Swedish singer Tove Styrke gracefully runs through her early North American tour.
Tove Styrke has had a wild 2018. Her latest record, “Sway,” released only in May 2018, received superb reviews from both fans and music pundits alike. The invariable success that is due for an album as great as “Sway” and the singer’s continual success also saw Styrke support Lorde on the New Zealander’s North American tour and Katy Perry on Perry’s latest European tour. As the summer months digress, like they have done for quite some time, into a period of tepid and colourful relaxation, Tove Styrke remains grounded like a lightning rod and prepares for her own massive two-month global tour, which, as it happens, begins in North America. As she puts it, this tour allows Styrke to do the shows her way, with her set, in order to translate the whole album onto the stage.
As the forefront of artistic expression comingling with social media, I asked her how it felt to be a human being in a world where privacy is not so private anymore. “I was so spooked out once when I looked up how many of the apps I use track me. Google knows my every move,” laughs the young singer. She, notwithstanding of government espionage and the plethora of oddballs out there that undoubtedly want to track the movement of a beautiful woman, senses the positive interactions that come from social media and extends a sense of gratitude and appreciation towards the modern musical industry of streaming and sharing. “Communicating and connecting with people is so easy compared to just a couple years ago,” says Styrke.
Even more important, Styrke sees interactive technologies such as Instagram and Facebook, she argues, are the best avenue to talk with her fans straight up without the use of a middleman who could devalue or interfere with her voice. “I love the fact that I can just sit in a basement studio in Stockholm and make music that I really like and put it up on the internet and anybody can find it,” she explains. With her fan base superseding her native country of Sweden and pushing into a global network, the connections she makes are imperative in her artistic push.
Her home nation of Sweden has had a long and beautiful relationship with pop stars and has come to rise to importance in modern music. With such artists as Lykke Li, the goddess of indie pop, or even First Aid Kit, the Swedish homage to Americana folk, Styrke’s continual growth and success as an artist, measured with accolades such as opening for Katy Perry and Lorde in the last months, have demanded that she herself has a position of merit in the Swedish artistic canon. Contrasting the geographical size of Sweden and its ten million inhabitants with the splendid and varying artists who are in full swing, the lovely singer asserts that the strong and fluid community of Swedish artists is the bedrock of Sweden’s artistic prosperity. “Take Robyn for instance,” says Styrke. She argues that because of the thriving artistic community in Sweden, a lot of Swedish artists today would not attempt a level of success befitting someone like Robyn’s if Robyn didn’t set the mold in place.
As someone who is charming and easy to talk to, there also exists in Styrke a deep bravado that pushes her forward to deliver not only a product that the fans adore, but also a product that she loves herself. What is most important is what she calls, quite professionally, “the feedback from fans.” As her next tour begins so soon, which starts with the captivating artist going across the great and broad landscape of North America, she is disciplined in the healthy and necessary co-mingling of fan and artist as one unit. However, Stryke makes note that the approach to live performances is a two way street; the audience needs going to work in an artistic capacity just like the singer is. “Oftentimes people don’t understand that it’s 50/50 work you have to do,” she comments. “The audience has to put in work as well and they have to give back energy. We do it together.” This relationship “is proof that what I make is real: it is something that can be taken away.”
Styrke is certainly familiar with North America due to her time working with Lorde, which propelled Styrke to perform at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and it was during that tour the Styrke’s affection for her North American fans was uniquely rooted. “It’s always been a really good vibe” in North America. “Americans and Canadians are good at concert-going. You guys know how to do it right.”
Beside the work ethic honed by working with singers such as Katy Perry is Styrke’s cuteness when she talks about what is vital to prepare for a long tour: “My make-up,” she gushes with charming poise. “Seriously, some people do meditation before a show, my thing I do is I do my own make-up and it’s an hour to myself. That’s like my zen mode.” It seems that once her make-up is on, she is ready to do her part in the 50/50 split between herself and the audience.
Under the glitter and make-up of this young singer is an alluring and charismatic woman who has grappled with the rise of stardom perfectly and will only get better as her talent progresses. Before all of that, however, there is work to do. Her summer, which was so alive with passionate performances and incredible celebration, is over, but the fall will bring the most vibrant colors for Tove Styrke.
Styrke’s tour begins September 28th at the Velvet Underground in Toronto, Ontario.
Words by Sam Farrell.