If you haven't been living in a musical time warp lately, you may have noticed that bad-ass alt-pop girls are taking over. From Lorde to Charli XCX to Sky Ferreira -- the list is as long as it is impressive.
But there's always room for more. And the latest dark-streaked, deeply talented singer-songwriter to join their ranks? That'd be Tove Lo, the sweet-voiced songstress with kind of a dirty mouth.
Sample lyric: "But on good days I am charming as f-ck," from "Moments." Mmm-hmmm, that about sums it up.
Watch Tove Lo perform "Moments" at VH1's "You Oughta Know Presents: Tove Lo US Tour," live from New York.
The 26-year-old Swedish singer was gathering a steady head of buzz before her debut album, Queen of the Clouds, dropped just last month -- mostly on the steam of her single, "Habits (Stay High)," a breakup jam that starts off with the lyrics: "I eat my dinner in my bathtub/ Then I go to sex clubs." Yup, forget eating ice cream and crying and whatever. When Tove Lo gets dumped, she heads off to the sex dungeon.
An anthem for any and all of us who've engaged in self-destruction (or at least hardcore distraction) to get through lost love, the song landed Tove smack in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10. An EP, Truth Serum, followed in March 2014.
Although the "You Oughta Know" artist is only recently hitting the charts, she's been a songwriter for 10 years now. She was in a band in high school with Icona Pop's Caroline Hjelt (swoon!) and has penned songs for the likes of Lea Michele and Cher Lloyd.
It's as a singer-songwriter, however, that Tove Lo really stands to carve a well-deserved niche on her own. A story-record of sorts, Queen of The Clouds is split into three parts -- literally. There's "The Sex," "The Love" and "The Pain," each of which feature a brief skit explaining those all-too-familiar stages of a relationship.
Despite being a breakup record -- if "The Pain" didn't tip you off... -- Queen of the Cloud is no bummer. From sultry, driving songs like "Talking Body," in which Tove proclaims, "If you love me right/ We f-ck for life," to the echoy "Not On Drugs," which pretty accurately equates being in love to getting down with substances illegal in most states, all of the jams on the record are thoroughly danceable. Even those on "The Pain."
Before heading out on tour with Katy Perry this fall, Tove took some time out to talk with MTV News about her record, why sex comes before love for her, and which "Kill Bill" character is her spirit animal. Oh, and make sure to pay attention to her advice on love -- for someone who's had poor luck in the arena, she's pretty savvy.
MTV: What was the first song that you ever wrote?
Tove Lo: The very first song I ever wrote was a song called 'Crazy' when I was 11 or 12 with my best girlfriends -- we had a girl band. It was about loving a guy who everyone else thought you were crazy for being into. I guess kind of similar to my same subject today. I have learned a lot.
MTV: Your music is super personal. Has anyone said anything to you about the new record? Anyone who might have seen themselves in the music?
Lo: They’re very happy for me; I mean they understand. I don’t really feel negative about anyone in that way. The only one that did [get upset] was a friend of mine who had an older boyfriend who I was kind of making fun of in 'Like Em Young.' I’m kind of calling out my friends who have boyfriends twice their age, which I don’t think is wrong. I think you should do whatever you want. But I think that the other way around, it’s more taboo. So that’s kind of where that came from.
The fact is, when you date an artist, you have to know that they’re going to sing about you. So I think that even though some of them might be upset that there’s some pretty detailed material, I still think that they kind of knew that it was going to happen.
Watch Tove Lo perform "Timebomb" at VH1's "You Oughta Know Presents: Tove Lo US Tour," live from New York.
MTV: A word people use a lot to describe you is 'dark.' How do you feel about the designation?
Lo: I mean, I guess I am kind of dark in ways. I have a pretty dark sense of humor. I think that when I’m struggling a little on dark stuff, I like to think of it with some type of humor. It can be that dark, but it just shouldn't -- I don't know, you just still have the will to live.
Whatever it is, I still have a roof over my head, I can eat every day and have somewhere to sleep at night, so things aren’t that bad. So my troubles really aren’t that bad -- even though it can still f---ing hurt. I feel like no matter how sh-tty you feel, you can kind of look at it and still be able to laugh about it. Everything’s f-cked, but let’s go party. I don’t mind being called dark, I guess it depends on whoever is listening.
MTV: You put sex before love on the record. Why is that? Also, do you need to be in love to write music?
Lo: Because for me, that’s how it usually starts. I’ve never grown into loving someone. It’s like either right away or slowly sinks in. For me, sex comes before love so, that’s just why I put that there.
You don’t have to be in love [to write music], but to me, that’s the strongest feeling there is because it relates to everything. You can be so in love that you go crazy and it’s always people who are in love who do the craziest things when they’re hurt or whatever.
MTV: Speaking of dark, which sad pop songs are you into right now?
Lo: My favorite right now is 'Goddess' by Banks. I just love the line, 'F-cking with the goddess and you get a little colder.' I think that’s genius. Wherever I look, I see these new singer-songwriter girls doing super cool things.
MTV: Speaking of, what do you think of people comparing you to Lorde?
Lo: Oh, well, that’s a huge compliment for me. She’s opened so many doors for a lot of us -- independent girls who write about their life, girls who aren't trying to be anyone but themselves. She opened those doors because she’s just so real and has amazing lyrics and has such great songwriting skills. I’m super impressed by her, so for me, that’s awesome to be compared to her.
MTV: Now for a few random questions: What fictional characters do you identify with?
Lo: When I have my bad-ass days when I feel like I’m queen of the world, I want to say Black Mamba in 'Kill Bill.' Yeah, like the bad-ass, super cool, super smart crazy person. And when I’m feeling under the weather, I usually -- actually I don’t think they have the character in the U.S. really. In Sweden, it’s a little troll with blue hair that’s really shy. You can say a little troll.
MTV: What's the weirdest thing in your purse right now?
Lo: Here's some kind of letter. A letter from a fan. It says, 'Michael Tigre -- a.k.a. that sexy bearded fan you met' -- then his Twitter, Insta and phone number.
MTV: What did your childhood bedroom look like?
Lo: At first my bedroom had flowers and yellow walls and huge furniture in plastic that was orange and green -- and furry green bed cover and everything. Then I think the day I turned 13 I painted the walls black and put Kurt Cobain on the wall and just changed everything into a dark theme.
MTV: What's your best relationship advice? For all of us struggling out there?
Lo: Well, since I’m obviously not good at relationships, I would say, if something is wrong, just come out and say it. Don’t be like a child. Just be honest and if the feeling is mutual, it will be easier. If you’re on the same level, you should just be honest with each other and that’s all you should want. It should be easy.
MTV: Have relationships ever been easy for you?
Lo: Well, it usually starts really easy and amazing and then... I’m not that easy to be with because I’m always away and I do what I want. I guess I haven’t had it yet where I think that a person is worth more than my music. It’s not fun for anyone to be the second choice. So I’m kind of waiting for that feeling.