Tue, 29 Apr 2008 11:29:20
"I think people are obsessed nowadays with putting pop music in a box," says Robyn Carlsson, aka Robyn, the Swedish pop star whose eponymous album is due out on Cherrytree/Interscope April 29 - [ed- now available]. Few artists are in a better position than she to muse on pop music's current identity crisis. Signed to a major record label at just 16, Robyn collaborated with super-producers like Max Martin (Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Britney Spears), releasing two hit records in the mid-to-late '90s. U.S. audiences are mostly likely to recognize her from the 1997 cut "Show Me Love," off her debut album, Robyn Is Here.
But the Robyn of this era is nearly impossible to recognize on her forthcoming, self-titled record. Already a smash success in Sweden and the UK, Robyn sees the platinum blonde, pint-sized pop star completely reinventing her sound on her own terms, after breaking with her former label in 2004. Without sacrificing any of the gooey-ness that makes good pop so addictive, Robyn abjures anything formulaic, deftly shifting from hip-hop-flavored braggadocio ("Konichiwa Bitches") to swelling, string-laden melodrama ("With Every Heartbeat") to pulsating electro-pop ("Who's That Girl?").
“I think people are obsessed nowadays with putting pop music in a box”
Stateside, the indie hipster set has been swooning over Robyn since singles started dribbling out online back in 2005 (see our crushed-out interview from last year), but it's taken mainstream channels a little longer to catch on. Fortunately, they are, and her long-overdue U.S. distribution deal isn't the only indication of Robyn's budding popularity. On a recent three-date U.S. tour, her first in 10 years, we caught Robyn's gig at the Highline Ballroom, where a surprisingly mixed crowd of rabid fans were out in force, singing along to every single word of her songs with the sort of unabashed enthusiasm rarely witnessed at an NYC show. When asked what makes people respond so strongly to her record, Robyn says, "It's a personal album; it's a pop album. But I think it has a quality to it that a lot of people don't connect with pop music these days."
Regarding her own pop influences Robyn cites everyone from classic acts like Cyndi Lauper, Prince, Kate Bush and The Police to present-day players like The Knife, M.I.A, and Missy Elliot. In particular with the latter three, many of us might not describe these acts as "pop," but that's precisely Robyn's point. True pop music isn't formulaic, and it never was. Which is probably why, when asked about her self-reinvention, Robyn is sanguine: "It's not about detaching myself from what I did before, and it's not about everyone remembering either." The change is more about her having total control over the writing and recording process, or, as she puts it, "getting rid of basically everything that made me feel like I had to compromise." Having called all the right shots thus far, Robyn is poised to resurrect pop as we used to know (and love) it. And we're hoping she slays all the haters' self-congratulatory notions of the genre as a "guilty pleasure" along the way.
Check out our exclusive video of Robyn's "Bum Like You" video here!