Interview by Sara Regan
It’s been a long wait but we’re finally here. After a 2-year hiatus, the one and only Tove Lo has announced the release of her fifth studio album Dirt Femme.
The Grammy award nominated, multi-platinum selling artist has just released the first single on the album, 2 Die 4 along with the announcement of her return to Australia since headlining the Spotify Front Left Live event in Melbourne in 2018. To my shock and excitement, I was asked to have a chat with Tove Lo herself to deep dive into the influences, growth and excitement about these recent events.
The exploration of femininity and Tove’s relationship with it in Dirt Femme was something that really caught my eye, as I asked how being a pansexual woman married to a straight man influenced her view on femininity and her sexuality. Tove talked about how she used to question if she would “still be in touch with my queerness in a straight marriage” but with her diverse group of friends, she feels safe from the very typical life living in “square houses on the hillside” allowing her to still be in touch with her sexuality even though she doesn’t actively practice it.
With this, Tove shared her gratitude for her accepting upbringing, however, she did have struggles finding her way through the industry. Tove recalled how she felt the need to use her ‘masculine side’ to get into the ‘boys club’ in order to be respected and known for her music. Dirt Femme highlights how she used to view her feminine traits as weaknesses, but with growth throughout the industry thanks to the likes of the Me Too movement, she noticed an immense change around her leading to communities “encouraging and highlighting more femininity”, sparking her reflection on how much she tried to push her feminine side away at the beginning of her career.
Dirt Femme is the cherry on top following her second album Ladywood where she felt was the time when she was “kicking and screaming out of” the toxic expectations of women in the industry. The backlash from her label said otherwise as they didn’t think the album was ‘commercial enough’, but this didn’t stop her from being true to herself. After all her years of battling expectations and toxic masculinity in the community around her, she respects “the game you have to play to become an artist at a certain level” but emphasises that “if you don’t keep true to yourself, you’ll end up very unhappy.”.
Her single 2 Die 4, is the sort of song to dance, scream and cry to. Tove felt that lyrically, the song reflects how so many friends around her were so low during the pandemic (despite Sweden’s much more relaxed lockdown rules versus Australia’s) as the living situation of the majority of her friends was being in small apartments alone in the big city, causing so much isolation. Tove remembers the force that this loneliness had on herself and her loved ones to crave social connection, to feel wanted and thought of in life, and missing that feeling as Tove describes “I wanna see you every day forever.”.
Now despite us all wanting to erase our memories of 2020/21, 2 Die 4 is a reminder of the gratitude we should have in knowing that we aren’t dealing with that pain again, and learning how important connection is in our lives.
During my pre-interview stalking, Tove previously described Dirt Femme as an expression of all your “Feelings, thoughts and questions, put together in under 50 minutes with no answers” so I asked her to elaborate on this, and boy did she deliver. Tove feels that everything you say today is seen as a statement that is recorded and written, but after so much time in the spotlight, she wants to remind everyone that not everything is an opinion. Dirt Femme expresses how Tove allows for change to happen with her opinions, how she navigates the world and the people around her, “I don’t like songs that tells me how I’m supposed to feel, I like songs where people can say ‘I feel that too’”.
She wants Dirt Femme to be an opportunity for listeners to take and leave what they need, listen to the music and feel whatever it is that you feel, “you can be crying, happy, fucking or driving really fast” it doesn’t matter, that’s for you to decide. I know that I’ll definitely be doing all of those things when Dirt Femme comes out.
Following the announcement of her tour down under, Tove didn’t forget to mention how excited she is to come back to Aussie shores and go surfing, drink coffee and most importantly, play shows, as Australia has a “special place in [Tove’s] heart”.