Pop Singer Tove Styrke: Touring With Katy Perry & Lorde 'Lit a Spark' in Me
I've been a huge fan of Swedish pop sensation Tove Styrke ever since I checked out her 2015 show at The Troubadour, my small, local West Hollywood concert venue.
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Just taking in the incredible sounds of @tovestyrke @thetroubadour with the one and only @curlynat31! (In my brand new @creativerecreation kicks – oh HEY!) go to my @skyelyfela Insta for live video! #tovestyrke #creativerecreation #troubadour #bestshowinforever ❤️????????❤️????????❤️????????????????????????????????????
Like my other Swedish faves (Tove Lo, Robyn and Noonie Bao, to name a few), Tove Styrke (born Tove Anna Linnéa Östman Styrke) has a unique sound that sets her apart from what I consider the manufactured machine of American pop music (cue eye roll).
Now, 2.5 years later, the performer who once took center stage in that intimate space off of Santa Monica Blvd., has not only opened for parts of Katy Perry and Lorde's recent tours, but is embarking on her very own first North American headline tour (which kicked off in Toronto on Sept. 29)—and I had the chance to speak to her all about it.
Keep reading for everything she had to say about getting inspired by the aforementioned pop stars, working out (or lack thereof), dating, the song that's most emotional for her to perform and why Americans are much better concert-goers than Swedes!
Sweety High: Do you feel pressure to stay in extra good shape for your tour? What have been the biggest struggles of trying to prep for this tour?
Tove Styrke: I had this plan. I was going to start working out every day, for two weeks leading up to the tour, but have I worked out once? No, I haven't. I did one at-home yoga, a 30-minute thing. But I'm going to bring a yoga mat and try to do exercises every day. We'll see. I've been touring all summer, so I'm in okay shape, but I needed to get some squats in there.
SH: So, going off that, obviously you've been on tour before but what's going to be different, what can fans expect, and what are you most excited about?
TS: I've done a bunch of touring this year, but it started off either going and joining Lorde on her Melodrama tour and then I opened for Katy Perry in Europe, and both those tours were such a ride and so amazing. I'm so grateful I got to experience that, but naturally going this fall on these tours, I'm so excited to finally do my own headlining shows. Just being able to take this whole album and vibe and translate it to a stage. Also bringing the design and everything—I'm so excited!
SH: When you were supporting Lorde and Katy Perry, what were some of the biggest tips you picked up from them or guidance you received along the way?
TS: So much. Just watching how they look, how hard they work and how much goes into putting on a show like that was so valuable for me to see up close. I feel like it really lit a spark in me to work even harder, and I hope to one day tour arenas myself.
SH: Let's talk about Sway for a little bit. Is there one song in particular that you feel you put more emotion into on the album?
TS: Well, actually, it's really hard to pick favorites. Certain songs are so much fun to do live. There are certain songs like "Say My Name" that I'm very proud of—the production, how the production works with the lyrics, everything. If I had to pick one…
SH: The one where you really put forth your real feelings into a song the most.
TS: Probably "Sway" because that song is the anthem of the album and it's very much about losing yourself in a feeling, another person and a moment. I feel like that represents the whole Sway world in a very good way. It's also one of my favorite songs to perform live. It's just an explosion of all of those feelings. There are good feelings, but also melancholy. There's everything in there.
SH: That's amazing that you get to express all those emotions in one song or into any song that you perform. I think that's such a cool thing that you get to do, you know?
TS: Yeah. It's a little bit like the whole album is a movie. When things get complicated or, like, when you're in the first part of the movie, that's probably "On the Low," and I really like that one because it's small, intimate and honest. But like, the big movie kiss—that's "Sway" with all the tension that's been building up throughout the movie that gets relief. And then "Say My Name" is like the [credits] that are rolling in the end. And you're like, "Oh, yeah, that was a really good movie!"
SH: I like that analogy. You do open up in your songs on Sway about romance and love. Are you currently in a relationship? Do these songs reflect right now, or are they in the past?
TS: For me, it's everything. It's really been a ride writing this album because I'm in a relationship and have been for a long time actually. What happened with Sway was that I really had to dig and confront sides of myself that I really don't like as much. And it's hard to think about things you have gone through in the past and things that I'm still confronting within myself in many situations.
It's almost like method acting. You go into the mindset that you were in when you were in that situation. I think it's so interesting to write about people; what happens to you and what you go through when you bump heads or you're confronting certain parts of people or situations. It's very good inspiration to draw from because you can never quite figure people out and you can never quite figure yourself out either. It's a never-ending story of inspiration, really.
SH: What's your take on music in America? If there were something you could change about it what would it be?
TS: It's hard for me. Something that I think Swedish people can learn from Americans is how to be a good concert-goer. I find that, for me, as a performer, it's so much easier to put on a good show in the U.S. The audience is there to be entertained and they're also there to entertain themselves. It's usually a very good dynamic. I don't know why, but here, it's always harder because people get tied up waiting and aren't really sure how they're supposed to react to what's going on onstage. It's more of a struggle. But it's also a really big win when those performances turn out great.
SH: When are we going to see you collaborate with Robyn?
TS: That'll be a dream come true! I admire her so much and I feel like we've got so much to thank Robyn for. I don't think there would be this many good artists coming out of Sweden and trying their hand at international [success] if it wasn't for her. She made people understand that it was possible, and also, she makes people understand that pop isn't just nonsense—that it's something real and to be taken seriously.
SH: If you weren't a performer, what would you be doing?
TS: I don't know. Maybe I would still write songs to give to people. I would definitely do something creative. If I weren't a performer myself, I might actually spend more time getting into production because I think that's a very hard part of my job. I never learned to do it hands-on and actually do the work. But that's one of the most fun parts of the process is diving into that side. I might have done that.
SH: My last question is what do you want your fans to know about you? What's a misconception or something you hope they really understand about you and your album?
TS: First of all, everybody is welcome in my family. We have a very good little community of people. My fans are truly the best! Everybody's welcome. Join us, come hang out at the shows and on Twitter. It's always a good vibe. What I want to do with my music is I want to connect with people. I want to communicate something and I want to express what I've gone through in my experience.
The real payback for me is when I get to meet people and talk to people. When I know that it landed somewhere and it means something to them—that we're in this together. It really makes me feel less alone. And I want them to also feel comfort that they're not alone with their experiences and feelings. Whatever you're going through, all of us are connecting with this music and we're feeling the same way. I think that's very beautiful and it's very cool.
If you love Swedish artists as much as we do, then you'll want to watch THIS video interview with Alesso, as he describes the "twisted love" that inspired a recent song.