Few can say they’ve been moved to tears by a Hannah Montana poster, but when she was 12, Astrid Smeplass was so moved. The Norwegian singer-songwriter, now 20, used to have a poster of the beloved Disney character, played by Miley Cyrus, hanging in her room. She once became so emotional over it, she simply burst into tears.
“[Hannah Montana] played arenas in the show,” Smeplass, whose stage name is Astrid S, explains. “I remember I started crying ’cause I was like, ‘I’ll never be able to do that.’” She may not be selling out arenas — yet, but she is touring North America and Europe in support of her summertime EP “Party’s Over.”
Hannah Montana made Smeplass hungry for the spotlight, and John Mayer made her want to write music. At 15, she bought her first guitar and appeared on a Norwegian TV show called “Idol” the following year. When she turned 17, she quit school and moved to Oslo to pursue music. She has since accompanied Australian singer Troye Sivan on his European tour, sang on Shawn Mendes’ track “Air” and provided backing vocals for Katy Perry’s “Witness” album.
“[Perry] wasn’t there, but I was in a studio where some of the people who worked on her album was,” Smeplass recalls. “They came by and asked if I wanted to put on some backing vocals. I was like, ‘For who?’ And they were like, ‘Katy Perry.’ So I got to do that.” She eventually did meet Perry and even got to pet her dogs. Casual.
“Party’s Over” is a six-track sampling of Smeplass’ sound — strong soprano vocals that fall sweetly over electro-pop beats. In “Such A Boy,” she flips the script on Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” a song he famously said is about not knowing “what women are thinking ’cause they say one thing and they meant another.” “Breathe,” a love song through and through, is accompanied by her most creative video yet. In it, Smeplass wears gold body paint and references scenes from “Suicide Squad,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and James Bond films. Her most recent video — for “Think Before I Talk,” out last week — was shot all in one take.
“Party’s Over” took Smeplass about a year to record, and she’s already looking forward to putting out a full-length LP. “I was in L.A. and Stockholm mostly to write songs and get the best songs I could,” she says of recording the EP. “We picked out the ones we thought were best and fitted my sound and what I want to say out there. To be honest, it’s kind of random. I’m excited to make an album ’cause then you can really dive into the project and make all the songs fit together. That’s gonna be a good process to write music in that way instead of just writing and writing and writing and picking the best ones.”
Her tour wraps in Norway in late November, at which point she’ll return to the States for more promotion — and a break. “Hopefully I’ll have time to do something else than music,” she says. “Maybe just recharge and go home for Christmas and I’ll be ready to make an album early next year.”
Hannah Montana would approve.
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