Dirt Femme

Tove Lo

Dirt Femme

Tove Lo’s fifth studio album is also her first as an independent artist. Full of surprising collaborations, intimate confessions, and sexy, sparkly, ’80s-inspired synths, it marks a new era of creativity and experimentation for the Swedish singer-songwriter who is known as club pop’s rebellious and raunchy cool girl. Lo spent three years writing these songs in Los Angeles and Torekov, Sweden—a small fishing village where she spent summers growing up. That extended timeline gave her space to explore new soundscapes and musical ideas. “I had time to push myself and go to new places,” she tells Apple Music. “I had time for the details. I had time to be myself.” The album reflects a time of transition for the singer—she and her husband eloped to Vegas during the pandemic. Around the same time, she invited a few of her friends to move into her new home in LA, forming what she described as a collective. “It’s been wild, fun,” she says. “But there have been moments where I’m like, ‘Where is this going? Who am I? What are we doing?’” Dirt Femme explores these questions with sincerity (“Grapefruit,” “No One Dies From Love”), but makes it clear that Lo has no plans to hang up her party-girl crown anytime soon (“Pineapple Slice,” “Attention Whore”). She wrote each song with a certain character in mind: a “horny huntress,” scorned girlfriend, or intense, intimidating Scorpio (see: the album art). “The point is that we all contain multitudes,” she says, “and each of these women is me.” “No One Dies From Love” “When lockdown hit, I was already worn out from an intense, emotionally draining year. My go-to collaborator, Ludvig, was, too. We were both in the middle of little existential crises and spent a few weeks in Malibu trying to write some songs. ‘No One Dies From Love’ was the only thing that came out of those sessions. We mostly cried and drank and walked on the beach, talking about those all-consuming relationships where you feel like your whole existence revolves around a single person, and like there won't be anything left of you if they leave. Obviously, it’s not true. Time heals most wounds. But it doesn’t feel like that at the time.” “Suburbia” “My husband and I both had fairly traditional childhoods, and I’ve always [sensed] a certain amount of confusion around my lifestyle—friends and family wondering when we’ll stop partying and settle down. In 2020, we eloped in Las Vegas, and the reaction was pretty uniform, like, ‘Oh, thank god, you did something normal! So when are you having kids?’ People seem to have this idea about how our life is supposed to look, and if that idea doesn’t appeal to you, it makes your head spin. You’re like, ‘Is there something wrong with me?’ We made a beat that sounded sad and upbeat at the same time, and it reminded me of the Stepford Wives—that eerie feeling you get in suburbia that everyone is hiding something.” “2 Die 4” “My friend Oscar Görres and I were talking about the reemergence of Y2K trends—in music, films, photography, fashion—and it makes us feel old. But sometimes it’s interesting to look at things from a new angle—trance music, for example. When I was a kid, I hated it. I was like, ‘There's no vocals, I don’t get this.’ Now I'm like, ‘How did I ever miss out on all this sick synthy shit?’ So this song kind of channels that era. It’s a slower tempo, but it’s nostalgic to me.” “True Romance” “I haven't ever really released a ballad before. My songs always have a beat or full production. In opera, they tell the story all the way through and it just builds and builds and builds. So I went into this song with that essence. I wanted it to be about a destructive relationship. The movie True Romance popped into my head, and I decided to watch it and then write a storyline into the lyrics. It took me three days to write the lyrics, but I recorded the vocals in one take. We kept it because it just felt raw and powerful.” “Grapefruit” “Up until now, I’ve never really been up front about the fact that I had a severe eating disorder when I was a teenager. I did a movie in Sweden, and had to lose some weight for it—nothing extreme, maybe four or five kilos, but I had to lose it in two weeks. I went on a diet for the first time in 10 years and it triggered so many memories—the obsession, the anxiety, being hungry all the time. All these memories flooded back and I was like, ‘Can I do this without falling back into old patterns?’ In the end, I did it and it was fine. To me, it felt like validation that I’d healed. So I started writing about that. When I played this song for my friends, they were like, ‘I never would've known. You're so much about body positivity.’ And my response is: ‘Yes, because I went through that.’” “Cute & Cruel” “This is my sunset song. It's about accepting what love does to you as a human being. I wrote this with Elvira, who is one of my favorite producers in Sweden. She and I really click. There's an emotional sweetness to it, a tenderness. This folksy, cinematic sound was new for me, so I wanted to bring in one more voice, preferably someone from that scene. First Aid Kit really elevated the song because they’re so at home in this world. It’s a really unexpected, powerful one.” “Call On Me” “I made this song with SG Lewis, who is a close friend. He's an emotional party person just like me. He actually wrote this song and then sent it to me, which isn’t something I do very often; it’s hard for me to find a way to make it mine. But I loved this song, so we agreed that I’d play with the lyrics. Initially, I rewrote them to make them more deep and complex, but it actually felt like that took away from the energy of the song. We decided to just let it be what it is, which is a big, fun dance anthem that all my gays are going to love.” “Attention Whore” “I wrote this track at four in the morning after having a silly drunk argument with my husband. I don’t even remember what it was about. He was probably just being his great self, but sometimes when I'm drunk I just decide to get mad like an idiot. You know when you’re just feeling jealous and sassy and maybe a little bitchy? That’s the essence of this song. I'd just seen Channel Tres live at a festival and was floored by his performance—it was sexy and cool and full of attitude. I knew he’d be perfect for this track.” “Pineapple Slice” “SG Lewis and I wrote this song together from scratch, and he kept pushing me to make the lyrics dirtier. Finally I was like, ‘Okay, fine, let me show you what I can do.’ I just went for it. In pop, you're supposed to insinuate. You're never supposed to say things outright. So it was fun to break the rules and really go there.” “I’m to Blame” “I wrote this song with Ali Payami, who told me he wanted to make something ‘Oasis-inspired with hip-hop drums.’ I was like, ‘That sounds out of my lane, but let's do it.’ Growing up, I listened to a ton of rock and indie rock, and those days came right back to me when we got in the studio. With the help of his guitar and instrumentals, I found a lyrical and melodic place that I hadn't gone to yet for this album. It's more poetic and nuanced, whereas I’m usually pretty blunt. And the vocals sound less perfect, more alive. It's really special to me.” “Kick in the Head” “This was one of the first songs I wrote when I was feeling inspired again. I’m singing about being unmotivated, not knowing what to say, how I need someone to shake me, feelings creative people experience when everything feels...flat. But things turned around when Tim, my roommate and one of my producers, brought me this beat. It had a funky bassline that reminded me of Fatboy Slim, and I thought it was so cool and interesting. Even a little experimental. It stands out in the best way and I love having it on this album because I think it helps show my range as an artist.” “How Long” “This was definitely written with Euphoria in mind. The ominous beat, the darkness, the slow, hypnotic energy...even when we hadn’t written lyrics yet, there was just so much anger in the track. It felt like revenge. I was working on the lyrics for a few days with a songwriter, and had a dream about my husband cheating on me. I'm the kind of person who will wake up and be mad about something like that. I’ll pretend I'm not, but I am. I'm playing out the scenario in my head like, ‘If he did this, what would I do? How would I handle it?’ I’d go through every worst-case scenario. So I wrote about that. He knows I’m like this and will get nervous, like, ‘Babe, you know I didn’t actually cheat on you, right?’ And I just sit there like, ‘I know. I think.’”

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