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  • Victoria Applegarth

Boy in Space: “Music has always been one of my coping mechanisms.”

© Room7 Media

From Abba to Icona Pop, from Roxette to Robyn, Sweden's reputation for pop superiority has spanned decades, and with over a billion streams and an international fanbase, Robin Lundbäck aka Boy in Space joins the long list of icons. 

Despite it being 9am in Nashville when Robin joins the Zoom call, I am immediately struck by the friendly and open aura that surrounds the Swedish pop star. It wasn’t just because it was his 30th birthday (which I only found out at the end) - it is because he is a genuinely lovely person.    

Born and raised in the small lakeside town of Alingsås in Sweden, music was sewn into the fabric of Robin’s childhood. His mother is a singer, his dad in a band and his uncle a producer, so it seemed almost fitting that he was destined for musical greatness. And that is what he has become.

Over the years, Robin has blossomed into an authentically unique artist and cultivated a world where he can express his creativity more freely. In an era dominated by fame and online hyper-embellishment, he has—intentionally or not—found and established a unique niche within a crowded industry. As a result, his listeners are able to genuinely connect with him and his unflinching honesty in singing about love, relationships and breakups provide solace to many facing similar experiences. 

And now, following a year hiatus, Robin takes us to a new expanse with his latest EP ‘Copium.’ The five track project is punctuated by flashes of lyrical maturity and sonic finesse and is a masterpiece of sonic evolution and production that takes pop to new dimensions. Read on as we continue to chat about his music; his musical memories and how he manages to stay consistent with ADHD.

Growing up it sounds like music was like a central part of your household. How do you think these early experiences of music being intertwined with your everyday life shaped your approach to creating and sharing music now?

It was just a very natural part of my life. My dad played in a band, sang and played bass, my mum is a singer/songwriter and my uncle's a producer and plays everything from the banjo to the piano. There was always a lot of music at the family gatherings!

Also, it was a way for me to communicate. I didn't know then, but I have ADHD and I think it just came naturally to me to build and study melodies. I found comfort in it and it's always been one of the languages that makes sense to me. These types of conversations [interviews] are so out in the world to me and weird. Sometimes I'm like, should I say that? Or maybe I didn't reply in the best way, but with music, I always know what the right answer is, the right thing to say, I guess.

That’s so cool that your whole family is in the music scene. Did you ever feel pressured to also pursue a career in the industry?

No, they were all very supportive, but they also had standards. They would never lie to me about the quality of my music. If I wrote a song, my stepdad who works in music publishing, I would always go to him with: can you sell this song? He would always be very blunt and very honest with me and say no, this is not good enough, but you're doing great for your age. I was like 12, 13, trying to like pitch songs. We have that honesty between each other, so it has meant that I actually trust in the skill or talent that I have.

Was there a particular moment or memory that stands out as being really significant during that time growing up? 

We lived in Australia when I was 11. That was the second time I spent time in a studio and me and my oldest brother recorded this cover of We Are the World. We were mimicking all the different parts and I did all the voices. I just remember having so much fun and I absolutely loved it. It was the first time I had an MP3 recording of my voice, which I hated, but everyone was like, ‘oh, you did this, that's so cool.’

Then there's another memory before that, actually. I did a show in school and I performed [Twist and Shout] with my friend who played guitar. That was a big moment because I remember afterwards, a girl from two grades beneath me asked for my autograph. So I thought ‘this is cool.’

I wonder if she still has that. She might sell it!

I hope not, you're not going to get any money for it.

You never know. You mentioned playing with your brothers and starting out in a band with them in Australia. How is transitioning from being in a band to pursuing your solo career? 

I think because the band was with my two older brothers, the big difference was actually being independent in the whole journey. There was a lot of freedom in doing it by myself because all of a sudden I could just follow the emotions that I wanted to pursue or like the sound that I wanted to make. So that was very liberating, but it was also like, okay, I'm gonna fly to New York by myself and I need to check into a hotel. If you have older siblings, they'll take care of everything.

So it's like you have to really learn and as an adult, which was weird, and figuring all those things out on myself. But it was also a very good like growth experience, I guess. I've never been scared of those things. I've always been like, okay, let's go. There's something to learn. Let's do it. So it was good. It's been a big learning experience and I love it. Honestly. It's so much fun.

I can imagine being solo is really good for creative freedom, but do you ever doubt yourself or get imposter syndrome? 

I'm surrounded by such talented people and I always have this, like, just my team in particular. Like, we have a system where we play the music in our meetings and we feel through the songs. I do trust my own capability, but when that gets double or triple checked by other amazing individuals who have made great songs and are great producers and songwriters, It just makes the whole thing really easy 

Because if it can pass through all our ears and we're all in agreement that this is an amazing song, then I trust tha. This is really unique I feel like in the music industry,  a lot of times you will be at labels where you don't trust the people you work with, but I'm actually working with a team of songwriters and producers, so it just makes that whole process a lot easier.

We've definitely heard a few horror stories of horrible labels, so it's nice to hear that you have a really supportive team.

I do! We do go back and forth with certain things, but that's what makes it great because when you can trust that opinion, it's like steel sharpens steel. It just becomes better. 

And your EP is set to be released in a couple of weeks, which is really exciting. How are you feeling about it? 

Just very thankful and happy to be releasing music at the pace that I'm releasing it. I had a few years when I was less active and I was going through some things, and it's just so good to be back up and running again. I love to be at my full potential and I feel like I’m at that stage again. I'm feeling great health wise and my mental is great and everything's just aligning in a great way.  Sounds super positive, but that's how I feel.

That's great to hear. How would you say your sound has evolved since the last EP?

I would say I’m trying way less to be cool. 

My last EP was really fun and it had a dark undertone and this mysterious vibe to it. I feel like I wanted to prove to people that I am talented and I also feel like pop was in that sphere where it was very emo-trap, where that dark tone was very big. I wanted to show people that I can do this, but I also feel like I lost something in that process where it's like I didn't play to my strengths.

I feel like this is what we're trying to do now with this EP and whatever is coming behind it, it's like, okay, I definitely have strengths as an artist or a vocalist or a songwriter, so let's play on that and let's take advantage of my strengths and not fall into the trap of trying to prove something to people. Let's just do what I do best and let's please the people that already love the thing that I do, instead of, like, trying to be so cool. I'm tired of it.

That's nice that in this EP you're able to just be a bit more yourself. I was doing some research on the word Copium and Urban Dictionary told me a few things. Can you share a little bit more about why you chose that title and how does the meaning of the word resonate with the messages that you explore?

Well, we talked about EP names and we were trying to come up with all these super cool things and then Freddie, the guy who I work with and who is also a gamer said, ‘what about Copium?’ 

Copium is a meme term created by combining 2 words together - cope and opium. It is used satirically and is a joke term used to describe a fictional drug that one consumes after suffering a loss, defeat, or disappointment. It is used when the facts do not match reality.”

It's a twitch thing. It's like. It's like something you do to, like, kind of cope with things 

And I thought it was really cool. Music has always been one of my coping mechanisms where I kind of get to do something that just feels very good and there's no big question marks. When I make music, I just get to do something that feels right to me. So it just ties in with that whole thing perfectly. 

Hopefully my music can be like that to other people as well. I get so many messages from people telling me that my songs helped them cope with something, such as a break up and losing someone close to them. 

I must be lovely getting messages like that.

Yes but it's also overwhelming. It's scary to realise that it means so much to people and sometimes it doesn't mean that much to me, if that makes sense. 

I know what you mean.

I've been doing it for so long and sometimes I just go into the studio and I try to do the best song that I can make and it's scary to realise that that song is just dopamine to me, can mean so much to someone else.

It's really cool and scary at the same time.

Do you ever feel pressure that you need to make your audience feel a kind of way in your next songs? 

Yeah. I think to put that pressure on yourself, it's not healthy. But, I started Boy in Space as an outlet to create the music that I would want to listen to, so that's always what I'm going to try to do. I'm always going to try to  please myself - sounds very weird, but if I don't love the music, no one else is. That's how I see it. So, I think I start with that and then if it has that effect, I'm very humbled and very thankful for that.

Yeah, definitely. In a previous interview you mentioned that you start your songwriting process by having these really strong visuals in your head, which draws on your emotions. How do you translate those visuals into the visuals of your music videos? 

Okay, so this is the whole process. First, it's a singing melody and I feel like that sparks the visuals for me. I start to try to paint a picture with the melody and the words. Then, when I'm done with the song, I’ll listen to it and it will usually spark another visual that is not just right on the nose with what the lyrics are saying. 

So it's like this multilayered step of like different visuals. It's like an onion with a bunch of different layers and I love that process. I have the privilege of actually being able to be very hands on with the video process. For the EP, we're going to release a music video for my single ‘Mayflowers’ and I got to record the video with my brother. We just sat down, had a visual and drew ideas from different movies. We had a lot of inspiration from Taxi Driver, which is my favourite movie over time. Then, we also drew inspiration from The Tree of Life and just kind of mixed those visuals together and got to work on it. It's so much fun.

Sometimes it’s nice to have other creative outlets as well. 

You're right. It's definitely a learning curve. We're still very novice when it comes to video creation, but it's also so much fun because there's so much room to grow within that creative space. It's like every video you make or everything you do, you kind of see the growth really fast. With music, I’ve kind of had that growth spurt already, so it's in the finer details that I see myself evolving. But with video, it's such a fast growing experience because I'm still such a novice. So that's really fun to just see that growth.

You mentioned before that your EP marks a new beginning for you, and that you've been going through some personal and professional things. How have those experiences shaped your approach to music now, and what changes have you made moving forward?

I think it's helped me not to take anything for granted. I'm just very happy and thankful that I get to work. Before, I was always waiting for the day to end, it was a very young, stupid mentality where I just wanted free time. Now, I am very much like ‘Ou, I get to work today’! Even if it is straining me mentally, I’m still thankful that I am able to be in that spot because I know it is helping me to grow and it's going to build my future in some way.

There was such a long time where I couldn't be in that position. I realised that I took all these things for granted, just like health, mental stability and being able to work or even being able to hang out with friends or anything. So now, I have a different outlook which makes me appreciate it much more. 

100%! And you mentioned before that you have ADHD, which is a really individual condition. And, you know, everyone experiences their symptoms and experiences it differently. How would you describe your personal experience with ADHD, and how has it influenced your creative process?

I can't regulate my own dopamine, so I need these small creative impulses to help me out to be happy. I think that's been the key ingredient for me. I used to make movies as a kid and run around with my camcorder and make parkour videos or action movies with my brother. It just shaped me so much from a young age and I was fortunate enough to where that could just transition into what I actually wanted to do. 

I think the challenge has been to schedule because I can’t only go on my impulses. If I do that, nothing's going to be stable and my life is going to be a mess and I'm not going to get stuff done. So, I think that is the challenge with ADHD, it's knowing that it's great when I get those impulses and you get that spurt of energy, but also recognising that I can still write music when I'm not feeling over the moon and it can still be great. I can’t just clock out because it's hard or my creative energy left - it's still a job, I guess. 

We've briefly spoken about your fans, but I wanted to next chat about the capabilities of social media to interact with your listeners, promote your work and reach new audiences. Whilst useful, it can also be super toxic. How do you navigate the online world? 

I am really trying. That's honestly my biggest challenge because I don't love social media and it doesn't come naturally to me. I'm either on the phone all day or I'm not on the phone at all. That's how I work. So for me it's about reminding myself, ‘okay, you need to post, you need to interact with your fans, post something on your story, ask questions.’ It can just be the small things as well.

That's definitely the way to go because I think audiences are looking for authenticity. 

Yeah, for sure. Also, I have found that you have to be on good terms with yourself and if you are, then it's going to be so much easier to interact with people. Whilst I do love myself more now, I probably haven't in the last few years. When you do love and accept yourself for who you are and where you are, then it becomes easier to create as well. You have to realise that every time you record a video or take a photo of yourself, you have to look yourself into the eyes and you have to be satisfied with what you see, otherwise it's going to be like a living hell. 

My last question: what advice would you give for aspiring musicians or just creatives in general who are trying to master their craft?

Work on things that give you that spark and drive creativity and try to challenge your ideas. Also, don't do too much either, because sometimes you can ruin a really good thing by just overthinking.

Then I would say just start doing it. I started with my brothers in a boy band making really corny and cheesy songs and we went down the route of that whole X-Factor and Eurovision thing. I mean, there was room for that, then there was also room for me to do Boy in Space which is in the cool pop area and the cool kids were listening to my music. So don't be afraid to just do things to get the experience and to evolve as a creator. I see so many people that are just keeping their talents to themselves because they're so scared to just let it out into the world. I mean, you can do that if you want, but I feel like it's the wrong approach because there's always room to rebrand or start another project. It's music, it's creativity - there's no limits and endless opportunity to create. So just create and have fun and don't overthink things. But do it often, do it a lot - I think that's the key.

I definitely need to take that advice! I’m a hyper perfectionist and I always feel like I need the perfect moment to do something.

Just do it. Even if you think it's going to be shit. Yeah, just start it, which is hard. 

Yeah, it's hard, but also if you don't do that, it's not going to do anything for you.

Exactly. It's either you do something and it might go somewhere or you don't do something and it will never go anywhere.

Follow Robin on Instagram and listen to his latest EP on all streaming platforms. 


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