Despite being a pretty big deal in her homeland, Swedish singer Tove Styrke has remained mysteriously under the radar in the UK. With this, her comeback gig after a period of time in the studio, she did much to further the mystery of why she isn’t more up front and centre, with a powerful, high tempo performance that suggests she should be on a far bigger stage – metaphorically as well as literally.
Her long-standing domestic profile is due in part to a third-place finish in Sweden’s version of Pop Idol back in 2009, but the music that immediately followed that TV experience in her youth is a far cry from where this sassy lady is at nowadays. New song Say My Name offers a good handle on the strong and creative approach to pop that Styrke is taking, but her hour-long London show was nicely varied, stringing together a mix of material old and new.
Kicking of with Samurai Boy and Borderline from her second album Kiddo, she followed that with another from the same LP, Ego, which is arguably the most accomplished song of her career up to this point.
She excitedly announced that she had a couple of new songs to play for the first time, and they went down a storm; Mistakes and On The Low giving some indication that her third album will represent another major step forward for her material, full of hooks and energy.
She returned to tracks from Kiddo, mining the album for Who’s Got News, Number One, and Snaren before launching into new tune Say My Name, which was delivered with panache as the crowd sung the lyrics back to her. But it was encore tune Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You which really sums up what she is all about. Bold, confident and fun – it’s pure pop… and she’s brilliant at it.
There’s not much that Edinburgh-born electro-clash expert Elle Exxe [woah, that’s well and truly set off the alliteration alarm!] does by half. Her music is certainly in-your-face, with new song Lately melding together several musical genres behind a vocal that is at times sultry and at other times wild, but always enthralling.
Elle Exxe – or ‘LX’ if you were wondering how to pronounce her name correctly – has been getting rave reviews from the likes of BBC Introducing and Kiss FM as well as notching up plenty of airplay across the pond on over 100 radio stations in North America.
She’s just back from a jaunt to Canada and we took the chance to catch up with her just ahead of a clutch of UK dates over the coming weeks…
SYNC: Where did this journey begin for you? How long have you been writing songs and performing?
Elle Exxe: I’ve been writing since I was little, my first public performance was when I was 6 or 7. So you could say this has been a lifelong journey, but this particular incarnation started in L.A. in 2014. I flew there with Clare, one of my best girl friends. That was the trip where I learned not to give a shit – I broke into record labels, gatecrashed parties, wrote loads of new songs, made BFFs and shifted my mindset to be more positive, open and free. I gained the confidence to be me and then the confidence to share that with the world through my new sounds.
SYNC: It seems like things have been going particularly well for you outside the UK – how have the international adventures been so far?
EE: They’ve been amazing. Nothing beats meeting new friends in new countries. It blows my mind to find that I have fans in all different corners of the globe. I just took my band out to Canada for four shows; it was a proper whirlwind adventure. We played every night to new audiences and tested all the Canadian brews on offer – #LivingTheDream!
SYNC: Everyone’s fired up by other artists – who have been the ones to have fuelled your musical passions up to now, and which emerging artists are you particularly into?
EE: Beyonce has got me all fired up at the moment – she’s a genius; I’d probably go as far to saying she’s the best pop artist on the planet right now. I love that she did a track with Jack White – he’s a definite idol of mine. Also Kendrick Lamar. Emerging music is mostly what I listen to – I’m obsessed with NAO, Shakka, Raye, CL and Tove Styrke right now.
SYNC: Which have been your most enjoyable live shows to date? What future ‘fixtures’ are in the diary and which are you especially looking forward to?
EE: I did an anniversary show earlier this year at 229 in London – I played my first show there a year ago so it was an amazing moment to take stock of everything my band/team and I had achieved. Last year there were maybe 50 people there…this year it was absolutely rammed and people were singing the songs. The audience made me feel like a bonafide pop star that night, I was on cloud nine for days.
I have loads of great shows lined up – Concorde 2 in Brighton tonight at the Great Escape festival, 29th May at Liverpool Sound City, 8th/9th June at Xpo North (Inverness). The show I’m most excited for is my first official Elle Exxe Exxtravaganzza on 6th July at The Old Queens Head in London – this is going to be a night of experiences not to be missed. Come along, entry is free!
SYNC: Finally, tell us a little bit about what can we expect from the album later this year?
EE: It’s titled Love Fuelled Hate. My concept was to tell the tale of a love that turns to hate. It takes you from love drunk and lustful through twisted adulterous heartbreak to psychotic revenge [Sync: We’ve all been there!] … I don’t want to spoil it by telling you the ending. The music is as emotionally spun out and dynamic as the story – there’s an acappella piece in there, some pop stompers and some screeching guitar solos.
Love Fuelled Hate is released on 9 September 2016.
Elle Exxe – Lately
There’s something addictive about this cheesy slice of pop from Swedish singer Tove Styrke. Ego is out already and is taken from the forthcoming album Kiddo, which will be released on 16 March.
Tove Styrke – Ego