Tove Lo isn’t just ready to take over pop; she’s ready to conquer the whole atmosphere. Her full-length Queen of the Clouds [out Sept. 30, iTunes link] flutters to new territory altogether with its unabashed lyrical honesty, lithe melodies, inventive instrumentation, and enigmatically engaging spirit. Simply put, it’s one of the most unique, unforgettable, and undeniable albums you’ll hear all year. This is the birth of the icon and Queen of the Clouds.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Tove Lo talks the album and so much more.
Did you approach Queen of the Clouds with a defined vision?
With the EP, Truth Serum, it was sort of accidental when I looked at the songs I wanted. I had written so much at the time. I looked at the songs I picked, and I was like, "Hey, this is the story of this relationship!" That was unplanned [Laughs]. For the album, I have it in the back of my head, but I don't write according to it. I write whatever I need to write about. Usually, I write way more than what's on the album. I have so many demos I pick from. I did know that I wanted it to be cohesive and have some storyline. I didn't expect it to be the pattern of all my relationships, but it's turned out that way. Queen of the Clouds is three chapters of how things usually go for me in a relationship.
Is storytelling an important part of songwriting for you?
Aside from my own life, I get a lot of inspiration, and it's like I have a movie rolling in my head when I write the lyrics. I want people to be able to see and feel that situation I was in or that they've been in. It's really important to me that comes through in the song.
What else influences that?
It's more generally life. I don't think I read more or watch more movies than the average person. I haven't watched a movie in a long time because I don't have any spare time whatsoever [Laughs]. I do like anything that brings new stories or situations into my life though—like if you're reading or watching something that's way outside scope of your life. It's a good inspiration to start writing. Then, usually, I bring it back to my own experiences. For example, I have a song called "Heroes" I did with Alesso. I randomly watched an episode of the series of Heroes. I was thinking of being a kid and wishing I had these powers when I would pretend. There's nothing extraordinary about me in that way, but you always wish you could have that. Something will set me off, and I'll start writing. Then, I'll circle back to my own experience.
What's the story behind "Out of Mind"?
That comes after I have the pain and I'm trying to get over this heartbreak. It's when you moved on and you're sort of okay, but you still have that little scar. It will always be there. Those thoughts about this other person will always haunt you a bit. In the video, I have these ghosts chasing me. When you go through something like that, it always sticks with you.
What song from Queen of the Clouds resonates with you the most right now?
It changes like every other day [Laughs]. For right now, it's "Talking Body" and "My Gun". We rehearsed "My Gun" for the first time last night, and it sounds awesome. I'm in a bit of a happy good place. Those are part of the first chapter—"The Sex". So maybe I'm feeling frisky at the moment [Laughs].
What artists shaped you?
When I was eleven- or twelve- and first started buying my own records, I was way more into grunge. I loved Nirvana, Hole, and Silverchair. They were my top three. Then, I started listening to Lykke Li and Robyn. They inspired me to write on my own. Also, I'd say Charlotte Gainsbourg. She's super cool. A lot of female writers who write and produced themselves inspired me.
When did the title Queen of the Clouds come to you?
I never decide the title until I've got all the songs. I was looking at it. It comes from the song "Not On Drugs". Ever since I released the EP in March, everything has happened so fast. All of a sudden, I'm traveling the world with my band and playing all of these shows. It's been pretty amazing. Besides feeling like I'm floating on top of the world, I'm trying to take a step back and look at everything like, "Okay, this is my world now" and take it all in. That's how I feel. I feel like Queen of the Clouds [Laughs]. I was proud of the title Truth Serum. I felt like it described what it was about. It was important for me that the album name did the same thing or it represented me.
What connects the EP and the album?
It's just me. They're all very personal songs for me. All of the love I've been through connects it [Laughs]. I'm open and raw about everything that's on my mind. The album shows more of the good stuff than the EP shows.
If you were compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I always want to say my favorite movie [Laughs]. I can't do that because it's not describing the album. I'd say something like (500) Days of Summer because it starts so amazing and beautiful, and then it ends in pain. My favorite movie is Pulp Fiction or anything by Quentin Tarantino. I don't know who I am in (500) Days of Summer. Maybe, I'm a combination of the guy who gets hurt and her leaving. I like that film.
Perhaps, the album could be a combination of (500) Days of Summer and Kill Bill?
Check out some of Lo's singles:
ONTD, do you like the album? What's your fave track?