DIRTY POP

Meet the singer who’s drag­ging Scan­di­na­vian mu­sic through the mud.

Elle (Canada) - - Radar - BY sarah laing

the heir to ABBA’s se­quined legacy she is not. Swedish singer Tove Lo’s break­out sin­gle, “Habits ( Stay High),” is an ode to a drug-and-sex­fu­elled post-breakup ben­der—and in per­son, she is all smudged eye­liner, ho­ley tights and grav­elly voice.

The smoky voice isn’t nor­mally part of the pack­age, ex­plains Tove Lo (real name Ebba Tove Elsa Nils­son) as we chat in a Toronto café. “I’ve been sick the past cou­ple of days, so in­stead of hav­ing a few beers with the band be­fore a show, it’s been, like, tea and beer, tea and beer,” she says, laugh­ing.

The 26- year- old is be­ing hailed as Scan­di­navia’s next big gift to pop (which means a lot, com­ing from the home of Avicii, Robyn and hit­maker Max Martin). Be­fore re­leas­ing her ac­claimed EP Truth Serum ear­lier this year, Tove Lo wrote songs for artists like Lea Michele and Cher Lloyd. “I chose that in­stead of be­ing an artist, but I had these songs I wouldn’t give away be­cause they were too per­sonal,” she says. “So I was like, ‘Go fuck­ing do it your­self.’”

Tove Lo in­hab­its di­chotomies eas­ily: a Kurt Cobain su­per-fan who per­forms hooky dance mu­sic, a psy­chol­o­gist’s daugh­ter who can’t write hon­estly in her mother tongue. “If I were to write in Swedish, it would be too much for me—it’s just too straight-up,” she says. “English helps me to dis­tance a bit. It’s like how when we Swedes swear in English, it’s not a bad thing to us!”

While she’s beau­ti­ful—fe­line eyes framed by dirty-blond waves of the “it just air-dries like this” va­ri­ety—Tove Lo doesn’t dress the part of the pop star. “My favourite jacket is an old suede one of my aunt’s. It ac­tu­ally has poop on it be­cause she used to have par­rots that would sit on her shoul­der,” she says, grab­bing her phone to find a pic­ture. “It’s kind of gross, but I love it.”

The mix of grungy cool and raw lyrics sparked se­ri­ous buzz ahead of the re­lease of her al­bum Queen of the Clouds in Septem­ber— and scored her a gig open­ing the Aus­tralian leg of Katy Perry’s world tour this fall.

Tove Lo played to packed venues on her most re­cent North Amer­i­can visit—and also had a first brush with a slightly “stalker-ish” fan: “I had a girl knock on my door in my ho­tel in New York,” she ex­plains. “I was in a T-shirt, bare­foot, and I was, like, ‘Uh... hi.’” Not a pub­lic-re­la­tions-pol­ished pop­princess mo­ment—but maybe the start of some­thing even bet­ter? n

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