In a phone interview, Swedish pop music superstar Robyn sounds like she’s been speaking English all her life.

Which is evidence that she’s an overnight success — about 14 years in the making. That’s how long she’s been having hits and touring in English-speaking countries around the world.

Even though Robyn is starting to garner lots of attention in the United States right now — she’s up for a Grammy award in the best dance recording category — her first international dance hits came in 1997 and 1998.

The two songs — “Do You Know (What It Takes)” and “Show Me Love” — helped establish her in Europe. The latter hit No. 1 on the British record charts.

She’s been performing and recording ever since. Last year alone, she released two critically acclaimed EPs and a hit album, scored a No. 1 international dance hit with “Dancing on My Own,” performed at the MTV Video Music Awards and at the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony, and appeared on the hit TV show “Gossip Girl.” Rolling Stone proclaimed: “She’s as feisty as Pink, as beat-savvy as MIA (and) does Eurodisco better than (Lady) Gaga.”

At 31, Robyn is poised to have her big U.S. breakthrough with her new album “Body Talk” and the Grammy-nominated single “Dancing on My Own,” which is up against heavy hitters “Dance in the Dark” by Lady Gaga and “Only Girl (In the World)” by Rihanna.

“Yeah, that’s amazing, to be up for the Grammys,” said Robyn, nee Robyn Miriam Carlsson. “But I guess for me, the big thing now is that I have my own record company and make the music I want to make.”

Robyn grew up in Stockholm, where her parents were involved in a theater company and toured extensively. Her mother is an actress and her father a director. She started learning English on the road with her parents, then in school.

She said she’s always loved being on stage and performing, but knew early on she didn’t want to be involved in theater.

“I think seeing it so much turned me off to it,” Robyn said. “I guess we never want to be like our parents.” Instead, she pursued a career in pop music, and released her first album at age 16.

Growing up, Robyn listened to a lot of American and European bands, and was especially fond of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. But she loved Prince and Michael Jackson as well.

Robyn’s music has a funky element that evokes a ’70s vibe on some songs, but most are slickly produced, up-tempo songs that showcase a voice that can sound like Macy Gray one moment and Wilson Phillips the next.

“I liked a lot of techno and pop and hip-hop, mostly things that were related to street culture in some way,” she said.

Robyn writes her own songs, produces and plays keyboards. She enjoys trying to do something a little different, to “dig a little deeper” on every song she records.

“I tell myself to not be afraid of doing something that’s not like me,” she said.

This summer, Robyn will attempt to build on her newfound success in the States by performing on the main stage at the Coachella Festival and opening for mega-pop star Katy Perry on Perry’s California Dreams Tour. But you can catch her first as a headliner at the State Theatre on Saturday.

Although she’s been a working pop singer for more than half her young life, Robyn doesn’t feel like she’s missed out on anything.

“There is no real downside, if you’re surrounded by good people and allowed to make your own decisions,” she said. “If you’re forced or pushed into anything, you’ll be unhappy.” 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]


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