One of the world’s most objectively excellent popstars is back.
Zara Larsson‘s first proper single since last June’s Daft Punk interpolating and fucking excellent All The Time is Love Me Land, a slinky, dark and hookless bop that feels like as much of a curve-ball as it does a Zara hit. Love Me Land comes with a simplistic, addictive music video that shows Zara can’t just sing, she can spin.
Her first album in more than three years is en route, and talking about it – the work she’s done with collaborators Julia Michaels & Justin Tranter as well as taking more control over this record – Nic Kelly in bold, Ms. Larsson in not-bold.
Let’s talk about this song. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, made by everyone I’ve ever loved – it’s always ideal to see – Michaels/Tranter/Larsson. How did this happen?
I mean, I’ve been working on my album with Justin and Julia, Mr. Tranter and Ms. Michaels. We’ve done a lot of sessions together. This was actually the last, last session before everything just shut down completely. We were about to be in for a few more days, but we just had to go home because everything was closing. We were really inspired by ABBA, because one of my favourite songs is [SINGS LAY ALL YOUR LOVE ON ME IN PERFECT PITCH]. It’s so nice and sweet and short and *mwah*, the harmonies on that one are just insane and we just felt like we wanted to do something like that and let the verses be like, the moment, and then the chorus is like the breather. And then I was just inspired by how I feel right now. I was like, I can’t believe I’m so in love. I never thought I would be this in love. I’m very happy. And we were just like, let’s write about that.
Is that a change to write about something like that?
I think for me, when I write songs myself, I find it sooooo hard to not write about like… sex, basically. But it’s still sexy! It’s still a little bit mysterious. Like, how dare you have lips like that. It was just everything that I want for me in a song. Like it’s fun, and it’s a beat, but it’s still a lot of singing and it’s sassy… it just makes me really happy. When I left the session, I was just like, this is it . Sometimes when people ask me how I pick the songs I put out, I can’t really explain it. You just feel it. That’s how I felt with Lush Life and, and Never Forget You and all the songs that I have really, really loved, they’ve just worked for me as an artist. It’s very true to who I am.
Did you feel like that when you wrote All The Time as well, the most underrated bop of all time?
Hahahahaha. I actually didn’t write that one! I mean, I did write it, but I didn’t start it. But the difference between All The Time is like, when we had All The Time, it was kind of like, “hi, here’s my song, bye!” This time we’re just prepared. Like, we have a follow-up, we have the album, I have the cover and in my world this never happens. I am the most unorganised person, in the world, probably. I am completely dependent on other people because I’m just… very confused. And this time I feel so good because like, everything just feels right. It’s planned and in place and it makes sense. It’s just like, let’s go.
Is being a chaotic popstar kind of fun, though? Has not really knowing what’s coming next been kind of enjoyable for a little while?
It really is the perfect job for me. I am very worried what would happen to me if I didn’t do something creative. If I had like a ‘real job’, and I had deadlines and stuff? I don’t know. Like, I still have deadlines and stuff, doing what I do. I have this song I have to finish for a friend of mine, a DJ. And he’s like, “yo, what’s up? Like, how is it going?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m totally doing it like, it’s done!” And it’s like, I have not even started. Don’t tell him. But you know?!
I do, and that’s fine. You’re allowed to be like that. Here’s a weird thing that could be happening… Do you think like, being in love and being really comfortable and happy from that perspective, has kind of come at the same time as being really comfortable and planned and settled from a music creation perspective? Do you think the two intersect?
That’s a very good question, that would make sense… but I would give this all to my management, actually, hahahaha. They are just the creme de la creme. But you know what, I have been better at communicating for the past few months, particularly with them.
Does that come with growing up?
Maybe. Because I know how I cope with things, which is usually that if things get overwhelming for me, because I’m such a perfectionist so if it doesn’t turn out exactly the way I want it, or if I sense that it’s not going the right direction, instead of being like, let’s do this I just kind of leave it. If someone tries to call me to like, get me in the loop, I’m just like, no, I block your number, I’m just anxious now.
That hits different. I know exactly what it’s talking about. Let’s talk about songs, because if you’ve been working with Justin & Julia a fair bit and the album’s kinda ready to roll, what are you allowed to tell me about that music at the moment?
What can I say, what can I say… Um, well, I am pretty sure the upcoming song for this one’s going to be [REDACTED], a fun bop. A very, very fun bop. It’s such a grower… like for me, it was instant, but the more I listen to it, I’m like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right. I’ve worked with a lot of people for this album, but Justin and Julia are just… magic. Like, I don’t know what it is. It’s such an amazing dynamic that they’ve found. I’m very privileged to be working with them. Like, I really feel honoured when I’m in the room with them and they just have the best energy. I feel like all the people I worked with on this album are pretty much the same from So Good, which makes me feel really safe and free to express myself, because sometimes I get shy! This whole album is mostly about love, mostly about growing up, finding my voice a little bit more and like I said, I’ve been more hands on with this project and I feel like I’ve better communicated how I want everything to be. Even down to details, I just feel like this is really what I like and what I represent. I feel like it’s gonna be such a fun show, I always think about that, to me the live part of it is very important. So it can’t just only be good for when you’re listening to it by yourself, I want everyone to experience it on stage. So I think it’s gonna be really fun show when I am allowed to go back out.
When do you reckon it’s gonna be? When does it feel like it’s gonna happen?
Hopefully next summer. I doubt to see anything before that.
It’s so shit. At least you got to put songs out, at least we get to absorb the Zara.
Exactly. The art is still there. People still want music.
I wanna talk about the dancing in the clip… Actually, before we talk about the dancing in the clip, what the fuck is Love Me Land? Is it a place?
No! I mean, yeah, it could be, but to me, it’s more like – and that’s what the video represents – a mental state, The video is just me, so I can’t really hide behind anything. Maybe the sparkles. But you know, it’s just me in this big black room with this square light shining down on me. And it’s very empty. And it’s just like me dancing and expressing myself to the song. And I feel like that represents like, the mind. Because that’s where Love Me Land for me is. That’s where you happen to go, when you’re like, really happy, you know? I’m in Love Me Land! I don’t need anything! You can just run off of two hours of sleep and like, a Snickers bar, for two weeks and you’re like, I’m good! It’s such a fun place to be in. That’s where you go when everything just feels… right.