Swedish singer songwriter TOVE LO recently released her first EP, Truth Serum, and has since gained worldwide recognition for her potential. In her EP, she vents on the chaos caused by her failed relationship, admitting her part in its downfall and her turn to drugs to deal with the instability. Unlike other pop stars, TOVE LO insists that she created a media image of herself that is synonymous with her true identity. TOVE LO performs with a sense of desperation and passion that makes this claim believable. After her first performance in Berlin, the artist met with NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION to discuss her album, her upcoming tour and to answer a few oddities that let us get to know her a little better. Short bursts of giggling wove between almost every response, further adding to her relatable image.
What do you think sets you aside from other pop artists?
A lot of pop artists can be a whole kind of product package image where it’s more unattainable…I’m a normal girl. There’s nothing that makes me different, except that I can write songs very differently from a lot of other girls. I want to show my whole person; nothing’s filtered or edited.
How would you describe your music to a deaf person?
Oh, how would I do that? When you’re deaf you can still feel the beat in your body. So since I have a lot of drums I would just say that you can feel it, just try and feel the beat that goes to it. Also, the way that you feel when you’re heart broken I guess. Combine that and dance to the drum beat.
So why did you decide to go into pop when, with your lyrics and style, you could have gone into grunge or rock?
I think it was never really a choice. I write what I can write, it’s a sound that I like…I never thought, okay, I’m getting put into a genre here, or I’m going to pick this genre. It’s more of how it turned out to sound, and that’s how I wanted to be and that happened to be pop. But I mean, the thing is pop is so wide now…there are so many different types of it. But yeah, I feel comfortable there, I like it.
Is there anyone that you particularly look up to or try and emulate in the field?
Not really. I try to really stay myself. Of course you see people doing a great live gig…but I don’t have someone that I try and follow their footsteps, no icon like that to be honest. I feel like yeah, I’m just excited that there are so many great girls that write themselves that are coming up, like LORDE and ELLIE GOULDING.
So you started as a songwriter. Are there any songs that you wish you could take back to put on your new album? Or are you kind of detached from them once you give them away?
Yeah, I’m kind of detached I think because when I write them, I know it’s for someone else. I know very quickly when it’s for me, and then I won’t give it away. So I don’t have any of those yet. But, I mean, down the line there probably will be some, where I’m like ‘oh damn that song, I should’ve, you know’. But now I feel like it’s a choice that I make when I write it.
Your songs on this album are so driven by emotion and that’s how you were able to create them, but what was your creativity inspiration for the songs you created for others?
Usually you kind of go with the person you’re writing for. Like if it’s someone who you get to know or if I know that this artist is looking for songs and you’re not with the artist in the session. I try to look up stuff online to find out more about them if I haven’t met them or anything. Just get some sort of feature and make up some sort of subject that I think, that I would imagine, they would feel like this. I think it’s kind of fun to do that just to get a sense a little bit of who they are, which can also be totally wrong because you don’t know what they decide to portray in media. That inspires me to write something that makes me say ‘okay maybe this subject, maybe they will go for this’. And then obviously down the line you always have to change it a bit so they feel they can relate, but that’s a good way to get inspired.
So about your current EP: Do you find yourself still recovering from the relationship that led you to write it, or with your new relationship has it gotten easier?
Well, when I get up on stage, and I think about it… There’s always one song that gets to me during the set. I can never know which one. It depends on how I’m feeling that day…It’s kind of like reopening the wound every time I sing them.
Why did you decide to include Not On Drugs, a song that is positive about love?
It’s the whole relationship from beginning to end. It always starts really happy and passionate, and you kind of feel like there’s nothing better than this person and it’s the only high you need whatsoever. And then that kind of turns into, when that starts to fade a bit, you start to feel like, woah I really need this person, I rely on this person — like if I don’t have this I’m not going to survive. You get that kind of intense, and then it gets scary. So I wanted to show that there is a happy side to all this.
Which track is most important to you?
I think Habits because it’s the one I released first, and I feel really strongly that it just sums up so well the state that so many people are in after a breakup. No matter if it was you who broke up with the other person or whatever happened, whenever people go through that state of the decadence and trying to numb the pain. There’s a lot of breakup songs that are about you know, the aftermath, like ‘I’m better off without you’, ‘I’m this new person’. I just feel like it’s a bit more, you know ‘this is what it is’. It’s not the best way to get over someone but this is how I do it kind of thing.
I noticed last night in your showcase that ‘Habits’ wasn’t played with the same intensity as compared to your music video for the track. I thought that a lot of your other songs were a lot more passionate. Do you think you’ve given everything already on ‘Habits’ and can’t anymore or do you just think it changes from show to show?
It’s from gig to gig really. Last night I was really feeling out of mind. It can have to do with having some sound problems, or just that song was kind of in a moment for me, so maybe I got sidetracked out of that. But it’s really from gig to gig which song gets me the most.
Do you see yourself in competition with anyone in particular in your industry?
I just don’t like the whole idea of competing. I think we should just support each other. It’s like, who cares. There’s a lot of space for a lot of music and if it’s good then people who like your stuff are going to find you and listen to it. I think there’s no point in trying to beat someone else cause it’s all about taste. It’s all very subjective, this whole thing.
How did you and Hippie Sabotage get together to produce the Habits remix?
That’s a funny story actually. We’ve never met. A friend of mine sent me a link to a surf video, where he was like ‘Hey, isn’t this your song or a version of your song?’…And I was like ‘I love this, it’s so good.’ Then I found them on Twitter…[and] we started emailing back and forth…And I was like ‘I really want it on my EP, can we work it out?’ And we did put it on the EP and now it’s just going crazy, especially in the UK. I don’t think they had much out before me either. But we still haven’t met.
If you were to pick one person to go on tour with or collaborate in an album with, who would it be?
Who would it be..the one that would just be crazy, just cause it would be a fun experience, would be Major Lazer. But in terms of artists that I think are super talented, and I think we have similar writing styles, I’d say Lorde would be really amazing to go on tour with. I would love to write with her.
If you could swim in a pool filled with something besides water, what would it be?
Oh! I’d say champagne. That would be fun, because then it’s a reason to celebrate.
Would you rather spend the rest of your life whispering or screaming?
Quick answer. If you couldn’t play music anymore, what would you do instead?
I don’t know. There’s nothing else. Um, I would probably be just a beach bum, I don’t know.
Last question: What is one piece of advice you would like to give to the world?
Depends on what part of the world you’re talking about. But here I would say: ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just have fun.’