Sassy 009’s new album, which came at the end of November, bears the title Kill Sassy 009. It’s a menacing title to give your own album, but for Stockholm-born, Oslo-based Sunniva Lindgaard—who first released music under the moniker along with her two adolescent friends from Oslo, Johanna Scheie Orellana and Teodora Georgijevic—it felt like a necessarily stark statement given how the project has transformed over the years. “I felt like the title of this record should somehow reflect why this record came together, and also give a picture that Sassy 009 is now taking a new form as a solo project,” Lindgaard says over the phone from her mom’s kitchen in Oslo. “The world kill is a very strong word—I would say it’s the strongest word in our language—and I felt Kill Sassy 009 was such an epic title. I made the decision to keep doing this on my own about a year ago, and Sassy 009 was almost killed, in a way.”
Lindgaard first began learning how to produce and write songs on her computer during her final year at a sports-centric Oslo high school, where Lindgaard was enrolled in a snowboarding course. “On every exam, I always answered theoretical questions from a snowboarding perspective, but I also did gymnastics,” Lindgaard says. During their last year, however, students were allowed to pick a completely different course from what they had focused on previously. Lindgaard switched from sports, where she was feeling burnt out, to music production, which she quickly became obsessed with.
Lindgaard, Orellana, and Georgijevic first discussed starting a band in the fall of 2016, when Lindgaard was just 20 years old, and they recorded their debut EP, Do You Mind, not long after in the spring of 2017. It came out in the summer of the same year. “Are You Leaving,” the breeziest track of the bunch, was the group’s breakout song, and the video depicts the trio in the middle of a rushing stream wearing coordinated garments all in soothing shades of blue. In the blurry scenes that follow, they swathe themselves in orange fabric in the sand on a dusky beach, then stand on a high cliff in matching white biking helmets as a long stretch of silk flaps in the wind above them. “We had only played for half a year before things took off quite quickly,” Lindgaard says of the buzzy months that followed their debut. “I was very surprised. I had never been into a proper studio before, and I didn’t know anything that world. Everything was completely new to me. Getting our first gig, I was like, how do these things happen? How do we even have a gig?”
Now that Sassy 009 is a solo project, though, Lindgaard’s visuals and sound have come into sharper focus. She insists that it’s a natural transition for her, given that she started off just posting songs that she made in her bedroom to Soundcloud. “Even when we were a trio, I was always in my own space, making music on my own. I’m still in contact with my roots with this project and now I’m just expanding the tree I’m trying to water and grow—I just make it myself now.” Sonically, Lindgaard’s labored over each of these tracks for longer periods of time than on Sassy 009’s debut, and she became much more conscious about sound design. It paid off—it’s a tight collection of overcast, atmospheric electronic pop songs.
Lindgaard’s taken her visuals in even bolder directions, too. In the video she released for the pummeling “Trasher,” Lindgaard worked with stylist Alva Brosten to inhabit different characters in an abstract, black box space. She starts off dressed like the heroine of a science fiction film with bleached eyebrows and a tight, matte turtleneck, before later reappearing looking like a Little Women extra in a full-skirted, daintily lined dress. Moments later, she’s disdainfully smoking a cigarette in a leather jacket, and then she wears an Edwardian-style brown dress, its silhouette exaggerated with panniers, as she holds dark orchids around her neck as you would a baseball bat mid-stretch. “It’s just a way of blending all of these different times in history together,” Lindgaard adds.
There’s a memorable moment in “Thrasher” where she cosplays as a male bodybuilder, thanks to a padded suit that give the illusion of sculpted abs and pecs—a subtle gender-bending influence that she fleshes out even more in her following video, for “Maybe in the Summer.” In that clip, which nods to her sporty past, Lindgaard is the goalie in an all-girls ice hockey team, changing from a white polo shirt into bulky pads and skates. “It’s a very masculine sport, and it’s quite harsh, but also beautiful—you’re just flowing around while being hardcore hockey players, and I really liked the contrast of that in the sport itself,” Lindgaard says. In terms of both her music videos and her take on fashion more generally, Lindgaard likes to push her own limits. “I like to challenge myself in many ways. I was also very conscious about me not trying to put myself in the position where I look the most beautiful. That’s a way for me to challenge my work and myself, to not force myself into being a pretty girl. I just liked the idea of being a hockey player and being this strong figure with all the other hockey players, who are all epic women.” Lindgaard says that it wasn’t a contrived decision to inhabit a certain type of masculinity, in contrast to the more feminine styles she’s opted for in the past. “I just liked the idea of doing something sweaty and dirty, and the energy in the song also really reflects the intensity of the music.”
Lindgaard brings this daring spirit into her personal wardrobe, too. She favors comfortable streetwear for the most part, but lately she’s been quietly challenging herself by wearing heels again for the first time in five years. “I just try to keep comfortable, and that could be a very plain outfit, but then adding something edgy like crazy earrings or a weird hairstyle or something,” Lindgaard says. “Working with my stylist Alva Brosten has been very good for me to see how others see me, in a way. Working with her has been very much about me letting her know what I see myself wearing onstage and then her proposing something I didn’t really think of, and challenging me into wearing something that I normally wouldn’t associate with myself,” Lindgaard says. “There’s a lot of personal growth in trying to wear something you wouldn’t usually wear.”
Lindgaard describes her interest in simple, plain outfits as a result of her Scandinavian background—she says she has a lot of Gortex in her closet for their harsh winters, and she’s been obsessing over her bright red puffer jacket that’s been keeping her warm recently. Her style, though, brushes up against Scandinavian social norms that dictate that people shouldn’t think of themselves as better than others, which means that you shouldn’t really stand out or ask for too much attention. “It takes some courage to stand up for something different than the mainstream thing in Norway. You can easily get judged pretty harshly if you’re standing out in a way—you’re supposed to be patient and put your head down and be a part of the mainstream thing,” Lindgaard says. “When it comes to style, I have to muster up some courage when I click my heels down the street wearing a cowboy belt.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue