Bringing It Hard
by Ariella Lafayette
Tove Styrke, Sweden’s next big thing, released her album titled Hard on June 3. The album epitomizes beautiful vocals, musical versatility, and thoughtful production. Each song not only represents different subgenres of pop music that will surely appeal to different musical preferences, but each song also represents the artists’ different phases in life over the course of three years.
The close connection or “friendship” that Tove Styrke has with music has translated into artistic vulnerability, resulting in meaningful lyrics that can similarly be a friend to her audience through any emotion, hardship, and/or phase of life.
We got the chance to sit down with Tove Styrke, get to know her, and talk about her newest album. This interview showed the genuine and thoughtful mind depicted through her music is nothing short of her real personality!
So many popular musicians have come from Sweden over the years – like ABBA, Roxette, The Cardigans, Tove Lo and Robyn. What do you think it is about popular music from Sweden that has caught on worldwide attention in the way that it has?
If I only knew, I would write a book about it and get rich. I seriously don’t know. I just know from personal experience how inspiring it is. As an up-and-coming artist… and as a more seasoned artist… to have these huge, amazing pop writers and artists to look up to who have paved the way before you. I grew up listening to Robyn. Having that makes you aim higher than I probably would have if we didn’t have pop stars like that from Sweden.
Do you have a favorite Swedish band?
So many are doing really amazing music. There’s one called Augustine who I really love. There’s another called Joel Thomas. He just put out a song called “Stockholm” that I think is so… (She mimes a chef’s kiss.) I think Saint obviously is another really, really great Swedish artist. There are so many talented people. Tove Lo, obviously. Love her.
What was your experience transcending cultures? US and Sweden obviously have very different influences and things, so what has you experience been like presenting your culture in an international way?
Sweden takes a lot of influence from especially American culture. We grow up and we watch TV shows. We watch music videos. That’s the music that I grew up with and that influenced me. So somehow, I think that what we make in return maybe translates quite well to an American audience, or even a UK audience or any English-speaking audience, because we consume a lot of that music.
What was your experience like on Swedish Idol?
Oh my God, I was such a baby when I was on there. I was 16 years old. It was my first exposure to the music industry. To being on live television. It’s so long ago now that I don’t reflect on it that often, honestly. I’ve done so much since, and I’ve learned so much since. But it’s definitely a different way of entering the music scene. (laughs) You’re like a deer caught in headlights trying to make it work!
What has been the biggest lesson that you think you’ve learned from such a competitive experience like that?
To not care too much, I think. What made me go through that experience and come out a sane person on the other end was actually that at the time I didn’t take it too seriously. I was really just happy to be there. I was trying to have fun and enjoy my time there. I really didn’t take it for granted. Somehow, I ended up completing third! I never expected that when I went into it. Going into it with a more chill attitude I think was the right way to do it.
What are you doing to share your music with a wider audience, like the US and the rest of Europe?
The world is such a crazy place right now. Putting out music is changing all the time. Everything. The pace, trends, music, fashion – everything is so fast! Where I’m at right now, I’m just like… (She mimes holding on tight…) I’m trying to stay sane and have fun with my music, make music that inspires me and put it out in ways that make sense to me. But it’s really easy to get lost and get stuck in trying to be an influencer. It’s really weird times with the social-media-ness of it all.
Yes, with TikTok being so big and Instagram, it’s a whole different world.
It’s so crazy putting out a song now automatically involves the label sitting down and being like “so, how can we trick them into thinking it’s blah blah blah, and it’ll be a viral moment.” It’s so ridiculous the amount of time we spend on these things and PR stunts. It’s crazy. I think that in a couple years, we’ll look back and be like “remember when everyone was trying to create a (she makes air quotes) ‘viral moment?’”
Outside of the fake social media world, in the real world, where has been your favorite place that you’ve performed?
I’m so thankful because I’ve had the opportunity to bring my music and my tours all around the world. I even went to Australia. I sold out my first show that I ever did in Australia. So much fun. I’ve had the opportunity to tour the US multiple times with my own headline tours, and the fans over there are some of my best audiences. Some of the most fun I’ve had has been touring in the US. The UK too! London is always so much fun. I played Heaven, which is a big gay club in London, a couple years back. That was so great. I just recently wrapped opening for Marina all around the US, EU and the UK, and I had so much fun doing that too. Just playing live is the best thing in the world to me and I enjoy doing it so much. It’s a different experience every time and I never get tired of it.
When you go from city to city, do you get to see the attractions of each place, or do you find yourself jumping from show to show?
Both. Touring life is often a lot more boring than people think, because you actually have quite a tight schedule. You wake up in the city. You need to get your soundcheck done. You need to get your promo done. Then all of a sudden, it’s nighttime and you’re about to go on stage. Then you hop on the bus and wake up in the next city. Of course, it’s always so much fun when you get to spend a day off in a city. There are so many fun places I’ve gotten to see through touring where I never would have traveled there otherwise.
Do you have a favorite?
We had a lot of fun in Europe this time! The Netherlands was a lot of fun, really cute cities. Paris was really lovely. I had never seen the Eiffel Tower, I am ashamed, so I got to see that for the first time. It’s not THAT cool, but I’m still glad that I’ve seen it now because it feels like something you have to do.
Over the years, you’ve gotten to work with so many talented artists like Travis Barker, Dua Lipa, and Shawn Mendes. What other artists would you like to collab with?
I love Doja Cat. I mean who doesn’t? But I love her. I met her actually a few years back, I think it was in 2019 just before she blew up! She played the tiniest club here in Stockholm. There wasn’t even a lot of people there, but I was there, front row, screaming along to “Tia Tamera.” Then I met her afterwards, because it turned out they had been listening to my songs in the tour bus. I was so starstruck, and she was so sweet. I think she’s so talented! I feel like she went so many years being so great at what she does and just getting better and better and better. So, when she finally had her moment, she made the most of it. She’s such a great artist and I admire her so much.
Can you tell us a little more about your album titled Hard that dropped on June 3rd?
I’ve been working on this album for three years; I’ve spent a minute with these songs! I’m so happy that it’s finally out. It’s a really fun collection of songs that I wrote throughout very different stages of my life. I wrote “Millennial Blues” when I was depressed. I wrote “Show Me Love” when I was in love. I wrote “Start Walking” when I was scared and in love. I wrote “YouYouYou” when I was like “Oh my god, I need to have some fun with this music, and I want to make a pop banger.” I’m just so glad that it’s out and I get to share it with other people now and enjoy it on different stages.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Obviously, it’s hard to pick because I really like all of them. I really do! “Hardcore” is definitely a favorite of mine; I think that production is very, very nice. Elvira Anderfjärd, who produced it, is such a genius, so talented. I really love the last song on the album called “Bruises.” If someone [reading] this is going to listen to the album, make sure you listen all the way through, because the last song is really good. And “Show Me Love” is a favorite, that’s a very personal one for me.
How do you feel this album is a forward from your previous albums?
It’s a step forward, especially in the sense that it is more personal. I really wanted to bare my soul in this and put my heart out there. It is a very scary and uncomfortable thing to do. I’m a control freak, I like to keep all my feelings very safely protected and guarded. So to me, it was a big challenge to tear down some of those walls, and really let people in and express my whole self. I think that’s what makes this album better than a lot of things I’ve done before. It is more human. It is more honest in a way.
Is there a special message or feeling that you want to convey through sharing your story in such a vulnerable way on your album?
I would like for people to feel comforted by these songs. To me, a good song is like a friend in your headphones. It’s a friend on the dance floor. It’s a friend through all stages of your life – or it can be that! If it can give that to somebody else, if it can make somebody feel a little bit more seen and their experience is validated in some way, that makes me really, really happy.
This is our first time interviewing you, so to help the viewers get to know you a little better I’m going to ask some “get to know you” speed round questions! Are you ready?
I’ll do my best!!
What’s your favorite food?
Ramen or Korean food! Ramen, I really like a good hearty Tonkotsu.
What’s your favorite song or who is your favorite artist?
My favorite artist of all time is Lady Gaga.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Some kind of ugly prairie dog or like an Italian Greyhound.
Place you want to go but haven’t yet been?
Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans out there? For your new viewers?
Thank you for watching. Go check out my album! This is not just me bullshitting you. My album Hard is good, and there’s a lot of different things on there, so chances are that you might like at least one song. So, please do yourself a favor and check it out!
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 19, 2022.
Photos © 2022. Courtesy of Sony Music. All rights reserved.