Tove Lo is one of the most genuine and raw singers to dominate pop music in a long time, beginning with her 2014 debut album Queen of the Clouds. She soon followed up with last October's Lady Wood, which dove even further into the darkest and heartbreaking depths of her mind. She was inspired by sexism in the industry and patriarchal ideologies that further sparked an important conversation both in music and everyday life. Her self-assurance and willingness to confidently speak up on taboo topics made Tove Lo one of the more exciting acts for this year's Governors Ball.
We caught up with the Swedish singer ahead of her Honda stage performance on the festival's opening day, where she told us about mental health, what we can expect from her next album, normalizing the conversation about vaginas and more.
FUSE: You're no stranger to music festivals, but how do you
plan to tackle this one differently?
Tove Lo: It’s my first time playing Gov Ball. Whenever I play somewhere for the first time I’m always like, “What if no one shows up? Does anybody know me here?” But it’s in New York and I played here a bunch of times, so I feel like I’m expecting a similar crowd. Which is similar to Stockholm, where people are a bit more chill and laid-back. We’ve been rehearsing so much and I just came off my headline run, so I think me and my band are warmed up. So we’re just going to bring all the energy I have. And we’re playing a show during a daytime hour, which I love. The only thought I have no is: “Am I gonna wear my sunglasses or not?”
Can you tell me any crazy “Oh
my god!” moments that have happened on stage before?
Oh yeah, there’s been a few of those! [laughs] You think everyone notices but usually people don’t. But I had one where we were in Santiago, Chile for Lollapalooza. I ate something really, really bad and I had this one part of the set where I run out and just the band is playing. During that part I usually just stand on the side of the dancing, but I had to run to a Porta Potty! The crowd could see that area [of the stage] so they just saw me running, which was so embarrassing! They were waving at me when I ran back. But I made it back in time for when I was supposed to come out, so it was fine.
You’re so open when it comes
to your sexuality and relationships. Was recording Lady Wood enough of an
emotional release or do you still feel that mental burden?
It was an emotional release to write it. My first album was as personal and special to me, but it was kind of like “Oh I guess I’m putting together an album!” But [with Lady Wood] I knew what I wanted to do and I was so invested in making it a powerful follow-up. I’m really proud of it. But I still feel the songs a lot when I perform them and I can get into that mindset still. Now I’m happy and in love again so it’s a bit hard with the really sad ones. I’m like, “I don’t know what this feels like! I’ve never been sad in my life!” [laughs]
Have you finished the sequel
to the album?
Almost, it’s getting there. It’ll come out later this year. I spent a month in the studio to write a few more songs, so know I have to figure out which ones I want to put on to complete it. I’m really excited for that too. It’s gonna be a dramatic one!
You mentioned you’re in a new
relationship. Did that affect your songwriting?
Oh completely! I just shot the second short film for Lady Wood. I had "Fairy Dust" come out—that’s the first chapter—and the second is "Fire Fade". It’s even more dark and heartbreaking and sad. It took me a while to get back in that headspace because I was like, “I’m happy now!” I didn’t feel that anymore. But I’m glad we came full circle and I finished that chapter, so now we can get part two.
Speaking of the Fairy Dust
mini-movie, it was so complex. I think you’d be a great actress.
I didn’t know how much I loved it until I did this film. I act a bit more in the second half as well. Music takes up all of my time, but if anyone asked me to be in a movie I’d definitely be down.
You previously explained the
sequel to Lady Wood will tackle the aftermath of the rushes in life. Is there a certain comfort in finally coming down from the adrenaline
rush or is it even more painful?
I think it can vary. I can feel either a full calm euphoria, like a nostalgic feeling almost. Or I’m just completely empty, depending on how I feel. But for the first part coming off stage, I’m usually empty for like a few minutes where I have to gather myself. “What did I do? Oh, I just played a show and it was total shit, but I’m still happy!”
I read your Teen Vogue essay where you talk about being proud of your vagina. Do you think we'll ever get to
a point where that conversation will become more normalized?
I hope so, but I still feel like it’s not only the men…a lot of women are uncomfortable talking about it because that’s what we’re brought up feeling. I actually have a friend who told me the other day that she was peeing and her daughter walked in the bathroom. She said, “Mom do you have one of those?” and points down to it and says "Can I see it?” My friend was like, “Okay, this is the moment.” She showed it [to her daughter] and she said, “That’s really pretty!” This 2-year-old! Her first reaction was “No, you can’t show that to people.” But she was just like, “Yeah, here it is. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.” I thought that was so cool. So, you know, if more people do that then maybe!
And your music has always
been so relatable and it’s quite therapeutic. What advice can you give to young
girls who want to get out of a traumatic relationship or trying to find their
I think what really prolongs it and makes it more hurtful is when you just push it down and try not to feel it. So just admit that things are fucking shitty right now and be honest with how you actually feel. I think that will help you…it’s just easier to deal with it that way rather than feeling what you did was wrong. Don’t think “I’m gonna have to pretend I’m okay.” Everyone is going through shit. If you’re the one to be like, “I feel like shit guys,” someone will be like “Me too.” You own it and that will actually release it. It will be a weight off just to say something about it.
What would you say is the
place you go to escape?
The stage for sure, when I perform, the studio. Music becomes my therapy where the outside world shuts out. The creative part is very therapeutic for me and makes me calm.
Next, throw it back to a classic interview with Tove Lo as part of Fuse's Future Women's History Month: