20-year old Swedish singer Zara Larsson is back with a brand new single called ‘Ruin My Life.’

 

 

During a recent interview with Billboard, Zara talks new music and why albums still matter to her in a streaming era.

 

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Square up then

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BB: “Ruin My Life” was originally conceived as a duet, and the version your label first played me also had different lyrics. Can you walk me through how that song has evolved since you first recorded it?

ZL: “When it’s a collaboration, I feel like the dynamic of the song is different, because it’s more of a conversation. I recorded the song and talked to my team like, “I want it [for myself]!” But when I sang it just me, I thought the lyrics were a bit tragic. It became this really sad girl singing about, honestly, an abusive relationship. Like, “I miss you throwing your fist through the wall.” — hold up, what? That’s violent shit! So I didn’t want to talk about that. I always argue with myself: Does this represent me? Is this a good message to send out to my fans? With that version, I didn’t feel represented. So together with the writers, we rewrote the lyrics for the verses so it was a bit more about the emotional rollercoaster. I don’t want to promote [violence], but I still want to be able to tell my story and tell something that I’ve been through without being labeled a bad feminist or a bad person.”

 

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Under this stunning picture of me and on behalf of international men’s day let’s talk about toxic masculinity, shall we? Toxic masculinity is deadly. It forces boys to learn that showing emotions is weak and feminine, which is always a negative term (for example: you run like girl). For centuries women have been labeled as fragile, weak, soft and dependent when we’re so much more complex than that. Toxic masculinity tell boys that crying or sharing your feelings is something you shouldn’t do, cause if they do it’s “gay” (The homophobia JUMPED out). By having these standards on men and on top of that having the stigma around mental health it makes it extremely hard for many men to seek help if they’re feeling depressed, anxious or even suicidal. And if I hate men? I hate the patriarchy that men uphold. I hate that men have dominant social roles over women and other genders. I hate that men sit on the majority of the power positions in almost every category. I hate toxic masculinity, cause it doesn’t only effect the hundreds of thousands of men dying by suicide, but the millions of WOMEN it hurts and kills by domestic violence and rape. It’s up to YOU MEN to dismantle all this mess. So tell me what are you, as a man, doing to make this world a better place for men, women, poc and lgbtq? extra shout out to my dad for raising meeee

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BB: That must be a strange spot: You can’t just worry about whether people will like the song, you also worry about whether it’ll be deemed good or bad for woman.

ZL: “Even if I didn’t do music, I would still be politically aware — not only [about] politics but human rights and feminism. It’s just a big part of who I am, so I think that just comes naturally. It’s not so much, “Oh my God, will I get a hate hashtag on Twitter?” It’s more like, “Do I stand for this?””

 

 

BB: How often do you find yourself tweaking song lyrics for similar reasons? I remember you changed the lyrics to “Ain’t My Fault,” which was originally about stealing another woman’s boyfriend, because you didn’t want the song to have a woman-versus-woman message.

ZL: “It definitely happens, where someone sends me a song and I’m like, “I wouldn’t say that” or “That’s not me, I wouldn’t stand for that.” And when I’m in a room [co-writing], I’m very quick to be like, “Ah, I don’t want to say that,” and there’s no hard feelings. It’s very rare that someone’s like, “Don’t touch it.” I just find it important. When I look at my concerts, it’s quite diverse, but I just want to make a really strong message for girls. I don’t want to pit any girls against each other, and I hope I wouldn’t be with someone who’s punching holes in the wall.”

 

 

BB: The road to your last album, So Good, was a long one — about two years passed between when you released the first single, “Lush Life,” and when the album hit shelves. During that time, you explored a lot of different directions and worked with all kinds of writers and producers. How are you approaching making an album this time around?

ZL: “I find it so hard! My original plan was to have the album ready before I released any singles. But then I was like, “No, I’m just going to keep doing sessions with all these different people, and then once the album has to come out, like, next week, then that’s the deadline [to pick the tracklist].” And just like with So Good, I don’t really have a vision for my sound. I’ll just stay in [what’s happening in popular music] so hopefully, when I look back at my work in 10 years, it’ll be clear, “Oh, this era was this, this era was that.” Everything in pop culture goes quite quick: The style and genre that’s the biggest now will maybe shift, and whoever influences pop culture now will be someone else.  It’s just like what I do with my Spotify playlists — if it’s a good song, I just add that to my playlists. And hopefully, I’ll see a [throughline]. But we’ll see. It’s not finished. I change my mind five million times, so I don’t know what it’s going to end up being like or who I’m collaborating with. On the day of the deadline, that’s when I’ll know.”

 

To read the FULL interview with Zara and Billboard, click here.

Filed under: one-to-watch, Zara Larsson