Tove Styrke Talks Her Debut ‘Kiddo’ LP, ‘Kill Bill’ & The Latest Swedish Takeover: Idolator Interview

Bianca Gracie | June 8, 2015 6:00 am
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We at Idolator are always on the hunt for new artists, and our latest discovery is Tove Styrke. The 22-year-old electro-pop singer caught our attention with her glossy “Ego” single, and is now ready to take on the U.S. music industry with her forthcoming LP — Kiddo (out on June 9).

I recently got the chance to catch up with the artist about her debut album, collaborating with other artists and the influences she uses to create her music. Read on to see what Tove Styrke had to say in our conversation below!

What made you want to officially become a part of this business?
TOVE STYRKE: It happened when someone gave an anonymous tip to Swedish Idol. They called me and I went to audition. From there, I got a record deal and put out my debut album in Sweden.

How did your experience on Swedish Idol prep you for this industry?
TS: Doing the show was quite a weird way to get into music. It’s a strange experience because it’s not really about music — it’s more about popularity and competition. I don’t have anything to compare it to, because it’s all I know. But it is a very different way to start out.

So what kinds of sounds can we expect from your upcoming U.S. debut album?
TS: It’s very diverse and quite bold. I wanted to not restrain myself sound-wise and try to explore everything. Each song has a story of its own and differ from each other, but you can still see a connection between them. There are a lot of electronic textures to it, but there are many influences sprinkled upon that.

I wanted to discuss the album title. It’s called Kiddo, which is a direct reference to Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill. Where did that inspiration come from?
TS: It’s definitely one of my favorite movies, it has a grittiness to it that I really like. I like her character a lot — she’s empowering and cool. Kill Bill was an influence from some of the songs [on the album], and especially in the beginning of the creative process of this album. I also have a love-hate relationship with the word “kiddo,” it’s something that people say in a demeaning manner. I felt if I took that word and used it almost as a superhero name, then I would take the power away from them and use it as a strength. That’s the interesting part about language, you can use it to tell your own story. I like doing that when I write.

When I listen to your music, it has a very empowering vibe to it and the lyrics are female-oriented. Is that something you do intentionally?
TS: Writing is a really good way for me to cope with my feelings. So if I’m angry or frustrated about something, that becomes the fuel when I write songs. That’s the fun thing about pop music — you can take bigger, more complicated issues and turn it into a song while describing it in an almost naive way. It’s an interesting process.

Is there one song in particular off the album that is the most personal for you?
TS: One song, called “Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You,” that kind of overflowed itself. I already had it in my head before I wrote it down on paper. I had one sentence, and then we did the drum beats…and everything just came after. I felt like it came very naturally.

So “Ego” is one of my favorites of the moment, and I wanted to know who you were addressing the song to.
TS: That song could practically be about anyone that you care about: a friend, your parents, a sibling or someone you’ve been in a relationship with. Basically you have this feeling that you care a lot about this person in your life who is drifting away from you and who is losing themselves in their own ego. It’s the feeling of frustration that there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re sort of helpless. If you listen to that song, it’s very joyful. But the meaning of it is about frustration. When you present two opposite feelings together, you get that contrast that makes the song pop.

This album will be your debut in the States. Are you more excited or more nervous about its release?
TS: I’m not the type of person who worries too much, especially not in this case. I’m very happy with the album and the way it turned out. I want to give it a chance to reach a lot of people, but if it doesn’t succeed it’s still a great album. I’ll just come back later and try again! But so far, since I’m out touring right now, I’m amazed at how people have received the music. That’s the best thing about performing — I get to meet and talk to people who listen to my music and hear what their relation to the songs are. Just a few days go, there was a girl who came up to me and said “Ego” and “Borderline” helped her get through difficult times. That is the most beautiful thing, where I can make a song that deals with my shit and someone else can get something out of it. It makes [my music] valuable. Even if I do that with just 10 people in the U.S., at least I accomplished something!

You mentioned you’re currently on tour here [in America]. Have you had any crazy moments on stage?
TS: There was one show where I had a huge problem with my microphone cable. I always swing it around, I don’t just have it in the stand. The cord kept on unplugging throughout the show, and it was a bit risky but it worked out!

Currently there is a new wave of Swedish artists taking over radio, like Tove Lo, Erik Hassle, etc. Why do you think Sweden has become such a mecca for pop music?
TS: In Sweden, and especially in Stockholm where I live, the music community is very tight. I feel like people collaborate a lot and help each other out. There’s a good vibe that I think helps the music thrive. It’s really inspiring for me as well. People ask me why I don’t move somewhere else, but Stockholm is the best place to be if you want to write and make awesome music. If you go out, in one night you will meet several people who are producers, in bands, or starting out their solo careers.

I brought up Tove Lo, and your name is Tove Styrke. Was that a coincidence?
TS:  Well both of us were named that, [Tove] is our real names! I didn’t think of taking anyone’s stage name. I actually know her and she’s really talented…such a great songwriter. I had a few sessions with her a couple of years back before she became solo.

Are there any other people, either other artists or producers, that you’d like to work with?
TS: Grimes! I think she’s cool and has a good approach to music. Can we make that happen? [laughs] She’s very ambient and I’m the opposite, so it would be fun.

Favorite songs of the moment?
TS: My latest jam is the new Erik Hassle song, “No Words.” It’s really really good, and so catchy. I’m also really into “Go Slow” by Tei Shi.

Look out for Tove Styrke’s debut LP Kiddo on June 9 via RCA Records.

Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.