Listen To Yourself – We Interview Tove Lo At LFW In Collab With Urbanears
Talking grunge, glitter and everything in between.
Tove Lo (real name, Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson) first broke onto the scene back in 2014 with her debut album Queen of the Clouds featuring the sleeper hit ‘Habits’, just one of her brutally honest, grungey pop tracks. Renowned for her sensationally real, autobiographical lyrics, the singer songwriter and fashion icon has since gone on to release another two studio albums in 2016 and 17, hosting a tonne of chart-toppers, bagging plenty of nominations and racking up an instagram-following of 1.4 million along the way.
With London Fashion Week getting underway, we headed down to London’s four star The Soho Hotel to catch up ahead of her evening party culminating her fresh collaboration with Swedish brand, Urbanears. With London’s summer afternoon light creeping in across the balcony, we sat down to find out more about the new creative collaboration and the sounds and the singer behind it.
So, how did your collaboration with Urbanears get going?
It started with them reaching out to me. I knew about the company, already used their products and it’s a Swedish brand. They asked if I wanted to be part of this campaign called Listen To Yourself, which, the way I see it, is about expressing something instead of trying to prove something when it comes to being an artist. I just love the idea, you know, of treating their product as a blank canvas and then adding your personality to it. It felt like a really fun, creative process and worked in a really natural way because its about music and music is my life. So it was a very easy “yes” for me.
And where did you find your inspiration for the project?
From my music and my life. The headphones that are covered in glitter are because when I go out dancing – I like to go to raves and stuff – I usually have little glitter packets in my bag and I’ll go and put glitter on everyone around me. I just love how, depending on where you are, whatever light is hitting you, glitter always looks different. Then, the speaker with the mirrors draws inspiration from my song Disco Tits, drawing on the discoball element. And that’s the same thing, it’ll constantly look different depending on what’s reflecting in it. I thought it’d look really cool.
Nice. And this project really is a strong Swedish collaboration. Do you think growing up in Sweden influenced your music career?
I mean, I write about my life, so it inspired my music for sure. I think Sweden is big in terms of pop producers and pop writers and that definitely influenced me.
"I just love the idea, you know, of treating their product as a blank canvas
and then adding your personality to it."
Which writers and producers are your major influences?
I would say Robyn is a big one. I think she was the first kind of early pop inspiration for me and still is. I would also listen to a lot of grunge stuff like Nirvana, Silver Chair, and Hole and I think that gave me inspiration in terms of rawness, darkness and honesty in my lyrics. And then I also listen to a lot of electronic music and that definitely had a lot of influence on my second album. I also get inspired by my friends who are musicians Broods and Icona Pop… likeminded people.
Icona Pop, you guys were living together right?
Yeah, Caroline from Icona and I lived togehter when we were like… 19/20. It was a really fun time.
Could you take us through your music-making process?
Yeah. It varies a lot. If I’m on the road, I write a lot of my lyrics then. Usually, if i’m by myself, it starts with a story that I want to tell but if I’m in the studio with people, with producers and other writers, it usually starts with chords or a beat that I like and I’ll improvise some melodies until I find one that feels good. Then I’ll try and kind of figure out what it is that I want to say in the song. It usually takes me longer to figure out the lyrics when that happens. So I don’t have a specific way, it varies a lot depending on where I am.
And what advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Keep doing it! (laughs) If you love it enough and it’s the one thing that you love to do, I would just say, keep doing it. But I think it kind of has to come from the love of music and the love of creating, to be able to have the strength to keep doing it.
How were your family when you were young and concentrating on music?
(Laughs) They were really worried. I went to this music high school in Stockholm, which gives you a great education if you want to do music, makes you dare to dream, push yourself and gets you used to being on stage; it’s great for that. But then when I finished school, my parents were like, “what are you going to do next?”. My whole family are academics and hard-workers in a business world. So, for me to just decide to work in a cafe and rehearse with my band, they were worried about what I was going to do next, asking me how I’d support myself etc. But I wouldn’t listen and went on my own journey. And now, obviously they’re super proud and happy but when you’re 18, you don’t have that say. So, now I’m just really happy they still let me go to that high school because they could’ve easily not let me go there. But when they saw how happy I was when I got in through the auditions, they just didn’t have the heart to say no. I’m grateful for that.
Is there anyone who particularly supported you through the beginning of your career?
Yes. Julius, my publisher. When I got my first publishing deal as a songwriter, he is the one that took care of me and he’s still the one that I go to with new music. He is also the one person who isn’t a musician that I write with. I trust his taste and his instinct and I can get super angry but I always try out whatever he thinks. Sometimes I can still feel like, “No, the way I had it is the way that I want it” and other times it’s like “Ah, he was right”, but i’ll always listen to his input. He’s that one person who I always check in with musically.
"But I wouldn’t listen and
went on my own journey."
And what has been your biggest challenge?
Not getting caught up in all the stuff that isn’t music related, the stuff that comes with being an artist in the pop world. I think I’ve been good at it so far, to not let it affect what I make too much and to just do what I want to do, really.
Can you walk us through a day in the life of Tove Lo?
Well, there’s two very different average days. There’s when you’re on tour and wake up on the bus around noon, go find the nearest coffee place, warm up my voice, sound check, either do a work out or go on some sort of exploration (depending where we are), hang out with my band and crew, start to amp up and have a couple drinks before getting on stage. Then we’ll either go out for a dance afterwards or get on the bus and go to next city. That’s an average day on tour. The other is when I’m writing the record in the studio and same thing, I wake up, work out, head to the studio and we’ll be writing in there for I don’t know how many hours. We’ll usually come up for air every 3 hours or so… There’s really no way of hanging out or seeing anyone when I’m in the studio, you’re just in that bubble. Those are two of my usual days.
Where’s your favourite place to spend your time?
Well I live between Stockholm and LA and right now, neither feels like home. I’d love to live by the beach at some point in my life, but probably not in California. I love to travel. I think the tour bus is probably my where I’d call home right now.
Thanks for chatting to us!
To catch our lowdown on the Urbanears x Tove Lo party at The Box, go here.