Robyn: Swedish Pop With International Appeal Back in the '90s, the singer climbed the U.S. Billboard charts with singles such as "Do You Know What It Takes" and "Show Me Love." In the years that followed, she remained popular in Europe but stayed under the mainstream music radar in the U.S. That's all changing with her latest album, Body Talk Pt. 1 — the first in a three-part series of records coming out this year.
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Robyn: Swedish Pop With International Appeal

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Robyn: Swedish Pop With International Appeal

Robyn: Swedish Pop With International Appeal

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


(Soundbite of song, Show Me Love)

ROBYN (Swedish vocalist): (Singing) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

LYDEN: She's a platinum blonde Swedish phenom, who back in the 90s hit the U.S. Billboard chart when she was just a teenager with her singles "Do You Know What It Takes and "Show Me Love." I'm talking about Robyn.

(Soundbite of song, "Show Me Love)

ROBYN: (Singing) Always been told that I've got too much pride. Too independent to have you by my side.

LYDEN: Since then, shes mainly stayed under the mainstream music radar in the U.S., but she's remained popular in Europe. And if this punky-pop super-Swede has her way, thats about to change.

(Soundbite of song, Fembot)

ROBYN: (Singing) I've got some news for you. Fembots have feelings too. You split my heart in two. Now what you going to do?

LYDEN: Thats the song Fembot, taken from Robyns new album, Body Talk Pt 1.

(Soundbite of song, Fembot)

LYDEN: Body Talk Part 2 is coming soon up and Part 3 will be released by the end of the year. And Robyn joins me from our studios at the New York bureau.

It is such a pleasure to have you with us.

ROBYN: Thank you so much.

LYDEN: You were just in D.C.

ROBYN: Yeah. I was there a couple of days ago.

LYDEN: So, three albums in a year is ambitious by any stretch. What do you get out of releasing three albums so close together and not putting all the tracks on one album?

ROBYN: I think for me its been a really selfish decision. Its been about trying to find a way where I could have more fun making this record. And I started writing it in July last year and I was just looking at, you know, the scenario of being in the studio for another year and then maybe touring for three years and not getting to make another album until maybe four years later and it just felt too long for me. I wanted to get back on tour earlier.

Its not a conceptual album at all, even though you might think that because of the three parts it is. Its really just a practical solution to that problem, and maybe it became a concept because it gave me a way of working that really affected the whole creative process as well, but it hasnt been a plan. Its just been something I've kind of figured out as I went along.

LYDEN: I have to say, one of my favorite songs on this album sounds a bit autobiographical. And I dont know, it just really caught me. I defy anyone to listen to your stuff and not dance to it. So this is called Dont"...

(Soundbite of clearing throat)

LYDEN: ...fill in the blank here, Tell Me What to Do, being a family radio show. I really like it. Lets listen to a bit of this song.

(Soundbite of song, "Don't F-ing Tell Me What to Do.")

ROBYN: (Singing) My smoking is killing me. My diet's killing me. My heels are killing me. My shopping's killing me. My ego is killing me. Can't sleep, it's killing me. My label's killing me. Kick drum...

LYDEN: Now, Robyn, I just want to say, if I could on this very day, I would put this in my car, roll down the windows and blare it all over Washington.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBYN: Good. Thats nice.

LYDEN: Tell me a little bit about writing this song.

ROBYN: I came off of tour and I was just tired of having people in my face, and not feeling like I had time to finish anything.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Mm-hmm.

ROBYN: And I think that maybe thats what that is about. Its like a diary. Its like where I was coming off the tour, working a lot. And, but not in a bad way or in a bitter way at all - just like needed to get stuff off of my chest. And I think it's something that I think, you know, no matter what kind of life you have, I think its something a lot of people can relate to.

(Soundbite of song, "Don't F-ing Tell Me What to Do.")

ROBYN: (Singing) Can't sleep, it's killing me. My dreams are killing me. The TV is killing me. My talking's killing me. Let go, you're killing me. Ease up, you're killing me. Calm down, you're killing me. My god, you're killing me...TEXT: LYDEN: Would you say that club culture is one of your strongest influences, Robyn, thinking back?

ROBYN: Yeah, I would say that club culture and club music has affected me in different periods over the years. And even hip-hop music for me was about dancing in the beginning and then I kind of left that a little bit for a while. And, but the last six five years I've been touring and spending a lot of time in clubs and kind of went - connected back to growing up in Europe in the 90s, where Rave culture and club music was mixing with hip-hop and pop music in this very unexpected way. And I kind of found a way of making pop music in my own way in a space where I could still be emotional but still like have some balls in the music as well.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBYN: And I wanted to continue exploring that on this album.

(Soundbite of song, Dancehall Queen)

ROBYN: (Singing) I take the bus to town, sitting in the back and talk to no one. I got the high heels on. I go out dancing all by my own. People are pushing by. Somebody always tries to cut in line. Soon as I get inside I loose myself in the blinding lights.

LYDEN: I'm speaking with the very lovely Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn.

It was interesting to me that not only are you making this music, but youre also in business and that you started your own record label.

ROBYN: Yeah. I started the company after being in the music industry for about 10 years and feeling like I was at a space where I couldnt really explore what it was that I wanted to do. It was a big, big change for me, but I really didnt feel like I had another option. For me it was like the last - last thing to try before I was going to quit music, kind of.

LYDEN: Really, you were that frustrated?

ROBYN: Yes, I was. I was totally like worn down. The music industry is not a bad industry. Theres a lot of really good people in it. But its created around, you know, the commercial aspect of selling music. Which is good, thats what they're supposed to be doing. But it becomes like a situation where its one type of solution for all artists. There was just no room for me to move, you know, in the direction I wanted to, and I felt very frustrated about it for a while.

LYDEN: There's another song that really stands out on this album, and you might have to help me with the pronunciation here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: This is the one from a folk song. Its called...

ROBYN: Yeah. Its called Jan Vet En Dejig Rosa.

LYDEN: Okay.

ROBYN: And its a Swedish folk song. Nobody knows who wrote it because its so old.

(Soundbite of song, Jan Vet En Dejig Rosa)

ROBYN: (Singing in foreign language)

(Speaking) Its a song about losing someone you love. Its very melancholic but it has like respect for, you know, where life takes you.

LYDEN: Can you translate a line or two for me?

ROBYN: Yeah. Jan vet en dejig rosa is the first line. It means I know a beautiful rose. And its very old, old Swedish, but its, like, it describes this flower. And then the second verse is about, you know, people losing each other but then always remembering each other and then maybe finding each other somewhere.

(Soundbite of song, Jan Vet En Dejig Rosa)

ROBYN: (Singing in foreign language)

LYDEN: Do you ever record your own songs in Swedish?

ROBYN: No, I dont. I do make up like silly versions, though, of my songs in Swedish.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBYN: And its hard. I mean singing in Swedish is just, I dont know. There's something about writing in English thats nice. Because its not my language. It gives me a little bit of like a resistance or, you know, like a problem that I need to solve all the time. When you know a language really well, its like you, its almost like you stop questioning what it is that youre doing.

LYDEN: Robyn, its been a real pleasure talking with you.

ROBYN: Thank you for having me.

(Soundbite of song, Dancing On My Own)

ROBYN: (Singing) Somebody said you got a new friend. Does she love you better than I can?

LYDEN: Robyn joined us from our New York bureau. Her latest album, Body Talk Part 1, is out now. To hear more songs from Robyn's new CD, please go to

(Soundbite of song, Dancing On My Own)

ROBYN: (Singing) I know where you at. I bet shes around. Yeah, I know its stupid. But I just got to see it for myself. I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, oh. I'm right over here, why can't you see me, oh...

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