Zara Larsson Is Taking Control Of Her Own Destiny

Zara Larsson is in the pop game for the long haul. Known to take her time between records, the Swedish pop star is gearing up for something big. She kicked off her third album era this past January with the viral hit “Can’t Tame Her,” which has since become a viral confidence anthem for the girls and the gays. Today (May 19), Larsson dropped “End Of Time,” her monumental new dance ballad, on which she dives headfirst into a transcendent kind of love, letting go of her inhibitions and inviting the euphoric feelings of love in.

As trancelike strings and a pulsing kickdrum comes into the chorus, Larsson belts out an empowering refrain, singing “I want your love / to roll the dice / I put it all on you and I / until the end of time.”

The song is one of many songs Larsson worked on with songwriters and producers Casey Smith, Rick Nowels, and Nate “Danja” Hills, who have helped Larsson pin down the sounds she wants for her third major label effort. Though, there’s no telling when the album will arrive. “Lush Life,” the lead single from her debut album, dropped in 2015, nearly two years before her debut album, So Good. “Ruin My Life” from her 2021 sophomore album, Poster Girl, came out in 2018, nearly three years before the album’s release.

Larsson has never stuck with a traditional album cycle timeline, but many of her songs have become anthems and made her a favorite among the communities for whom she makes music. A catalog stacked with bops and ballads is all part of her master plan for longevity as a main pop girly.

We catch up with Larsson via Zoom shortly before the song’s release. Though she moved to LA last year, she has made a return home to Stockholm for the summer, where she is putting the finishing touches on her upcoming album.

I’m loving your new single, “End Of Time.” How did it come together?

The song was written by Casey Smith and Rick Nowels, who I’ve been working a lot with on this album. One day, when I was away doing something, they were in the studio and still writing songs for the project. I got back and they were like, “We would love to play you a song,” and they had made “End Of Time.” And I thought, “Oh my God, I should have been in the studio that day.” But also, if I had been maybe they wouldn’t have come up with “End Of Time.” It was so beautiful. I love the melodies. I love that it feels big, but it feels like a classic song. And in a way, it’s danceable, it’s pop, and it’s just like a very existential love song about wanting to love somebody until the very end of time.

Rick Nowels is a veteran in the game. What’s it like working with him?

I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who has been this passionate and invested in a project. He’s really giving it his all, down to [arranging] strings and piano players for the demos. He’s just putting his time and energy into it, and he’s been doing this for quite a while. I mean, he’s like, 60-plus, so it’s so fascinating and beautiful to see somebody who’s been doing this for their whole life to still be that into it, and to still love it. And I really hope I feel the same way about music and making music when I am older and have been doing this for as long a time that he has.

Who else have you worked with on this upcoming album?

Most of the Rick Nowels songs, they’re also produced by Danja. There aren’t many people who can do better drums than Danja. We also have one of my favorite collaborators, MNEK, we did “Can’t Tame Her” together. We have Violet Skies, another amazing songwriter. I’ve been trying to keep it quite intimate and close this time. So, not too many people. We’re kind of at the place where I’m like, “Do I want features?” “Who would I like to have?” I still haven’t really decided what I want for the rest of the album, but I really want it to make sense with the songs and I want the other artists, if I want them to be part of it, to also really want to be a part of it, so it’s genuine.

How would you describe the sound of your upcoming album?

I think it’s super fun. It has some highs and some lows in there – some beautiful ballads, some dancey songs. I feel like it’s just a collection of really good music. It’s how I’ve kind of always navigated in the music industry for as long as I have done this. Sonically, does it have a red thread? Not really, I think the red thread is the quality and my voice, and its dynamic.

This will be the first album you’ve released on your Sommer House label. What has buying your masters back and running your own label imprint taught you about the industry as a whole?

I couldn’t have done this without my manager, Roger [Ames.] I couldn’t have done this without Sony being as good to me as they were. And to be honest, I didn’t sit in the negotiating rooms during the deal. I’m just really lucky that I’ve surrounded myself with amazing people. I’m very thankful that I was able to purchase my masters because in the music industry, not a lot of people get to do that. I mean, you can really end up in like a nightmare situation like Taylor Swift. Ola Håkansson [founder of TEN Music Group] was also amazing. He read about [Taylor Swift’s situation] and was like “That is my absolute worst scenario that that would happen to an artist.” You can really end up in a contract where they just f*ck you over. And I think I already knew that. And I think a lot of people these days are a lot more careful with reading their contracts and who they work with. But I’ve just always been so, so, so lucky. I don’t think I’ll reap the benefits of owning my masters until a few years from now. I think my kids will really see the benefits of it, if we’re being honest. I think it’s just really nice to know that my masters are mine, and just having that like, at the back of my mind when I’m negotiating deals, I have a different leg to stand on.

Living between Sweden and LA, how do you like to pass the time when you’re not making music?

I love to go to any Korean spas, get a nice little scrub, or sit in the sauna. I love to go to Din Tai Fung. I also love to play Catan with my friends. I love to drive. Like sometimes, I’ll just drive to Malibu, and then I’m in Malibu for 30 minutes and then I drive back, just because I love to drive.

In addition to music, you’ve also built a strong following on TikTok. Recently, you got some flack for saying that people should be allowed to talk in movies. How do you deal with negativity online?

It’s terrible. Like, it’s never a good feeling. But I also have to remind myself, and I think we all have to remind ourselves, that the internet is the internet. Sometimes people write stuff, and it’s not that serious. Sometimes I’m not that serious when I share stuff, and people comment something, it can be rude or negative, but it’s not that serious. What’s so funny about those comments is that for people to write a negative comment, it takes five seconds, and then they keep scrolling, and they don’t think about what they’ve said. But when you get the negative comment, you see that and you read it for five seconds, and it stays with you for the rest of the day. Even though the people who wrote it might just write it and then they move on, and it wasn’t even a big deal. But, it depends on what it is, you know, and I try to not take it super serious.

You have several songs, like “Can’t Tame Her,” that have become confidence anthems to not only young women, but to the gays as well. How have these communities impacted your career?

They are the most supportive group of people. The gay crowd and the pop girlies have a very special relationship. And I think it’s because my pop and what I love is very expressive. I want to see the glitter, I want to see the glamour, I want to see a performance, I want a form of escapism. I want to step into a world and I want us all to be in this fantasy for a moment, and just have a really good time.