Interview by Jana Letonja

Multi-platinum pop icon Zara Larsson continues to quietly make history and break records. Swedish Grammy, BRIT and MTV EMA award-winner and nominee dropped her new single ‘End Of Time’ this May. It’s the second preview of the Scandinavian star’s new era to follow hit single ‘Can’t Tame Her’. Zara will be also making her acting debut in Netflix’s upcoming 2024 film ‘A Part Of You’. 

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Zara, you recently released your second single ‘End of Time’ from your upcoming fourth studio album. Part symphonic power-ballad, part dystopian dance-banger, End Of Time summons Loud-era Rihanna and the emotional high-stakes of hometown heroes Abba in an unguarded declaration of desire. What inspired this song and what personal meaning does it have for you?

‘End of Time’ is a passionate love song about wanting to be with someone until the very end of time. It’s quite existential, there’s tempo there and it’s a fun song, but at the same time it’s deep. I made the record with Rick Nowels and Casey Smith, who I’ve written with a lot on my upcoming album. You can sing ‘End of Time’ to anyone you love dearly. 

End of Time video takes a cinematic new direction, imagining visiting your younger self just for one day and capturing the need to follow that inner drive and fearless dancer from childhood until the End Of Time. How did you decide on such a special concept for the video? 

In the video I chose to focus on my love of performing. I have a little girl, also named Zara in real life, who represents the younger version of myself or maybe I represent the future version of who she wants to be. She’s performing for herself, in her own little world and I can really relate to that growing up. I always dreamed of becoming an artist and the ‘End of Time’ video is an eternal love story in some senses as it’s my love letter to being an artist. I want to do what I do until the ‘End Of Time’.

Since your break onto the music scene, you continue to make history and break records. You’ve receivedawards and nominations ranging from the Swedish Grammys, BRITS and MTV EMAs. What do the awards and nominations of such caliber mean to you personally and as an artist?

I want a really long career and to create my artistry, but at the same time of course I want to do things really well right away and I am super grateful for those accomplishments. I think it comes down to whether you love what you’re doing. Do I love this song? Am I doing something to compromise my taste and style, just because it might be a hit? At the end of the day, it’s all about making great records, adding to your catalogue and how you present yourself to the audience, rather than any accolades. It doesn’t have to be that hard. 

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What made you passionate about music? How was your love for music born?

I honestly don’t know where it came from. I love to perform and entertain. I don’t have a memory of when I wasn’t doing it or can think of one concert or song that made me a pop fan. I’ve always just performed, for my friends, family, at every dinner and for anyone who came over. It’s a part of my DNA at this point. 

Can you share with us a bit more about your professional career beginnings. How challenging and exciting was the path to release your first single?

It’s crazy to me that this was ten years ago. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with ‘Uncover’. There were no drums, it was emotional and totally different from what was big in Sweden at the time. I’m not the girl in a long dress who sings ballads, now or then, but I knew I had to make that record and the fact it did well allowed me to keep releasing the music I wanted to make. My team has always supported me in those decisions. We don’t have to agree on everything every time, but they’d help me do what I wanted to do. In the ten years since then, some records did well and others didn’t, but it’s interesting to me looking back as even the ones that didn’t chart so well helped me find my way to ones that did, like ‘Lush Life’. So long as you release work you love, you can’t lose. Being signed to an independent Swedish label and now running my own label with Sony has meant my team always has my back. It could’ve turned out differently at a conventional major label as they’re just so stubborn, but so am I. 

You’ve done countless collaborations so far. What is the most exciting thing about collaborating with another artist, especially someone from a completely different genre?

Sharing a language in melody I think is really important. I love a good lyric, but it doesn’t come as naturally to me. I’m a melody girl. If we don’t like the same kind of chords, it’s going to be a struggle. Just the vibe of a person is super important too if you’re going to collaborate. You want to feel like you can open up and be comfortable sharing your thoughts. I also like there to be a touch of melancholy in my music. It can have a sense of swagger and be upbeat, but it can’t be too happy. 

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‘End of Time’ is your second single from your upcoming album, following ‘Can’t Tame Her’, which was released earlier this year. What can we expect from this upcoming, fourth album and third international album?

I’d say it’s more dynamic than ‘Poster Girl’. There are more upbeat songs, but also more ballads. It’s a little more like ‘So Good’ in that sense, which is honestly just very me, eclectic and a little all over the place. The red thread is the drum sounds, my voice and the quality of the songs. But I like to be a little here and there, I’m not super tied to one sound or concept. That’s why I love Rihanna so much, she can do whatever she wants, dance, pop, R&B, reggae. She’s definitely an inspiration when it comes to what my next record is going to sound like. 

You’re doing countless performances this Spring and Summer. What is the most thrilling feeling of being on stage, performing in front of huge audiences and fans?

That sense of belonging, that we’re all doing this together. It’s almost a spiritual experience when everyone’s singing or dancing to one song. It makes the crowd feel good and as a performer it makes me feel great to create beautiful memories with people. You get a huge adrenaline rush, a lot of endorphins. Chemically your brain just feels euphoric. 

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Is there a performance planned for this Summer that you’re especially looking forward to?

I’m very excited about Lollapalooza Stockholm. It’s always nice to do a hometown gig. All of my friends and family are coming, so that one for me is the gig of the summer. 

In May, you also confirmed you’ll be making your acting debut in Netflix’s upcoming movie A Part Of You‘, which will be coming out in 2024. How excited are you to be making your acting debut? Is this something you dreamt about or how did this new step in your career come about?

I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but it’s actually crazy how I’ve been thrown into it. I have no training, zero coaching, nada. I wanted to do that, but just didn’t have the time to. Then all of a sudden we’re on set. It’s really scary as this is the first time I’ve done anything like this and I want it to be great, but I can only do my best. I can’t expect it to look like I’ve done twenty movies when I’m on my first. When I make my music, I have total control. In a film, you only really have control over your performance. I’m super happy with it and whenever I walk off set, I want to come back the next day. Hopefully if I keep doing this I’ll just get better and better, as that’s what life is all about. 

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talent ZARA LARSSON @zaralarsson
photographer TOM J. JOHNSON @tomjjohnsonphoto
stylist THOMAS GEORGE WULBERN @thomasgeorgewulbern
hair ROSS KWAN Ross Kwan using Oribe and Bleach London @rosskwan from @aframe_agency @oribe @bleachlondon
make-up AIMÉE TWIST using Simihaze Beauty @aimeetwistartistry @simihazebeauty
photography assistant KIETA SIMPSON @kiers
styling assistants SAVANNAH JONES & LACIE GITTINS @savannahmjones @laciegittins
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffzen