Published Jul 02, 2010Robyn is a textbook survivor. Having discovered how cold, hard and unforgiving the music industry can be with young, burgeoning artists, the pixie-elated Swedish singer (born Robyn Carlsson) took the road basically never travelled. She gave up on her deal with BMG, began writing her own music and started up Konichiwa, a self-made label that would give her complete control of her career. The move resulted in a 2005 self-titled album that saw Robyn not only reinvent herself as a completely independent music figure and re-enter a global pop landscape that spat her out years ago, but also remind us that pop music can be shrewd, emotional and leftfield and still appeal to the masses. Now after fulfilling the commitments that came with re-launching herself in all continents, Robyn has returned with not just one, but three (!) new albums titled Body Talk that will arrive before the end of 2010. Exclaim! caught Robyn during a busy stretch of promotion in the UK to discuss the Body Talk series, her collabo with Snoop Dogg and why expelling your frustrations makes for a great song.
What made you decide to release three separate records in 2010?
It is like one record but it's being released in three parts. The thought of waiting five years again to make a new album is tiring to me. So I started to think about doing it as a practical solution to that problem. And when I had made up my mind to do it that way it started to make sense in a bunch of different ways. If you think about how people consume music and how nowadays a lot of music is there on the internet. It seems like that direct communication between fans and artists is better for everyone.
What can you tell me about parts 2 and 3? How do they differ from part 1?
I've written lots of songs. I'm gonna keep recording while I tour. The second album is being recorded now. It's an ongoing process and I'm just doing it as I go along. For the first album, I just used the songs that were actually done so I could send it off the factory. It's kind of an experiment of how to stay in the creative process while releasing material and not let go of that mind-space while I'm touring. There's no concept really. It's more like I wrote a bunch of different songs at different times, but they all have the same inspiration.
You and Diplo were tweeting about being in the studio together. Is "Dancehall Queen" the only song we'll hear from those sessions?
I've got some more stuff with Diplo, but I don't know what's going to be on this album yet. I'm working with Kleerup for the next album. There's more with Klas Ahlund, whom I work with a lot. We've done most of the songs together. We worked with Diplo on "Dancehall Queen" and Savage Skulls, these Swedish producers who I've hung out a lot with lately.
What about this duet with Snoop Dogg?
There's a duet with Snoop that should make it on to the next album, but it's all kind of up in the air. It sounds really good, really gangsta.
What's the song called?
I can't tell you that.
Was this a way of paying you back for your awesome rhymes on the "Sexual Eruption" remix?
That's how we hooked up. We decided to do that track together and say hi. But you never know, it's not about returning favours, it's about what's good for you. I think after meeting and talking about music, we just clicked and decided to continue working together.
Where did the inspiration for "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do?" come from? Was it just a matter of venting by reading a laundry list of every day shit you have to put up with?
Yeah. I came back from a tour and it's about people getting in your face all the time. I wanted to get back into the studio and not have that responsibility... Even though I did decide to start my own label and do it this way, I can't always be happy with the workload [laughs]. It's a whiny song for people who feel like there is so much stuff bombarding you.
Your music definitely progressed between your first three albums and Robyn. How would you say your music has changed from the self-titled album to these Body Talk albums?
I really found like I found my voice on the last record and on this album I didn't really want to change that. I wanted to keep exploring what I had started. If I found my voice on the last record, like with "Every Heartbeat," where I could combine a pop melody with something that communicates an emotion in a very real way. If that happened on the last album then I think this one was more about establishing that but also a sound that was more consistent. I've been listening to a lot of house, techno and dance music I grew up with in the '90s.
When you emerged with Robyn, you were embarking upon a complete career reinvention: leaving a major label, starting Konichiwa, writing your own songs... Did you expect the world to embrace you the way they did once that album was finally released? It had been a long time but people still remembered you...
That was crazy to me. I didn't expect that at all. At the same time I knew I had made a great record, so there had to be some people out there that got this. But a big chunk of that audience actually liked what I did ten years ago, which was a nice surprise. I think that some of them have followed me since then and developed with me, which is really cool. There is that audience, there is a gay following, plus I get other people too, like the hipster crowd or just real music lovers. So I'm really pleased with that mix.