INTERVIEW: Tove Lo

Embodying a freedom of curiosity and a deep understanding of vulnerability, Tove Lo candidly introduced herself to listeners in 2014 through her emotionally charged debut EP ‘Truth Serum’ and her debut album ‘Queen Of The Clouds’.

Asserting herself with a deep honesty, she quickly gained worldwide attention with her hit singles ‘Habits (Stay High)’ and ‘Talking Body’. Ever since the release of the critically acclaimed album, she’s continually evolved her artistry and pushed the boundaries within the fluidity of her vulnerability in a very dark but playful nature. 

Forever experimenting with just how she wants to convey her messaging, her fourth studio album ‘Sunshine Kitty’ is a perfect representation of all the self discovery she’s had with each record and hints at all the important takeaway’s she has had from the individual processes. 

“I was finally ready for a new era” Tove Lo confesses to ThomasBleach.com. 

“When I started working on this record, I felt like I had a clean slate. I didn’t feel any pressure or expectations with what to deliver and I was just going to write about everything on my mind and in my heart. I also had longer to work on this record than I did with ‘Lady Wood’. So I finally had a moment to breathe and to appreciate that I completed everything I wanted to do with that project which was really important to me” she adds. 

Each record has been a big learning experience for the Swedish singer-songwriter who has been playing an intense game of trial and error and simultaneously diving into the depths of the industry. 

‘Queen Of The Clouds’ taught her about the power of vulnerability and the importance of being authentically herself. At the time she didn’t know any different and didn’t realise it was going to be reflected on by listeners and critics alike with such curiosity. She just wrote a record that was unapologetically heartfelt and provided a very candid inner monologue to her headspace. 

“I grew up in a really dark place and because of that Sweeds just like to get into it. At the time I released ‘Queen Of The Clouds’, pop was meant to be this genre which was a happy escape only. Where you would feel nothing but good, and it taught you to kinda ignore your problems which can be a great thing sometimes. But I just wanted to write from what was in my heart” she explains of the rebellious nature of the songwriting. 

Songs like ‘Thousand Miles’ immediately connected with listeners on a deeper wave length and heard them quickly confessing to her that these raw feelings were exactly the way they felt which was a complete rush and reassuring for her to hear. 

But there was one song in particular from her debut album that has had a special connection with her fans, and that is the anthemic ‘Moments’. 

“It has that sentiment of not feeling good enough which is something that is hard to admit to. And on the upcoming tour we are actually doing a broken down version of it and it’s so pretty. It makes it even more vulnerable!” she confesses. 

Leading into her highly anticipated sophomore record ‘Lady Wood’ she wanted to push things even further. 

“I wanted to create a world within the music. I realised from releasing my first record that there is so much more I can do beyond the music to communicate the story and feelings I wanted”

“I was going through something quite heavy at the time. I had just been through a terrible break up, and a lot of relationships in my life had also changed because of this new journey I was on. I barely saw my family, I was all of a sudden this very public person and I had gone through a vocal surgery which was really draining on me. So I think I had this need to really create something big and creative that I could just dive into” she reflects.

So she set out to release a creative album that was accompanied by in-depth short films that allowed her fans to immerse themselves in her musical world. With the massive task at hand, her label were helping her shape the project but she admits that there was a little apprehension with the raw content of the material. 

“They were like ‘This is cool, but we don’t really know what to do with it because it’s really dark, you say fuck in every song and we can’t really promote it anywhere” she reflects on the initial meetings surrounding the promotion of it.

“There was pushback but they were still on my side. I’ve been really lucky in that way. When you are a pop act and are signed to a major label they have their ways of doing things which can be creative but can also be quite restrictive. For example, in Sweden we don’t censor anything (expletives) . So I came from a place where I didn’t understand that problem at all and it took a little while for me to understand that”.

‘Lady Wood’ personally taught her who she was as an artist, and it showcased her as a whole person to her listeners which in turn allowed her to get even more personal in the hyped follow-up ‘Blue Lips’

“I really wanted to make this double album. No one really saw the point of that, but I was so determined in making it happen. I had the majority of the songs already, but at the last minute I decided that I needed something more to add it. And luckily I decided to go back into the studio because I wrote ‘Disco Tits’, ‘Shivering Gold’ and ‘Shedontknowbutsheknows’ from those sessions” she confesses. 

“I just remember feeling so strong about the songs and feeling like they needed to come out. There were so many songs that were so special to me like ‘Hey You Got Drugs’ that I wanted to have out, but I didn’t have it in me to do everything that it takes to do a full album campaign right on the back of another one. I was too exhausted and I’m too sensitive for that”.

So embracing the digital future, Tove Lo and her label exclusively released ‘Blue Lips’ digitally with no physical pressed copies. Doing a small run of late night talk-shows, she released one official single and toured the album through selected festivals, which was a very bold strategy for an artist of her stature. But with her prominent playlisting on Spotify and Apple Music globally, the record was still able to create the impact she wanted without a full promotional rollout. 

After taking a well deserved break from the touring and releasing schedules that drove the last few years, she returned to the studio and started working on the next chapter which soon became the foundations of ‘Sunshine Kitty’.

Heading towards a heavier dance sound, she just wanted to immerse herself creatively in something different. 

“My producers and I just wanted to try shit. We wanted to push the envelope a little bit in each direction, because we’ve worked together a lot and we’ve never let ourselves get comfortable in that creative space” she explains.

“It needed to feel like something we hadn’t done sonically before while still sticking within the pop realm. So we started throwing ideas around and adding in guitars and adding different instruments we hadn’t used a lot in the past”

“Some of the sounds like ‘Bad As The boys’ came into this summer melancholy world that I am obsessed with and that became the trend throughout the whole album”.

And this is honestly the best way to describe this new chapter of her musical evolution. She’s evolved so much from her humble beginnings in 2014 and has adapted through the different ways people consume music, and has created a discography which is really quite unique.

‘Sunshine Kitty’ is out now!