For someone who has bragging rights to a number one song, a Swedish Grammy award, and arguably one of the most powerful new voices of 2015, Seinabo Sey is about as humble and laid-back as they come. The 24-year-old Swedish musician is still riding high from the success of her massive debut single “Younger” (which has been remixed dozens of times and currently boasts more than 800,000 Soundcloud plays), and is now gearing up to deliver more dance-pop awesomeness in her debut album. Fresh off her turn at SXSW, the rising pop star phoned me directly — remember when we said she was laid-back? — to chat about her wild and crazy year. Read our interview to find out more about Seinabo Sey’s upcoming album, her self-described “shopping problem,” and her love for Adidas tracksuits.
You just played your first-ever SXSW. How’d it go?
It was incredible! The only thing about SXSW was that I missed all of the good music because I was playing at the same time.
Sort of a weird kind of festival FOMO.
Yeah, really. I was doing a bunch of shows, but then I would check Instagram and be like, “Oh I missed this artist here, and this one here…” [laughs] But I’m really lucky. My audience was amazing.
Congratulations are also in order, since you just scored a Swedish Grammy.
Thanks, it was such a dream come true, I can’t even believe it. It’s been a crazy couple of months – a crazy year! – for me already. Hopefully it will continue throughout the rest of the year, too.
Let’s backtrack for a bit. When did you first decide to pursue music?
I started singing in music school when I was about 10 years old. It took me a while to accept that this might be what I want to do in life, though. You do what people think you are good at. I got a good reaction from people when I sang, so I just kept on singing. I didn’t try to make it a career until I was 18,19. I’ve toured quite a lot already and sang backup a little bit. I met [my producer] Magnus Lidehällabout four years ago, and it was the first time feeling that this was a producer I really clicked with. I believed what he was saying, and it just felt fresh.
Did you have any idea just how popular “Younger” was going to be?
I never know what is going to be a hit or not. I like to feel that I take the song as far as it can go, and just give it the best chance I can. That’s my goal. But I think that [my producer] Magnus Lidehäll was so used to it – he’s a genius, so he wasn’t surprised! He knew it had a hit potential, but for me it was unexpected.
How do you feel about all of the remixes?
You know what, I like to see what other people think of my music and see what they can do with it. I don’t listen to remixes usually, but I really like that people take the music where it wouldn’t normally go. The most important thing to me, really, is keeping the message of the song. As long as people keep that, I’m happy.
How would you describe your onstage style?
Well, first off, I definitely have a shopping problem! [Laughs] I go through a lot of different phases in my style. My offstage style is actually quite different than my onstage style, but I’m really trying to mend the two together. As far as icons go, I really like Erykah Badu. She always feels very fresh and genuine—it feels like her. A lot of my performance outfits are tailor-made by designers I work with in Stockholm. To me, the most important thing is to be comfortable. These days I like to look as simple as possible, because the music should always be the focal point. It’s a very Swedish minimalist attitude!
Now you’re prepping to go on tour with another one of our favorite bands, Lion Babe.
I’m so excited! Jillian [Hervey] the prettiest girl. Her hair! I have so much anxiety over my hair, because how will I ever live up to that? I feel like I should just have a “non-hair” attitude, so I can just pretend like I don’t care… although obviously I really do. [Laughs]
What are you bringing with you on tour?
Adidas tracksuits are very important to me, so that’s number one. Comfortable clothes are key. I normally keep the same set of clothes that I wear offstage: I always take about five black turtlenecks, which are great when it’s cold. I always bring tons of books on tour that I never read. Good shampoo and conditioner, because the ones at hotels are crap.
What can you tell us about your album?
It’s basically my life thus far. There’s no real other way to make of your first album. I’ve been working on my album for so long now and I’m at this place now where it’s finally finished. So now I can completely focus on really just performing, which is just a great feeling – just being in that moment.
If you could provide the soundtrack to any movie, which film would you choose?
You know what? A James Bond movie! I want to sing the James Bond soundtrack so bad…that would honestly be the best thing ever.