She reigns as the Swedish queen of dance beats. Even during her 8 year break between albums, Robyn's tunes have stood the test of the dance-floor. The fiery blonde is back with pure gold and honey to maintain her title.
Image by Ana Cuba for The New York Times
You'll see it blasted everywhere when reading anything about Robyn lately, it's been 8 years since the Swedish singer, songwriter, DJ and producer (can I say power woman!) released her dance floor sweeping/ bedroom hairbrush singing trio of albums Body Talk.
She's always seemed to have a knack for turning heartbreak, and those awkward aching moments, into dance floor anthems. In a way calling you to express those feeling through the art of movement - however it comes to you. Born Robin Miriam Carlsson, the 39 year old has just released Honey, her long awaited follow up to Body Talk. It's got all the same elements, heartbreak, aching, pain and questioning, but it also perfects the highs and the lows and hits the beats at all the right times.
Starting off at an early age, she's had a long and successful career. She recorded "Du kan alltid bli nummer ett" ("You Can Always be Number One"), the theme song for the Swedish television show Lilla Sportspegeln, in 1991 at age 12. She was discovered by Swedish pop singer Meja in the early 1990s when Meja and her band, Legacy of Sound, visited Robyn's school as part of a musical workshop. Impressed by Robyn's performance, Meja contacted her management and a meeting was arranged with Robyn and her parents. Her parents led an independent theatre group, where she's cited growing up in that environment influenced her sense of style. She signed with Ricochet Records Sweden at the age of 14 and released her first album, Robyn Is Here, soon after.
Her Swedish breakthrough came with the single "Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)" and soon after she reached US audiences with dance-pop singles "Show Me Love" and "Do You Know (What It Takes)". Her second album, My Truth, was released in May 1999. In early 2005, she left her label of 10 years to start her own label, Konichiwa Records. It was an outlet for her to be liberated artistically without the big suits watching over, no one to answer to. Little known fact, you might recognise Robyn on Britney Spears' 2007 single, "Piece of Me", where she provided the backing vocals.
She released the first album of the Body Talk trilogy, Body Talk Pt. 1, in June 2010 and followed up with Part 2 in September that same year. In a BBC Newsbeat interview, she explained her decision to release three albums in one year: "It was just something I felt like I needed to do. I just never thought about selling records or not, making this decision. I just did it for myself. It's a way of, for me, to stay inspired and to be able to do the things I like to do". In 2013 she received the Stockholm KTH Royal Institute of Technology Great Prize for "artistic contributions and embrace of technology", worth around $150,000USD, which she planned to donate to a cause of her choice. That same year she collaborated with Norwegian duo Röyksopp on collaborative project, Do It Again, which was released as an EP in 2014.
Fast forward to 2018 and the hype around a release by Robyn was intense. She dropped the first single from the album "Missing U" to a mass of people hungry for more. It was obviously a very personal song, speaking of an ended relationship which fans took as her relationship with long time partner or the death of a friend after Body Talk. Talking to I-D Magazine, she said "I felt very raw when I started making this album. No filters. I started it on my own in my studio, listening to music that I loved dancing to and making beats. I wanted to start on my own before collaborating this time because I had some things that I wanted to try. I love to collaborate, but I wanted to flesh it out a little bit on my own before I brought other people into the process. I think I'm always going to look back at that period and feel happy that I was in that space and just got in touch with a sense of sensuality and softness that I've wanted to explore". In an interview with Noisey she also talks about the process of writing this new album and the differences to previous ones, "I was in a very vulnerable state. Before, my go-to way of dealing with challenges was to push through them, but I don’t think I could with this. When I wrote this album, I was really sad and reflective. My instinct was to calm down and try to be more present in my life. I had to find a more comfortable, relaxed space where I could learn how to take care of myself. When I started making music, it was from a place of doing things to make me feel good; listening to music I like, dancing. So I kind of had to seduce myself again – not push, but lure things out of myself".
Honey is exactly as it sounds - pure, sweet and delicious, oozing sexuality with a touch of tangy relationships. She really grabs your attention for the entire 40 minutes and you'll find yourself going back to places when you need them.
You can also read about some conspiracy theories around her songs while you're at it.