Who's That Girl?

3.9.2008

By Noah Michelson

There's an interesting paradox in the way you work. After starting your own label you're completely in control, but at the same time you're heavily into collaborating -- whether it's with the Knife, or Kleerup, or Snoop Dogg. What do these collaborations offer you that you don't get going the solo route?
Collaborating has always been a big part of what I do. Even though I've always been writing songs I've always been dependent on working with other people -- producers and songwriters. On this record it was a matter of choosing the right people because I had a very strong vision of what I wanted this album to be, and I found myself finally in the scene or around people that I felt I belonged with that had the same outlook on what pop music is. It doesn't have to be something that has no integrity or no personal style just because it's commercial music. The collaborations are -- again going back to how I grew up watching my parents work together in this theater group that they had -- a way of working that I really enjoy. It's also because I'm not a producer. I'm always really involved in whatever I'm doing, but I don't know all that [technical] stuff, so I have to work with other people. This time around it was with people that I've chosen myself and that were really into my ideas and were totally supportive of what I wanted this album to be.

So you still consider what you do to be pop music? That's not a dirty word to you?
Definitely not. I think pop music is the best music I've know, whether it was Kate Bush or Prince or the Police or Bob Marley. Pop music is anything. For me pop music is basically melody -- melodies that speak to and connect people, or that communicate with a lot of people at the same time.

But do you feel you belong in the same category as Fergie or Britney Spears? I think there's something very different about what you do.
Maybe there is. I don't want to put myself in a situation where I'm saying I'm so much better or so much more sophisticated. All pop music, all commercial artists, are depending on a commercial -- I'm dependent on that commercial perspective of what I do, so I'm not going to say I'm more credible. I'm just doing it my way, with my personality, and that's all it is.

What's been the biggest change since you were in America ten years ago?
The biggest change is that I'm older. It's really not that complicated.

But surely wiser?
It's been 10 years. I've been able to, through those 10 years, make my way through a conservative and strange industry, and I've been able to keep my integrity intact and turn it into something that serves me instead of just being part of a structure that doesn't work for me.

If you ran into Robyn from 1998 in line at Dairy Queen, what would you say to her?
I would tell her just to enjoy things and not be too worried about the future [laughter]. I don't regret anything that I've been through-it's all connected . These 10 years have been really important for me, and I wouldn't have been able to start my own company without that experience. There was definitely a time when I was taking things very seriously, which I think was good because it made me make those changes that I need to do. It's all about having fun. If you're not enjoying what you do there's really no point -- and that's also what led me to where I am now.

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