Zara Larsson is pulling a sickie. When we phone her up for our interview, she tells us she’s spending the day in bed because she’s feeling run down from all her recent travelling. “I’m not very well at the moment, but it is what it is. It’s not like a sick sick day, but my tummy feels funny. I need a good night’s sleep, but I’ll be fine and dandy soon.”
We’d suggest she come up with a better line than that for her manager, but the proof is out there; earlier this week she walked off the stage mid-song at US festival Music Midtown to be sick, only to return straight away to finish her set.
Despite that, she somehow manages to be her usual upbeat and chatty self on the phone: “I am very busy at the moment but I’m fine. It’s a good thing – it would be tragic if I wasn’t [busy]!”
Such determination has undoubtedly got her to where she is today; five Top 10 singles, a Top 10 debut album and now, a 10-date UK tour – her first proper headline tour in country after countless one-off dates.
“I’m actually really excited about these UK shows,” she says with genuine enthusiasm. "In general, England has been so accepting of me. I feel like I’m a part of the UK scene now. I’m excited to do a proper tour.”
You’ve essentially been on one big non-stop world tour since Lush Life took over the world last year. How has your live show evolved since then?
“That’s what I want to do for sure – constantly evolve the live show. I’m always going back into rehearsals and seeing what I can switch up. Not just for the audience but also for me, because, you know, now’s not a good time to be doing the same thing over and over again.
“I want to keep making it a bit more fun and different. I’ve played some festivals this summer – the setlist won’t be too dissimilar to that. I want to tour more though – being on stage and performing is the best part of all of this.”
Your live show is pure energy, and you’ve previously said you’d like to get more into dancing. Can we expect some J Lo-style routines on this tour?
“Ha yes that’s the ultimate goal! I have a personal trainer who said the more you tour, the less choreography you’ll want to do because you’ll get tired. Honestly to me, it’s the opposite! It’s like, you get comfortable with a routine, so you try add more and more to it over time. I look at my dancers and I’m like, ‘okay show me how you do that?’. The show needs to be visual – look good – as well as sound good.”
You’ve released a lot of singles from your debut album, So Good. Please tell us why TG4M hasn’t been one of them?
“I know! Isn’t that weird? I love that song, that song is so good. It deserves better. It’s almost like Lush Life 2.0 - very effortless, and I feel happy when I hear it. I’ve had like, what, eight singles from this album, which makes me feel a huge pressure for the next album, but we’ll see. I hope people still love me when I release that.
“I’m very aware of the fact that Lush Life and Never Forget You gave me a huge push for the album. I want to release an album a year but in this new era, people aren’t really buying albums. To me, it’s not all about sales anyway, other than to make it look good on a poster. I read somewhere I’m the only female artist of the new pop girls who got a certified album, which is so weird! It’s thanks to Lush Life and Never Forget You. I’m really excited for the next project now."
How far into the next album are you?
“I’m gonna say not that far. I started two-and-a-half months ago with MNEK and we wrote two amazing songs. I’m not sure if they’ll make the album yet, but I love to work with him. He is such a blessing to work with. Ever since that session it’s been going super well and I’ve been feeling really inspired.
“Truth be told, I didn’t think writing was fun when I did my first album because I wasn’t good at it. Now I feel more comfortable saying what I want to say. I can express myself a little better. I feel a way bigger part of the process now than I was before, which makes all the difference. I can now go in the studio with writers and say, ‘This is what I want to say and this is what I want it to sound like.’”
You explored a lot of different sounds on So Good. Are you honing in on something more specific for the follow-up?
“I don’t really know to be honest. Maybe I’m exploring or maybe I’m just singing what I like to sing. If someone asked me to describe my music style for us, I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Ha, right?! I like to listen to a lot of different things, so naturally I’m influenced by that. But then when you work with people like MNEK, of course I want to be inspired by his sound – that’s why I’m working with him! It’s very early but for now, it’s kind of mysterious and a little sexy, but still pop, of course.”
As well as MNEK, have you approached any of pop’s super producers, i.e Max Martin, yet?
“I have worked a bit with the MXM team (owned by Max Martin) recently in LA, and it felt really good. I see Max Martin all the time because he has a studio complex that everybody’s in. Honestly, I wish I could live there. His complex is Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra’s old house. It’s not too shabby I can tell you!
“I haven’t worked specifically with him [Max] yet, but we did a couple of songs and then he called us on Facetime and made some suggestions and changes. He’s definitely always looking over his writers, so he’s very involved. The whole team are great though… it really is pop heaven."
May we request the new album arrives quicker than So Good took to get out please?
“[Laughs] Oh my god, YES for sure!”
Zara Larsson's UK and Ireland tour kicks off in Belfast on October 15 and concludes in Southend on October 28. Tickets and more information can be found on Live Nation's website.
Enter our competition below to win a signed copy of Zara's So Good album: