Metteson: the Norwegian theatre kid embracing pop, pleasure and pain | Pop and rock

When Norwegian pop star Metteson was 18, he had an experience at a festival that made him understand the visceral impact music can have. While Emeli Sandé was performing Heaven, he kissed the boy he’d had a crush on for ages.

“I wasn’t on drugs but I was as high as I’ve ever been and I had what was sort of my first sexual experience,” he says. “But the day after, I got brutally dumped when he told me that he was in love with someone else. The picture of the night before exploded and cracked.”

Feeling jilted, he went to watch Lana Del Rey: “She sang Summertime Sadness and I was crying all alone. Both those of those songs have stuck with me. They’re emotional triggers and I wallow in them. I just love when music really pushes experiences to another level.”

Metteson’s own music feels destined to soundtrack similar scenes. Now 28, he creates kaleidoscopic pop that is unashamedly grand and theatrical. His debut EP, 2021’s Convince Me, flirted with the Scandinavian synth melancholia popularised by Robyn and the Knife, while also pulling from the arty chamber pop of Patrick Wolf as well as Whitney Houston and George Michael. His most recent single, the sumptuous Under Your Shirt, is a symphonic yet tender devotional that perfectly captures the sparks of intimacy and the heart-pounding ache of yearning.

“I tried early on to make more compact melodies and cool club music,” says Metteson, “but I would whack on a big refrain because that’s what the emotion calls for. I’m not a whispery, cool and gritty singer. Whether that big refrain comes packaged as a club banger or a piano ballad, I want it to be a representation of myself.”

Born Sverre Breivik and raised in the coastal town of Moss in Norway, Metteson – the name literally meaning the son of Mette, his mother – was always a creative kid. He was enrolled in various theatre and music groups and later studied at the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo. “I was a triple threat,” he laughs. “I was the loud, musical theatre kid, and I really think I bring a lot of that into my music now.”

Since graduating, he has worked as a repertory actor at the National Theatre in Bergen. When we speak, he is just finishing up a run as Prior Walter in Tony Kushner’s Aids epic Angels in America – “one of the first shows that I ever saw and thought that there was a place for me in the world of theatre,” he adds. “It’s been a big deal for me.”

Metteson initially struggled with his sexuality. “I can remember knowing from a very early age that I was different and that I liked boys; wearing women’s clothing and sensing that was, in some way, wrong,” he recalls. He remained closeted until he moved to Oslo to study. “It wasn’t a prison, but I regret it. Now I’m discovering the joy and the pleasures of being young.”

His new music, due in the coming months, is evidence that he has taken that leap: building on the grandeur of Under Your Shirt, songs like Never Let Me Go and the baroque Second Heart run on melodrama and escapism. He also supports fellow Norwegian pop star Aurora on her UK tour this spring, a chance for British audiences to get a taste of that newfound freedom in action with his sensual performances (think a poppier Perfume Genius).

“I think I make music that’s made to be experienced live,” he says. “I hope that I can blow people away with a perfect pop experience.”