So, How Was Your Decade is a series in which the decade’s most innovative musicians answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their decade. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
From waking up naked and covered in glitter on Charli XCX’s tour bus to quashing a pregnancy rumor, Tove Lo (born Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson) has had an appropriately wild decade. She’s closing it out strong, too; she was nominated for a Best Music Video Grammy for “Glad He’s Gone,” off of her 2019 album Sunshine Kitty.
Nilsson broke out in 2014 when her single, “Habits (Stay High),” climbed into the top five on the charts — a sad anthem to substances abuse in the face of heartache. She was already on the rise in her home country of Sweden with her debut EP Truth Serum, which she followed up later that year in the U.S. and beyond with LP Queen of the Clouds.
Over the next six years, she released Lady Wood (2016), Blue Lips (2017) and Sunshine Kitty (2019), garnering her share of Grammy, AMA and other award nominations. Coming up on the end of the decade, Nilsson told us all about how much she loves “on fleek” and what she calls her “uterus dress.”
My favorite album of the 2010s was: Anti by Rihanna. I listened to that one the most, I think, and still listen to it. It’s very powerful and unique and just really cool and badass.
My favorite song of the 2010s was: “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. That song just gave me chills when it came out. It’s still on heavy rotation for me and I just think it’s great.
The artist who had the best decade was: I’ve changed my mind four times, but I think I want to say Lorde because she paved the way for a whole new wave of female artists who were writing themselves and writing from a more genuine, melancholic place. And she made it to South Park. From New Zealand to South Park. That’s pretty cool.
The TV show I couldn’t stop streaming in the 2010s was: Without a doubt, Game of Thrones, even though I was very late to the party. I missed the first six seasons and it wasn’t until a friend of mine sat me down and said, “If you don’t watch Game of Thrones, we can’t be friends anymore” that I watched. I promised I would watch four episodes, and I did, and I was just hooked on it. I remember leaving a 4th of July party because I wanted to go home and watch Game of Thrones. So, yeah, it’s definitely that one.
The best new slang term of the decade was: Well, I’ve been thinking about this and I feel like the one that was the funniest to me was “on fleek.” First of all, I just started using it before knowing what it meant. You just kind of felt what it meant without even knowing what it meant. I think that’s important.
The most surprising encounter I had with a fellow artist this decade was: Probably waking up in Charli XCX’s tour bus covered in glitter but no clothes. I eventually found my pants, but I could not find my shirt. I rode with her and her team to London and then had to jump out and get in a car and go to Brighton and play a show. I had to borrow T-shirt from her makeup artist, who was very kind, but it just left traces of glitter everywhere because I had body glitter all over myself. So, it was a bit of an awkward one. Luckily, her whole crew was very sweet.
The misstep I learned the most from in the 2010s was: I would say was ruining my voice, having to have vocal cord surgery. It just made me stop a lot of things that were ruining it. Everything that I rely on could go away because of one coin-sized muscle.
The best book I read this decade was: To Wake the Sleeping Self by my friend, Jedidiah Jenkins. It’s an absolutely fantastic, warm, lovely book and it was very special to read such a great book by someone you know. It was a very different, cool experience for me.
Something cool I did this decade that nobody noticed was: I would say learned how to surf. Every time I do it and get a little better, I remember how much I love it, so I’m going to keep it going in 2020.
The best outfit I wore this decade was: Probably my uterus dress that I wore to the ARIAs in Australia. It’s this see-through bronze colored dress with a uterus print on top of your real uterus. It got a lot of attention and I guess in some eyes it’s scandalous, but I loved it and felt very cool and powerful in it.
The strangest thing someone said about me in the media this decade was: That I went to rehab to hide that I was pregnant, which one of the interviewers at a Jingle Ball tour asked me that. It was one of those live, “Here we are at Jingle Ball” interviews and she just asked, “So, I heard this weird rumor that you went to rehab to hide that you were pregnant.” And I was like, “I’m sorry?” She was like, “Yeah, that’s what the Swedish press was saying.” And I was like, “Are you kidding?” I looked it up and that was never even said. It was one of those fake rumor sites. So, yeah, maybe she didn’t do research properly. That was very strange.
The most “2010s” moment of the 2010s was: That weed got legal and the Nineties became retro.
My biggest hope for the 2020s is: On a personal level, I hope that I just get to do an amazing tour and have an amazing year of playing live and seeing my fans and making more art and new songs. And that everyone around me that I love stays healthy and happy.