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For some reason, it's become fashionable in pop to play down your ambitions and to avoid becoming a role model for your fans. Much easier to play it coy and defer the responsibility. Well, thankfully 21-year-old Swede LOVA, aka your favourite new popstar, isn't like everyone else. “I want to take over the world,” she beams. “I want to be the biggest I can be.” She's off to a cracking start, with the deliciously odd You Me and The Silence – a song that mixes the organic, warm production of her 60s music idols with very modern, idiosyncratic songwriting – the perfect introduction to the sort of young, outspoken female artist 2018 needs and deserves. “I definitely want to be a role model for younger girls because I know how hard it can be,” she says. “Role models should make mistakes and own up to them and grow from them. You're human.” This acknowledgement of her flaws is laid bare on the ludicrously catchy new single Insecurities, which features a playful chorus of “meet my insecurities, let's count 'em one, two, three” over scratchy guitars, bright handclaps and zipping electronics. “I don't want to make my songs about another person; my songs are about self love,” she says. “You are the most important person in your life.” LOVA, aka Lova Alvilde, was born into a household full of the sort of music you don't immediately think of when you think of Sweden. ABBA and big shiny pop was eschewed in favour of opera (her dad was an opera singer), early disco and the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Pop crept into her listening habits later, with inspirations coming from the likes of Swedish pop royalty Robyn (“I think that was the first concert I went to”) and the UK's very own Natasha Bedingfield (“These Words is still a reference for me in the studio now”). From the age of three she'd accompany her dad at the piano, then, aged seven, she started writing her own songs in Swedish. “I was extremely shy and I spent a lot of time in my thoughts, so it was my way to get it all on paper,” she smiles. “I was not the girl in class who answered questions, I wasn't much of a speaker. Instead of writing a diary, I would write a song.” That first song was a love song, inspired by things she'd seen on TV. It was her first and last one, it turns out. “I feel like there's more important stuff to write about and there are already so many people writing about love and doing it so well,” she says. “Why I started writing music was to express myself and get my thoughts out on paper and have something to say.” In 2011, while at a local music school, she demoed a song she'd written about courage and sent it in to one of Sweden's biggest singing competitions, the Lilla Melodifestivalen (aka the televised auditions to compete in Junior Eurovision). “From me being in my room and only my parents hearing me sing to me sending in this song about courage, it took so much,” she says, still surprised she did it. A week later she received a call asking her to audition. “I remember I threw up in the car because I was nervous. A couple of hundred people sent in demos and then for the auditions there was about thirty people, and they were all there with their managers and I had brought my dad and had just thrown up in the car. It was awful. But it went well and then I got through to the final and then I won.” The prize was a trip to Amsterdam to represent Sweden on a show that attracted over 22 million viewers. Deep down she knew music was her only true passion, but her nervousness had always got in the way. Suddenly, on an international stage, she'd had a breakthrough. She came sixth, scored a twelve (cheers Armenia!) and had it confirmed that yes being a musician was the life she wanted. “It was such a good experience and after that I was all in.” In fact, things needed to be slowed down. After the Amsterdam trip she was offered a record deal, one which the 13-year-old LOVA was very excited about snapping up. Thankfully her parents talked her out of it. “I'm so happy about that because I wouldn't be here if that had happened. I wasn't ready then.” Instead, she signed with Universal in 2016, one year into a music production course at Rytmus Music School (alumni includes Robyn, Tove Lo and Icona Pop), and not long after uploading three of her demos to Spinnup, a Spotify assisted portal for new singer-songwriters. Finally she was in a position to take her place as a role model, and as a young female musician and producer whose often vulnerable songs focused on topics affecting society and her generation. “The whole drive behind the music is me wanting to open up conversations and me wanting to affect people for the better,” she says. “After the competition, the best thing was young girls messaging me and telling me that my music had helped them be more courageous. That is unbeatable. Like in music production, I had no female role models at all. It was all men. I feel like now it's getting better, but girls need to have people to set an example. I want my music to reach a lot of people and I feel like I have a responsibility with my music to touch on things that are happening now.” One of the topics she touches on is the distorted reality of social media and how that creates a need for perfection. The vibrant pop of Insecurities was born out of a destructive place. “I got so sick a while ago after I got out of a really bad relationship and I can look back at it now and see that I was so insecure,” she explains. “My biggest fear is not being good enough so when someone breaks up with you it's confirmation that you aren't good enough. But when you realise it and become aware of your insecurities and accept them it doesn't make you weak.” You Me and The Silence, meanwhile, touches on social pressures and how it's actually okay to not take on a persona just to impress. “I don't need you to put up an act or entertain me, like if you don't have anything to say then just be quiet,” she laughs. The folksy Closer, meanwhile, focuses on a male friend who was trying to control her behaviour. “That song's a really good microcosm of what happens in society, like the woman is always seen as one step below. He was always telling me how I felt and what I should do. We're not friends anymore.” Unafraid to sing about important issues, but with a lightness of touch that never comes across as preachy, LOVA's rapidly carving out a niche for herself as Sweden's best pop export. Inspired by the musical greats from the 60s and 70s, as well as the melodic magicians of the present day, her brand of emotional pop music feels classic. It's not about chasing trends, or chucking in today's go-to sonic signifier for the sake of it, this is minimalistic, organic pop that feels truly universal. At the heart of it all is a proper star. “More wants more so I'm never satisfied,” she states. Keep your eye on this one.

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