A key member of the formidable Staycore crew, Gothenburg, Sweden-based Toxe (FKA Tove Agelii) has asserted her position as one of the most forceful, talented artists in the club music world over the past year, pushing an aesthetic that is as raw and unforgiving as it is delicate and inspiring. With a year left of high school and her debut Muscle Memory EP out on October 16 via Staycore, Toxe has seen a remarkably quick rise into the popular consciousness, first garnering attention for tracks like “Martial Arts” and “Offense” and further bolstering her credentials via collaborations with fellow Staycore members Dinamarca and Mechatok. Meanwhile, Tove started the ever-growing Sisters Facebook group, an in increasingly influential space for female producers, DJs, writers and label employees to share music, discuss sexism in the dance music world and occasionally work to take down a repugnant label head. And while Tove doesn’t like to take credit for founding Sisters, her role in instigating the movement is undisputed and her place as a positive and motivating presence for other female producers is well known.
With Muscle Memory out next week and a move from Gothenburg planned for next year, it’s easy to see Toxe’s name spreading like wildfire in the not too distant future, especially considering how fully formed and considered the EP is. Her Astral Plane mix is also remarkably consistent, showing off Toxe’s ability to switch up tempo with ease and utilize a range of vocals (from Missy Elliot to Jandro) over tracks from Muscle Memory and efforts from producers like v1984, Kamixlo and Zutzut (not to mention a host of her Staycore co-conspirators). It’s an all-enveloping listen that, despite changing speed several times, always seems to be moving at an energizing pace, smacking the listener with brusque, machinic kick patterns while soothing those hits with brief flits of angelic melodies and addicting hook work. We spoke with Tove via email about the mix, Sisters and the concept behind Muscle Memory, which is about as sure a thing as we’ve heard all year, words which can be found after the jump/below the fold. Also check out the full track list below the interview.
Hi Tove, been bumping your mix in the car a lot. It starts at 100 miles per hour and doesn’t really slow down. Where did you record it and what did you have in mind before you began?
Hi!! Yes! The mix kinda feels like hard working muscles which are not slowing down for one second. I wanted to create a mix that was built on my debut EP Muscle Memory. I’m using one part of my EP over and over again throughout the mix and blending tracks together with acapellas and the BPM switches up and down constantly. I just wanted it to feel like growing muscles, dynamic and like a slap in the face. I made the mix in Ableton
When did you start working with Ghazal & Dinamarca/Staycore in general?
I just stumbled upon Ghazal and Dinamarca’s Soundcloud profiles in the beginning of this year by coincidence. I remember I was like really shocked to find out they were Swedes. Because the Swedish music scene had not been appealing to me at all before. Me and Ghazal started chatting and I went up to Stockholm to play at a Staycore club night a month later and fell in love with them. Since then, I’ve played at Staycore parties in Stockholm but didn’t release anything with them until I made this track “Half Life” with Mechatok, and My EP is coming out the 16th of October, so I’m super excited things are finally starting to happen!
Where is the name Toxe from?
I went by my real name in the beginning, both first and last name. But as I got more followers I didn’t feel comfortable using it. I struggled so much with finding a new one, like something I could identify with and something which didn’t mean anything so that I could still feel free to change musically. A name that didn’t really give people expectations on how I would sound. So, in the end I just used as many letters from my real name (Tove) as possible. In that way I at least could identify with the looks of it. The x in Toxe kinda looks like a mirrored v and also x is the unknown so there’s really just a v behind that x. So, basically Toxe is just Tove written in another way.
Did you pick up DJing or production first?
Production, I started producing at 15 and didn’t start DJing ’til this year actually.
When you start a track do you usually have a good idea of where it’s going to end? Do you usually start with drums, melody or something else?
That varies so much, sometimes I have a clear idea of what I want to do but I would say that’s very rare. I most of the time just start working on something without having any idea of what I’m doing. But I always tend to start with the drums, that’s what I like to focus on the most.
Outside of the dance music sphere, what do you regularly listen to and garner inspiration from?
I’m not sure what I listen to, everything just feels like a big blur haha. Since Soundcloud is the biggest music source for me, all my likes is just put next to eachother in one, big list of likes and it’s so many different types of music. So the genres just kinda disappear and it all just becomes one big mass of different types of feelings. There’s not one type of music /artist/genre that I garner my inspiration from. Maybe subconsiously but I never think about it.
While I’m not a part of it for obvious reasons, I’ve heard from friends that the Sisters group has become a really valuable space for sharing and discussion. Can you outline your thought process when you decided to start the group? How do you think its developed since it last year(?)?
YES, this platform gives me so much strength and inspiration. I could talk about everything we have done and accomplished for hours but I’ll try to keep it short.
I started the fb group this spring, so it’s still kinda new but it spread so quickly, It’s not like I’m the admin of the group or anything, I just started it. I did it because I was so tired of being part of men dominated producer/dj groups on fb and that everyone that contacted me about my music were dudes and were often being super sexist. I just really wanted to gather all my sisters around me as quickly as possible.
The things going on in the group are just so beautiful and new women are joining the group almost every day. They dare to share and promote themselves a lot which wouldn’t happen in the same degree in a group with men. Everyones excited to share what they do and everyone is so supportive when someone decides to do so. Women share their stories and discuss sexism they experience, collectively bringing down big, misogynist lable bosses etc. You can turn to other females about you technical questions instead of turning to the closest tech dude. Of my experience, men always make me feel so dumb when I ask them about technical stuff and if I don’t understand immediately, they’re always so patronizing. We have so much power to change the music industry and I feel so much hope for the future when being part of that fb group and spreading our sister mixes on Soundcloud.
Muscle Memory is the name of your debut EP on Staycore. How do you view your music in relation to the body and to the physical spaces it might be played in?
For me my music has always been something I experience for myself, since I haven’t really been playing at clubs for that long and I just turned 18. My music world is in my room, just me and my computer. My music has always been something I do to empower myself, I see it as the most powerful way of expressing myself. I love to give my music identites and characters, collect pictures or videos and write about the music, basically just do alot more than just the audio itself.
My EP Muscle Memory is a lot about the body, the nature as a body, the body as the nature. It’s about growing, repeating and different types of strength. It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever created I think. I love how the EP has this almost machine capacity but still a softness, fold and emotion in finding new strength and I think most of the things I do tend to sound like that, like a cold slap in the face but maybe with a soft kiss afterwards. I just want people to feel the power and energy when they listen to it, I want them to drown in the EP and wake up as a new person. Empowerd, strong and fearless.
The release party for Muscle Memory looks amazing! Do you see much of a scene around you in Gothenberg/Stockholm/Sweden?
YES! I’m so excited that the whole Staycore fam will be gathered, me, Mechatok, Mobilegirl, Alx, Ghazal, Dinamarca and just talked with Kablam who will join us too, It’s gonna be magical. In Gothenburg it feels kinda dead, nothing major happening music wise and no one knows about my music and I never play here. Which in some ways is kinda relaxing because when I’m at home in Gothenburg, all I need to focus on is school. If I got gigs, it’s in Stockholm not Gothenburg both because Staycore is based there and also because there’s wider club scene there. But most of my crowd seems to be outside of Sweden and I’m so ready to move away from here as soon as I graduate in June!
Kazuki Koga – Overhang Ledge
Toxe- Let Me Thru
Kid Kishore – Balle
Missy Elliot – She’s a bitch (acapella)
v1984 – RABIT x AALIYAH
Visionist X Roxanne Farahmand
Lotic- PHLEGM (ZZ GOLOSO EDIT)
LMP- Abul Abul
Full Effect – Nu Ga Je Danse (Vocals By Jandro)
Gruppo jeje – iluminanos Santa Cecilia
VIPRA x DJ NIGGA FOX – MALANDRO
Zakmatic x Micropunto – Hxc No Mas
v1984- Preemptive Strikes Immobilized By Prevailing Love
Kablam – ?
Toxe & Mechatok – HALF LIFE