For someone who’s latest music video involves feeling up and drugging a puppet (his name is Mango FYI), Tove Lo was sweet as can be in between studio sessions, wrapping up before heading to Shanghai and Beijing to play major festivals in those cities for the first time. The “disco tits” kween is cranking out videos for her third studio album Blue Lips, the follow up to sophomore concept album Lady Wood. Her sweet voice and Swedish accent immediately alert me to the many sides of this girl once known as the “Saddest Girl in Sweden.”
It takes (lady) balls to drop an LP titled Lady Wood, but even more to create a pop sound and brand that starts with a musical intro and can take you literally anywhere, from the dark depths of Tove’s past to higher than any drug at EDC.
Since her smash ‘Habits’ stayed high on the charts in 2014, music has taken up most of Tove’s time. She must somehow add extra hours into the day to dabble in everything from jewelry design to acting in her own short films. She recently partnered up with one of her best friends from high school, Emelie Torling, on the Tove Lo x Leontine limited edition jewelry line, which includes my personal favorite, the “No Dinner Parties” nose ring. The concept and names of the line are based off the events in her songs, and represents a tangible way for her fans to rep their Lady Wood-ness. “It was fun to create with the friends I learned how to create with,” she says fondly of the collaboration.
Tove has been working over the past year to bring her music to life through visuals as well, two of which, Fire Fade and Fairy Dust, are short films that have caused a bit of controversy on YouTube. But Tove sees a deep synergy between music and sex and she won’t stop pushing limits, continuing to carefully craft videos that demonstrate the many layers behind her songs. “I love the way of using the visual to go deeper into the song,” she explains. “It just ramps up the emotion of the song times ten. You have the top part where there’s a few words that jump out to you and you sing along and you dance to it, and then there’s a lot of double meanings and deeper senses of the words that actually tell a story. You can show all that with the videos.”
As for disco tits, Tove wanted, “something bizarre and cheeky like the song is,” and teamed up once again with fellow Swede Tim Erem to dive deep into a pretty strange concept. In the age-old question of which came first, the puppet or the risqué music video, they had a vision, custom made Mango the puppet and took it from there. “It was honestly the weirdest thing I’ve ever done, shooting those scenes. It just felt so wrong,” she laughs.
The Swedish Queen of the Clouds is unapologetically herself, and not afraid to explore the topics of sex, pain, and drugs in her multi-layered pop music. It’s helped her to be a bit older whilst amassing all this fame, to gain confidence and weather the inevitable criticism that comes with becoming a global star. “I think as long as it’s real, and it’s me, I’m not trying to be anything different, no one can tell me that I’m wrong,” she maintains. “They might not agree with me, and that’s fine, but it’s way easier to deal with all that stuff if you know that you’re not questioning yourself. I’m just doing something what feels natural and good to me.”
Writing music became an outlet for Tove’s crazy side, but that’s not the sole side to her. “A lot of the songs on the record have more a more vulnerable, darker side to it, which is I think is also what people connect with. The songs are pretty dark in general, and I think you need both to be a level person. It helps me kind of level out and just feel comfortable in both, not just push one side away.”
Passion spills out of Lo’s lyrics and videos, and this summer she’s channeling her energy to lift up the LGBT community. She fully believes “in freedom all around,” and is gearing up to headline the New York and LA Pride Festivals. “The feeling of every day having to deal with someone trying to change you,” she relates. “Or putting you down, or even just a comment every day, and still guarantee who you are and stand up for yourself, continue to be you - I think it’s so strong. I want to support that and celebrate that in any way that I can.”
She’s got a knack for empowering anyone that comes her way. I felt it during our phone conversation. Tove keeps it real, and raw, and she’s not afraid to talk about the darker days that often rear their heads in her music.
“When I was a teenager I used to hate my body and I was really insecure and not taking care of myself, which I think a lot of girls are. You put yourself down in your head and have so many high demands of yourself. It takes up so much energy and time and it’s a waste of you. There are so many other things that matter, that make you a person, that draw people in. I think having one or two normal looking, healthy people, just be like, ‘here’s my body, I don’t give a fuck!’ – I think it’s good. It’s freeing.”
Tove’s rabid fans would seemingly follow her to the ends of the earth and when describing the crowd at her shows, the word “free” comes up once again. “Emotionally free. They sing their hearts out, they cry, they flash me back, have glitter all over their faces. It’s an emotional dance party,” she laughs.
Turn up Tove Lo’s music to party along with her. Watch her videos to see this wild thing come to life. Listen in to the lyrics a bit more, and you can start to hear a deeper, more complex side of the Swedish songstress. People all over the world are feeling something when they tune into Tove, and she prides herself on being able to connect with people that feel “out of place.”
Depending on what you need, she’s got the glitter, the beats, and a vulnerability everyone can relate to. “Sometimes you just want to dance your pain away, but sometimes you just want someone to tell you that it’s okay to feel that way, that someone else feels it, too,” she says. “And that’s freeing, in a way.”
Photography by: The Maxwells - Ruby & Phillip
Manicure by: Jini Lin @SEE Management
Styling by: Phil Gomez
Hair: Preston Wada @Opus Beauty using It’s A 10
Makeup: LJ using Charlotte Tilbury
Writer: Jenni Dunn
Location: Electric Pony Studios