My Interview with Tove Styrke

Inevitably
music reviewers have made their comparisons, including Lykke Li,
Santigold, Ting Tings, Sleigh Bells – What do you think of these
comparisons? Are any of these acts any of your main influences?

They
are definitely very inspiring people, all of them. I love Sleigh Bells;
they’re really, really, great. It’s flattering to be compared to them.

People comment on your ability to convince in various genres, is it important to you not to be pigeon holed into one sound?

 Yeah
it is. I really tried with this record to feel free, to freely move
between different genres and sounds, and not feel trapped and narrow my
work. The EP and the album, it’s like every song is a phase that I have
gone through and to me that feels like an honest way to do it. Like, I
want to try this and I’ll try it, if I want pedal steel guitar in it
than I will put it in.




How long did it take you to work out the kind of artist you wanted to be and the music you wanted to make?


Well,
that’s a tricky thing ‘cause it’s always impossible to look at yourself
that way, like to try to look at yourself like other people look at
you. I think you have to rely on your gut feeling, and also try to make
yourself aware of who you are and what you are without the music, like
who you are as a person. And when you feel like you have a sense of who
that is, then you can move on and start asking stuff and think where
does my inspiration come from and what is it that fuels my creativity
and what drives me forwards. Then that, all of that, it then just comes
naturally, I think that’s the only proper way to do it.

You
know what it’s like to perform and make music in a competitive
environment, having appeared on a reality show. Do you think competition
in creative industries is a healthy thing? Do you use it to ensure you
are the best that you can be?

No
I don’t think it is. I’ve experienced the music industry in Sweden
especially, that’s where I live so that’s what I know. But it’s changed
during the last few years. If you just compare the climate, how it was
when I did the last record and how it’s been now, people are a lot more
open. Last time I felt very alone, and it was a competitive environment
and everyone just assumed that just because I’m a young woman I am
competing against every other young female who are making pop. And now
it is completely different, now it’s like a community and people are
helping each other out, and it brings everyone forward and it keeps the
scene alive and healthy.

 Why do you think there is that difference between the first time around and now?

I
have no idea. It feels like something has happened, like people have
had enough of that, because it is a completely unnecessary thing. It’s
just like an illusion that we are competitors and that we are up against
each other. It’s like we can help each other so much, there’s so much
talent, everybody has different experiences and by just sharing that and
having somebody to talk to and backing each other up, it’s extremely
helpful and important.

Female
pop artists are quite often described as role models; do you feel that
responsibility yourself? Do you feel like you’ve got to set a good
example?

No I don’t, but in
general I don’t think that you should that on anybody and it
shouldn’t be different between men and women. But I try to, like issues
and stuff and ways of thinking that is important to me, I have a
platform, I have a chance to show that to a lot of people and bring that
out to a lot of people, and I try not to waste that opportunity that’s
all.

You
had a really big break in-between your two releases, what was the most
important thing that you learnt during that time or anything that you
gained?

It was just taking a
step back and almost completely leave the music industry and find out
who I am without that, because I’ve been in it since I was 16. Just take
that away and see what’s left, and just discover that my love for music
and the creative side of myself, that is a real thing, and that it’s
there. And that I really have a need to express myself and I’m not just
doing it because it happened to turned out that way. So that was
important, really, really important, I learnt how great my love for
music is.

When did you know that not only your music was ready, but you personally were kind of ready to come back?

Well I think it was at one point, when I moved back to Umeå
for about a year. I went to a lot of shows, watching bands play and
stuff, and just one night I was jealous of the bands on stage. I thought
I can do that and I want to do that, and if I was standing there I
would of done this… and I started thinking that I want to have this
place as a stop on my tour and not as a permanent thing. So that was
when I really started to feel that spark again.

So
your new single ‘Borderline’ is getting great traction across all of
the cool blogs. Are you someone that keeps up to date in the blog world
and on social media, and how comfortable do you feel that now that is a
vital part of being a musician in 2014?

To
me that is an important thing, and I also think it is a great tool
because you are able to communicate with people without anyone
in-between. No one is interpreting who I am, I have the ability to just
talk to people and show them what I’m doing and ask them stuff, and I
think that’s great to connect in that way.

Being
a solo artist means the buck will stop with you, how do you handle that
pressure? Do you ever wish you were part of a band so that you could
share the load?

Yes, sometimes
I do. I do pretend that me and my band are a band. It’s a bit easier
that way. Of course it is a lot of pressure being on your own, but I
think it’s important to have people around you, that maks it feels like
family. And I try to do that at every part of the process, from the
ones at the label, they are people that I really, really, love to work
with and the ones that I work writing with, and the producer- people
that I genuinely like and I feel very close to. With me being a musician
that’s on tour and everything, I don’t feel on my own.

Your music has been described as having ‘attitude’ and being ‘ballsy’; do you think these words reflect your personality?

Some of it maybe, I don’t know. It’s impossible to look at yourself that way, like who am I?

Do
you find that writing down lyrics helps you work out how you feel about
certain things? How to find a solution for example…

Yeah
it is therapeutic actually. I think it is fun working with pop ‘cause
it is easy to take a certain heavy subject, or something like
‘Borderline’ which is about the patriarchy and my frustration, and strip
it down and make a lyric which is sort of simple, it makes the whole
thing a bit easier to grasp and handle. Also writing it is a great
outlet, for anger and frustration and things that bother you. It is so
great to be able to just say whatever you want about it and interpret
it, and find creativity in those feelings, I think it’s great.

What’s the best environment for you to be creative and to write?

On trains and buses.

Do you sing into your phone?

Yeah, I do that.

Do people think you’re a btit odd when you do that?

Yeah ‘cause I’m standing at the bus stop like [sings]. But
with lyrics I think that’s really, really, great being in a public
space and just watching people, going somewhere, like sitting on the bus
it’s really, really, great writing down stuff.

Do
you feel more inspired when you are really happy, or do you feel more
inspired when you are suffering through heart ache or sadness?

Both, but in different ways. It’s different states of mind, but I think there are really positive sides to both of it.

‘Borderline’- was it a song that came with ease?

Yeah
it did actually. In the beginning I wanted to try to describe the
patriarchy as the Matrix, and I played around with that for the verses
and then for the chorus. It was like this wordplay with the word
‘Borderline’ as something that stands for confusion and frustration in
knowing that my behaviour and who I am, that I am influenced by so many
ideas that come from our society, ideas of who I am supposed to be as a
girl, and well, that was sort of the base of it. And then we kept on
doing it, and the back beat thing was a thing we wanted to try out. And
my producer, he was great; he was really into the whole dub thing. We
just had fun with it; it was a really fun song to make.

Because you’re a female artist with strong opinions and thoughts, has anybody ever taken that negatively?

That’s
so common, if you point out the problem, suddenly you are the one who
like created the problem. Like the problem didn’t exist until you
mentioned it. That happens a lot, people get pissed. But, you need to
like scramble things around, I think that’s important.

So
your video for ‘Borderline’ features some beautiful landscapes and use
of light. Are visuals important to you? How much input do you have on
the aesthetics and everything?

It’s
difficult because me, now, I make the music, and when it comes to the
visual stuff, yes I am in control of it and I have so much say in it….
But in the end I have to trust someone else with it, because at this
point I can’t do both, so it is always difficult to find the right
visual interpretation of the music. But with ‘Borderline’ I think we did
a really, really, great job and I found this person who was really
nice, Indi, he was from Iceland, he had this idea of going to Svalbard.
I thought it was an interesting contrast with the song being so
reggae-ish and with this harsh place. And with this very special,
interesting nature to put these together I think that really, really,
worked well, having this sort of fish out of water feeling of not really
belonging in this place. I loved making this video, it was so much fun
and it was such an amazing place. If you ever get the chance you should
go there it was incredible.

So
you played the ‘Old Blue Last’, what have you come to expect from
London crowds and how are they different from Swedish audiences?

It’s
been a while now since I’ve played anywhere at all and I’m so happy
that we managed to put these shows together and do them here, it was so
much fun. The crowd were so great considering that all the songs were
new and the feedback was amazing. Yeah, it was a fun experience.

Can you talk about the general tone and the mood of the evening?

It’s playful; it’s sort of everywhere, like very much in the sounds.

So what stage would you most like to play?

Well
yesterday was a lot of fun, I really like the ‘Old Blue Last’. We
played ‘Razzmatazz’ in Barcelona that was so much fun. We were supposed
to play the small stage, and then we managed to sneak our way onto the
bigger stage and there was a huge crowd. I had never been in Barcelona
before and it was so great, the people were amazing.  That was a great
experience.

What’s the most recent thing you have played on your iPod?

Probably, Lady Saw, I think. She’s really cool.

What’s your biggest vice?

Snus.

What is that?

Its tobacco, it’s bad. Everyone in Sweden does it. It’s a little tea bag and you put it under your lip, it’s like nicotine.

What would be your dream collaboration?

Grimes. I love her. She is so great and I love Beyonce, that’s probably like my biggest dream.

 Who would play you in a film about your life?

Jennifer Lawrence! I love her.

And finally, say something that would surprise people about you.

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I have a cauldron in a necklace, that’s my Harry Potter necklace.

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