Tove Styrke on Her New Album ‘Hard’: ‘Even Flaws Can Be Interesting’

Swedish pop star Tove Styrke dropped a new album titled Hard on June 3. Hard is Styrke’s first studio album in over four years, and the album tackles themes of love and authenticity across 10 tracks. Following the release of the LP, Showbiz Cheat Sheet emailed Styrke some questions about her new music, her creative process, and what fans can expect from her next.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Album art for Tove Styrke's album 'HARD'
Tove Styrke | Columbia Records

Tove Styrke released an album called ‘Hard’

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Hi Tove! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. How are you feeling now that Hard has been out for a few days?

Tove Styrke: Hi! Thank you, the pleasure is all mine! Ahhh, it feels SO great to finally have released this album out into the world. The reception has been so amazing and I’m so grateful that people seem to love these songs as much as I do.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: When you first set out to make this album, what were the biggest things you wanted to accomplish with it?

Tove Styrke: A couple of things actually! When I started this project I knew from the start that I needed a challenge. It was important for me to let go of control a little bit and trust my gut with these songs. I didn’t wanna over edit but instead allow there to be very human aspects to the writing and production, even flaws can be interesting because I think they say a lot about the person behind the music. I also wanted this album to be bigger and bolder than what I’ve done before. And sexier. 

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: How much did Hard change throughout the album-making process compared to the ideas you originally conceptualized? If at all.

Tove Styrke: The main thing was that I kept adding layers to it through the process. Some of my favorite songs like “Show Me Love,” “Bruises,” and “Lies” were the first ones I wrote for it. Later on, I was feeling very low and wrote songs like “Millennial Blues” and “Cool Me Down.” And the most recent songs are “YouYouYou” and “Start Walking.”

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Tove Styrke details her songwriting process

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: There is kind of a stereotype that pop music feels impersonal and over-polished. But Hard feels personal in the way that no matter a listener’s mood, they can find a song to match it. How did you set out to achieve this relatable messiness as a pop album?

Tove Styrke: Thank you so much! Yeah, I really didn’t wanna over edit these songs. I think a lot of the person and intention behind a song can get removed in the process when you polish too much. I wanted to write about real feelings and present them in a real way without too much overthinking. Just music straight from my heart to yours that I think is fun both to make and to listen to.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: With Hard being your first studio album since 2018, how do you think you have evolved as an artist and a person since the release of Sway?

Tove Styrke: So much has happened since then! I learned so much while making Sway. I’m so so so proud of that album, and in some ways, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top those songs. It’s perfect minimalistic pop. But since then I’ve learned the value of other things than perfection too. It’s important to live and have fun and ENJOY music.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: This album draws on experiences from various parts of your life. Does your creative process differ when making a song based on past experiences versus a current feeling? 

Tove Styrke: Not that much to be honest! If I find inspiration to write about something it just happens. The lyrical process is usually pretty similar every time regardless of what the song is about. 

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Whenever you are making a song about something from your past, how do you tap into that mindset?

Tove Styrke: If I get an idea for a song it’s almost like a movie scene starts playing in my head and I just need to make the right music for it that fits. 

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What to expect next from the singer-songwriter

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Songs like “Show Me Love,” “YouYouYou,” and “Start Walking” all have music videos that are both artistic in nature and carefree. As an artist, how do you go about making music videos or other video content to showcase your work as a musician?

Tove Styrke: With the videos, I just go. I get an idea, usually pretty early on before the song is even finished, then I write it down exactly how I imagine it in a treatment, and then I go on a big search to find the perfect person to direct it. It’s all just instinctual. I make the visual for it that makes sense and feels interesting to me.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: After the release of Hard, is there anything coming up next that you would like to share with fans?

Tove Styrke: I’m gonna put together a headline tour as soon as I can so keep your eyes open for that announcement! I’m also releasing more music this year that I’m incredibly excited about.

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