Tove Lo’s “Glad He’s Gone,” the lead single and a standout cut from her 2019 album “Sunshine Kitty,” has all the hallmarks we’ve come to expect from the Swedish pop star: a warts-and-all examination of romantic relationships, a sing-along chorus with hilariously TMI lyrics and a knockout bridge that drives home the song’s ode to devoted friendship.
So it’s only fitting that Lo received her first-ever Grammy nomination for the song’s music video, which takes its camaraderie commitment to new extremes: Lo is seen walking the ends of the earth on an uninterrupted phone call with a distraught friend post-breakup, travailing an arctic tundra, a desert, several oceans, the side of a skyscraper and even a brief prison stint to prove her loyalty. The video was shot in Kiev, and directed by the acclaimed Israeli team of Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia (Coldplay’s “Up & Up,” DJ Snake’s “Magenta Riddim”) and produced by Natan Schottenfels (Beyonce & Jay Z’s “Apeshit.”)
“Glad He’s Gone” isn’t Lo’s first venture into pairing her music with ambitious filmmaking, having executive produced and starred in longer-form concept films inspired by her albums “Lady Wood” (2016’s “Fairy Dust”) and “Blue Lips” (2017’s “Fire Fade”), respectively. But by packing an entire action movie’s worth of scenery and ideas into a three and a half minute music video, Lo found the intense shoot (filmed across four 17-hour days late last spring) a fun challenge to translate to the screen, as the below storyboard shared exclusively with Songs For Screens further illustrates.
“It can be tricky for people to picture it, being such a big-looking video when I’m on the phone the whole time,” Lo says. “I had to fight a little to get it done… [We shot on] not a lot of sleep. And it was all that effort from everyone, especially the crew working on set, saying ‘This needs to be good.’”
Songs for Screens caught up with Lo to learn more of the magic tricks that went into the making of “Glad He’s Gone,” how she caught the acting bug from the experience (“I’ve started to audition for some things”) and some parting thoughts on her breakout decade.
Where were you when you found out about your Grammy nom, and what was your reaction?
I had just played a show in Buenos Aires and woke up — [that’s] where I have my best, most passionate fans. I was just so blown away and emotionally drained from these amazing shows. I woke up and my boyfriend was like, “Hey, you need to wake up and look at your phone.” I’m all grumpy and not ready to get up. He was nudging me, so I picked up my phone and see all these congratulations texts. I thought someone was pranking me! It was very unreal and very exciting. I put so much time and money and love into the video.
What was your collaboration like with the directors?
I felt in very safe hands. It was very clear that they knew what they were doing. We shot it sentence by sentence, not in sequence, so it was really funny. No one heard the song in full. We would shoot all the outside stuff one day, and so much of it green screen and the shots with animals or on the train. Vania is a genius at getting shots where I can’t see the CGI.
It’s to your collective credit that it’s hard to tell which scenes were shot with CGI and which ones were not. Which was the trickiest one to pull off?
I think the hardest one was the walking on the train scene. They put me up on this kind of three-meter tower thing, it was a wooden cable and treadmill that was spinning. And I was saying to [the directors], “If I’m running a on treadmill and looking sideways, that will throw my balance off. Guys, that’s super dangerous.” And they were like, “Just try it first.” And at that point I’ve done literally everything – I’ve crossed through sewage, ran like 50 times across a field when I’m escaping from prison. But this is where I draw the line. So they were like, “We’re gonna put the treadmill on the train, we’re not gonna have you close to the ceiling.” It was such a fun shoot, despite the really long days. I’m always interested to see the process and how it all comes together.
Were any of the key scenes not shot in green screen?
The aquarium’s real, me lasering the toilet’s real, all the prison environments. My best friend’s bedroom, the courtroom, all that was built sets. It was a huge airplane hangar place, it felt like a whole city. The rowboat’s real, too. There was some good [behind-the-scenes] from that because [the directors] were on two different paddle boats. So Vania was on one boat with the music, and Gal was on the other, and they were screaming different directions at me and kept paddling one way. I was rowing, trying to put my shirt on while holding the phone, and they were yelling at me about angles. It was just hilarious seeing the camera and Gal on one boat, wondering, what am I listening to?
What kind of validation does the Grammy nomination mean for you?
It’s nice because I can share it with Iconoclast, the production company that represents the directors, are just really great people who can make anything happen. And Shelter Films, the production company in Ukraine. It was just a very, very good vibe on set and everyone was working way overtime and just killing it. You’re always on a budget, trying to do more than what you can. You have to be a bit of a wizard. But that’s the feeling, you know, that it takes more than just me and the three other people that are nominated.
You’ve done several high-concept short films and music videos now. Have you caught the acting bug?
It’s funny, I’ve started to read some auditions for things, and always gotten really good feedback on my reading tape. I have an agent for it. I guess I haven’t pursued it, but I’m very down to do it. I don’t think it’s something where it’s like, “This is my new dream, pause everything else” because music is still very much important. But every time I go and do an audition for something or do a little reading, I can tell that there’s a fire for it. It’s a new challenge, and I feel that same excitement I feel before I go onstage.
As the 2010s draw to a close, what are some highlights for you reflecting on the past seven to eight years of your breakthrough?
Definitely “Habits.” What that song did for me, it’s crazy. Just seeing it topping charts and everything was a huge feeling. And then I think my touring year, 2017, all the festivals I played. It was just incredible crowds, and opening for Coldplay to perform on stadium stages, that touring year was absolutely magical. And I was just falling in love really heavily and just so passionate, having all those amazing moments while on tour. It was just a really, incredibly thrilling year.
Speaking of touring, your US tour for “Sunshine Kitty” kicks off in February. What can fans expect?
It’s gonna be quite a long set. And you’ll get a whole new production. I never fully toured “Blue Lips,” so it’s like I’m trying to tour two albums. I’m asking my fans, “What songs do you guys want to hear?” It’s gonna be a whole new show.
Songs for Screens is a Variety column sponsored by music experiential agency MAC Presents, based in NYC. It is written by Andrew Hampp, founder of music marketing consultancy 1803 LLC and former correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column highlights noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as film and TV. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @ahampp.