office got the chance to chat with Styrke about her latest album and the endless ways to express passion in pop. Read our interview, below.
You grew up in Sweden. Could you tell me a bit about how that shaped your sound while growing up?
Well, I mean, I have basically always been singing. When I was a kid, I would spend hours and hours a day just singing because I loved it that much. One of the first artists that I found was Björke and I loved “Human Behavior.” I think I found it on YouTube and that was the first time where I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can listen to this and feel like I’m somewhere else.’ She changed my perception of music a lot in terms of production and how she manipulates sound. I feel like my whole childhood I was listening to this amazing pop music. On one hand I had Britney, Gwen Stefani, Madonna and Beyoncé; on the other hand, I listened to almost everything else, like Bob Dylan—he was one of the first artists I loved.
I feel like there was a lull between Madonna and Beyoncé when it comes to the pop world. What prompted you to choose pop in a time where it wasn’t widely conceived as great?
For me, it wasn’t like I chose it—it was almost like it chose me. Throughout the years I’ve been working on writing and making music and my relation to pop has grown only stronger. I’m falling more and more in love with it as a tool to communicate. It’s just a great way to be direct. With my music, I almost want to find a shortcut to people’s feelings and I think pop is just great for that. Maybe someone will only listen to my song once, or only hear the chorus, but they will feel it and know what it’s about, and I love that.
Absolutely. You just released Sway back in May. What’s one thing you learned about yourself while you were recording the album?
What I wanted to do with this album was completely strip it down. I wanted it to be realistic, while still being interesting. That turned out to be the biggest challenge with this whole project because when you remove stuff, everything that you leave matters even more. Every word counts because you can hear everything so clearly. It was the most difficult process and the most rewarding—it’s what made this experience so fun. I need to always challenge myself, that’s how I move forward. I think I’ve gotten to know myself better through writing this album because I put so much though behind each word like, ‘What do I really mean with this? What is it that I want to say and why do I want to say it?’
It’s one thing to go through the writing process, another to actually record an album and then something entirely different to go on tour and perform it for an audience. What has that transition been like for you?
Oh my god, this whole year has been so crazy. I feel like I’m pinching myself in the arm every night! It’s insane to me that I can sit in a tiny basement studio for one and a half years and just make things that are so personal to me and that I think is cool. Then I put it out, it reaches so many people and they’ve loved it. So, now I’m here. I’m midway through a headline tour in the U.S. So, I get to walk up on that stage every night to people screaming every word of every song back to me. That’s so mind blowing to me. It’s just the best feeling and I’m so grateful that people are loving the album and that it actually matters to others besides myself.
It’s such a personal album. What do you think is the most challenging song to perform?
I feel like all of these particular songs are the ones that, throughout my album, have been easiest to sing. The voice that I use on this album and that I found in the process of making this album, is the closest to my own speaking voice. I don’t have to push it when I sing the songs. I just have to walk up there and tell the stories the way I naturally would to one of my friends.
So, if you feel like you’ve almost reached the rawest form of yourself with this album, what’s next for you?
I don’t know yet. I’m going to start writing the next album in the beginning of next year, so that will be like a new chapter, and we’ll see if I have more digging to do. I’m actually super excited because I’m releasing a new song and I’m totally thrilled—I’ve been working on it for a while now, and I love it so much. I feel like it’s very much in the same world as Sway in that it’s the same person telling the story, but, in a way, it’s also like a fresh beginning. It’s a bit sadder, a bit more heartbreak, and I’m so excited for people to hear this one.
'Sway' is out now.