When I told my 24-year-old sister that I’d be speaking with the Swedish pop star Robyn, she began belting out the singer’s 1997 hit “Show Me Love” from the album “Robyn Is Here.” This is a typical response for an American pop fan, as “Robyn Is Here” was the first — and last — memory many American listeners had of the then-teenage star: A fluffy, radio-friendly album co-produced by Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC hit-makers Denniz Pop and Max Martin.
After that record, Robyn dropped off of America’s musical radar, though she continued to release albums in her native Sweden and across Europe. But while many of the American popsters Robyn started out alongside have either fizzled out or clung to nostalgic reunion tours, Robyn returned to the American charts in 2008 with a new, self-titled album and a defiant, electro-pop sound.
Now in her early 30s, the singer’s reinvention from pop princess to no-nonsense club queen is directly linked to the creation of her own record label, Konichiwa Records, in 2005. With the dawn of Konichiwa, Robyn gained full creative control of her music. And while she no longer makes music targeted toward teen audiences, it is a past she fully embraces.
“What I used to do earlier on in my career, it’s still very dear to me,” she said over the phone while in San Diego. “It’s not something I try to separate myself from. On the contrary, it’s actually something that’s making still a lot of sense with what I’m doing now. Being brought up in that tradition of pop music, around people like Denniz Pop and Max Martin, who were a part of actually a thing before they started having hits with Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys, they were doing things like working with Dr. Alban and Leila K and artists that I used to listen to as a kid. To me, it’s all come together full-circle.”
Robyn is hitting the road on the “All Hearts Tour” — which includes a now sold-out show at the 9:30 Club on Aug. 2 with co-headliner Kelis — to promote her new album, “Body Talk Pt. 1.” As implied by the title, the 8-track release is one of three in a series of releases that will all drop this year. The first two albums were written at the same time in July 2009, while the third has yet to be penned.
So far, the series has been full of guest appearances. On “Body Talk Pt. 1,” artists like Diplo (“Dancehall Queen”) and Norwegian duo Royksopp (“None of Dem”) helped produce tracks. The second installment in the series will see Diplo’s return, as well an appearance from rap icon Snoop Dogg on the track “U Should Know Better.” For Robyn, who describes herself as a “pretty well-informed rapper” and has proven so on previous efforts, it was a chance to work with a kindred spirit.
“It was great. He’s a really nice guy, he’s very smart,” she said of Snoop. “He loves music, and I think that’s what we connected on. We hooked [up] in L.A. a couple years ago after I did a remix version of ‘Sensual Seduction.’ We just talked about music and really clicked and decided to get into the studio together.”
Though it may seem unorthodox to release three albums practically back-to-back, Robyn says she wanted to break from the music-industry routine.
“I’ve released albums for a long time and I think … I’ve always enjoyed making albums and promoting them and touring,” she said. “But I was getting tired of this typical thing of releasing an album and touring it for two years and not being able to be in the studio as much as I would like to. It’s just an experiment where I’m trying to find a way to work where I can do more of all the things I like to do at the same time.”
Written by Express contributor Topher Forhecz
Photo by Rankin