Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Nilsson, a.k.a. Tove Lo - "Tove is my real name and 'Tove Lo' has been my nickname since I was three years-old..." - has been working as a songwriter for hire since her early twenties, for the likes of Cher Lloyd, Icona Pop, Girls Aloud and Gavin Degraw.
Inspired by the vocals of Amy Winehouse, Jeff Buckley and Mikki Ekko, Tove channels her real-life influences into frank and empathetic musical snapshots of her diary.
Lorde even gave her shout-out on Twitter recently:
"It’s a big relief to just think 'fuck it all' for a while. We all have to be so perfect, and absolutely no one can live up to it."
COUP DE MAIN: How does your songwriting process work?
TOVE LO: It varies a lot actually. Sometimes it starts with a random lyric idea that sets the tone for the whole song. Chords and sounds build from the lyric and rhythm, kind of. Sometimes it’s a track I fall I love with... but writing my own songs, I rarely write on tracks. Then it’s pretty much always 'the story' first. Then I add some chords and melody on my piano, or do a minimal production to get the sound right.
CDM: Who or what, are your main songwriting influences and inspirations?
TOVE: My main inspirations are the people around me, heartbreaks, frustration and everything that makes you feel stronger than you should.
CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
TOVE: I want people to FEEL something... If it’s sadness, anger, horny, happiness whatever! As long as it doesn’t just pass you by.
CDM: What was running through your mind while writing your song 'Habits'?
TOVE: I guess it speaks very loudly for itself... Just my way of getting through a hard time in 'the best' possible way. It’s a big relief to just think "fuck it all" for a while. We all have to be so perfect, and absolutely no one can live up to it.
CDM: What was the inspiration behind 'Out Of Mind'?
TOVE: 'Out Of Mind' for me is kind of the step after 'Habits'... Picked up the pieces again and now just trying to glue them back together, you know? But it never really works haha.
CDM: Do you have any plans to release an album?
TOVE: An EP is in the works, but I definitely will release an album in the future!
CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you've ever written?
TOVE: Hmmm... There’s this cliché of always falling in love with the latest song, and I’m kind of like that. So right now it’s a song I finished a few days ago!
CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
TOVE: A good song stays in your head because it’s catchy, a great song stays because it means something to you. And also GOOSEBUMPS! Are there goosebumps??
CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
TOVE: Haha I think I was ten… My friend sang - I didn’t think I could sing at the time - and I wrote the lyrics. It was called 'People Think I Am Crazy' haha. It was about loving a bad boy - how funny is that??
CDM: Were there any important lessons that you learnt while working as a songwriter for the likes of Icona Pop, Girls Aloud, Cher Lloyd?
TOVE: Yes, it’s important to tell the artist’s story. It’s their song! And it’s always more fun to write together with the artist!
CDM: Why did you decide upon your stage name, Tove Lo?
TOVE: Tove is my real name and "Tove Lo" has been my nickname since I was three years-old. "Lo" means "Lynx" (Nordic wild cat) in Swedish and it was when I was at an animal park as a kid I saw one named Tove. I refused to leave!
CDM: If T. O. V. E. L. O. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
TOVE: Oh tricky… Not sure how to do this haha! Maybe:
• T: Traveler
• O: Of
• V: Various
• E: Everywheres (new word)
• L: Lunatic
• O: Out
CDM: A friendship-crush is someone that you have no romantic interest in whatsoever, but just really wish that you were best friends with them. Who would be your top five friendship-crushes, living or dead?
TOVE: Frank Zappa. Russell Brand. Patti Smith. Astrid Lindgren. Ellen Page (if she’s like Juno in real life).
CDM: What do you think is your spirit animal?
TOVE: The Lynx! And sometimes an Otter. My friends say I look like an otter.
CDM: Where do you get your fashion and style inspiration from?
TOVE: There's a lot of inspiring stylish people here in Stockholm where I live, and also a lot of cool vintage stores. I mix! Hippies, grunge, Edie Sedgwick and all old rock stars are inspiring.
CDM: If you could have the clothes from any character in any movie, who would you choose?
TOVE: I think 'Factory Girl'... I’d feel like a star everyday.
CDM: What are your five favourite things in the whole wide world?
TOVE: Music, sex, beaches, creative bubbles and big laughs.
CDM: What's left on your bucket-list that you'd really like to achieve?
TOVE: World tour! Surf the barrel! Help people... Make some kind of difference
CDM: Can we hope that you'll visit us in New Zealand one day?
TOVE: I’d love to come to New Zealand!! I’ve been to Australia a few times - I'm well aware it’s not the same country - and next time I’ll have to make it to you guys. I’ve heard from people it’s beautiful - great diving, music and no scary animals haha. Guess I should study up...
Watch Tove Lo's 'Habits' music video below...