Tove Styrke may be eyeing the release of her third album Sway but in many ways she feels like a brand new artist. She's simplified her sound and is serving up more personal, intimate lyrics. It's a bold pop sound that can only be pulled off by an artist with an effortless feel for pop melody.
Fresh off the back of an arena tour with Lorde, Styrke is in Australia performing her first two shows here ever. She'll be previewing the new album alongside songs like Say My Name and Mistakes which have already had plenty of spins on radio here.
Before she touched down here, we spoke to her about the shows and exactly what she wanted to do with her third album.
Your schedule is crazy right now but that means you're doing super well which you are at the moment.
Everyday I wake up to so many fun things and new things. I open my email and it's just oh my God. Even though it's fun, it's still stuff that I gotta do. It's just really cool.
This is always a really exciting time. You're about a month out from the album release. People have heard bits and pieces but not the whole thing. Are you pumped about it coming?
I am. I've been waiting for this for such a long time. I've really put in a lot of work. I just sent the last song to mix yesterday and it was so overdue. It's less than a month until release. I'm really meticulous about things, I really take my time. I can't wait for everybody to hear everything, to hear the whole album.
Are you going to be previewing much at your Australian shows?
Yeah I am. I'm gonna play most of the song probably. There will definitely be a preview plus some old stuff for those who have known me for a while. It's a fun show. We rehearsed the day before yesterday and it's such a fun set. I just came back from opening for Lorde where I've been playing half hour shows and now I can't wait to do longer sets on my own.
It's great to have the experience of doing huge arena shows like that but there's something really exciting about coming off the back of that into a crowd that's specifically there to see you.
Yeah! Also, club shows are more like my home turf. It's what I've done the most and what I'm the most used to. It's intimate and I love that. I love that I can just walk off stage after I'm done and hang out with people.
I was happy to see that you and Lorde were on the same tour together because I feel as if you've both got a similar philosophy on songwriting. Pop music is the basis but it's intelligent, personal and intimate at the same time. Have you drawn inspiration from her?
She's definitely an inspiration of mine. Often when I try to explain...I have certain elements that are important to me. There are certain elements that make for a really great song and one of them is when a song feels really, really personal for somebody who didn't live that. I think she really does. Liability I often use as an example. I made a cover of it because I love it so much and when I listen to that it feels like it's about me. And lots of people who listen to it feel like it's about them. There's something so simple and human about that lyric. I think she's so good at that, finding new ways to describe very common feelings. She always finds a special way to deliver it that really touches you. What I want a good pop song to do is to find a shortcut to the feeling and the melodies can do that, the lyrics can do that. I want to take something and simplify it, cut straight to the heart.
That's exactly how I feel about the four songs we've heard from your forthcoming album so far. It's you and very personal but they're some of the most colourful songs you've ever done. Was that the goal for you?
I wanted the songs to feel more intimate and personal. It's like a different voice than I'm used to in the writing. It's more like a dialogue that you have with yourself in your head rather than shouting it out to the world. I really love songs that are like that. I also wanted to really try and keep the production as minimal and as simple as possible but still interesting. That's why it's taken so long to make the songs. People don't understand how much time. For instance, the clap on Say My Name, I think my producer spent two days on just claps for one song. And then you have to review it. Maybe that thing that you spent two days on, maybe it didn't even work out but you have to try it. You really have to look at every sound from every angle and make sure it's perfect. It's worth it to me if it makes the song standout and makes it unique.
Do you find it hard to lock away a song and say it's done?
I always know when it's done. Some people in my time don't realise but I always know when it's done and that's why I can't let it go when I know it's not done. When a song is finished I want to be completely happy with it. I want everything to be perfect. I want to love that song and be the biggest fan so I can show it to everyone else and say, "here's the greatest thing ever, have you heard?" I want everything I make to be like that.
You've been able to sit back and listen to three of your own albums. Does it feel different this time around?
Yeah. The process has been slower this time and more methodical. I've gone through every step. There's been more time for the songs to really sink in. I've had time to live with some of the songs for a long, long time. There's like more of a calm around the project.
You can feel that too. I loved your last album but this album feels like you've come into your own as the artist you want to be. It's really cool to then hear you connecting to audiences on the other side of the world in Australia.
That's so cool. I've never been to Australia. This is the first time I'm going. I get notifications every time triple j plays a song. I see that and I know how big they are. It's so strange, it's so amazing.
You're doing two shows here. Are there any plans to come back afterwards?
At this point I have no idea what the rest of the year will be like. First I have to put the album out and see what happens with that. I have shows in Scandinavia and Europe. I'm opening for Katy Perry. I don't want to be that person but people really, really should try and make it to these shows. You never know when the next time will be. I'm always trying to be everywhere but it's out of my hands. The more people that come, the sooner I'll be able to come back.
Tove Styrke is playing tonight in Sydney and Melbourne on Thursday. Check out all the details here. Her album Sway is out 4th May.
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