After releasing her first-ever album as an independent artist, Tove Lo tells GAY TIMES that she finally feels “creatively free”.
The Swedish pop sensation’s fifth studio album, Dirt Femme, was released in October to overwhelming critical acclaim for its innovative, dancefloor-ready production and deeply raw and confessional lyricism.
Featuring singles such as How Long, No One Dies From Love and 2 Die 4, with the star rocking a metallic corset and fully-erect golden-dildo in the latter video, Tove admits that Dirt Femme is her “favourite album” and era to date.
“In my mind I’m like, ‘Do I say that every album?!’ But I don’t think I do,” she laughs. “You have your whole life to write your first album and then there’s the time crunch and expectation of the second one.
“Even though I’m very proud of all my albums – I really stand for all of them – there’s something about having more time and no pressure and not having to play it for an A&R.”
After eight years, it was time for Tove to possess full creative control, “work with whoever I want to and decide where the money should be spent.” Now, she continues, “I can be creatively free.”
Dirt Femme explores uncharted territory for Tove such as her teenage struggles with an eating disorder (Grapefruit) and her rejection of a heteronormative life (Suburbia). On the latter, Tove tells her lover that she “never wanted babies” or a “Stepford Wife” kind of marriage of a slinky, trippy beat.
Having grown up in a ‘pretty safe’ and ‘protected’ environment in Scania Country, Sweden, Tove reveals that she always “felt a bit out of place” and sought a life that wasn’t predestined for her.
“I feel very spoiled saying that because that is a very beautiful dream,” she admits. “Why would you not want that life? I just don’t want that. I’ve had all these feelings awakened but, also, me and my husband live in a collective with three people.
“My community is a very mixed bag of everything and I realised it’s up to me if I want to fall back into this sort of traditional life or not. I don’t have to just because I’m married.”
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Suburbia was a hit with Tove’s loyal LGBTQ+ listeners who hailed it as a queer, non-heteronormative anthem. Her traditional friends didn’t feel the same way, however.
“They didn’t like it at all. They felt it was a personal attack on them. I do understand that…” she starts, before clarifying her love for children: “I love babies. I have nothing against babies! That doesn’t mean that everybody has to want that, though, and it doesn’t mean I’m criticising you for choosing that.
“But, I think whoever gets offended by the song is someone who isn’t comfortable in their own choices or doesn’t want to admit to some of these feelings because that would make them a terrible parent or something.
“At least in my experience, I guess there’s just this kind of acceptance and openness about originality and searching for yourself and expressing yourself in different ways, which is so much more present in the queer community. I think a lot of people look to traditional life for safety.
“I feel like I’ve always listened to that other part of myself that’s like, ‘This can’t be all there is it, is it?’”
In her GAY TIMES cover story, Tove reflects on her momentous 10-year career, which includes a quintuple platinum sleeper hit in Habits (Stay High), Grammy and Golden Globe nominations and collaborations with artists such as Charli XCX, Nick Jonas, Lorde, Ellie Goulding and Duran Duran.
The star also reveals how RuPaul’s Drag Race and the #MeToo movement inspired her to examine her relationship with gender roles and why it’s important for her to “do things that have an unexpected twist”.