Therapy, Ibiza & Playlists: Robyn On The Eight Years Between Records

It’s been a few long years between drinks for dancefloor-filler and iconic anthem-creator Robyn, but the Stockholm-based singer is truly very happy you’ve all stuck around.

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With a career that has spanned 23 years and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down, Robyn’s latest album Honey explores love, sensuality, and a softness within herself, as she approaches her forties with a renewed sense of self.

After receiving a strong response from music critics across the world, it’s obvious that Robyn is the kind of artist that forges her own way through the industry, much like a confident dancer cuts through a packed nightclub.

PEDESTRIAN.TV got on the phone with the singer who’s been producing shit-hot tracks you’d 100% recognise like ‘Show Me Love‘ and ‘Dancing On My Own‘ about the formation of her eighth album, and why it took her eight years of self-discovery to bless us all with another LP full of bangers.

The last time we heard Robyn on her own was with 2010’s Body Talk. In the time between, she’s been collaborating with artists like Royksöpp, and started a band called Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique with late friend Christian Falk, as well as entirely losing herself in an effort to get herself out of her comfort zone.

She was thinking about the new album from around the time she was working on the side projects in 2014 and 2015, and realised that she needed to push her musical limits to develop her next solo record.

I think I started to think about how to make the next album quite early on, like even when I made the Royksopp collaboration and then the EP with my friend Christian Falk, we had a band called Robyn & La Bagatelle Maqigue and we made five songs together.

I think both of those collaborations were the start of me just trying to find a way to make music that was getting me out of my comfort zone. Because I wanted to do that and I wanted to dig deeper and I think there was something that I wanted to do as a person as well.

That kinda took me on a journey and some things happened in my life – outside [of music] but also my own process became much more complex and layered than I thought. So in a way it was kind of a conscious decision. I think I opened up to work with music in a different way; I was seeing a therapist, I was exploring.

So it was quite amazing in that way, that you don’t always know what kind of trips you set out on when you start those processes. I just wanna make different way, and it took me in a different direction when I was out exploring things for a while.

Sonically, Robyn dug into a lot of her favourite pop records and artists like Michael Jackson and Kate Bush, but was also immersing herself in European techno and dance music. That combined with the fact that she wrote and recorded Honey between several cities including ParisIbiza, and her hometown of Stockholm, the thumping, driving beat of underground clubs in Europe bleeds through the album.

Robyn tells me that over the years she was fleshing out Honey, she collected ideas and inspiration from a lot of music she was listening to – “I was listening to more disco and soul music than I usually do. I listened to Marvin Gaye, the ‘What’s Goin’ On‘ album a lot.

After spending a bit of time on self-improvement, allowing time to get herself in check before even giving burning out a second thought, picking up new skills so she can be more hands-on with her music production, consistently working on herself, Robyn tells me that getting back into what she loves the most – writing and creating music – was like reigniting a flame in her innermost being.

The album is definitely a product of me making all that – taking the time out to really learn things and listen and really get inspired. It’s also dealing around the exploration of myself and getting to know my own emotions and my own feelings and understanding myself a lot better.

I spent a lot of these last years in therapy and those were things that I didn’t expect would take me like as far away from making an album as it did but it was like something I needed. I needed time.

I always have those periods where I’m not writing as much but I’m just listening to what other people are doing and taking in things.

It’s kind of like starting an engine back up, or a fire or something. It takes a while; you have to keep adding stuff until you’re like up to speed again and I love those points where I have time to make playlists and I have time to listen to full albums – it’s really nice.

And on the fact that she’s really pleased her fans stuck around; the dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed. We spoke about the Robyn-themed club night, This Party is Killing You, and her surprise appearance at the event at Brooklyn Bowl earlier this year to premiere the second single, ‘Honey‘.

I just wanted to connect with these people that had for the past seven years done these parties in Brooklyn. People had come there and listened to my music while I was making the album and I thought that that was just such a nice thing. They just had their own kind of community going while I was away. I think just the space of time between the Body Talk album and now, and what happened in between.

Like just me thinking about them gathering in this place in Brooklyn, listening to my music, makes me really…you know? It’s really nice for me. Like, what a thing! Who has that? I was on the other side of the world doing totally different things but they were connecting and having experiences together. 

That was a way of also highlighting that time, that eight years that passed. So like giving it a physical shape or form you know…it’s nice.

It’s paying off in spades; Honey is achingly beautiful, and vibrates through your entire body every time you hit play on the first track, Missing U‘ again. It’s exactly what her devout fans have been calling out to her between drinks.

And about her coming back over to this side of the world? Well don’t hold your breath just yet. Robyn tells me that as much as she’s keen to get out and play the new album for us, there’s no plans set in stone for an Australian tour that she knows of.

I hope so, you’re so far away. I know you hear this all the time, but like why don’t you guys come here? I would love to come back to Australia, it’s such a nice place every time I’m there. I’m really, really happy I went.

I think I will, I just don’t know when. I feel like I shouldn’t promise anything at this point because I have cancelled Australian tours before and I know that my fans are dying to hear what’s going to happen but I don’t know, at this point.

You can listen to Honey wherever you get your music, and start a dancefloor wherever the hell you want.