Robyn Opens Up About the Perils of Pop Stardom to Out Magazine
By John Mitchell Posted May 17th 2011 02:38PM
She was, however, a talented singer-songwriter aching to make music that meant something, so she left the world of mainstream pop behind to return to her native Sweden to find her voice. Recharged and in charge, Robyn has re-emerged as a force to be reckoned with.
Last year, Robyn's 'Body Talk' albums stormed the U.S. with the infectious dance music that has made her a superstar in Scandinavia. With her fame again on the rise in America, the singer talked to OUT about her early days competing with Britney Spears, her unconventional childhood in Sweden, being mistaken for a lesbian and her very private personal life.
On her unusual upbringing and why she wasn't cut out for the mainstream pop world:
"I never felt at home in the pop industry. My parents had a theater company, and I was exposed to a lot of different things as a kid. My mom is an actress, and she was always playing a man or a witch -- they were never typical roles. She had a shaved head and she'd come to pick me up at daycare and I'd walk on the other side of the street because I thought she was so ugly. You just want your mom to be pretty. Even though it occurred to me that my mom was different, it didn't occur to me that my upbringing was unusual. Because I grew up in such an alternative family, I think I had a very naïve image of what making pop music would be like. [By the time my second album came out] Britney [Spears] and Justin [Timberlake] had entered the same world as me, and they were like kamikaze pilots who just did everything right. I was just not that kind of person, so right then I already knew I wasn't going to be around for that. They just did it so much better than I did."
Read more from Robyn's Out interview below.
"I get mistaken for a lesbian all the time -- but I guess I do have the most lesbian haircut of any of the girls in my field," she laughs, referring to her signature blonde bowl cut. "And when I was growing up and I introduced myself to people I'd say, 'Hi, my name is Robyn and I'm a girl,' because in Sweden, Robyn is a boy's name and I had such short hair. My handicrafts teacher thought I was a boy for three years. I tried to tell her I was a girl, but she'd just say, 'My little boy wanted to be a girl when he was a kid, too.' Finally my mom had to write her a note that said, 'Please don't assume that Robyn is a boy anymore because she's a girl.' Having that experience where I was confronted by people's reactions to what I looked like or what I was supposed to look like made me identify with queerness. It still happens to me all the time, and a lot of the time it happens to me in America because even though what I consider butch is still very feminine in Europe, here you can shock people very easily just by looking a little queer."
On her notoriously private personal life:
"There's a part of me that understands why certain artists decide not to do interviews at all. If I were to talk about my personal life and write the songs I'm writing, I wouldn't have anything left for myself. I think refusing to talk about my life is the only way I can do it because I want my music to be intimate -- you can't make good music without intimacy." Still, Robyn is practical, if wary, about the particular demands of being a pop star. "I think [not doing press] is too simple of a solution," she says. "There are a few things that are really amazing about a professional kind of approach to pop music, but a lot of times pop artists enter the music industry without deciding for themselves beforehand what their goals are. Lady Gaga is right: The fame monster grabs you, and if you're lucky it takes you on a ride. But I don't know if that's always what you want. It's just one of those things like you're supposed to get married -- you're supposed to want fame. It's never really questioned."
For more, visit Out.com.
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