Swedish pop singer Tove Lo on her new album ‘Dirt Femme’ : NPR

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NPR’s Scott Simon chats with Swedish pop singer Tove Lo about love, marriage, attention-seeking behavior and her latest album, “Dirt Femme.”



SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Tove Lo knows the pain of a breakup.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “NOBODY DIES OF LOVE”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) I know what they say. I know they say no one dies of love. I guess I’ll be the first. Will you remember us?

SIMON: Tove Lo also knows that breakups can pave the way to self-discovery. She takes us on this journey on her new album, “Dirt Femme”. Tove Lo joins us now from Los Angeles.

Thank you very much for being with us.

TOVE LO: Thank you very much for inviting me.

SIMON: That’s pretty much how everyone feels – that a breakup is so painful they think they’re going to die, then one day they take another breath, then another step and move on. ?

TOVE LO: I guess it depends on what kind of love it was. I know people who are – you know, they kind of end things on a high and as friends and you kind of, you know, go on and live your life. And, you know, you know, there’s not too much pain there. But I think if you’ve had a dramatic relationship or maybe you’re an intense, passionate person, depending on how much you’ve given of yourself in a relationship and in love, that’s how much…

SIMON: Yeah.

TOVE LO: … It will feel like we’ve taken it away.

SIMON: I assume that you have been married in personal life since July 2020.

Congratulations.

TOVE LO: Thank you. Thanks a lot. Yeah, it’s a – it’s been a good trip.

SIMON: Yeah. Does it change the way you see things – how you see love, how you see coming together?

TOVE LO: Yeah, I understand why people are getting married now. Before, I didn’t think it was something I wanted. I felt like it was useless for the relationship. But I think I understand it in the feeling of wanting to celebrate finding someone you can see yourself spending your whole life with. It’s funny. For example, I’m pretty untraditional in a lot of ways, but I love wearing a ring. I like being a woman. I feel really – it’s really, really good.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “SUBURBIA”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) Now here I am with you. I never wanted babies. I know they’re pretty cute. I never wanted marriage. But here I am with you…

SIMON: So let me ask you about this song, “Suburbia”, because it seems to indicate that you are struggling with this new identity as a married person.

TOVE LO: I want to see myself as an independent woman. I can have – like, I have everything in order. Like, I can take care of myself, but I can’t deny that I feel like I need him in my life, and I depend on him, and he depends on me. And we have a very, very close bond. And I feel like we’re together, and that’s how it is.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “SUBURBIA”)

TOVE LO: (singing) I hope you know that I know. You are the love of my life.

But then I think of, OK, but what if we had a family and all of a sudden we were in this life that maybe we didn’t see ourselves having, and there are other challenges who show up. Like, will we be able to handle them? Will we always be us? You know, all these fears, I guess, that happen. Yeah.

SIMON: But if you spend too much time worrying about what could be, you’ll never appreciate what is.

TOVE LO: No, it’s very true. So I try to write songs like that, and then I gave up. And I continue to live.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF THE SONG, “SUBURBIA”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) No fake weed, no fake friends. That’s our plan, yeah, that’s our…

SIMON: You have a song with a title that we can’t say here.

TOVE LO: (Laughs).

SIMON: It starts with the word attention and is used to describe someone who – I think our listeners can fill in the blanks. You describe yourself like this.

TOVE LO: It’s, you know, ironic. And yeah, I mean, the first time that kind of part of my personality showed through was when I was maybe 5 years old. I was going with my family to our neighbor across the street on the weekends, and it would be – everyone from the little neighborhood would be there. And there would be a barbecue, and we would hang out. When everyone had arrived, I would go home and put on my princess dress and rainbow sparkly shoes. And I would come in to make an entrance when everyone was there. So very early on I…

SIMON: That’s lovely.

TOVE LO: Adorable and also a bit snotty (laughs). So, you know, there was clearly a need for attention early on.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “ATTENTION WHORE”)

TOVE LO: (singing) I, it bothers me when she looks at you the way you look at me, yeah. Why? Oh why?

And I think in this song too, you know – it’s like my sassy, ​​jealous, drunk kind of song. Like when sometimes when I’m a little drunk, and I feel good, and I – you know, I get a little jealous. And I can be like, why are you talking to this person? You should look at me. Watch how – it’s just like that – you know you’re wrong, but you’re going to do it anyway. It’s like – yeah, admitting a pretty big flaw in my personality, I guess. Yeah.

SIMON: I don’t know if everyone has a sassy, ​​jealous, drunken song.

TOVE LO: (Laughs).

SIMON: But I guess if you do, you end up making music a career.

TOVE LO: Yeah, why not?

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “ATTENTION WHORE”)

TOVE LO: (singing) And I want what I ask for.

SIMON: What made you a musician, in your opinion?

TOVE LO: The first thing that makes me happy – apart from my husband – is singing. And I feel like when I realized that I could sing, and I liked to sing, that was my space of freedom and, like, letting out all my emotions. I think you kind of have to – you can’t just unleash this on people all the time, wherever you are. So I needed to find the space to do it. And the music really did that for me.

SIMON: One of your last songs on this album – you could say this one on air – “Kick In The Head”. Let’s share the question of the guidelines you set for yourself.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF SONG, “KICK IN THE HEAD”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) Try to sound cooler. Try to live better. I have to get out of bed. I need a good kick – a kick in the head. Try to lose the pressure. Try to go faster. I have to get out of bed. I need a good kick – a kick in the head. I know you are tired…

SIMON: I guess that’s good advice for pretty much anyone. Why did you feel the need to give it to yourself?

TOVE LO: I think because at the start of 2020 I kind of felt stripped of everything about my artistry, like I wasn’t — my record deal was out, I wasn’t touring no, I wasn’t doing interviews, I wasn’t streaming music. I didn’t want to write music. So I felt like, oh, who am I when I’m just me without constantly being in my artist element, so to speak.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF SONG, “KICK IN THE HEAD”)

TOVE LO: (singing) It’s easier to sleep than to let go of my dreams.

I was a bit freaked out about who this person was. It’s a feeling, I think, even outside of the pandemic, that I think a lot of us can relate to is the frustrating feeling of constantly feeling like you don’t care enough. And that might not be a fair feeling, but I think it’s a very common feeling – not doing enough, not being enough, all that stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOVE LO SONG, “I’M TO BLAME”)

SIMON: Do you find that when you have to reach for it sometimes, it ends up being better?

TOVE LO: I feel like in general I’m not very naturally good at things. I have to practice and work on it. So I think it’s the same with my songs. For example, I need to work on it for a while and find the cracks until I know if I really believe this is how it should be.

SIMON: Look for the cracks – what’s in a crack?

TOVE LO: The flaws – the cracks on the wall.

SIMON: And you fill them out and…

TOVE LO: Fill them, paint them (laughs). Sometimes you leave them because it adds character and personality, but.

SIMON: Sounds like good advice for a lot of things in life, really.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “I’M TO BLAME”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) A part still alive.

SIMON: Tove Lo, Swedish musician, talks about her new album “Dirt Femme”, which has just been released. Thank you very much for being with us. Good luck to you with that.

TOVE LO: Oh, thank you very much for inviting me.

(SOUNDTRACK FROM THE SONG, “I’M TO BLAME”)

TOVE LO: (Singing) I’ve been to blame from the start. I kept my own layer of ice.

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