Two female, Euro-based pop stars "dropped" their latest albums on U.S. soil last Tuesday. The first, Hard Candy, is by a 49-year-old that goes by the name of Madonna.
You may have heard of her.
The second is by a 28-year-old Swedish gal who also goes by her first name. Robin Miriam Carlsson, a.k.a. Robyn, is still an unknown in America. But for the past three years this pop phenom has been huge among gay boys and MP3-blog devotees around the globe. She first released Robyn in 2005 in Europe and on the Internet, a place that knows no musical borders (the album was named one of the best of '05 by online tastemaker Pitchfork).
In many ways Robyn's just like Ms. M: bleached blond, opinionated, fiercely independent (she has her own music label, Konichiwa Records). That's where the similarities stop. While Madge loves nothing more than to shock the world with her latest "reinvention," inspiring devoted imitators (Brit-Brit, Xtina, et al.), Robyn is something altogether different: a quirky, fresh-faced, dance-ready original who sings with passion and compassion.
Robyn lands at Berbati's Pan next Tuesday with her stripped-down four-person tour band. Those lucky enough to get tickets will get to see what all the fuss is about. Luckily I got to talk to her the day after her album was finally released in the states. Semi-defiant in tone, she seems eager to meet her fans, especially her gay ones.
i]WW[/i]: How different is your stage show from your album?
Robyn: This album is based on melodies and beats, but I didn't want to do everything with acoustic instruments and have everyone see how well I can play them. It's about making the stage experience as intense as listening to the album or even better. It's about making people dance.
How important are your gay fans to your success?
I don't see my gay audience as a marketing tool or whatever, [but] it's a natural thing that I have a gay audience. I was always comfortable being on the outside looking in. I'm proud of having a queer audience because my music is queer in the sense that it's pop but it's not really what it's supposed to be. [And] I connect to a lot of the things the gay community treasures.
What is it that you think we treasure?
Pop music. You know that [Ultravox] song, "Dancing With Tears in my Eyes"? That's the perfect pop lyric. Like a lot of gay anthems, whether it's Erasure or Diana Ross, it's bitter and sweet at the same time.
You've been doing this since you were a kid (Robyn had her own band in the '90s). Why didn't you end up like Britney Spears?
The whole obsession with celebrity lifestyle is totally uninteresting to me. Maybe that's what saved me. But I don't really think anyone is predestined to be a fuck-up just because they start out early in the music industry. It's all about how you choose to deal with it. I wasn't comfortable shouldering the role of a pop star. I felt like it wasn't me.
If you had to start all over again would you've ever tried out for American Idol ?
Video of Letterman appearance:
Berbati's Pan, 10 SW 3rd Ave., 226-2122. 9 pm Tuesday, May 13. $15.