We caught up with Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo at this year’s SXSW to chat influences, women and her love of Katy Perry

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Nestled cozily in a doorway at this years SXSW festival on the streets of Texas, Swedish born Tove Lo represents a new generation of Pop starlets. Following in the footsteps of worldwide number one selling artist Lorde, it seems that this generation sit warmly in their own skin. Openly pushing aside plastic fronted campaigns they focus on the music that they chose to represent.

Where did music first start for you? How old were you?

I wasn’t from a musical family so I discovered it on my own. I wrote a lot of short stories and poems so the lyrics came first with the interest of telling a story. In my teens at school I started singing a lot more. When I was 14 I started to realise that I liked singing but I was a bit too scared to go on stage. I then applied to music high school and when I went there I realsied that I wanted to do this fully.

Do you get nervous now when you perform?

In Sweden, not any more because you know what the audience is going to be like. It varies who is watching and who is going to be there that day.

How easy was it for you to find your sound?

It took a long time. I started writing on my own and producing on my own. I didn’t write with anybody then I just started by sitting in a little studio that I had set up in my cousins’ shed. I thought about what I wanted to say and what I wanted to write about. Some of those songs I have kept alive but it has taken me four or five years.

What other sounds did you have along the way?

I was in a rock band for a bit and what I used to have was even darker. I then went the other way and tried to do something that was very happy, which I find a lot harder. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I am not unhappy but it is not where I take my inspiration from.

What affect do you want the music you make to have on your listeners?

I feel like I sing about what people can relate to. When you sing about break ups, you rarely take the stand that you are the one that has messed up. I want people to feel that it is honest and that it is coming from me. If they use it to dance away tears or go deep down in to the sadness thing then that’s cool.

Do you every feel exposed by your music?

Yes I do but I don’t want to censor myself and I don’t want to filter what I am singing about. I just want to be me, that is the only way that I know how to do it. I wish I could have an artist persona but that doesn’t work for me. People are always going to finally see who you are.

Have you ever met some of the people that your music has affected?

At SXSW a lot of people approached me about going through a break up and said that my songs have really helped them. At the end of a show they sang every word to every song and that was amazing.

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Women are on the rise in the music industry at the moment. Who else do you look up to?

Lorde, I think she is fantastic. Icona Pop are close and I love seeing how they are shooting for the stars. It’s very inspiring to see. London Grammar and Broods are so good too.

The pop music world has been thrown open recently. On one side there are artists like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry and on the other there are artists like you. What do you think is the difference between you and them?

There is more of a rawness that I really like to stand for. I feel like they have such a high level of fame where it is hard to be yourself. What is cool with Lorde is that she comes across so authentic. I think that comes with being the writer. When you write yourself it is your stories, it’s your words and that makes a big difference.

Would you ever compromise that?

No, never. I think that Katy Perry is insanely good. She is a pop artist but for me I couldn’t pull that off and I know that I could only do it my way. I have the machinery behind me now and you have to be really firm and say no, slow down. I have to approve everything when it comes to the creative stuff like the videos, the songs, the mixes and the production has to have my last word. They have been really amazing with respecting it. I think that Lorde has opened up the labels to let artists be who they are.

For anyone that is reading this who wants to be in your position, what advice would you offer them?

Keep doing what you are doing. Put stuff out there. Don’t wait for people to come to you. I directed my own videos, don’t sit and wait for it to happen you just have to do it. Feel confident about your material and know that you love what you are doing. Keep playing and putting your songs out and if you let people hear you, someone will find you.

Words: Carly Wilford


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