INTERVIEW

It’s quite formulaic, the rise of a childhood pop star. Sometimes parents are overbearing (hi MJ, Beyonce), shuffling their kids along to three auditions a day for the next N SYNC or (ahem) Cleopatra. Sometimes it’s the sprogs who demand those dance lessons that are sure to make them the next Britney. Sometimes it’s a […]

It’s quite formulaic, the rise of a childhood pop star. Sometimes parents are overbearing (hi MJ, Beyonce), shuffling their kids along to three auditions a day for the next N SYNC or (ahem) Cleopatra. Sometimes it’s the sprogs who demand those dance lessons that are sure to make them the next Britney. Sometimes it’s a mix of the two. But once the reason for the desire to be a stellar star at 16 is realised, the self-destructing careers of many a young’un all seem to tread similar paths.

For the now 27-year-old Robyn however, something has gone wrong. Or extremely right. Having been signed to Sony BMG at the age of 13, surely the last 14 years should have seen her exploited by all of those around her, forced to perform at least one single in crotchless chaps, tussle back and forth with a weight issue, obviously develop a token drug problem, marry a golddigger while insisting that his love for her is more than the ability to move out of the trailer park, rounding it all off with a burnt out, career ending breakdown, at the age of 21. It’s a way that the Robyn story could have easily gone, especially as she was discovered at an even earlier age than most and, unsurprisingly, found herself faced instantly with a record deal full of agendas. But, for the latter of the obstacles at least, there was (albeit it a pricey one) a way out.

“When I bought myself out of my contract at Sony BMG it was very much a release,” says the softly spoken Swedish Robyn of a move that Leona (y’know, the X Factor winner of a month ago that everyone has forgotten about) will undoubtedly never need to make.

“After that [having returned home to Stockholm from the States] I had a period where I really considered going back to school because music wasn’t fun anymore.”

And thus the clich√© of being all washed up before most of us have realised what call centre we want to work in meant that a 23 year old Robyn was in need of some inspiration. Luckily for her, she found it in Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer’s (aka The Knife’s) second album, ‘Deep Cuts’.

“When I got that record I was really amazed because it was so intense and beautiful. So I called them up and asked them if they wanted to work with me. Seeing how they handled all of their business, I thought, ‘I could do that.’ So that’s when the idea of my record label came about.” Which (give or take a couple of years of studio creativity) winds us up at present day – with Robyn the CEO of her very own Konichiwa Records and ready to release her self-titled album: a record that appears to be one thing before swinging an almost u-turn to reveal itself as the less than expected.

The opening ‘Curriculum Vitae’ introduces Robyn in a deep drooling male voiceover that informs us, “You cannot stop this/You cannot escape it and you cannot turn it off/So, I’d appreciate your kind consideration in this matter, Sir or Ma’am, would you please turn it the FUCK UP. DO IT!”

And so, naturally, you do. And even more naturally the following ‘Konichiwa Bitches’ and ‘Cobrastyle’ sound all the better for it.

Round house kicking and boxing your ears sore, Robyn, it seems, is here to deliver a sucker punch of Missy Elliot influenced hip hop rhymes, backed by all manner of Nintendo synths and beats. It’s a cluster bomb of an opening that makes you move. A lot. But then there’s the slightly less kick ass ‘Handle Me’, the practically Kelly Clarkson re worked ‘Be Mine’ (all electric violins and trance sneers) and suddenly we’ve forgotten where we came in.

At first it’s confusing. But when you really think about it, Kelly Clarkson is making mainstream pop a genre worth listening to again. And it’s good. Really good. But, as you now know, it’s not as if Robyn is being backed by a million hit making writers. She’s making this music because she wants to produce nothing else.

And so, after everything – the deal, the disillusion, The Knife – Robyn has made a pop album, which will surely be monstrous in 2007. After all, it’s only right that the world responds to an album full of songs that are half Britney’s ‘Toxic’, half Missy’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’‚” isn’t it?

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