Meet Marlene: The Swedish Pop Star Tove Lo Loves

Meet Marlene: The Swedish Pop Star Tove Lo Loves

Read an exclusive interview with the "Sweet" singer.

Read an exclusive interview with the "Sweet" singer.

Text: Ilana Kaplan

It’s no secret that Sweden has bred some of pop's biggest stars―Robyn, Tove Lo, Lykke Li to name a few. So it’s no surprise that there’s a new, burgeoning pop musician on the rise. The young singer has been making music since she was a child, but she was encouraged to become a songwriter after meeting a publisher. Since she began singing and songwriting at 22, she’s received praise from Tove Lo, whom she used to perform for soldiers with years ago. The Stockholm-based singer even found a fan in Giorgio Moroder, who used one of her songs “I Do This For You” on his 2015 record Déjà Vu.

Last month, Marlene dropped her sophomore EP Sweet ― a culmination of 80s-tinged pop hits with smoky vocals, following up her 2014 debut EP Indian Summer. Her single “Next To Me” is easily a dancefloor favorite, reminiscent of vintage Robyn and Paula Abdul.

With Marlene coming up quickly in the pop scene, we caught up with her about collaborating with Giorgio Moroder, her friendship with Tove Lo and who she wants to collaborate with in the future.

How did you get into making music?

I've been singing since I was little and playing the piano since I was seven years old. I didn't write until I met this publisher who heard one of [my] demos who said, "If you could sing like that, I think you could also write." I always wanted to sing my own songs. I wanted to be an artist, but I didn't want to just sing songs for someone else that's written, I wanted to write too. I worked with a lot of people in both London and Sweden and all over. I was just starting to write: first for others and then for myself.

What other artists have you worked with?

Some Swedish artists, but also Giorgio Moroder. A guy from the UK called Banga.

How did Giorgio find you?

He heard a demo of a song that I released and he was like, "I love that song, and I want that on my album." I was like okay, you can do that! I sent him whatever he needed. He made his own version of it, and he wanted it on his album. It was really weird, but super cool.

Tove Lo is a big fan of yours. How did you guys meet?

Tove—yes I know her. She's supporting me, which means a lot. We were both doing an education for performing for soldiers. Marilyn Monroe did that [too]. We shared a cottage, and we spent a week in uniform doing a lot of weird and crazy stuff. That's how we got to know each other. Both of us lived in Stockholm back then. Both of us played music for each other back then... we were just hanging.

Tell me about your latest EP. 

It's about love and different phases. I was just writing a lot of songs during these past three years. I went through a breakup, and then I also met someone new, so I wrote a lot of songs about it. It's just natural to write about what's happening. I chose my favorites. There are going to be a lot of new songs coming out too, but I picked some and made an EP.

Are you working on a full-length record?

I am! I'm super inspired to just sit down, collect all my thoughts and work on something longer. I already have a lot of songs, but I really have to dig into it. I just want to write so much more. I don't have an album yet even though I could because I have so many songs. I'm working on it.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future? 

Frank Ocean and Blood Orange.

How has the Sweden music scene inspired you and your music?

When I started to write for myself, I was really into R&B but nobody really listened to it over here. It was hard to make the music I wanted to make back then. But the past three or four years it's been blowing up, which has helped me a lot. I think I was kind of new when I came out with my first EP Stay Awake. It went really well. Since then, it feels like everyone is doing R&B in some way. People are so talented over here. I don't think we understand it when we're here, but every time I go abroad and work in L.A., everyone's like, "Oh you're from Sweden, you must be amazing." I don't feel like a typical Swedish artist because everyone's writing in Swedish over here. A lot of people aren't writing in English.

What was your experience working with Giorgio?

I met him for the first time after we made the song. We were just sending files back and forth. We met after that in Sweden. It was an interesting way of working, but I guess that's how it works nowadays. I sent him my vocals, and he used his own version of it. He was very sweet. He was like a grandpa. He was so relaxed, which was nice.

What sets you apart from other pop musicians?

I think it's hard to compare yourself to others. I don't have a stage persona. I feel like I'm myself all the way through. I'm trying to be at least.

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