” for you mentally. What was going on this day?
ZL: Me and my sister said if we could frame 2020 it would literally be us sitting on the sofa — that’s it, like, that’s my year. It’s cozy for one night or two nights, even a week, but after a while when you don’t have routines or a schedule, I felt like I didn’t have a purpose. I’m just floating around in the universe and I felt a little lost. I just broke down. I ended up going to bed really late, sleeping all day. In Sweden, in the wintertime the sun rises at, like, 9 and it’s dark at 3, so if you sleep for a long time you miss the sunlight completely, so I was just living in darkness. I’m a very anxious person naturally so it put me in a tiny, tiny depression.
I just couldn’t be bothered. I’m like, “Why do I even have to get out of bed? Why do I even have to take a shower? No one’s seeing me. I don’t care. I literally don’t care.” And I just didn’t recognize that part of myself. That happens when you feel very unmotivated. A lot of people have been going through that. Routines, at least for me, are so important. When I lost that I just didn’t care about anything. I wrote about it because I think a lot of people can relate.
ED: The photo was shared on Christmas. Did that contribute to your mood?
ZL: That was on Christmas and I just felt like, “This sucks, especially on Christmas!” A lot of people have to be their happiest and the most thankful and have a really good Christmas dinner, love their family, and everything’s great. And I just really felt the opposite of that. I think a lot of people did, too, especially when they can’t go and see their families, many have been spending Christmas alone. We’re all in this together. That’s how I felt.
ED: Do you overthink what you share on social media?
ZL: Sometimes I’m like, “I should just post whatever to my Instagram.” But then it’s like, “Will this picture get enough likes?” You know what I mean? We’re all in this f*cking hamster wheel. I was just letting people know that even though it might look good when you scroll — especially when you scroll — sometimes you need a reminder. That’s why I love following Lizzo. This is actually real life. Not everybody’s happy all the time. Nobody’s happy all the time. We live in a situation where a lot of young people are like, “No negativity! That’s toxic, all positivity.” But that’s not real life. I always try to remind people that life sucks sometimes and that’s the truth — and it’s fine!
In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. Read more here.