Loreen shaved her head for her new “Ride” music video, thus joining the ranks of this year’s buzz cut beauties (Kate Hudson, Cara Delevingne, Zoë Kravitz, and Kristen Stewart). The Moroccan-Swedish pop star traded in her conventional waist-grazing, jet-black lengths in favor of a sheared style for an honest and liberating approach to beauty. “Shaving my head became a statement. I’m a woman and I exist, not to please others – only to be me. I want to dare women to live their full potential and embrace female power. I feel a change is coming. A global change for equality, and I stand behind it,” Loreen reveals to Vogue Arabia. “I always wanted to shave my head, simply because I like how it looks. I find it attractive and really chic. But there is definitely a political aspect to it. It’s interesting how people react to a shaved head. Some want to characterize you as an anarchist, but the only thing you have really done is to remove a classical female attribute. Your femininity does not lie in your hair, it’s what you are as a person.”
Loreen was born Lorine Zineb Nora Talhaoui in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1983 to Moroccan Berber parents. Shortly after representing Sweden at the 2012 Eurovision contest, which she won, she released her first single, “My Heart Is Refusing Me” to commercial success in the Scandinavian nation. Music has always been a crucial part of her life, and she credits her family for introducing her to singing at a young age. “Music is a big part of how my Moroccan family spend time together. Everybody can sing or play an instrument. It’s a huge part of the Moroccan tradition. I never strived to be the center of attention or an public figure as an artist, I just wanted to perform and create. It has such a healing affect on my spirit and is my way of connecting and communicating with people. When I perform, I feel totally in sync with myself,” she says, adding that her biggest musical idols are Algerian singer Warda, who was played a lot in her home growing up (“Pretty much every great hip-hop producer today has sampled her!”) Grace Jones and Jefferson Airplane are also credited as musical inspirations.
Loreen debuted the music video for “Ride”, which was directed by Johan Lindeberg, as part of her new album of the same name. The clip was shot during a concert rehearsal and features scenes from the gig. The video is part of a series in which the “old Loreen” comes back as a new, improved version of herself. By chopping off her luscious hair, which for a while has been associated with her background as the “Eurovision Queen,” Loreen is metaphorically shedding her old “commercial” persona and transforming into a more unapologetic, rebellious version of herself. “It’s about being true to yourself and where you come from. For me, that’s my Moroccan and Berber roots. Where I come from, you use music for different healing processes, it’s more than just entertainment. Ride has been about embracing raw female power and to stop holding back just because society tells you to,” the singer says.
Indeed, the unapologetic pop star is highly connected to her roots. A nomad from the Atlas Mountains, Loreen describes her female ancestors as strong and powerful. “My great-grandmother refused to be in an arranged marriage after her beloved husband died in the war. She took her baby and fled from Morocco to Algeria through the desert, dressed as a man to survive. I admire her strength and courage. The strength of those Berber roots runs through my veins.” This is why she has plans for next year to develop live shows outside of Sweden and bridge her connection to Berber heritage. She wants people to understand where she is coming from in her new album.
“Be proud of your Arabic heritage,” she pleads. “Let it be an inspiration when you create and don’t ever let anyone make you feel ashamed. Today, as an Arab or Muslim, you are very exposed due to the harsh political climate. It can make you despise your own traditions and culture. But it’s important to understand that the political climate has nothing to do with the culture and traditions. Be proud! Especially as a woman in this world and industry.”
Watch the full video for Ride below.