Singer Zara Larsson On Fangirling Over Beyoncé, Her Boardgame Obsession And New Album

Becky Burgum
·6-min read
Photo credit: Erik Henriksson
Photo credit: Erik Henriksson

From ELLE

Zara Larsson’s new album, Poster Girl, is the escapist dance-in-your-bedroom-with-a-hairbrush pop we need right now.

Known for chart-topping singles ‘Never Forget You’ with MNEK and ‘Symphony’ with Clean Bandit, Larsson's international debut So Good is still the second most streamed debut album by a woman ever on Spotify, following Ariana Grande’s My Everything.

You may not know that she got her first number one single aged 15, after winning Swedish talent competition Talang Sverige (their Britain’s Got Talent equivalent) aged 10. Collaborations with Tinie Tempah to David Guetta propelled the 23-year-old to global stardom and she’s since opened for Beyoncé's Formation tour in London, toured with Ed Sheeran and been named in Forbes' 30 Under 30 power list.

Photo credit: Zara Larsson
Photo credit: Zara Larsson

But it’s not just the pop heroine’s many music accolades we love the most.

It’s her social media wit and candidness that make a refreshing change to the often un-relatable #goals that fill our feeds. She speaks her mind and is quick to call out sexist and racist comments. A highlight was a 2015 Instagram post mocking men who refuse to wear condoms by posting a photo of one round her leg and foot to prove they’re not ‘too small’. In 2018, she won an award for feminism from Sweden's oldest women's' rights organisation.

If Larsson wants one thing, it’s to make other people, especially women, feel good about themselves and new album Poster Girl does just that. Think of a cross between an anthem like 'Shout Out To My Ex' with slick melodies reminiscent of Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey.

This love and appreciation of the women who came before her and those who she regards as peers blends into Larsson's cultural penchants too, as she reveals to ELLE for our series, My Life In Culture.

Photo credit: Banks Nash
Photo credit: Banks Nash


Poster Girl is a must-listen because...

Pop is a form of escapism and this album is so happy and dance friendly. When I listen to music, I dance in my room and perform to an imaginary crowd, so this was all about fun. My last session in the studio was the day before lockdown in LA last year, it wasn't made in quarantine, but its positivity might be just what we need right now.

What I’ve been listening to recently…

If I’m doing my makeup, my favourite song is ‘F.*.C.K’ by Victoria Monet, which stands for a ‘friend you can keep’. I love Swedish rappers like Yasin and Newkid, but I mainly listen to mood music in my apartment, like classical Bossa Nova or the Indiana Jones soundtrack. I play board games everyday and love to have adventure music in the background – Caton has taken over my life in lockdown. I want everything I do to feel like a movie.

My biggest fan girl moment was…

Not meeting Beyoncé. I opened for her in London and my biggest regret is not having the courage to meet her. I was balling my eyes out in the dressing room after the show because it was such a huge moment. I think I would have had a heart attack if I'd met her. I totally understand and connect with fandom, it’s like following a religion in a way, you listen to your favourite artist when you want to feel better or understood like worship.

Photo credit: Luc Coiffait
Photo credit: Luc Coiffait

The first album I owned was…

Swedish singer Carola Häggkvist, bought by my mother – she got me into all the big divas like Aretha Franklin and Celine Dion, who was my first concert. My first true love was Whitney Houston, I sung one of her songs in my audition for Talang Sverige [the talent competition that launched her career] . I remember seeing her album cover by David LaChapelle and thinking she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. She’s got so much power in her voice and I constantly try to recreate her Super Bowl national anthem performance at home. I’ve always looked up to really big voices.

I would absolutely love to work with...

Ariana Grande. She's already appeared on the backing vocals of one of my tracks after I bumped into her in the studio, but I'd love to write and perform a song together. She’s so humble and self-aware.

I’m always listening to a podcast…

I listen to them more than music, especially when I’m in the middle of an album. I love Scriptnotes, about screenwriting, Freakonomics and any creepypastas, which are ghosts tories. They make me feel like I’m with friends even when I’m alone. That’s why my heart got stolen by the app Clubhouse, it’s like an interactive podcast.

Photo credit: Luc Coiffait
Photo credit: Luc Coiffait

What TV shows I’ve been watching recently…

I’m a serial binger and watch most series in a day, I stay up far too late and have seen basically everything on Netflix. I loved Ozark, Lupin, Your Honour (with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston) and Euphoria. That whole series is magic and shot like a music video –it’s visually stunning.

The last film I watched was…

Pieces of a Woman, with Vanessa Kirby, it was such a powerful and traumatic story. Having a good cry can be cathartic, I cry a little bit to everything from My Sister’s Keeper to Disney, which are always nicer, happier cries. I loved Soul, I’m always very close to tears or laughter.

To feel comforted I always watch…

Avatar. I know every line and have watched it at least 20 times. It makes me feel safe, in the same way The Office does for most people.

Photo credit: Zara Larsson
Photo credit: Zara Larsson

My favourite accounts to follow on Instagram are…

Always people who make me laugh or make me appreciate myself or my body. I never follow typical influencers because I end up comparing myself and our lives, which makes me feel bad. Munroe Bergdorf is a brilliant educator, she talks about sexism, feminism, racism, transphobia – it’s so important learn about issues that may not directly affect you. Lizzo makes me feel so good about myself because she’s so confident. She doesn’t fit into society’s typical beauty standards, but she’s like, ‘F**k that, this is my body. I love it. I love myself. Eat it up.’ Then there’s Elsa Majimbo for the laughs, she is a funny, funny woman who makes sketches while eating crisps in bed.

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