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NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Tove Lo gets into the 'Habit'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
2014-11-24

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The new Swedish pop sensation Tove Nilsson—better known as Tove Lo—is quickly taking over the United States. Her single "Habits ( Stay High )" is burning up the charts, and has tons of radio airplay.

Her debut album, Queen of the Clouds, was released this year, and it contains a variety of possible pop gems. She's written for girl group Icona Pop and singer Cher Lloyd, among others, in her young career.

Windy City Times went backstage to get to know her better before her sold-out show at Metro in Chicago.

Windy City Times: Is your name common in Sweden?

Tove Lo: Yes, it is kind of common. I am usually the only Tove in the group, but people usually know one or two more. It is no Anne or Sophie but...

WCT: Did you always want to make pop music growing up?

Tove Lo: Not pop music. I was more of a rock girl but when I started writing on my own it just became pop. I started writing and producing as well. I learned to play drums and program everything so it became more electro beats anyway. I related to that.

WCT: Talk about the music school you went to.

Tove Lo: It is called Rytmus Musikergymnasiet. It is a public school in Sweden. It is hippie-like. It's not focused on studies but on music. The first day you go there you are put into a band. It is an ensemble so me and another singer, who was Caroline Hjelt from Icona Pop—a bass player, drummer, guitar player, and a keyboard player. We got two songs to learn how to play: "Don't Speak," by No Doubt, and "Work It Out," by Beyonce. Everyone performed in front of each other at the end of the day after rehearsing all day.

We went through blocks of music like jazz, blues, rock, pop, gospel and more. It was great actually. The school was open to 11 at night so we could rehearse after school hours. Some people said it was competitive but I didn't really feel that. I was not one of the best when I started. I was on the bottom but I practiced and got better.

WCT: It made you who you are today. I saw you ran into one of the Icona Pop girls here in Chicago last night.

Tove Lo: Yes; we usually miss each other by one day. They came to New York the day after my show there. With Chicago it was the same day.

WCT: "Habits" is a break-up song. Did you have a bad break-up?

Tove Lo: Yes; it was a passionate relationship. They never end easy. It was a really tough break up.

WCT: Does the person know you wrote the song about them?

Tove Lo: Yes, he knows. I think he was a little bit honored and also a bit angry. We are on good terms now. It was a while ago and I wrote it back then. He's happy for me now I think, we haven't spoken in a while.

WCT: It is funny that you talk about getting high in that song then there is another track talking about not being on drugs.

Tove Lo: Well, "Not On Drugs" is cheeky like that. All of the verses are drug references. It is comparing a high to being in love, which I think can be kind of the same thing.

WCT: How does it feel to have the album out now?

Tove Lo: It is unbelievable. I am starting to realize now that I released my first album. There are so many things to do. It is social media focused constantly. I haven't even held a copy on my hand. When I had a show recently all the people had the album and the vinyl. It was awesome.

I am happy how it turned out. I am very involved in all of the it, the artwork, and obviously the songs. It was a battle to get it done but once it was finished I thought it was perfect and I wouldn't have done it any other way. I have a great team around me.

WCT: Why did you put the speaking parts in between tracks?

Tove Lo: I wanted it to be cohesive but not just another pop album thrown together with three big singles and no one cares about the rest. No one buys albums anymore, except me. I wanted this to be clear that it was a story with a storyline.

I wanted to get on all of the digital platforms subtitles under the songs. I researched it and there were all these issues so I decided to make interludes because people haven't heard that in a while. I wanted there to be chapters.

WCT: You have a song called "Like Em Young." Does this mean you are not into older guys?

Tove Lo: Well, I used to be but then I changed my mind. I am making fun of the fact that it is okay for a man to be twice a woman's age if they are dating but if it is the other way around people look down on it. It is not that I want a 14-year-old guy. It is the fact that it should be okay for a 40-year-old woman to be with a 20-year-old dude if it is fine for a 40-year-old man to do the same thing.

I have a lot of friends that are with older guys so I am making fun of them a little bit. They didn't take it very well.

WCT: I like the feel-good song "Timebomb."

Tove Lo: If you hear the lyrics it is about capturing the moment and not worrying about the future.

WCT: Lucas Nord is on one of the songs. Who is that?

Tove Lo: He's a DJ and producer who is really talented. That song "Run On Love" we actually released in Sweden on a small indie label. I have played it live forever and really wanted it on the album. He is the only feature on the record. He deserves a lot of attention.

WCT: What is the gay scene like in Sweden?

Tove Lo: There are gay bars but it is not as elaborate as it here because it is a bigger country here but is definitely open, especially in the bigger cities like Stockholm. It is a be whoever you want to be and no one will judge you attitude so I am very happy about it. Sweden is an open country for everything, which is great.

I have a lot of gay friends and I am gay for fun sometimes I would say. I have never had a girlfriend but I do hook up with girls on a regular basis. I am open and free to do that.

WCT: Is singer Robyn the biggest thing in Sweden?

Tove Lo: She is, yeah. She is very respected artist. She has a lot of integrity and is very innovative. She is loved in Sweden, for sure. I'm a big fan.

WCT: You have written music for so many people like Lea Michele. Do you watch Glee?

Tove Lo: I did watch it a little bit when I was going to write the song with her for her to get a sense of her voice. I like the concept. I think it is very polished and American. As a Swede, I don't think I fully get it sometimes. Even though it is very open and brings up issues that people try to hide, which I think is great thing, it is still very polished in my mind.

WCT: I saw you on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live but you didn't get to play any music.

Tove Lo: Everyone was really nice. I liked meeting the other guests and I am a big fan of Andy Cohen's dog. I didn't completely understand my purpose as the guest bartender. I was just standing there sipping my drink and getting tipsy. It was easy with a fun and relaxed vibe.

WCT: How does it feel to get all of the attention such as being a VH-1 You Oughta Know artist.

Tove Lo: It is hard to grasp how big it is. Things keep happening and sometimes you have to stop and take it in. When I think how I was a year ago it makes me think how things have happened. It is so cool that I am finishing up my first tour now.

WCT: What are you doing after the tour?

Tove Lo: Next I am going back to Europe for a bit. I will be in France playing on some TV shows. They miss me in Sweden so I will be going home for a bit. There I will make a new video for the next single in Sweden called "Talking Body." I will be doing more promos but will be going on tour the beginning of next year. I can't clone myself so I can't be at every place they want me!

Look for Lo to open for Katy Perry in Australia on her Prismatic Tour this month. For more on this emerging artist, go to www.tove-lo.com .


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