We caught up with Swedish pop star Zara Larsson ahead of her performance at Berns, Stockholm for Volkswagen Garage Sound, celebrating the launch of the new T-Roc.
Mixmag: This is the second Volkswagen Garage Sounds you’ve played. Where was the first one and what was that like?
Zara: It was in Frankfurt and it was great. It’s always these relatively small, intimate events that I’m doing together with Volkswagen. I get to be on stage and that’s what I love. And I did drive round in the car.
M: They seem to be picking really unique venues…
Z: I know. This venue so beautiful. There’s also a club downstairs. I always used to sneak in here when I was 16. This is where my nightlife in Stockholm started. My mum used to go here. It’s old school.
M: The big question is always ‘what’s it like to play in your hometown?’ I always imagine it’d be worse because it’s easier to play to 100,000 strangers.
Z: For sure. You’re completely right because it’s like 50% of the people here are friends and family. It’s very intimate. I don’t have a script, but I know what I want to say in between the songs and when I translate everything into Swedish these days it can sound a little weird to me. It’s always a bit more nervy to play in your hometown.
M: Have you ever tried to DJ?
Z: No. All my best friends do so I feel like they should teach me!
M: What sort of music do they play?
Z: Mostly hip hop, but anything that’s good really. They’re a bit quirky sometimes.
M: Are they your source of underground music?
Z: I think the source of new music for me is my boyfriend. He’s very into all the new artists and all the new cool people on SoundCloud. He’s the one putting me onto stuff. Even though I love music, sometimes I feel like I don’t have the time to get into it as much as I’d like to. When I make music, I’m just in my zone and I only listen to my songs. That’s just my focus. I know after I feel like it’s done, I’ll probably listen to some new stuff. But it’s really nice to isolate yourself when creating.
M: If you were going on a Volkswagen T-Roc road trip, what dance music track would you play in your car?
Z: ’Fake ID’ by Riton and Kah-Lo. It sounds a little like Azealia Banks. Major Lazer, too.
M: What do you look for in a car?
For me a good soundsystem. I hate it when you get into a taxi and they just don’t have one.
M: How’s the T-Roc infotainment system’s sound?
Z: It’s lit!
M: You have Swedish rapper Joy supporting you tonight….
Yes she fits perfectly. She’s special and brings an amazing energy. I feel that, in a way, women that rap are taken more seriously as while there’s thousands of men that often sound similar, the women rappers seem to stand out.
M: Festival line-ups, in dance music are still male dominated. What can we do?
I think that you guys having so many talented women DJs on the cover is great, afterall it’s not like they don’t exist, they’re out there! You get these ‘studies’ that say “we found only 13% of the all the musicians were women and that’s why only 13% of the people nominated at such and such awards are women”. But they don’t ask why that is; because the industry has been lifting up the men. If the awards for example had taken one more woman for album of the year or whatever then that would inspire so many women to also get into music. You have to see yourself represented and you want to look at someone and think “I could be that person”.
Watch Zara Larsson’s Stockholm performance and check out more upcoming Volkswagen Garage Sound events here