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Rockin' Robyn's Swede success

If Bjork and Billy Idol were to have a secret lovechild, I'm guessing the result might be something like Robyn. The 31-year old Swedish singer/songwriter was born Robin Miriam Carlsson, in Stockholm, on June 12, 1979, and was pretty much destined to become the pop pixie she is today.

At the age of 12, she wrote the theme tune to a Swedish television show, Lilla Sportspegein, performing on a second TV series later that year. Plucked from school by Swedish pop singer Meja in the early '90s, Robyn's debut album, Robyn Is Here, came out in 1996. Which makes you wonder -- shouldn't Robyn be in jail right now? Or at least have a few kids and a slobbish ex-husband who sponges off her?

"That was always an option," she laughs, "but I just never found the time to crash and burn like that. I was too busy touring, or writing songs, or working on a new album. I'm sure I'll get around to my downfall soon enough. For now though, I'm having too much fun."

Part of that fun is coming to Ireland for Electric Picnic at the beginning of September, which will, hopefully, turn a few more people onto her latest album, the critically-acclaimed Body Talk Pt 1. The second album in the series will be released later that month, with the third out by the end of the year.

PAUL BYRNE: It's pretty ambitious, releasing three albums within the same year under an umbrella title - you're not turning into a white Eryka Badu, are you?

ROBYN: I wish! No, I just felt that I had material that worked together and apart, so to speak. I wanted the first album to set the scene, almost, and the second and third to surprise people a little. I had tried various track-listing options, and it just fell this way.

PB: You've said that Body Talk Pt 1 was like a diary to you, made up of songs that are very personal to you. The first track is called Don't F**king Tell Me What To Do, and the lyric loop starts off "My drinking is killing me", and moves sweetly on to your smoking, your diet, your heels, your shopping and just about everything else. Anything you want to share with the group?

R: I want to share everything with the group! The songs aren't 100pc my life, but they're close. And they reflect how I feel, about myself, about those around me, the world, nightlife, whatever. I don't see the point in writing a song unless it means something to you. It's got to be hardcore and heartfelt. I don't do stuff for hire.

PB: Unless it's a Swedish sports show...

R: Unless it's a Swedish sports show -- that I can do. But it's just not going to have any soul if you don't feel it yourself. I know there are those who can write any song for any occasion, for any kind of genre, but I have to feel it. I have to believe it.

PB: So, as on Fembot, you believe that you're a Metropolis booty machine who, hey, "has feelings too"?

R: Absolutely. It's about the image we can project, and how that image can be taken purely as a surface detail. We all want to feel good about ourselves, and many of us do that through dress up. It's tribal stuff, putting on your paint, your costume, whatever, and I just wanted to make the point that, below all that, there's a real human being. I think people have weird ideas about pop stars, too, as though they're some kind of unreal creation that fits into their own ideals of desire. I guess that's what being a star is all about -- fulfiling people's notions of an ideal.

PB: Was there a point when you decided that was the life for you?

R: I've always wanted to do this, and part of that is the feedback you get from an audience. So, yeah, you want to be some kind of ideal, but by making the coolest music you can make, so that your audience gets a certain kind of rush. A rush that you've created for them. Is there a better feeling in the world? Bringing something to life that wasn't there before, and having this communal high happen because of it? It's what every musician wants.

PB: So, Body Talk Pt 2 is due out on September 6, and there's talk of a third before the year's out.

R: I just think people listen to music differently now -- it's about the songs, more than the album as a whole. So, when I had a bunch of songs I felt fitted together, I wanted to get them out there quickly, and the songs that were coming through, I felt they should get out there pretty much immediately, too. It's a good way to work -- James Brown often recorded on the road, and I wanted to get that sense of urgency and spontaneity with these songs.

It's exciting to bring on tour, too -- the old songs are there, but songs are evolving during the tour, and what better place to kick them into shape than in front of an audience? So, the volume coming back from all those people at Electric Picnic, that will determine what goes on the next album...

Robyn plays Electric Picnic, Sept 3, 4, 5 Stradbally Hall, Co Laois. www.electricpicnic.ie