It’s beginning to look as if 1997 will go down as the year pop music freed the American charts from grunge’s stranglehold. Shooting a giant phlegm bubble at the angst-ridden rock formerly clogging the radio waves are the Spice Girls, Hanson, and now Robyn, an eighteen-year-old Swedish gamine who is by far the most sophisticated of the lot. Her sinuous, confident R&B vocal stylings run contrary not only to the unfunky heritage of her homeland, but also to the mechanized nature of the pop genre. Robyn is young, but she has n old soul-perhaps because of her peripatetic upbringing.
As a tot, Robyn toured Europe with her parents’ experimental theatre company, planting a seed that blossomed when, at age fourteen, she stood up in front of schoolmates and a visiting pop group and belted out an a cappella rendition of one of her own compositions. Impressed, the pop group put the lass in touch with its record company. Soon Robyn was the toast of Scandinavia. Her debut album is accurately titled Robyn Is Here, and includes the breakthrough hit “Do You Know (What It Takes).” Clearly Robyn does.
I don’t think of myself as just a pop artist, but someone who knows she has a bigger meaning. I’m not doing this for myself; I’m doing this because it’s my destiny.Robyn
Jonathan Bernstein: Good timing, Robyn. You put a record out just as pop music gets big again.
Robyn: Which is very nice. However, I don’t think of myself as just a pop artist, but someone who knows she has a bigger meaning. I’m not doing this for myself; I’m doing this because it’s my destiny.
JB: Do you remember the first song you wrote?
R: “In My Heart.”
JB: That’s the one you sang at your school. If someone had done that at my school, they’d have been punched in the head.
JB: I’m from Scotland. We don’t encourage that kind of behavior.
R: I come from south of Stockholm, which is a very culturally aware society, with a lot of theatre people, actors, and musicians. For me to stand up and sing was not a big deal. It helped me in…well, you know the story about how I was discovered. I really don’t have to tell you.
JB: You look like you’ve told it a lot.
R: Oh, I have.
JB: You should start changing it each time. Like, “I was discovered on a Finnish whaling vessel.”
R: People get tired of telling the same story.
JB: The other story you like to tell is about the guys who’ve done you wrong.
R: There haven’t been that many of them, but there were ups and down with the ones I had. People say, “I can’t take you seriously because you’re so young.” But I think when you’re young, what you feel is more pure.