Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Nussy – Robyn – ‘Body Talk Pt. 1’’(2010)
Let’s go back ten years to 2010. It was an interesting one for me, with a lot of ups and downs. I ended the longest relationship I’d been in up to that point which led to writing a lot of super emotional music and I really started to cut my teeth on Melbourne’s live scene. But I felt lost, like something was missing. It was a time where men ruled the music world and I was at a really impressionable point in my life and I didn’t have any female role models in music who I really looked up to. Sure, there was always going to be Madonna and Kylie, but their superstar diva status made them both feel somewhat unattainable to me.
Flash forward to June 2010 and Robyn releases the gem that is Body Talk Pt. 1. I remembered the Swedish popstar from her ‘Show Me Love’ days (yes, I’m totally showing my age here!) but this was something else! It was an album that instantly spoke to me. Here was this fierce, independent woman who was able to say all the things I was thinking. I honestly felt like she was speaking directly to my soul.
I mean, come on, the album literally opens with the lyric, “my drinking is killing me” on repeat – if that isn’t speaking to the soul of a twenty-something hitting the club trying to “find herself” then I’m not sure what is. Following that fierce opening, she launches into a list of every societal pressure we’re faced with which forces us to judge ourselves only to proclaim, “don’t fucking tell me what to do”. It gave me power, a sense of presence and purpose and a total F-you attitude – like I could do anything and be anything I wanted. There’s an overt femininity in ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do’ but it continues to resonate as an overarching theme to the album in ‘Fembot’, ‘Dancing On My Own’ (I’ll come back to this anthem in a mini), ‘Cry When You’re Older’, ‘Dancehall Queen’ and ‘Hang With Me’.
‘Fembot’ has the most interesting production I had heard in a long time – you instantly get transported to a world where technology rules and women are treated like commodities (IRL – am I right?) where Robyn is pushing against this as the norm. Growing up a classical pianist, as a teen, I really didn’t think my skills would ever be used for anything I considered “cool” and forward-thinking but this track in particular really led me down a path where I started getting into synths in a serious way and bringing that into my own compositions.
When I first heard ‘Cry When You’re Older’, I thought it was going to be a synth-ballad. Then pops in this super bouncy beat and you can’t help but feel the positivity it’s projecting. Lyrically, it’s inspiring and it’s uplifting – I get all the feels of a mentor guiding me through. ‘Dancehall Queen’ and ‘None of Dem’ are both such awesome F-yous to the club scene. Through these tracks, Robyn projects this un-stoppable aura – she knows she’s not content to sit with the norm, she’s the future and it’s so genuine. ‘Hang With Me (Acoustic)’ is an absolute testament to Robyn’s incomparable pop writing. I’ve always thought the epitome of a really well-written song is something that stands so well on its own two feet in a stripped-back setting as it does when fully produced – and this is that. It makes her voice and her lyrics the hero, and let’s just back up for a second – WHAT A VOICE! Her range, her unique tone – she gave me confidence as a pop singer to just do what I do and do it well.
I love that Robyn finishes Body Talk Pt. 1 in her native tongue on a version of the Scandinavian folk song ‘Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa’. She had originally done this live at a memorial in Stockholm to honour victims of the 2005 Thailand tsunami and the beauty and simplicity of the recorded version is transcendent. As a Swedish artist, even though Robyn predominantly records in English, I love that she included this track on the album. It shows such a sense of pride in her nationality and history and I think it’s a great reminder to always remember where you’ve come from.
Now, it’s not in order but I had to leave the best until last. Let’s take a trip back to ‘Dancing On My Own’ – where do I even begin? This track has been powerful for me from the first moment I heard it, and even on its 1000000th repeat play, its effect on me doesn’t waver. I don’t even know if I have words for it. Something I can never go past with this track is the juxtaposition between the sadness in the lyrics and upbeat production. I think Robyn does this really well on quite a few tracks and I briefly mentioned in before in ‘Cry When You’re Older’. After falling in love with this track, I really started playing with that idea in my own writing – it really added a new depth to my style and something I like to challenge myself with often. I just love how lyrically, ‘Dancing On My Own’ is actually pretty depressing but yet, what I take from it is the biggest pick-me-up – EVERY. SINGLE. TIME – this feeling of, you’ll be alright, no matter what.
Fast forward to late 2012 and I was going through the darkest point in my life. I reached out to my old friend Body Talk Pt. 1 as I knew she had built me up so well in the past. But this time it wasn’t about helping me find confidence and sass, it was about helping me find comfort, strength and the will to carry on. This album literally helped me rebuild my life, not once, but twice. It’s an absolute testament to the timelessness and relatability of its themes. It has spoken to me and guided me through so much, on so many levels and it’s pretty obvious to see how much it has influenced me as an artist. If I could give it a hug, it’d be a tight one and I’d never want to let go.