The Latin word penumbra once operated in relation to the singer that is Robyn. The magic sound of Robyn was something that hid the half-shadows of the music realm of quality pop music. Her material was often hard to track down and either required a trip to the land of Sweden or hefty import charges. In 2007, she decided to reveal herself to the audience of the United Kingdom and like a secret that is too good to be kept under the quilts the word is spreading. As such, it’s quite a busy time in Robyn’s world so it’s rather brilliant she managed to sit down and do a little interview with DontStopthePop.
Her single With Every Heartbeat is currently zooming up the charts and doing rather well on British radio. Her “a-listing” on Radio One was a momentous event, as the singer does not have major representation. In-between the EMI, Universal and Sony acts, the epic strings of her new single have managed to weave themselves a beautiful canvas that is slowly wrapping itself around the public of Britain. This is so unique I am not sure whether the UK radio stations have done it in the past. Robyn is no Lily Allen nor is she another Amy Winehouse. There are no quirky Internet instruments of promotion or mega record company supporting Robyn’s pop adventure. It’s simply Robyn and the Robyn L.P. The pop music is the tool, quirk and the promotional agent that has made her a freak of nature on the radio stations. After years of belonging to the institutions of Jive, BMG and RCA, Robyn decided to break out on her fourth L.P and release music on her own Konichiwa Records Label. When asked about her decision to go down her path she beams with pride and declares that “I´m very proud of my record company and everything I have accomplished so far.”
And she should be! While other singers in her field depend on record companies, Robyn and her tracks are the only things that will secure success. Many might have just given up, settled to write hits for other acts or would be literally cacking themselves. Such isn’t the case for Robyn. Its as if she has eyed-up the entire UK singles market and gone ‘yeah-that’s mine!’. There are no stereotypical record company ploys that create the bubbles in Robyn's pop music but rather its Robyn herself that is propelling the songs into the stratosphere.
Gone are clothing ranges with H&M and make-up. When Britney shaved her hair the singer said her baldness was a reaction to constant misuse of her body. In a very odd coincidence, Robyn-who was often seen as the “Swedish Britney” or a precursor to the American star due to their shared history of Max Martin songs and Jive Records-went bald in the video for Be Mine which just happened to be the first song Robyn released without a major record company. Be Mine is a clearly a love song about an ex but it can also be decoded as a song of liberation and departing the infrastructure of the record company. You almost feel that the Robyn wrote out the lyrics “You never were and never will be mine” the moment she turned her back on the majors and set up her own record company. It’s of no surprise then that she told me Be Mine is her favourite song on the album.
So gone were the politics, sadness and make-up and in was the song-writing and amazing pop songs. The effect is amazing. Robyn is striking. Just before a gig in the legendary Dingwalls, she’ll have a cappuccino whereas her fellow pop sisters would have been sat in front of the mirror busily being spray-painted with the latest line of botox. It’s clear that the fact that she is living in her own pop world has surpassed the requisite need of the eye-liner. She simply doesn’t need such things. When I asked her on this she said “I´m a happy girl. I´m where I want to be in life and I get to do what I want to do in my professional life. That´s real luxury and maybe that shows. I feel like a million dollars though.” It’s evident that Robyn’s choice to do her own thing has resulted in not only good music but a level of contentment that springboards from Robyn’s body and into her audience. At her gigs her fans always end up with huge smiles wrapped around their faces and generally keep on dancing despite Robyn leaving the stage...
Its not like she is some newcomer, Robyn was song-writing before she was born and securing hits for other singers like Beverley Knight, Britney Spears and the American girlgroup Play. When I asked her which “Robyn cover” she liked the most Robyn replied with a no comment but the chart positions speak for themselves. Robyn’s song for the Swedish star Darin, ‘Money for Nothing’, was a huge no.1 for the singer while Britain’s Beverley Knights version of ‘Keep This Fire Burning’ is still the biggest airplay hit for the soul singer in her illustrious career. Earlier in the year, the superstar that is Kylie Minogue was rather interested in a Robyn song called Dream On. In fact, perhaps Kylie is a bit of a Robyn fan. Robyn said-“I know she likes the song, but I think I will keep that song for myself”. Can we infer to mean that Robyn said no to Kylie? The jury is out on that matter but it is an amazing song so I can understand why Robyn would want to keep it to herself. Its certainly a shame Dream On never appeared on a Robyn release despite going down a storm during her live shows and making you go all warm inside.
Talking of things Australian, I then asked whether she’d be heading off to Australia in the near future. She said with a scent of bubbly excitement; “I´m going to spend most of this year touring and promoting my record in as many places I can. People in Australia have been supporting me for some time now, so going there soon should be great! Looking forward to it, I´ve never been.” So, Australian readers and fans of Robyn watch out as Robyn might just be planning an invasion very soon!
Key places: Official Robyn Myspace, OfficialRobyn Site, Myspace Robyn Group (Pictures)
Purchase: Robyn the album (UK edition), Robyn the Album (The Swedish edition) and the brand new German edition of Robyn.
*In part two Robyn talks about b-sides, the next album, working with Kleerup and creating With Every Heartbeat. We also go down memory lane and cover her often forgotten, but much loved second and third album’s My Truth and Don’t Stop The Music respectively.*