Robyn talks tonight's 'Gossip Girl' guest spot, the 'Body Talk' trilogy, and her gay following: An EW Q&A
Image Credit: RankinSwedish chanteuse and longtime EW crush Robyn has a lot going on these days: Her NSFV video for latest single “Indestructible” just hit the interwebs last week; she’s promoting her third album of the year, Body Talk, which will be released on Nov. 22; and she’s got a guest spot performing “Hang With Me” on tonight’s episode of The CW’s Gossip Girl.
With everything happening for her, we thought it high time to check in. Here, she chats with us about tonight’s trip to the Upper East Side, her insane album-recording schedule for Body Talk, and how much she loves her always-adoring gay audience.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you’re singing “Hang With Me” on Gossip Girl tonight. You doing the acoustic version or the electric version?
ROBYN: I’m doing the acoustic version there, so you’re going to like that.
Why did you choose to do “Hang With Me”?
They asked for it. I was happy to do it. I love the acoustic version, too, and it’s just what they were doing in the episode. I think I’m not supposed to tell you about what’s going on in the program, but I’m performing that song at a party.
It’s Blair’s birthday party—that information is out there.
Yeah, it’s her birthday party, and I’m brought in to sing.
Are you only singing? Or do you have a little part in the plot, too?
No lines, but there’s a little bit of interaction with me and someone—it was more reacting, because we didn’t really act too much. We were just reacting at our environment, which will be quite fun, I think.
Did you pursue the Gossip Girl spot?
I can’t say that I’ve actually watched Gossip Girl a lot. A guy who works with me watches it a lot, and he said: “Yes! You have to do it. It’s really good.” So I checked a little bit with people I know to see what they thought about it, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase the music. I’m happy for any kind of way of doing that at the moment.
It’s nice to be asked, and you’re in good company—Lady Gaga did a similar spot last year.
Totally. It’s great.
So your third album this year, Body Talk, hits stores Nov. 22. How does this fit into the Body Talk trilogy you’ve been working on this year?
I think that one of the amazing things that happened when I decided to record this album in this way—in the three parts—is that the whole process just brings me a lot closer to the listeners in the sense that I don’t really know much more about what’s going on than you do. That’s really how it is. It’s a process that I decided to explore because I was tired of having the structure where you usually spend two or three years on tour, not being able to record and then going into the studio and needing to make 15 songs in one go. It’s a way of trying to break that structure up a little bit, but it also means that as soon as the record’s done, I send it off to the factory, so while I’m promoting the last album, I’m recording the new one.
“Indestructible” is on the album in an electronic version, right?
Yeah, just like we did with “Hang With Me” and “Dancing On My Own,” where we have multiple versions. We quickly realized that those three songs might be singles, so we put one on each album. To me it’s one album just released in three parts. It’s not a conceptual idea, it’s a practical execution and an experiment more than anything else.
Speaking of the acoustic versus electronic versions of “Hang With Me,” “Indestructible,” and “Dancing On My Own,” do you find that fans fall into one camp or the other, in terms of preference? I feel like it’s particularly split with “Hang With Me.”
The reaction has been good on both of them—maybe people have a favorite, but I just get to hear about their favorites, I only really hear, “I love this one!” or “I love that one!” So I don’t really know what is resonating the best with people. I just know that people love the song. And the video for “Hang With Me” has been so well received, too. It’s like it’s something that’s not downplayed, but it’s soft in a way that I don’t think a lot of things are at the moment, and for me, when we did that video, that was the intention—to do something that felt a little more soft. Not in a weak way, but soft in a way that felt honest again, and had for a little bit more than just your big Kapow! pictures, and I feel that people really understood that, which I’m really happy about.
Are you exhausted by this crazy recording and touring schedule?
I think…actually, I mean, of course. Always when you’re promoting and things go well, you end up working a lot—maybe a little bit too much—so of course I’m tired, but I think that actually this way of working has helped me to stay away from getting overworked because it means I go back home a lot more than I usually do when I’m touring. So I get to go back home and be in the studio and have my normal life that I usually have every third year when I’m home recording an album. I’m usually just between the studio and my apartment and just in sweats and not really doing anything but getting into music and maybe clubbing a little bit just to get into a good mood.
Do you contemplate your gay icon status much?
I can’t think of anything bad about being loved by people who can appreciate it. I think I’ve always been aware of my gay audience, and I’ve always been connected to it through clubbing and friends and just being a fan of house music since I was a little kid.
You clubbed with the gays as a kid?
I was always in clubs as a kid, so to me it’s an environment that I’ve always been in, so it wasn’t like, “Wow I have a gay audience,” it was more like “Of course.” I’d feel weird if I didn’t. I’ve always felt connected to the gay audience, I think, because there’s an element to the culture that you have had to think about or make up your mind about what it is to be an outsider because it’s naturally a part of who you are, and I think that that’s something I connect to on a human level very much because that’s what life is, you know? We all feel like outsiders sometimes, no matter who we are, and to me that’s a big part of being human—it’s something I always feel connected to when I write music. But I also feel like it’s really important for me to recognize my gay following in a less stereotypical way than when you’re this blonde female, like, icon pop star or whatever, because there are so many parts of gay culture that usually do not get recognized. I never expect people to like me just because they’re gay—I expect people to like me because of the music, and I think, I’m not criticizing people who appreciate me for being blonde and fabulous, I’m just saying that I don’t expect people to like me because of that, I just feel connected to the gay scene because of something else.
How was your experience at the VMAs? I loved seeing you on there—even if it was super brief.
It was great, of course. It means people are going to see what you’re doing, so of course you want to be on there. I mean, I’ve watched the VMAs since I was a little kid.
Do you think the MTV set even know who you are?
Yeah! It was really nice, they were super nice to me. I think, I mean, I’ve always been an MTV kid. I grew up trying to get programs from MTV from my friends who actually had cable because I didn’t. They’d record it on the VCR, and I’d watch the same episodes over and over again. I grew up with American pop culture, so that was cool to be on it.
What’s on your iPod these days?
I’m so bad with new music, I really am. But if I’m going to say something off the top of my head, it’s going to be a song called “Cold Freezing Night” by The Books—check that out on YouTube because the video is amazing. The video is funny, and it’s playful, and the music is too, but it has a darkness to it, and for me that contrast is always very satisfying.
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