Catch Skott’s set at Lollapalooza on the Pepsi stage on Friday, August 4th at 2:50pm!

It’s impossible to make the perfect pop star in a factory. Most of the world’s biggest names are defined just as much by their idiosyncrasies as their hits. Their backgrounds are varied – whether fighting through strife or moving thousands of miles to get where they are today – and no single superstar is a replica of another.

Bearing all that in mind, the story of Skott is remarkable. At the helm of some of the brightest, most forward-thinking pop songs for some time, the Swedish prospect actually lived a reclusive existence growing up, and was only exposed to commercial music at the age of 15.

Pauline Skott was raised in a remote village where its inhabitants devoted themselves to folk music, and over half could play the violin. “It was very, very much about the music,” she remembers. Kinship was part and parcel of her existence – exhibited in the family crest she has tattooed on her right hand. “Back in the days when old people couldn’t read, they just had these symbols for the different families,” she explains. “On tools that belonged to the farm, you’d carve the symbol.” Her ancestors first moved to the village over 400 years ago, and older generations speak a language that was never passed down to the youth. She wasn’t removed entirely from modern life – “we had money, we had cars, we had radio”, she insists – but she was surrounded by “old customs”, a place where “there’s so much tradition.”

It’s impossible to understate just how different Skott’s life is today. Katy Perry and Lorde have given stamps of approval, she’s released head-turning 7” singles via Chess Club Records, and early shows have sold out in seconds. A world under the spotlight awaits, and it’s a lot to take in.” she admits. “All of a sudden, I need to be self-aware.” She admits. “It comes with being an artist. And that’s a thing I’ve been struggling with a little bit. Especially before I put out a song or play a show. Or in an interview, I think back and go, ‘Why did I say that? What did I even mean?!’ You start to analyze yourself, and you have to be aware of what you’re actually saying, what you stand for and how you come across. Or you don’t! That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”

She needn’t be concerned with what other people think. Put it down to her unique backstory, but the songs Skott writes are different. Every track has its own singular quality, like the hair-raising howl of ‘Wolf’’s chorus, or the crashing thump of ‘Glitter & Gloss’. Best of all, these songs don’t follow pop tradition – they avoid old tropes, going against the grain without distracting from straight-for-the-gut hooks and chart-ready ambition.

Again, her first experience of songwriting is unlike the stories you usually hear. At 13, she became obsessed with “computer game music”, the way certain sounds can conjure up a precise scene, whether that’s through watching a film or traipsing through video game terrain. She downloaded the tools to replicate the music she was enjoying, and taught herself production, arranging every aspect of a song with the exception of vocals. “I got really into that. It was my hobby,” she remembers, realizing she “wanted to be some kind of composer” when she grew up.

As the years passed, she found herself writing songs for other artists. She signed a publishing deal and set about finding success on those terms, but the music she wrote didn’t seem designed for anyone but herself. “I kept writing these songs that you couldn’t pitch to anyone,” she says. “They were a bit weird, I guess? You couldn’t find people who would fit with them.” Her publishers “kind of saw before I did that I was actually an artist… I didn’t really dare to think that I could become one. It was always safe to think I could be a songwriter. I think it’s been a secret dream of mine, but I took a while before I could admit it to myself – that I want to do this my way, 100%, to sing it and perform it. I’ve always been writing for myself, in a way.”

There’s a personal stamp on each of Skott’s songs, and it makes sense that they wouldn’t fully work for another artist. ‘Porcelain’ is a touching take on the fragility of life – whether that’s a relationship that suddenly shatters, or a catastrophic event that has a profound effect on someone’s life. What might seem perfectly foolproof can bend and break at any time. “It’s about how important things tend to be fragile,” she says. ‘Wolf’, meanwhile, takes her right back to days growing up, surrounded by nature. “There’s a lake and woods that go on forever. There are wolves there, too,” she smiles, thinking back to her youth. “It’s this very beautiful kind of nature – deep green moss, little streams. I get a very special feeling from that kind of nature. I almost imagine mythical trolls living out there somewhere,” she says. “The lyrics aren’t about the woods, necessarily – they’re about love. But the music, the chords – they belong to that world and that environment. I just see it when I sit by the piano, play the chords and hum the melody. It reminds me of that place, like I’m a wolf walking through nature.”

She isn’t a prolific songwriter. “Sometimes I get exhausted by writing,” she admits. The only criteria is to write something “that I get intrigued by,” adding: “I need to shock myself, a little bit. I don’t say, ‘I’m gonna write something really weird’. I write, and when something different happens, I’m drawn to it… As long as it does something to me here,” she says, fingers pointing at her chest, “that’s the only must.”

Instead of being catapulted into a hit-making pop machine, Skott is being given the time to develop in a way that best suits her. “I can express more. I have more colours to paint with. All of a sudden I can create a music video or work with real strings – I couldn’t have dreamt of doing that before.” Being surrounded by big names, labels and industry chat remains a fairly alien experience, though. Even when she finally discovered pop in her teens, she was “more interested in the song than the artist”. Names and individuals were less exciting than how certain tracks were specifically constructed. Even today, while Katy Perry’s fandom is an amazing testament to Skott’s first steps, she finds this whole world surreal. “If you namedrop tons of famous artists, I probably wouldn’t recognise them now!” she admits. “I’ve been so lost in conversations lately. I’m in this world where I’m being compared to artists who I haven’t ever heard of.”

This is what makes Skott so exciting. Like the best success stories, her’s couldn’t have been written by anyone else. Her music is a bolt out the blue, a formula-flipping triumph that you couldn’t imagine hearing until it first hits your ears – and it’s something only she could make. From remote villages to the biggest stages, her first steps are a convention-defying revelation.

Skott’s new single, Glitter & Gloss, is out now via Chess Club/RCA.

Catch Skott’s set at Lollapalooza on the Pepsi stage on Friday, August 4th at 2:50pm!