SA ZEINER; THE HEARTBEAT OF HONEST SOUNDS words Filipe Phitzgerard - photography Leanne Dixon - fashion Bianca Nicole - HMUA Vicky Alice
Sigrid Zeiner a.k.a SA ZEINER is the Oslo-born, London-based singer songwriter merging empathy and human connection in lyrics that speak to the deepest places of the heart. Through her music, Sigrid is in pursuit of perfectly cultivated understanding and freedom of expression that move only by the beats she choses. SA ZEINER is a trained classical singer and theatre performer, and through her own experiences and history, she is able to seemlesly merge emotional honesty with insightfulness expressed through relatable songwriting and an on-stage persona that allows her to connect with her audience in a deep and authentic way.
SA ZEINER grew up in Oslo, Norway but spent some time in New York before relocating to London where the people and the vibrant multicultural mixes influence her in a personal level. Her latest EP 'The Only Scars I've Got I Got in My Sleep’ is an invitation to live life with boldness and courage while remaining true to yourself and a point of reference to this generation as well as an encouragement to step into it head first. Her music is the perfect blend of soulful, melancholic pop and electronic heartbeats comboned with lyrics that are relatable, sensitive and thoughtful from its core. Sigrid is the real deal, presenting vulnerability and honesty in every beat and lyric.
Following the release of her EP 'The Only Scars I've Got I Got in My Sleep’ we had the pleasure of meeting with her for a chat where we discovered more about her upbringing, her influences both in life and music, her favorite things about Oslo, New York and London and much more.
Listen to SA ZEINER'S latest EP 'The Only Scars I Got I Got In My Sleep'
Filipe Phitzgerard: Okay, let's start from the beginning; can you tell us a bit about growing up in Oslo? How was it for you?
SA ZEINER: Growing up in Oslo was pretty great! I loved the summers the most and was always really close to nature. It’s a pretty grounding place to grow up. I used to go fishing for crabs at the seaside or ski in the mountains or bike to my bandmate's house to write music, drink coffee and stay for dinner.
F.P: We know that you started in the music world at a very young age, being inspired by your dad, correct? How did that form your very own passion for music?
SA: Yeah, my dad inspired me a lot with his collecting of jazz records. I was very into Al Jarreau and Frank Sinatra at some point and used to lay on the floor, moving the pin back to the start of the song every time - I love a good repeat! [Smiles] Later dad introduced me to Diana Krall and told me she had a residency at a hotel in our town for a few years and that made me feel so much closer to her music. The fact that Al Jarreau had won awards in three different musical genres really inspired me to try and not limit myself in terms of how I approach writing music.
F.P: When did you decide that music was the way to go for you?
SA: I have to think really hard on this, and I have no idea! It kind of just became clear to me after having spent time doing other things I guess. I often imagine that I could be doing something else and some days I’m so curious of what might happen if I brought my energy into another career but then there will be a big or small event or observation in my life that I will feel the need to write about and I’m reminded that music is more than just a profession to me and that’s why I feel so passionate about it.
F.P: So did you have any other career in mind?
SA: I was dead set on becoming a psychologist after high school and I also have a business degree but all that it taught me - other than curriculum - was that I would have sacrificed exactly where I am right now.
F.P: So the gut decision did pay off. And how were the teenage years for you? Any interesting or funny stories you can share with us?
SA: I was such an awkward teenager. I used to listen to Frank Sinatra whilst staring out the window and be moody. I was shy except for when around my close friends and I always had a crush or heartbreak, which took up a lot of my time. [Laughs] I never really felt like I fitted in and was always in search of somewhere new to find like-minded people. I wrote poems, short stories, and eventually, I wrote lyrics with my band Circumnavigate.
F.P: And as a teen, what inspired you in terms of music?
SA: My dad’s jazz collection, musicals, Edvard Grieg and pop charts. I loved Imogen Heap, Alicia Keys, and Røyksopp.
F.P: Your sound today is very contemporary and fresh, making it hugely appealing to your contemporary following. How do you then translate your classical training into this new hybrid sound?
SA: Thank you! I love layering vocals and coming up with melodies and I think I get the most use of my classical training on the higher notes. I’d say my classical training has influenced my sound to have some airy elements. I have also arranged the strings in the live video for ‘Could You Be Good To Me’ and the classical training helped there too.
F.P: And do you think that music has to be intentional in order to be successful?
SA: No, not necessarily. But I always prefer when it is. I feel like music can be on a spectrum where one side is for entertainment and the other side is for art and neither can be judged.
F.P: What is your relationship with social media like?
SA: Hmm. I used to like it more and before releasing music I probably spent more time on it. I love the visual element as I am quite aesthetically driven but since Instagram updated a while back I find myself spending less time there. As much as I want to be good at it I am on there for my music and so I don’t want to be sucked into it too much. However, it is the place I connect the most with people other than at gigs so I would never discard it completely.
F.P: How did Tanken influence or support you in terms of growing as an artist?
SA: They welcomed me and encouraged me a lot as an artist and a producer and they introduced me to a lot of people in the industry. They became someone who was always positive to me and at the time I lived in Norway I felt a little musically lonely otherwise so they were great to have.
F.P: Between living in Oslo, London, and New York, what do you feel are the biggest differences between them? Do you have a favorite?
SA: Oslo is just so comfortable and lovely and the quality of life there is amazing. I don’t love the dark cold months but Oslo has the best summers. As I’m a little restless I love living in London. There are so many opportunities, lovely people and diversity which you don’t find as much in Oslo. New York has amazing energy and I love it there but living there was maybe a little too busy for me. You feel tiny, there are not many places to wind down and sometimes I really need that.
F.P: What is the best and worst thing about each of them?
SA: Oslo has my oldest friends and my family and the quality of life is so comfortable. The winter months are tough but the summers are the best. London has so many lovely people, a constant source of inspiration, novelties, and opportunities but it is so expensive compared to the wages and sometimes I wonder how we all do it. And New York has the most vibrant energy and I love going there but it also makes you feel a little small maybe so living there again wouldn’t be an option if it was for a long time.
F.P: What is a dream place you want to visit one day?
SA: Rural China, The Caribbean, and New Zealand!
F.P: What would you say inspires you the most when creating? What drives you creatively?
SA: Observing people and situations around me drives me the most. When I have something specific to say it drives me to write, produce and finish a song.
F.P: Do you have any rituals or things you must-do must-have when creating?
SA: I like having it tidy around me, otherwise I feel like it clutters my mind. I’m also slightly addicted to coffee.
F.P: We are super excited about your new EP. ‘Could You Be Good to Me’ is my personal favorite and perhaps even my night-out anthem at the moment. How was it working on the new EP ‘The Only Scars I've Got I Got in My Sleep’?
SA: Thank you! Ah, that’s so amazing to hear. It has been a long time coming it feels like. I wrote ‘Could You Be Good To Me’ about three years ago in my studio at Tanken. I finished it with Synthomania and I knew that was the sound I wanted to continue with so it became the guide for the rest of my tracks. It has been really fun to work on the EP. As a first release I had a lot of time to try different things and work my way through all the songs I’ve written since moving back to London three years ago and it’s been fun and challenging.
F.P: Where does the name ‘The Only Scars I've Got I Got in My Sleep’ come from? It is indeed a very, very interesting title.
SA: Thanks! The name comes from a lyric in ‘Could You Be Good To Me’ and it refers to the Norwegian expression “jump in with your eyes shut.” There might be an equivalent expression in English? Basically, it means that sometimes you go into things without considering the consequences. You take risks and sometimes you are rewarded but sometimes you are hurt. I also only have scars I managed to get in my sleep so for me it is literal too.
F.P: How would you summarize the EP?
SA: It’s a journey of songs written in honesty about observations or experiences I have reflected on so far in life. From love, heartbreak, frustration, loss, and feminism. I wanted to introduce different aspects of myself lyrically and sonically. It took time to hone and honest presentation but I feel like I got there in the end.
F.P: What do you do on your downtime?
SA: I love having downtime if I have had a long time of being busy. Wasting time with people I love might be my favorite thing to do, hang out with my boyfriend and friends and dream and plan about the future whilst doing nothing or just be alone with my thoughts is the best way for me to store my energy. Other than that, painting, yoga and exploring London.
F.P: Tell us something about you people don't know yet.
SA: The people closest to me know this very well, but I am completely obsessed with psychology and personality types. It affects my songwriting quite a lot but I haven’t really spoken about it that much. Other than that I repeatedly eat food, like I repeat songs I like. I continue to eat the same thing until I’m tired of it, which in turn makes me a terrible cook.
F.P: Favorite f-word?
SA: Feminine and Flamboyant.
Words: Filipe Phitzgerard
Photography: Leanne Dixon
Fashion: Bianca Nicole
HMUA: Vicky Alice
SA ZEINER wears two-piece SCOTCH & SODA
SA ZEINER wears jacket NOK NOK; top TOPSHOP; trousers GAYEON LEE
SA ZEINER wears jumpsuit VERY; boots TOPSHOP
SA ZEINER wears two-piece SCOTCH & SODA; shoes CONVERSE
SA ZEINER wears top AGNE KUZMICKAITE
SA ZEINER wears dress RU; hat JAKKE; shoes ASH
SA ZEINER wears jacket and trousers NASTYGAL; jumper TOPSHOP
SA ZEINER wears jumper TOPSHOP