Robyn Doesn't Think the Album Format is Dead

Tonight, Swedish pop artist Robyn is performing live at the Fillmore Miami Beach. The 31-year-old musician has had an amazing career that started out in the mid-'90s when bubblegum pop was all the rage. With a career similar to that of Britney Spear and Christina Aguilera, a few years later she was able to break out of her pop-tart shell into the role of a respected artist.

And how could she have not? With 2005's Robyn and her latest Body Talk album trilogy, Robyn is pushing the boundaries of a genre that's often considered stale and unadventurous.

We talked the Robyn, who was just getting out of an interview with the BBC in London, about supposedly dead album format, why Swedes are so good at making pop music, and her relationship with producer Max Martin.

New Times: Is this your first time performing in Miami?

Robyn: Yes, it is. I've tried to come several times, but I've had to cancel -- once, actually, which I never really do. So it's really nice to come this time.

The Body Talk trilogy has been getting a lot of praise from critics. Are you surprised?


I like that answer.

I think it's a great record too. But I really didn't expect people to get the three-album idea as quickly as they did. I love the fact that people are open to that, and I think it tells you a lot about the state that the music industry is in. People are looking for organic and real relationships with musicians again. It's not just about the big marketing machine telling people what two records they should buy every year. It's an interesting time for that kind of thinking. I didn't realize how many people were already thinking that way. I just kind did [this record] for myself because I thought it would be more fun to work that way.

A lot of people say the album format is a dead medium. Do you agree?

I don't agree that the album format is dead. Albums don't have to be released at once. It can be release over a longer period of time. It has nothing to do with releases anymore, that's the difference. The album is never really going away.

I find it frustrating when people look for an extreme new way of doing things. I mean there are a lot of stuff that still works. I still work with major labels in a lot of ways, but I still have my own label and I make sure I get to do what I want.

You don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I don't think there is one solution that's going to replace the old one.

Someone once told me that Swedes are good at two things: Mathematics and pop music. Of course, before you there was ABBA and Ace of Base, both who made great pop records. Why do think Swedes are so good at making pop songs?

I don't know. I get asked this question in almost every interview I do, and it's a good question, but I don't know how to answer it. I think it's probably coincidence -- a lot of great people born in the same country at the same time. We have a good social network that supports artists that even if they don't make a lot of money they can still keep making art. Also, all kids at the age of 10 get to learn how to play an instrument for free. So, I don't know. Lots of reasons probably.

In the final part of Body Talk, you reunite with Max Martin, who is responsible for some of the biggest hits in the last two decades. How was it working with him again?

Me and Martin stayed friends of the years. I've been thinking about working with him again. We've been talking about it for the last five years. We hadn't really found the right song. But now it just clicked and it felt like a really good time to do something with Martin again. The success we had together in the mid-'90s was not only my first success but one of Martin's first bigger hits in America. I love the fact that I'm getting to work with one of the biggest producers in the world. Also, it's maybe showing people I'm not afraid of my past. For me, making a beautiful song is what I'm obsessed with. And "Time Machine," which is the song I recorded with Martin, is amazing and I'm really happy that we were able to put it on the album.

Speak of your past, you were somewhat like the Swedish Britney Spears. Was it for you to transition to a legitimate musician?

No, not at all. I never identified with the pop industry. I loved the music I made. I was having a lot of fun getting to record an album, tour it, learn about the industry, meet people, travel, and all that stuff. It was a great experience. But I never felt like I belonged in that environment. It was never my goal. I just kind of ended up there.

I spent the last 10 years following that figuring out a way into something that I guess is where I'm at at the moment. I'm not trying to be a credible indie artist either, even though I have my own label. I want to make pop music. It's always what I wanted to do, but I want to do it on my own terms. And I've been able to create that situation for myself, and it's been awesome.

Robyn with Natalia Kills and BFGF, Friday, November 5; the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets $33.25-$47.20 via Doors 7 p.m. 305-673-7300

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran