Swede Pop: Interview with Tove Styrke

Leave it to a 22-yr-old Swedish Pop icon to make an abandoned Russian coal-mining town the hottest place in the arctic region. Tove Styrke makes her US debut this month just after her video release of the EP single Borderline – The EP houses this high octane Nordic beauty and all of her energy, and the video seconds that. Borderline nails the perfect medley between pop-reggae and island dance with just the right amount of middle finger and hair tossing. A+ on layers and vocal weaves. Hear her take it up a notch with the track that put on the charts last year, Even If I’m Loud it Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You.

I caught up with Tove in a candid interview capturing her eclectic inspirations, her personal connection with her upcoming release, and some laughter and awe in traipsing around Los Angeles. She’s been passed off as MIA meets Lykki Li meets Santigold, but after our chat, I’m going for The Swedish Kill Bill meets a 70s record from the Record Parlor. Read on.

Don’t miss Tove live at @ The Echo this Thurs before she hits San Francisco then New York before her US departure! Upcoming shows and EP deets here: All things Tove Styrke. She’s fast, and in control. Handle it.

AG: Welcome back to LA! What’s the best memory in your short stay thus far?

TS: I wandered into this place on Sunset that I fell in love with called The Record Parlor. It’s this record store. And I asked the owner to show me something I have never seen before, to share with me something really cool. He showed me a really cool group called ‘honeycomb’ ….. – amazing. It’s like the Destiny’s Child in the seventies. Then he shared this music of the Egyptian countryside, it was so beautiful. You have to visit!

AG: Tell me about the video for Borderline and your experiences on that piece:

TS: We went to a small village in Svalbard (It’s an arctic island in the North Pole). There are more polar bears than people. We had to bring two people for polar protection with rifles. We didn’t ever see any polar bears, but we saw these arctic foxes. An old Russian lady used feed them regularly so they still come around. Then we went to this town, Pyramiden, which translates to “Pyramid” – and it was an old abandoned Russian coal mining town where we shot that scene in the pool. It was the gritty, and the raw and the abrupt environment that brought out the emotion in the song. This setting was very strong for the video. I am so happy about how it turned out.

AG: What are you most excited about with Borderline and your upcoming full-length album debut? And what native cultural influences might we see in this material from your motherland – um, a music haven! – Sweden?

TS: I’m in love with this EP. The sound and lyrics. It’s very personal to me, and I’ve worked very hard for a long time on this music. I always try to let the sound create the scene. There are so many live elements in these tracks, that balance the digital POP sound with a natural raw sound. Particularly the wind chimes were an influence as a natural element. As for Sweden, we have always been so much about Pop Music and there are so many artists and musicians writing and creating POP Music, it’s such a community and almost like a family of support. It’s wonderful.

AG: What were some of your creative inspirations behind your latest material, culturally, artistically, or musically…?

TS: I actually was inspired by the Kill Bill films quite a bit. The Kill Bill character is so gritty, in all of the films. Also I have drawn inspiration from Westerns, and Captain Hamilton. Musically, Beyonce has always been an inspiration, I think she is brilliant.

AG: And how has writing and singing in English as a second language been creatively? Do you find barriers with expression in terms of writing and communicating in different languages?

TS: I don’t really have that much to compare to, I love collaborating with songwriters and actually it’s easier for me to write in English, and mostly because I always listened to music in English, so it’s the most natural language to sing in.

AG: Your dream collaboration slash performance partner?

TS: Well I have collaborated already with so many amazing songwriters and I love it, but since you mention performance, I think it would be cool to collaborate with Grimes. She is so smart and doing her own thing and really talented. I really respect her.

—– Don’t miss out her US appearance this week, all you need to know: http://tovestyrkemusic.com/

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About Angela Gleason

visual designer | writer | pianist in the basement | painter in the night | fashion critic | lush | Italian savant check me out: www.taxisandwalnuts.com