Robin Miriam Carlsson (born 12 June 1979), known as Robyn, is a Swedish singer, songwriter and record producer. Robyn first came to the music scene with her 1995 debut album Robyn Is Here which spawned two Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit singles; "Do You Know (What It Takes)" and "Show Me Love". Her second and third studio albums My Truth (1999) and Don't Stop the Music (2002) were only released in her native country. Robyn returned to international success with her fourth album Robyn (2005) which earned her critical acclaim and a Grammy Award nomination. The album spawned the hit singles; "Be Mine!" and the UK number one "With Every Heartbeat". In 2010 she released a trilogy consisting of three mini albums of the Body Talk series. The albums received widespread critical acclaim, three Grammy Award nominations and produced three top 10 hits; "Dancing on My Own", "Hang with Me" and "Indestructible". Robyn followed up with the release of two collab EPs; Do It Again (2014) and Love Is Free (2015).
1989–1993: Career beginnings
Robyn voiced the character of Miranda in the 1989 Swedish–Norwegian animated film The Journey to Melonia. The film, directed by Per Åhlin, is quite loosely based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest. She additionally did the Swedish voice of Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven. In 1991, at the age of 12, Robyn recorded the theme song for the Swedish television show Lilla Sportspegeln, named "Du kan alltid bli nummer ett" ("You Can Always be Number One"). She performed her first self-written song at this age on another television show, Söndagsöppet (Sundays). Robyn was rediscovered by Swedish pop singer Meja in the early 1990s. Meja and her band Legacy of Sound visited Robyn's school and were involved with a musical workshop. Robyn's performances impressed Meja so much so that she contacted her management and a meeting was arranged with Robyn and her parents. At age 14, Following the completion of her middle school education in 1993, Robyn signed with Ricochet Records Sweden (which was acquired by BMG in 1994). She collaborated with producers Max Martin and Denniz Pop, who provided the singer with a gritty yet popular sound. Ulf Lindstrom and Johan Ekhé assisted with writing duties, helped to produce the album, and stayed on board with Robyn until the completion of her album Don't Stop the Music in 2003.
1994–1998: Robyn Is Here
Robyn started her career in the pop music industry at the age of 16. She signed a record deal with RCA Records in 1994 to release her debut single, "You've Got That Somethin'", in Sweden. Later that same year, her Swedish breakthrough came with the single "Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)". These singles became part of the album Robyn Is Here, released in October 1995. Robyn contributed vocals to Blacknuss' 1996 single "Roll with Me." She entered Sweden's pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 1997, as co-writer and producer of the song "Du gör mig hel igen" ("You Make Me Whole Again"), which was performed by Cajsalisa Ejemyr. In Melodifestivalen 1997 the song ended up in fourth place.
Robyn's US breakthrough came in late 1997, when the dance-pop singles "Show Me Love" and "Do You Know (What It Takes)" reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. She performed on the children's show All That in 1997, singing "Show Me Love," proving her growing popularity in the US. The songs additionally performed well in the UK. Robyn re-released "Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)" internationally but it didn't fare as well as the additional releases. In the US, it was ineligible to chart because there was no retail single available, but it reached number 32 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. The song "Show Me Love" was used prominently in the 1998 Lukas Moodysson film Fucking Åmål, and the song's title was used as the film's title in English-speaking countries. As Robyn's popularity grew across the globe, and especially in the US, she was diagnosed with exhaustion and returned to Sweden to recover.
1998–04: My Truth and Don't Stop the Music
Recording began on Robyn's second album in 1998. The album, My Truth, was released in Sweden in May 1999 with subsequent releases elsewhere in Europe. The single "Electric" was a hit and propelled My Truth to the number two position in Sweden. My Truth's theme was autobiographical and included the tracks "Universal Woman" and "Giving You Back". Despite her success in the US market with Robyn Is Here, My Truth wasn't released there. In 1999, Robyn contributed to Christian Falk's debut solo album Quel Bordel (What a Mess), appearing on the tracks "Remember" and "Celebration". In 2000, she appeared on the track "Intro/Fristil" on Petter's self-titled album. In 2001, Robyn performed the song "Say You'll Walk the Distance" for the soundtrack of the film On the Line.
In July 2001, Robyn signed a worldwide deal with Jive Records moving from BMG after being "disillusioned with the lack of artistic control" she had there; a year later Jive was acquired by BMG when it bought Zomba Records. She later said "I was back where I started!" In November 2002, Robyn released the album Don't Stop the Music in Sweden. Singles "Keep This Fire Burning" and "Don't Stop the Music" graced playlists in Scandinavia and mainland Europe. The title track (a subsequent single) was later covered by Swedish girl group Play, and the lead single, "Keep This Fire Burning," was covered by British soul singer Beverley Knight. In May 2004, the album Robyn's Best was released in the US. It was essentially a condensed version of her debut album containing no material from her later releases. In 2006, following her departure from BMG, Det Bästa Med Robyn (The Best of Robyn) was released in Sweden. It included material from her first three albums. Notable omissions from this release were the singles "Don't Stop the Music" and "Keep This Fire Burning".
2004–08: Konichiwa Records and Robyn
The decade-long relationship between Robyn and her label ceased in 2004. When they reacted negatively to "Who's That Girl?", which showcased a new electro-pop sound, Robyn decided to release music on her own. In early 2005, she announced she would be leaving Jive Records to start her own record label. Konichiwa Records was created, with its aim firmly set on liberating Robyn artistically. Robyn revealed on her website that her new album would be released earlier than anticipated, and noted several fabled collaborators on the album, including Klas Åhlund from Teddybears STHLM, Swedish duo The Knife and former Cheiron Studios producer Alexander Kronlund.
Robyn released the single "Be Mine!" in March 2005. A month later, her fourth studio album, Robyn, became her first number-one album upon its release in Sweden. Sampling influences from electronica, rap, R&B and new age, Robyn received rave reviews, and gained the singer three Swedish Grammy Awards in 2006 for "Årets Album" (Best Album), "Årets Kompositör" (Best Writer, alongside Klas Åhlund) and "Årets Pop Kvinnlig" (Best Pop Female). It additionally garnered Robyn interest on a global level. She gained recognition for co-writing the song "Money for Nothing" for Darin Zanyar, his debut single. Robyn released three more singles—"Who's That Girl?", "Handle Me" and "Crash and Burn Girl"—from the eponymous LP, which proved immensely popular in Sweden. Robyn featured on the Basement Jaxx track "Hey U", taken from their album Crazy Itch Radio, released in 2006. The year additionally marked the release of Christian Falk's second album, People Say, on which Robyn contributed the tracks "Dream On" and "C.C.C". In December 2006, Robyn released The Rakamonie EP in the UK as a preview to her more recent material. This was followed by the release of "Konichiwa Bitches" in March 2007. The revised edition of Robyn was released in the UK in April 2007, and contains two new tracks—"With Every Heartbeat" (a collaboration with Kleerup) and "Cobrastyle" (a cover of a 2006 single by Swedish rockers Teddybears)—alongside slightly altered versions of two of the original songs. It was removed from British stores to make way for an August re-release.
The second single from the UK release was "With Every Heartbeat", released in late July and reached number one on the UK singles chart. Robyn was featured on Jo Whiley's BBC Radio 1 showcase show, Live Lounge, a reflection of her growing popularity in Britain. Follow-up singles "Handle Me", "Be Mine!", "Who's That Girl?" and "Dream On" were top thirty hits. In Australia, where Robyn reached the top ten of the iTunes Store's album chart, "With Every Heartbeat" receiving substantial attention on radio and video networks in Australia. Also in 2007, Robyn contributed vocals to Fleshquartet's single "This One's for You", from their album Voices of Eden. Konichiwa Records signed an international licencing deal with Universal Music Group to launch and distribute Robyn's music globally. Releases in the UK are issued under the Island Records label. The Rakamonie EP was released in January 2008 under Cherrytree Records, a subsidiary of Interscope, and the US edition of Robyn was released in April 2008. "With Every Heartbeat", "Handle Me" and "Cobrastyle" were top ten club hits, and the former received airplay at US pop and dance radio stations. Robyn was visible in the US market in 2007 when Britney Spears released the single "Piece of Me", which contains Robyn's backing vocals. She was additionally featured on the Fyre Department remix of "Sexual Eruption" by rapper Snoop Dogg. Robyn completed a short US tour to promote Robyn, and was the supporting act for Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour at select European dates in 2008.In January 2009, Robyn won a Swedish Grammis Award for Best Live Act 2008.
2010–2013 Body Talk
She released the first album of the Body Talk trilogy, Body Talk Pt. 1, on 14 June 2010 in the Nordic countries on EMI and on 15 June in the US on Interscope Records. The album was preceded by the single "Dancing on My Own" on 1 June 2010. It was Robyn's first number-one hit in Sweden and her fourth top-ten hit in the UK and the US, peaking at number eight on the UK Singles Chart and number three on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart. In July 2010 she sang a minimalist, electro cover version of Alicia Keys' "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart" in a live performance on iheartradio. Robyn made the All Hearts Tour in July–August 2010 with American singer Kelis to promote the Body Talk albums, and a four-date UK tour at the end of October.
On 6 September 2010, Body Talk Pt. 2 was released in the UK. It was preceded by the lead single, a dance version of "Hang with Me" from Body Talk Pt. 1, on 5 September. The album includes a duet with American rapper Snoop Dogg, "U Should Know Better". Robyn performed "Dancing on My Own" with deadmau5 at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on 12 September. In a BBC Newsbeat interview, Robyn explained her decision to release three albums in one year: "It was just something I felt like I needed to do. I just never thought about selling records or not, making this decision. I just did it for myself. It's a way of, for me, to stay inspired and to be able to do the things I like to do". She said that she wouldn't do it again: "When you do 16 or 13 songs in one go, you kind of empty yourself, and it takes a while to fill back up and have new things to talk about, so I think it's good for everyone". Robyn announced the release of the single, "Indestructible", on 13 October 2010; an acoustic version appeared on Body Talk Pt. 2. The song was released on 17 November in Scandinavia and 22 November in the UK. Co-written by Klas Åhlund, it was described as a "pulsating full power version [that] takes every ounce of that emotion and wraps it up in another exceptional disco-pop record worthy of any dance-floor or passion-laden sing-a-long." Robyn planned to collaborate with Swedish producer Max Martin on the song, "Time Machine"; Martin produced Robyn's US hits "Do You Know (What It Takes)" and "Show Me Love", both of which peaked in the top 10 on the Billboard 100 in 1997. Combined, the Body Talk albums have sold 91,000 copies in the US
In 2010 Robyn guest-starred on "War at the Roses", an episode of Gossip Girl, in which she performed the acoustic version of "Hang With Me". "Dancing on My Own" was additionally featured at the end of the episode. In November, she said she would return to the studio in January 2011 with enough material to release a new album later that year. Robyn supported Coldplay on their 2012 tour as the opening act in Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In mid-2013, Robyn appeared with Paul Rudd and Sean Combs in "Go Kindergarten" on the Lonely Island's The Wack Album. On 21 and 22 June 2013, Robyn posted two videos of the Snoop Dogg collaboration: "U Should Know Better" and "Behind The Scenes", and a game, Mixory. That year she received the Stockholm KTH Royal Institute of Technology Great Prize for "artistic contributions and embrace of technology", a prize of 1.2 million Swedish kronor (£117,197), which she planned to donate to a cause of her choice.
2014–present: Do It Again and Love Is Free
In 2014 Robyn sang on Neneh Cherry's "Out of the Black" from her album, Blank Project. In 2014 Robyn announced the Do It Again Tour with Röyksopp and a collaborative mini-album, Do It Again. The tour ended prematurely upon the death of Robyn's longtime friend and collaborator, Christian Falk. An EP of their final collaboration, Love Is Free, was released soon after. In 2015 Robyn appeared at the Popaganda Festival in Sweden performing songs written with Falk, but announced that subsequent performances would have to wait because she was still grieving.
In May 2016 Robyn debuted a continuous dance set of remixed versions of her songs at the Boston Calling Music Festival, with plans for more dates throughout the year.
Robyn's parents helmed an independent theatre group; growing up in that environment had a strong influence on her sense of style. "I was around people who dressed up for work every day, and so the concept of how you can use clothes to change your personality or communicate who you're is quite interesting to me."
Robyn started dating Olof Inger in 2003, and they were engaged until 2011. She has after become engaged to videographer Max Vitali, referring to him in a 2013 interview with Collection of Style magazine as her fiancé: "We became friends when we made the video for 'Be Mine', and now we work together a lot. He made all the videos for the last album [Body Talk]." Robyn has two younger siblings, Jac and Effie.
- Robyn Is Here (1995)
- My Truth (1999)
- Don't Stop the Music (2002)
- Robyn (2005)
- Body Talk Pt. 1 (2010)
- Body Talk Pt. 2 (2010)
- Body Talk Pt. 3 (2010)
- Body Talk (2010)
- Do It Again (with Röyksopp) (2014)
- Love Is Free (as Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique) (2015)