- Words Notion Staff
- Words Phie McKenzie
- Photography Emma Svensson
Tove Styrke's new song may be her best yet - and it's perfect pop.
Like a slice of chocolate cake on a Saturday afternoon, a British cuppa when you’re abroad or the first rays of summer sunshine on your face, Sweden’s Tove Styrke proves that sometimes the sweetest things in life are the simplest. ‘Say My Name’ is the feel-good love song of the summer, flirtatious and fun and about the getting up close and personal with someone you really fancy.
A former contestant of the Swedish Idol series, Styrke has already gained considerable clout in her home country for her first two albums, Tove Styrke in 2010, followed by the darker, edgier and brooding Kiddo back in 2015. Having supported Years and Years on the British leg of their tour for Kiddo, Styrke then returned to the studio with Elof Loelv [Rihanna, Zara Larrson] to begin work on her new music, this time turning her gaze inwards. The first track ‘Say My Name’ is charming and sweet, and feels refreshingly modest from much of the music that seeks a place in the pop charts. It also sets the tone for what’s to come from Styrke in the coming months.
On the eve of her video release, Styrke discloses more about what’s shaping her new material, her homegrown heroes and what she has in store this year.
Notion: How does it feel to be releasing music again?
Tove Styrke: It feels so, so amazing. I’ve been sitting curled up like a ball in the studio for so long now. I’m just so excited to be releasing stuff again and showing people what I’ve been doing all this time.
After your last album did you take a little bit of a break?
I got back to work in the studio. Immediately actually. But it took a while for me to find out what I wanted to do. I flew to LA and had a bunch of sessions – the songs were good but it wasn’t until I met this guy Elof [Loelv] that it really clicked. Actually ‘Say My Name’ was the first song that we wrote and I just loved it straight away and it kind of set the tone for all the songs that we’ve done so far.
I guess you must be working on an album.
You know I’m not even sure it’s an album. The songs that I am making, they are connected to each other, but I’m trying to make each song as good as possible. I’m going to put things out when I feel like it. Take things as they come.
Have you changed the way you make music after your last album?
The creative process is kind of different for me now. I spend a lot more time on each song. I’m more meticulous about the writing, about the lyrics because the sound and the production is much more stripped down. You can’t get away with any little mistakes in there. It takes a lot of time to perfect it to the point where I am satisfied. I’m more song focused I guess.
On the promo material for ‘Say My Name’ you discuss new themes in your work. Can you talk about this?
I didn’t find these themes before. With the last record, I was very focused on [the outside], I think that’s growing up, you look at the world and your place in that. I was really going through a phase when I was writing the last album, so it turned out to be very ‘outrospect’ if that’s a word, whereas now, it’s the complete opposite. It’s more introspective – looking inside. I don’t know what kind of phase this is, but I think it’s so fascinating how people can connect with each other because people are so complex.
You’re a big name in your home country but do you know that one of the places you’re most popular on Spotify is Manhattan, followed by Los Angeles. Why do you think your music is connecting in these areas?
That’s amazing. I don’t know. I really don’t know, but it’s so great that I can sit here in a tiny studio in Sweden and make something I think is great and I can put it on the internet and anybody can listen to it. It’s really cool.
Sweden is known for its huge pop acts –
Definitely. Zara Larsson is the best thing that ever came out of this country. I’m in love with her. She’s extraordinary!
What is it you like about her?
She’s just an incredible artist. She’s been doing this for a long time, and she’s so young – she’s brilliant. She doesn’t give a fuck about what people say. She’s really good at what she does, and you have to respect that. I’m fangirling all these amazing women in the industry. Tove Lo is another one who’s doing such an amazing job.
Do you have a similar kind of pop ambition?
I don’t think you should compare yourself to other people’s careers; it will always make you disappointed. I don’t look at it that way; I’m just happy that people are doing great when they deserve it and they really do.
Are we going to be hearing a lot more from you this year?
I’m taking it track by track, but you will definitely hear a lot more from me. I want to keep releasing stuff. My ambition is to keep going as long as I can without the need to take a year to go back to writing. Keep writing and releasing stuff simultaneously. I haven’t done that before, but I feel like that’s the next step for me, multitask a bit more.