The first time I heard Tove Styrke —pronounced “Tu-va Stier-ka” —was in a Monki store in Norway in 2014. Looking back now, the eccentric, Scandinavian backdrop made sense. The 25-year-old Swedish pop hit is well-known for her sophisticated yet quirky style, and from that fateful day in 2014, when I frantically grabbed my phone to Shazam the song that was playing — Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You — Tove has skyrocketed into fame with her new albums, Kiddo (2015) and Sway (2018). Songs like Borderline, Number One and Say My Name all convey the same powerful energy, with a colourful twist that makes you want to get up and dance. Strand magazine went out and contacted this intriguing artist, and Tove responded.
How do you find playing for a British or American audience vs. a Swedish one? Do you identify as an international popstar yet?
Hahaha, absolutely! I love playing for both British and American audiences. Canada and Australia are amazing as well!! I don’t know how it happened but I feel like these crowds really has taken my music to heart and I’m so grateful for that. I’m always more nervous performing at home (Sweden), those are usually a bit tougher crowds but once you win them over it’s like the biggest payback for me!
You covered Britney and Lorde, which I think are songs that are very in tune with your own style. Who would you say is your biggest inspiration for the music you create?
Thank you! I love both of those artist and covering them is a way for me to sort of pay homage and also a way for me to experiment with my own expression and sound. In general my biggest inspiration is people, and shit that they do to my feelings lol. I put a lot of myself into these songs and sonically I’m always just trying to find sounds that translates the feeling I’m trying to communicate even more.
I used to listen to your song Borderline on repeat, what was the inspiration for that song? What is it about?
Omg! I love borderline. That song to me was a lot about claiming a space for myself. I experimented a lot with the productions on that album (kiddo) and with borderline it felt fun to do this kind of back beat almost reggae or dub vibe for a song that’s about breaking free from structures that holds you back. It felt fitting.
What is your most memorable experience in this industry?
Opening for Lorde in North America was a big one for me. It was so inspirational for me to get to be little part of such a big production, and see up close what goes in to making a show like that. To see that it’s actually possible. And Ella was such a sweet person to tour with, I learned a lot from that experience.
For now, what’s your biggest goal to strive towards?
Put out more music! Tour more places! Do bigger shows! Keep the machine going and have fun.
What would you say makes you stand out in the pop industry? What kind of twists do you like to give to this genre?
I’m probably the wrong person to ask, you should ask a fan haha, it’s hard to look at yourself from an outside perspective. I think I’m pretty good at keeping things “real” if you can even be real with things you make idk. And I feel like my music resonates with people in a way that brings us closer to each other, but maybe that’s the magic with all music.
What is the main message you’re trying to convey with your music in general?
That everybody is basically the same. When it comes down to the emotional experiences we go through. Everybody’s hearts breaks, everybody fucks up, everybody feels awkward and weird and amazing and lonely and whatever. Making music for me is a way to connect with people, put my emotional twists and turns in a song and give it to people so that we can share those feelings. That makes me feel less lonely and hopefully it can do the same to other people as well.
What place do you call home? Where do you go when you want to get away from everything and be by yourself?
Stockholm where I live, and Umeå where I grew up. If I wanna get away to write, Stockholm is it. If I wanna just completely shut off and hang out with friends and family I go back home to Umeå.
If you were stuck listening to one song (any song) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s impossible to answer!!!!!! But a long time favourite song of mine is “Tilted” by Christine and the queens. Go listen to it now if you haven’t.
On Friday 2 November, Tove performed in Heaven. Though we arrived at Heaven an hour too early, we made it back to the venue in time for the middle of Emily Burns’ performance. Despite her generic ‘pop’ sound, her music was quite catchy and enjoyable.
After 45 minutes of playing, she left the stage and more people filed in to get the chance to listen to Tove Styrke. It seems the Swedish pop star has a small but firm base of fans in the UK. 20 minutes late Tove kicked off with her (arguably) most popular song, as well as our personal favorite, Borderline. The stage was covered with white roses that turned out to be lights, and change colour according to the music. Tove’s energy is as electric as her music. She got right up to the front of the crowd, dancing and mingling, and even accepted a flower crown from one of her fans.
Tove kept up this energy for a 50-minute performance, engaging and chatting with the audience. She played a few of her classics, but definitely focused on playing songs from her new album, Sway. Though many of her songs were so similar we had trouble distinguishing them, they were all quite good: they make you want to dance like any good pop-hit should. When the show ended, Tove took a bouquet of roses and tossed them out to the audience, favouring her uber-fans up front. In a venue as small yet glamorous as Heaven, Tove fit right in, and charmed the audience with her energy.