Robyn Speaks About Being Mistaken for Lesbian, Gender Mishaps and Pop Stardom in Out
Swedish pop star Robyn is the latest diva to be profiled in Out magazine, and the singer, whose music blares out of Britney Spears' iPod, spoke about being mistaken for a lesbian (thanks to her short, blond coif); her upbringing by artsy, theater company parents; and her private life, which she keeps close to the vest. She also mused about the trappings of pop stardom, which she does her best to sidestep and avoid.
"I get mistaken for a lesbian all the time — but I guess I do have the most lesbian haircut of any of the girls in my field," Robyn says with a giggle.
Robyn also could have had gender issues as a kid, since she was christened with a masculine moniker but it served to open her mind. "When I was growing up and I introduced myself to people I'd say, 'Hi, my name is Robyn and I'm a girl,' because in Sweden, Robyn is a boy's name and I had such short hair." Robyn literally had to prove to one of her teachers that she actually was a girl. She recalled, "My handicrafts teacher thought I was a boy for three years. I tried to tell her I was a girl, but she'd just say, 'My little boy wanted to be a girl when he was a kid, too.' Finally my mom had to write her a note that said, 'Please don't assume that Robyn is a boy anymore because she's a girl.'"
Such a situation certainly opened Robyn's mind to alternative lifestyles. She said, "Having that experience where I was confronted by people's reactions to what I looked like or what I was supposed to look like made me identify with queerness. It still happens to me all the time, and a lot of the time it happens to me in America because even though what I consider butch is still very feminine in Europe, here you can shock people very easily just by looking a little queer."
Robyn's parents owned a theater company so the singer was continually exposed to a lot of different ways of life as a child. She says,"My mom is an actress, and she was always playing a man or a witch -- they were never typical roles. She had a shaved head and she’d come to pick me up at daycare and I'd walk on the other side of the street because I thought she was so ugly. You just want your mom to be pretty. Even though it occurred to me that my mom was different, it didn't occur to me that my upbringing was unusual."
She adds, "Because I grew up in such an alternative family, I think I had a very naïve image of what making pop music would be like. [By the time my second album came out] Britney [Spears] and Justin [Timberlake] had entered the same world as me, and they were like kamikaze pilots who just did everything right. I was just not that kind of person, so right then I already knew I wasn't going to be around for that. They just did it so much better than I did."
Robyn also explained why she keeps her private life just that, saying, "There's a part of me that understands why certain artists decide not to do interviews at all. If I were to talk about my personal life and write the songs I'm writing, I wouldn't have anything left for myself. I think refusing to talk about my life is the only way I can do it because I want my music to be intimate—you can't make good music without intimacy." Robyn also acknowledges that Lady Gaga hit the nail on the head when it comes to fame. "The fame monster grabs you, and if you're lucky it takes you on a ride. But I don't know if that’s always what you want. It's just one of those things like you’re supposed to get married -- you're supposed to want fame. It's never really questioned."
Watch the Robyn 'Dancing on My Own' Video