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Tove Lo & SG Lewis on how they crafted their 'queer, sexy, sweaty' new EP Heat

Tove Lo & SG Lewis on how they crafted their 'queer, sexy, sweaty' new EP Heat

Tove Lo & SG Lewis on how they crafted their 'queer, sexy, sweaty' new EP Heat
Nikola Lamburov

The duo chat with Out about their sexy new club-ready bangers, the state of dance music today, working with Nelly Furtado on a recent single, and, of course, double-sided dildos

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Who's ready to dance?

Just ahead of the release of their highly anticipated song "Heat" and EP of the same name, Out caught up with dance icons Tove Lo and SG Lewis for a candid chat about their sexy new club-ready bangers, the state of dance music today, working with Nelly Furtado on a recent single, and, of course, double-sided dildos.

And "Heat" is just the beginning, as the two confirmed that more music videos are on the way...

Nikola Lamburov

Out: What makes Tove Lo and SG Lewis a winning combination?

Tove Lo: We've both written with a lot of different people and there's just some where you get in the studio and it just clicks. I have a couple of people like that but then I thought, 'Oh, I've found all those people now,' and then Sam came into the picture. When we were together, it just felt so right away. We understand each other's vision, we understand each other's ideas. I feel very comfortable just like throwing anything on the wall and see what sticks with him. And it's just fun. We respect each other's talents.

I kind of want to give our fans credit here. We share a lot of I share a lot of fans, especially in the queer community, and they started almost in a petition online, 'Make music together now. We need it now.' That was the seed to, 'Oh, maybe we should make like an EP together' with just like a bunch of dance bangers that everyone could just like be their best selves, freest selves to. And we just started thinking about that like during the summer last year. And then, yeah, here we are now.

SG Lewis: I think as Tove said, I think we were just having so much fun making music together and it was such a natural process. That coupled with the demand from the fans that we share and our fans in the queer community that we wanted to create a project that was kind of our thank you to our fans in that community. Like Tove said, full credit to them for just demanding it so much. But it was just really the most natural thing ever. It kind of just fell out of us in a way from just spending time in the studio together.

Y'all collaborated with Nelly Furtado just last month. What were you most looking forward to with working with her?

TL: Just meeting her face to face? [laughs] I've been such a fan since forever. When Sam hit me up about what do you want to try to write a chorus to the song that me and Nelly Furtado did? I'm like, are you fucking with me right now? You had already worked with her at that point, Sam, but you were like, she's the coolest. It was just surreal. Honestly.

SG: Nelly is one of those kind of legendary artists. When you have those legendary pop voices, there's like an infliction in a way that they sing and the way that they articulate themselves that you can always tell who it is after a split second of them singing. For me as a producer, working with her vocals, they're just so distinctly Nelly Furtado. It's just so cool and so fun to get to bring that into a new world and to then also pair it with another iconic pop voice in the form of Tove. My job is really easy at that point.

The Gays have been clamoring for "Heat" and the music video is sexy celebration of the community. Did you always have that image in mind? Whose idea was the double-sided dildo?

TL: I'm going to give full credit to David Wilson, the incredible director who shot all four visuals for this. The idea is we want it to just feel like the song, we want it to be queer, sexy, sweaty, us in our element, but we're just in a sweaty club where everyone can just be themselves. We sent this kind of brief out and then David came back and was like, I have to do this. He sent a deck back with like inspiration photos and lighting and these characters and, 'these are the people I want to use.' I don't know, it just felt so right right away that we were just like, 'you take it and run with it.' I kind of said, 'look, we're trying to highlight other people, not just ourselves in these in these videos but if you want me to do like a fun cameo of any kind, I'm there for it. And then on the day, he was like, so I have this dildo. How would you feel about singing into it? I was like, of course. So that was his idea but obviously I was very down to play the part.

As you can see the video is quite sexual which... on brand. It's gonna have to be 18+ because it's too sexy for the younger generation. But I think we had this feeling that this is what this EP is all about. We don't want it to be censored, especially not censoring a community that so often is censored. So we just decided to make it 18+ so we can be as free in it as we as we wanted. And I'm really, really happy with it.

SG: It was really clear from the outset with the EP that this, this project was our, thank you to our shared fans in the queer community and, you know, Tove as a queer artist. For me, getting to soundtrack moments in this community and to be a guest in these amazing spaces, I was just really excited to get to work with someone like David and to get to amplify those voices and to have someone like David get to run with a vision and to create a visual that's so so celebratory of the community. And as Tove was saying, we wanted to really go the full distance and not have any voices saying, 'oh no, this can't go on TV, or this can't go here.' We just really want it to be like an unfiltered celebration. We're really happy with how the videos turned out.

At the end of the "Heat" video, Tove Lo is wearing a wig...

TL: Just a little like a cliffhanger to get to the next one.

Y'all hosted a Club Heat party in London. What was that experience like?

It was honestly so amazing. We shot the video and through the party all in one. It was a long day but it was an amazing day. It's so funny, I haven't toured since the end of last year and I've been saying to Sam, we're going to DJ together. Like maybe I'll get up and maybe sing a little bit, but let's just stay behind the decks and be DJs. But every time that any of our songs, when we mix them in, I would just grab the mic and go out. I couldn't help myself so clearly can't stay away from the stage. But that was really a moment too, we were in such a sweaty small space with all our core fans. It was beautiful.

SG: It's funny because Tove started DJing in the pandemic and we're always hanging out with friends and DJing after parties and for fun and stuff, but that was the first time we got to test out this concept of okay, we're going back to back. But then Tove is also performing those songs of hers or our collaborations. And it was really cool to see that format was really fun and the fans reacted really well to it. It's a really different kind of proposition and experience for the fans as well where it's not a full live show and it's not a full DJ set. It's just this kind of hybrid. It's really a very energetic, sweaty party. I'm excited to bring that energy around the world and to different places.

TL: It's very chaotic, but in the best way.

SG: Yeah, that's the right word.

It feels like dance music is having this renaissance as of late. I wondered if y'all had any thoughts about this supposed resurgence on the charts and in clubs.

TL: I don't think it's a coincidence that in the pandemic, I learned how to DJ with a lot of my girlfriends. We clearly were missing the space. I've been in dance music for a long time. I love to go to raves. I'm always on the dance floor from midnight 'til 6a.m. like, 'Don't talk to me, I'm dancing.' That kind of person. I, you know, was missing that during the pandemic so you're trying to create it yourself and then you get into the craft and you start to discover more dance music. And I definitely wasn't alone in that. I think this resurge of wanting to all meet up again and be close and share these spaces of, put your worries at the door and just release is we're still working through all that, those years. Maybe all the albums and collaborations and stuff that are coming now that are so dance-focused are the response to going through a hard time.

SG: It's funny because I think that I exist in dance music and the underground is always there and there's always an undercurrent of dance music bubbling away in the background but to watch it kind of grow into this sort of mainstream pop moment, I think exactly as both of you said, it kind of reflects the mood of the world and of the people, which is that there's a lot of pain and suffering in the world in general over the last couple of years. People are searching for escapism in the music that they listen to. I feel like dance music creates a lot of those spaces and opportunities for people to have moments of celebration in a otherwise kind of scary landscape.

TL: So now all the pop bitches are coming for dance music. [laughs]

It is so fun, as a fan.

SG: It's it's funny. I think there's so many people in dance music, especially purists, who view pop music and dance as these separate things. But my favorite type of music, full stop, is that magic space in the middle. Even in underground set, usually the biggest moment is the moment where the DJ plays the crossover pop moment and at the right time, whether it's like Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat" or an old 2000s pop song. That is the ultimate goal for me, to make the songs that in 20 years time get played by the DJ as the moment in the dance.

TL: When we were going through music for the other day and you played Madonna's "Jump" like the OG. I was like, 'What remix is this?' You were like, 'No, it's the original.' I was like, 'This is like the sickest, it's already fucking dancy.' That marriage has already, always been there. The one thing where I feel like what's cool with dance music is that you build to that moment, right? It's not the hour of power bangers. There's patience. Maybe pop is more impatient. Whereas when you mix those together, when you have the patience of dance music and building up to that moment, that big release is maybe what pop is not doing as well a bit more. I don't know.

SG: Yeah. It's creating a hunger for that moment. If you were to eat fast food, Shake Shack every meal, every day, you'd be like, 'Oh God.' But it's that kind of absence of that moment that then creates that moment of euphoria and I'm obsessed with that. The best dancehall moments that I've ever had kind of when a DJ has been going on a journey and then arriving at this moment. An amazing Dutch DJ called Job Jobse, he's an incredible DJ, I saw a DJ set from him once and he's going on this incredible journey through '90s trance and then arrived at Sonique's "Feel So Good" and the moment is just so euphoric. There's been such a starvation of melody and vocal and then it arrives at this moment and it's just tears flowing out my eyes. I love that kind of practice and that element of dance music. I think that pop and dance music are a lot closer in nature than people think sometimes.

With both of y'alls music, there's something very soft and tender at the center. SG, my favorite song of yours is with Clairo actually, "Throwaway." I'm just obsessed. I play it in the mornings when I wake up. And Tove Lo, your first single was deeply sad. How does that softness come into play?

SG: I think that it kind of really leads out the conversation we've been having, which is dance music is a celebration and it is a place of joy, but it's also a place of escapism from negative emotion and sadness as well. So many of my favorite dance floor records kind of pair that bittersweetness even if you go back to disco music and a record like Jackie Moore's "This Time, Baby." It's laced with sadness even in these celebratory moments. I think that sadness and melancholia are really powerful emotions and everyone feels them in their life in some way, shape, or form. For me, records that kind of pair those two things like, I already referenced it in this interview, but Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat."

TL: [sighs]

SG: It is just one of one of our favorite songs. That kind of magic combination of energy and danceability but with a really raw emotion like that, it's something so powerful.

TL: I agree. [laughs] Sorry, I just started thinking about "With Every Heartbeat." Should I play it on Thursday? Maybe we squeeze it in, have a sing along.

I agree, Sam. For me it's like, I love a sad banger where the lyrics can be sad but the musicality, there's just like a bit of hopefulness. You can get away with the lyrics being quite dark if the song carries, in the instruments, a bit of nostalgia and a bit of like, 'Things are going to change.' That depends on the chord progression or the beat or wherever that goes. That kind of combination makes it so that you can feel the feelings but you're letting them go, you're releasing them while you're dancing. You're dancing them out. Dance your tears away.

SG, you just launched a new label and a new direction with some of your music. What can fans expect?

SG: Starting Forever Days, there's a lot of different reasons for starting it. It's a place to champion new artists and to also curate a sound and to throw these events. But one of the biggest reasons for me was that it was a place and an outlet for me to release dance music that wouldn't exist on full-length albums. I'm an album artist and I still love the format of an album. But I think more club-focused, underground music, especially in of the extended variety, doesn't necessarily work in an album format. So really, I wanted the label to be a place where every decision could be made without ambition and only with the kind of mindset of 'OK, how is this gonna work on a dance floor?' rather than thinking 'Oh, how's this gonna work on Spotify?' or 'Is the chorus soon enough?' or whatever. It's really a place to just create freely and to release all the expectations for it. So far, it's been so amazing to have that, to be able to separate those things. I love making pop music and I love making albums. All of the music that I make is influenced by underground dance music. It's nice to now have an outlet for all the really underground, extended stuff I've been making. It's really nice to have those different worlds for my music to exist in.

Tove Lo, how has marriage impacted your music or your lyrics? How has that come into play?

TL: Well, I feel like it hasn't impacted me. Our relationship just feels the same. I never dreamt of family or marriage or kids or any of that. When me and Charlie got married, it was more practical when we decided to go through with it. But then once we did it, we eloped to Vegas, it was very messy and fun, but in that moment we were like, 'Wait, I actually really want to be with you and I want you to know that.' This feels just like a celebration of our love and now I actually love it. But I feel like that kind of then played into my like, 'Oh my God, am I doing all the steps now that I never wanted to do? Like, what am I?' It kind of gave me a bit of a little bit of an identity crisis when I was writing Dirt Femme, which I think songs like "Suburbia," just those thoughts of... Am I still 100 percent me? Independent woman, being queer, music comes first. From having those kind of thoughts my whole life, until now, having a person that I feel like you matter the most to me. Can I still be all those things and still have that relationship? It feels like I can. [laughs] So far so good. I wouldn't say that we were most traditional married couple.

Nikola Lamburov

Tove Lo and SG Lewis' Heat EP is out now. Listen to it wherever you stream music.

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