Zara Larsson Wants Fans to ‘Escape Reality’ with Her New Album: 'A Collection of Bops and Bangers’
The Swedish pop star celebrates her confident new single "Love Me Land" and tells PEOPLE about the search for her next love: "I need a little goofball for sure"
Zara Larsson is ready to get people back on the dance floor — even at home.
The Swedish singer, who is celebrating the release of her latest single, "Love Me Land," is also gearing up for a new album full of "bops and bangers."
"Sometimes I pin myself into a corner of having to have this really deep message behind it and it has to be world-changing stuff," Larsson tells PEOPLE. "And then I'm just like, no, I want to make music to make people feel good or escape their reality. It doesn't have to be much more complicated than that."
"Love Me Land" came out of the singer's final recording session before "Ms. 'Rona came along and shut everything down," says the singer, who adds that the track is heavily inspired by Sweden's most-famous export: "It's kind of like ABBA on crack a bit — ABBA on acid."
"The reactions have been really positive, and even if they weren't, I've come to this place now where I can feel confident enough in myself to just know that what I do is the s— for me," she says. "As an artist, you want to be proud of what you're doing, but if I didn't want other people to judge and hear my music, I would just sing in my basement and never release anything."
The video for "Love Me Land" finds the star showing off her best dance moves, proving Larsson is more than just a vocalist.
"I have always looked up to people putting on a show, like Beyoncé," she says. "My first concert was Céline Dion, and she don't really break down into dance breaks — oh my God, that would be iconic — she's using her phenomenal voice. But if you have this phenomenal voice and you like to dance and you put on a show, it's just a complete package."
Larsson, 22, revealed she split from long-term boyfriend Brian Whittaker last year, and says her new music wouldn't be the same if she were still in a relationship.
"I definitely draw inspiration from my life, so whatever I'm going through, I want to write about it in the moment," she says. "And if that song ends up being really good, I'll keep it."
RELATED VIDEO: Zara Larsson Reveals She's 'Single Right Now' After Rumors of Split from Long-Term Boyfriend
The "Never Forget You" singer is still coming to terms with life on her own, confessing: "I'm really, really, really, really, really, really bad at being single. I can be single for like two hours and then I'll meet someone and I'm like, 'Oh wow, I love you.'"
Larsson met Whittaker through direct messages on social media, but says she is now more wary of online dating.
"It's kind of hard for me, at least in Sweden, because people wouldn't believe it was me on Tinder and I would never f—ing get RAYA, because that's just weird. It's like, 'Oh I'm too good for Tinder, sorry, I have too many followers,'" she mocks. "Some people really find love and everyone's hot on RAYA, but it's also weird matching with someone in, like, Texas. What am I supposed to do with that?"
For now, she's focused on finding her "best friend."
"Meeting people online, for now, I think I've done that. It was cute, but if I'm going to be with someone, I just want to vibe with you. It sounds so lame, [but] I can just really be myself with you," she says of what she's looking for. "I can be silly and we can just laugh at things. I need a little goofball for sure."
The outspoken star is never one to back down on social media. Last year, Larsson apologized to YouTuber James Charles after she accused him of direct messaging her boyfriend to flirt as allegations of Charles’ predatory behavior came to light in a YouTube video from Tati Westbrook. Now Larsson is more thoughtful about what she posts.
"Before, I was just savage online, like I did not care at all and nobody cared about me or what I said," she admits. "But nowadays I'm just scared, not to voice my opinion on things, but I'm scared that people will twist my words. My biggest fear is to be misunderstood."
For now, Larsson is focused on her upcoming album. While she "won't dare" to say a release date, the 10 to 12 "mostly unheard" tracks will be released after one more single, titled "Right Here." "It's basically a call for like, 'Why don't you give me attention?' It's the classic, someone sitting with his phone and not at all paying attention to you while you're out," she says.
The next music video has already been shot and Larsson says fans can expect a more story-driven clip. One song that may not make the cut? A much-discussed collaboration with Ariana Grande.
"I was working with her friends, so she'd pop in, and did some backing vocals," she reveals. "Whoever wants to hear her on my song, I promise you, it will be very difficult because we're like 10 people doing group vocals in a hallway. She's a superstar, and yet she's still so humble and down to earth."
Larsson is not one to listen to her own music, but commends artists who can. "Megan Thee Stallion is listening to her own music now in every post, and I love that because why would you be ashamed of your music? You did that, you're proud and you should bump that s—," she says. "I used to be super embarrassed, but now I allow myself to be happy about it because it's really cool. But I wouldn't go up to a DJ saying, 'Can you play the new Zara Larsson track?'"