After touring with Lorde and Katie Perry, Swedish Pop Star Tove Styrke is breaking out on her own tour of North America. Starting this week and with a set of tour dates and locations across the US, she looks to support the release of her newest album, Sway.
Tove Styrke opened up about her plans, fun, and even her own need to create personal chaos. The single Sway and accompanying video make no mistake to show her support for love, innocence, coming of age, and the LGBT community. All of this started when she rose to fame from competing on the show Swedish Idol (it’s ok if you’ve never heard of that show either). Rolling Stone put her songs on their “Must Have Playlist” of the summer. Nuff said. Another winner song by Tove is called Say My Name and I dare you try that (properly).
We sat down to begin our discussion and after a few minutes of me speaking bad Swedish/Danish, we began.
Jeremy Hinks: So Tove, you’re breaking out on your own this time and kicking off your tour this week. When you were out with Katy and Lorde, did you see a big rise in the interest in your music, across the board?
Tove Styrke: Yes, it was an amazing experience. The first part of this year I had been playing smaller venues. Then one day I am opening for Katy in Europe. I had so much in front of me. It was like, “what just happened?” and “who am I?”
Sure, you are suddenly on stage at a stadium, fresh from a smaller venue.
No, it’s crazy, I mean, the STAPLES CENTER, it does not get bigger than that. I had so much fun and the experience was incredible. I did see a lot more interest in my music from both of those tours. I am now excited to be going out on my own, to be playing the larger full set of my own.
That was one of the other questions I was going to ask, so, I’ll ask it now. Since this is your own show, and you will have more stage time, are you excited to be pulling out some gems that you didn’t get to play previously, or did you rotate them around when you were the supporting act?
YES! I am really looking forward to that. I can have enough time to play what I want, and I plan on going from one end to the other, not just the newer stuff, but getting to play the songs even some scaled down if I want.
So, one article said you were pulling some “Lady Gaga” esque stage spectacle. Can we expect anything like that on this tour?
OH MY GOD!!! Who said that? Lady GAGA is the QUEEN! I want to know that person who said that. I want to thank them for saying it. That is amazing to be compared to her.
I can’t find the article right now, but, yes they said you had that type of spectacle live. So, I was at the Amsterdam three weeks ago, where you are playing in St. Paul, it’s a nice venue, a long hall and a total “Amsterdam” theme to it. The venue you are playing in Salt Lake, it’s called “In the Venue,” is a large nice venue, an odd setup of the stage and balcony, and floor, but the acoustics are amazing, I have seen and shot so many shows there, I’m looking forward to photographing you there, and seeing you perform. It’s going to sound FANTASTIC. Oh yeah, I have to tell you this. The managing editor of Instinct Magazine is incredibly jealous. He is in Florida, and dying to see you live. The closest you are getting to him is Philadelphia. He can’t believe you are playing Salt Lake, and NOT FLORIDA.
He could always make a road trip. (Editor’s Note: I will miss her by four hours in Portland, Oregon)
So, you have a large fan base in the LGBT Community, most recently from your video for Sway, that was very obviously showing your support for them. I like the song, though it’s not my favorite, I’ll move on to that in a moment. You mentioned in making that video, that you went to make a real story and found those 2 guys, and that those skater kids, they had been real best friends for a long time, and that had been their experience.
It’s not a real story, like a “love story,” but we had the concept that we wanted to tell the story of someone becoming completely immersed in someone. In that one moment, you are suddenly inside that bubble with that other person, and there is nothing outside of it. The only thing that is real is what’s happening RIGHT NOW, there is no tomorrow, no nothing, only that beautiful thing you are experiencing RIGHT NOW. The director and I had the idea, then we decided to take that idea and combine it with the skate culture. Then we found these two guys who had known each other for a really long time, and yes, they were BEST friends, but this moment was filmed as it happened. As you saw, some of that footage we had of them was their real footage they had done together skating and just being friends over the years.
SO they weren’t really gay then?
No, they weren’t, they were just some really sweet guys, so that moment was real, the first time. That was what we had tried to capture was that first moment as real as it could have been, and it was. So, we did not want it to be just the idea of “friendship” or “a one night stand” or anything specific, we wanted it to be open to interpretation. But we needed it to be as real as possible. We were trying to capture that movement in that moment, and it was so complex putting all of that into one shot for the video.
That’s amazing, I mean, REALLY interesting that you thought of it that way, and did it that way. What I found most interesting about it was that you had these two geeky skater kids, and they were in that moment, like you said. Instead of grabbing two smoking hot gay model guys, it was the two geeky kids. That brought a lot of visibility of that kind of situation to the LGBT youth who are in those situations every day, but that it was innocent, and very powerful, and that there were two people who meant the world to each other. I LOVED that about the video.
So, gonna be honest. Sway is not my favorite song by you. It’s a good song, but. I found your music on a Pandora shuffle last year, for CHVRCHES, and Robyn. On came Samurai Boy then I went and heard Ego and I was thinking, “this is real, fun, intense, stuff.” Then I heard Borderline. Now, Borderline is the best, it is my favorite song by you. I loved the dubstep Reggae in it, and it was nice and intense, then the video was really dark, and reflective of the entire feeling of the song. I mean you guys are wandering around in Sweden, probably up north near the mountains.
Actually, it was in Norway, really far north, it was the furthest North and still be near civilization. Oh, that was crazy, it was SO COLD.
So, it’s this very powerful, intense song. You are in an abandoned cabin. Then you are going around smashing things with sledge hammers. PLEASE tell me that was a lot of fun, because the song was so intense.
Oh that was the most fun I have had doing something like that, especially smashing the car windows out with the hammer. It was difficult to do right, because I only had one chance to hit the window, and not be turning your head away with the glass splinters flying around, and keep your cool while doing it. But it was such an experience to be up there anyway, It was so far out, I mean, in that area there are more polar bears than there are people. It was such an opportunity to see such beautiful places up there, and just to see these parts of the world you would not normally see.
Well, you need to see Salt Lake then, it’s wonderful here and within an hour’s drive, you would not even think you are in the same country. We are in the mountains, but it’s also the dessert.
So do you have mountain lions there?
Oh yeah, I live at the base of the mountains and there are some not far from my house. They are mean “sons o bitches” … So uh…, back to it. That was my favorite song, the video was great, and I LOVE the album Kiddo, but again, that all came up in the middle of CHVRCHES, and ROBYN. Back when I was your age, the Swedish band was “Ace of Base”, there was not really much else coming out Sweden, and, well, with Kiddo, you have so much more substance than those guys.
So, after Kiddo, I saw the new album, with the Soda Pop can on the cover, and just at first glance, I thought “ok, is this going to be a poppy record?” … and once I played it, it WAS a very different record. It was scaled down minimalist, and very fun, nowhere near as heavy as Kiddo. Was that your whole point and statement, that you are done with the heavy for a while?
Well, I have always used some sort of “lite-ness” in my writing, even my lyrics. I think that because I made Sway so minimalist, that there was so much room, so much space to do more things with the songs. It was so stripped down musically, but on the subject of the songs as well, I was focusing on writing about people, and how people connect, and how we “work” with other people. But also with the songs, they were much “smaller,” but they were looking at the world, and asking “who am I in this?” Your feelings around this, how you feel when you are young, like your early 20s.
My early twenties, I was wandering around Germany as a Mormon Missionary, so, not sure I can relate to much of that, to that degree anyway. But, from the album of Kiddo, and then the experience of that first tour, is that where the song Mistakes came from, you growing into all of this? The video for that song was great by the way, and I’m starting to get the vibe that you enjoy breaking glass. (She broke a rather large mirror with a bouquet of roses in this video).
Oh yes, I do like breaking things, glass especially. Yes, when I was coming out of Kiddo, that was a big step for me with that album. I had to take a lot of time and figure out where I had been, and had done so far, and to learn from all of that, in moving forward, and not just trying to repeat myself just because something turned out good once. It was so important to keep exploring and keep challenging myself, and I really learned a lot about myself. I was able to keep working with no boundaries, in this “no framework”, where I felt like “anything goes,” where I could play an acoustic guitar, and throw an 808 in there and it make it work. Where previously it was the complete opposite, so this is a completely different album, and I wanted to make that point.
Yes, I was going to say, I can tell it was YOUR Voice and I would have said it was still you, but I wouldn’t have thought it was the same …. band? Almost. I don’t know if you know the band Bauhaus from the early 80s. Bauhaus had this amazing sound, as a goth / punk / glam band, and when they broke up, and the singer Peter Murphy put out a solo album. You would not have even known he had sang in that band. He sounded so different, as only traces of his voice were the same. I would compare Kiddo to Sway that way. They (Bauhaus) sound nothing like you either … Actually.
So, about that song, Mistakes, you said, how did you put it, you need to “create chaos” in your life.
Yes, that song was about this instinct to create chaos when things are going great, and stable. When everything is stable, safe and fine, you become unsure of what is real anymore. Especially if you have never been in that situation before, and you feel like “I don’t have a problem if I don’t recognize it.” The basic human instinct is to RUIN everything. To ruin something creates chaos, and if you do that, then that chaos is YOUR creation, and even if you feel like shit, at least you can say you did it to yourself … “I was in control of my life.” That was one part of it. The other part of it was about having this high expectation of myself, and looking back, and not being perfect. I learned in making this album, that it is not about perfection, and that I can look at myself, and really embrace not being perfect. It is ok to just let go and be whatever it is that you are. And Mistakes is one of my favorite songs to perform live as well.
Oh, I’m looking forward to that live. I wanted to ask, the video for Sway, the point for that was pretty poignant. What has been the response to that within the LGBT community? Also, in Utah especially, because we have this horribly high rate of suicides, what would you tell the young LGBT people?
First off, I will tell you, I was really amazed at how many people came to me and said, “thank you so much for this video. It was exactly like something I went through.” It was this thank you from people, and that means the world to me, that I was able to touch these people. I want you to feel connected, I want you to feel less alone, I want you to feel like you are not alone, I want to make the world feel smaller, that we can share these experiences, and these feelings that we are going through. And if I can do that for somebody else, I would like to say thank you for everybody that contacted me about that.
To everyone else, in general, I think it is important to be kind to yourself, and that whatever you are going through, EVERYTHING you are going through, it gets better. You might be in a dark place, but eventually things will get better. Even if there is nobody around you that you feel like you can talk to, there is always somebody, just reach out, just talk to somebody that will listen. Maybe not your family or school, there is somebody out there for you to let you know, you are important, you are valuable. I think it is so important that you know that.
Wow, that’s a fantastic note to end this on, thank you. I look forward to photographing you at your show in a few weeks.
Thank you, too.
Check out more of Tove Styrke on
The cities in America where where you can see Tove Styrke are below, but check out her Tour Page for all the dates and the ability to purchase tickets.
OCTOBER 5 BOSTON, MA (US)
OCTOBER 6 PHILADELPHIA, PA (US)
OCTOBER 9 CHICAGO, IL (US)
OCTOBER 10 ST. PAUL, MN (US)
OCTOBER 12 DENVER, CO (US)
OCTOBER 13 SALT LAKE CITY, UT (US)
OCTOBER 15 LOS ANGELES, CA (US)
OCTOBER 17 SAN FRANCISCO, CA (US)
OCTOBER 19 PORTLAND, OR (US)
OCTOBER 20 VANCOUVER, BC (US)
OCTOBER 21 SEATTLE, WA (US)
And here’s one more of her hits for the road.
And if you wanted to know more about Sway, here are some moments about the making of that video.
An indie GONZO music journalist in Salt Lake City, and an Anarchist behind the Zion Curtain. Jeremy Hinks is an obnoxious Type-A Male, who is embarrassingly straight and a staunch LGBTQ Ally with little tact, and a big heart. He has supported his LGBTQ friends since he was a teenager.
He has photographed on multiple tours U2, The English Beat, Peter Hook & The Light, and is somehow making a name for himself photographing Pink Floyd Tribute bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Britfloyd, Dead Floyd. He is one of the photographers for the LOVELOUD Foundation in Utah, an organization to bring awareness and support for the young LGBT community in Utah, and to bring an end to the epidemic of suicides there.
He also drives a Vespa, and wears kilts, is rarely seen wearing pants, should be considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach without extreme caution.