When pop music is infused with a dash of hiphop and a pinch of reggae, you get a mean piece of Tove Styrke in her latest album, Kiddo. It is considered to be her testament to growing up, both musically and personally. This promising young Swedish talent has definitely come a long way since her 2010 self-titled debut album. Having grown up in Sweden, which is best known for its electronic dance and house music, Styrke took a leap of faith (and loads of sass), forgoing the stereotypical genre for something more playful and inventive. Drawing global attention with her outstanding EP, Borderline and lead single, Ego in early 2015, the audiences are thirsty for more and the one question in everyone's mind: “Who is Tove Styrke?”
How do you feel now that your music has reached to almost every part of the world?
Well… not EVERY part of the world, but some of them which feels great! I’ve been working on this album for almost 2.5 years now, and it feels so great to finally be able to share it with people. And what’s also great is that now when I’m touring I get to meet the ones who listen to the music. I finally get to talk to all these people face to face that I’ve been writing to on Twitter for ages and I love that. They’re the most amazing and smart and intelligent people, they blow my mind.
Is there a storyline behind Kiddo that we should be aware of?
I look at Kiddo sort of like a collection of thoughts and ideas and feelings that I’ve been exploring musically throughout these couple of years that I’ve been writing. It’s a very diverse album and my intention when I started working on it was to move as freely as I possibly could between different themes and sounds. I didn’t want to restrain myself in any way. Often I use writing as a tool to deal with my emotions. If I feel angry or frustrated for example that easily ends up in a song because writing about it is how I cope with those feelings. So the lyrics are often quite personal.
What was the inspiration behind Ego?
Ego is about witnessing someone you really care for slowly losing themselves to their own ego, and about the frustration that comes from realizing that there’s nothing you can do about it. When we were recording it we were sitting in the studio, Johan T Karlsson and I, listening to You’re so cool from the movie, True Romance. When it came to the end with the drums and the horns we just looked at each other with tears in our eyes. That song worked as a huge inspiration for me when we completed that track and when I look back on it was almost like it made itself. Every piece just fell into place and I’m really happy the way it turned out.
Could you describe your music in five adjectives?
Playful, direct, pop, heavily influenced. Haha. Or something like that.
When your fans look at you, what do you think they see?
If they look at me on a stage I know they’re seeing all the strange faces I make along with a lot of sweat and ugly dance moves. If they look at my album cover they see a badass person who doesn’t give a damn. If they look at my videos they watch someone exploring some really amazing places (Svalbard and Tokyo) for the first time. And sometimes when they look at me they see themselves, and that’s the most beautiful thing.
Tell us the raw Tove Styrke.
I’m borderline happy and I’m borderline sad, I’m borderline good and I’m borderline bad. She’s a weirdo. I’m still figuring this person out.
Who is the musician you would like to perform with if given ‘a once in a lifetime’ chance?Peaches or Kathleen Hanna or Björk. But I’d never dare to sing if I were to perform with Björk so I’d have to play the triangle or something, but I’d be so down for that!
Remember your first gig?
No. I was that kind of kid who sang in front of people as soon as I got the chance. I always did it.
Which would be your go to song when you have mental block?
Something that feels heavy, slow, soft and old school. Like Nancy Sinatra! Or Lana Del Rey can always ease my mind. Right now I would try Summer Wine for instance, but maybe the Nancy version.
Word(s) you think you have overused?
Reasonable. But in Swedish it’s “rimligt”. If you were to directly translate something I’d say it would be something like “that seems unreasonably reasonable”.
Life is …
Not meant to be figured out, I think. What’s fun is that you're not really supposed to ever be complete or perfect as a person, I don’t think that’s possible even. I feel like life is just an ongoing learning process that don’t necessarily always makes you wiser, and I kind of like that, to constantly evolve and constantly change without any specific goal.
Asides music, is there something else you would like to venture into?
Actually I just made a video game! It’s a really simple computer/smart phone game that I made with a few other people who knows how to put together a thing like that. I made it sort of like an extension of the album, an 8-bit compilation of things that inspired it, places I’ve been and a bunch of stuff! It’s a different way to experience the music and you just play it online at kiddogame.com. It’s freaking hard though!
Last but not least, what is your aspiration in life?
To stay curious. Always. And I wanna keep trying new things and never create anything in opposition. By that I mean that I want to keep making things because I have a need to and because I want to and because it’s fun, and not as a way to avoid doing what I don’t wanna do. Does that make any sense? Maybe it doesn't when you spell it out like that, but this is kind of how I feel about creativity. It needs to pour out of your brain, you can’t be too smart about it.
Photo Assistants: Daniel Ramirez & Will Chan
Camera Op by Daniel Ramirez
Special thanks to H. Lorenzo & Mark Simek