FeaturesWritten by Thomas Bleach on November 15, 2019
Tove Lo is an artist that has made a career out of being unapologetically honest and authentically herself through her poignant boldness and her forward-thinking songwriting.
Her fourth studio album, Sunshine Kitty, hears the Swedish singer-songwriter stepping into a heavier electronic soundscape as she immerses herself into the sonic layering of dance music while also holding onto her emotional storytelling roots.
“Sunshine Kitty is a bit more playful and even more vulnerable at times. It’s a love record, and it’s also everything that comes with that; fear, vulnerability, being romantic, naive, happy, sad and all of the feelings you get when you’re in that space,” she tells Music Feeds.
Lo’s experimentation with dance music doesn’t completely come as a shock following the success of singles ‘Disco Tits’ and ‘Cool Girl’, as well as her inclusion on some very diverse festival lineups across the world which has opened her eyes to the complexities of the genre.
“I love the contrast of something vulnerable and a little bit sad but having that strong dance beat pushing through those emotions. I like there to be a bit of darkness and melancholy in everything I do, so I think that’s why I was drawn to dance music. Even when you’re singing about happy things and contrast it with pretty heavy industrial and darker beats, it immediately becomes more interesting.”
“I have a hard time making a straight-up ballad. It still needs to have a contrast of something that gives it an edge like with ‘Hey You Got Drugs’ and ‘Thousand Miles’.”
On this new record, ‘Mistaken’ and ‘Really Don’t Like U’ (featuring Kylie Minogue) offer some of the most vulnerable moments as they deal with admitting that you’re not proud of your feelings.
“It’s the feelings that you don’t even want to admit to your friends because you feel like it’s embarrassing and doesn’t make you a good person. On ‘Mistaken’ you’re admitting to the person you love that you think that there is someone out there who is better for them than you,” she says.
“’Really Don’t Like U’ is about when you direct your hate towards your ex to their new boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s a shitty thing to do but it’s a very natural thing to do. We all do it. We all hate the new person, even though they have nothing to do with it,” she confesses, before laughing.
Within the foundations of Sunshine Kitty there is a lot of experimental contrasting that layers raw storylines with innovative production. ‘Shifted’ is a song that immediately stands out within the collection as it’s sonically bold and hears her getting quite gritty within the production.
“I wrote this with Jack & Coke, who were a major part of this whole record. They had the bass line synth layered down and I was just standing by the microphone and layering breathy vocal takes. The vocal production is quite heavy like on ‘Flashes’ and ‘Keep It Simple’ as it uses my vocals as percussion and we just roll straight into the choruses.”
“It really adds to the attitude of the song as it’s about being sick of trying and feeling like you’re too good for this. There’s something about the repetitiveness in the main sound of the song that just made the story ooze out,” she explains.
But Lo admits that the actual structure and delivery of the song took a little while to nail as she learnt to allow herself to be a bit offbeat with her synchronisation.
“When we were playing with the melodies we knew we had to do something that complimented the attitude and music. Recording that chorus was really funny because technically you want to be on the beat and in time, but I had to learn to hold it back and be a bit behind to really make it groovy.”
With the album now out in the world, Tove Lo is currently in rehearsals to bring the album to the live stage on her upcoming world tour, which kicks off in early 2020.
Creating the structure of the show, she’s figuring out how to make sure she includes a good mix of the new tracks as well as have all of the hits and fan favourites from her growing discography.
“The show is almost two hours long because I want to fit as many new songs into the set, as well as play heaps of old songs,” she explains.
“I’m trying to think of the set as a ‘sunset to sunrise’ structure. I’ve built it in arcs. We start the show with some of the sappy songs that are more emotionally confident and hold pride, then go into this big dance section with songs that are a bit more club-focused and we’re even doing some remixes of old songs! Then I do some of the more vulnerable ones, stripped down, with just me on keys and guitar before going into the energetic ego pop part of the set.”
Working with a lighting designer from New Zealand as well as her personal lighting guy and creative director, they’ve been trying to build the right set that can adjust to the different sized venues they are playing.
“We’ve decided that the show has to have [an] essence of light beams and sun but in a really trippy way. So he’s created this light fixture which is absolutely amazing. I can’t wait!” she exclaims.
With no dates confirmed yet for Australia, she’s hoping to have some tour news for her Australian fans very soon, so stay tuned.
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