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Tove Styrke Talks Getting Louder and Tackling Gender Inequality Through Music

We premiere the remix for the Swedish pop singer's new single about gender inequality in the music industry.
August 4, 2014, 4:45pm

Although there’s been radio silence from Tove Styrke over the past few years, the Swedish singer is coming back louder than ever. Tove–who was first discovered on "Swedish Idol" in 2009–is now moving away from her pop roots and exploring a more avant-garde sound this time around. Styrke’s new single “Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You” showcases her loud mouth antics over a dance beat. Now White Sea has reworked it into a dreamy, synthpop jam, premiering below.

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We spoke with Tove about getting her start from reality TV, gender inequality in the music industry and getting ballsy with her music.

There was a bit of a gap between your first record and your new single that was released. What were you doing during that period of time?
Tove Styrke: What was I doing [laughs]? Mostly I’ve been working, writing and making music. I went back to Umea for a while–a town in Sweden where I grew up. I stayed there for a while as well.

What made you shift your sound? You were making electropop artist and now you’ve moved into doing something more rhythmic that's not as easily defined that genre.
The sound just sort of came out that way. We had fun with it. I’m feeling that I’m naturally heading towards a more rhythmic sound and maybe towards something a little less dreamy as well. I’m focusing more on lyrics. I like to write lyrics in a chanting way. I think that clapping rhymes or playground chants are very fun. I discovered that with this song. It was a very organic process.

What's the story behind your new single?
I started out writing on a few different topics, but as it developed, it became about claiming space. The easiest way to explain it is claiming space on a stage. People don’t do it on the same terms. Men and women don’t do it on the same terms. It’s about inequality, and for me, it’s about the music industry.

Is this song about something that has happened to you in the music industry? Or is it general observations?It’s more general. It’s not just personal. What frustrates me is that it happens to everybody. It’s a pattern that happens to everyone. It’s horrible, and it makes me frustrated. That’s the core of it, and then I just rant about that.

Is there a specific kind of gender inequality? Have you experienced that in your personal relationships?
With this song I tried to paint a picture for myself of a person that inhabits this judgment and the bad things that hit me as a young female entering a stage, a conference room, or wherever. Then I tried to sing to that person. Does that make any sense?

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Yes, it does. How did you end up on Swedish Idol? Had you been recording music before then?
They called me when I was 16. I thought it was cool. I think when you’re that age, you’re a bit afraid to turn down anything that could be an opportunity for you. I was so worried, and I thought I would regret it if I didn’t do it. It was a weird experience, but it turned out alright for me.

What was the strangest part of being on a reality TV show?
I was so sure that I would not make it very far at all. There were so many people there. I thought it was a music competition, but it turned out to be a popularity competition. If people like you, they vote for you. It was so weird. Also, being exposed in that way before you’ve had any opportunity or thought about making music professionally – me at 15 or 16 – never dreamed I could do it for a living. Then suddenly, you have to make a record. I think what helped me was that I could actually co-write my songs. I co-wrote almost my entire first album, and that made it a lot easier. It always felt like me, whatever it turned out to be.

So “Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You” was remixed by White Sea. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Yeah. I was so excited when I got it. She did something that’s so different. It's a piece of music that is wonderful, and she incorporated my voice and some of the stuff that we did into it. It’s just brilliant. I listened to it straight out of my phone and it was like a time-freeze. I okayed it immediately. I couldn’t mess with it. It would have been like ruining somebody’s painting. I am so in love with this remix.

This single was called one of the “ballsiest pop songs of the year.” Do you agree with that? Do you think it stands out that much?
One thing I have wondered is what does “ballsiest” mean. It means badass kind of [laughs].
That’s good, right [laughs]?

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For sure! Knowing what that is now, do you agree?
It is sort of badass. I think there’s been a lot of great music coming out of Sweden lately. It’s amazing that it got through and that people actually heard it.

What’s the weirdest musical experience you’ve had so far in your career?
I don’t know. Once I made an entrance in a car that came out of the floor at a fashion show in Switzerland. And my DJ didn’t get to play, they played the song straight off of the CD instead and left his turntable unplugged.

Ilana kaplan is a Swedish pop obsessive. She's on Twitter - @lanikaps.

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