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KTH Great Prize goes to Robyn

Star's blend of artistic integrity and technology cited


Published Sep 24, 2013

Recording artist Robyn is this year’s recipient of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s Great Prize. "So far, it feels unreal and enormously solemn. I may try to take it in a little bit by bit, I think," said Robyn, whose actual name is Robin Miriam Carlsson.

Robyn, winner of KTH's 2013 Great Prize (Photo: Klaus Thymann)

The university’s citation explains why Robyn was awarded the KTH Great Prize for 2013, which includes a sum of SEK 1.2 million:

"Robyn (Robin Carlsson) is a world-renowned cultural figure of great integrity. While she is a renowned singer, she is also a songwriter, motivator and entrepreneur.

In creating, she uses the new technology in IT, audio and video in innovative and exciting ways. 

In order to gain control over her music career and creative process, she has chosen to release recordings on her own label. Both in Sweden and abroad, she established herself as a style icon and role model for an audience of all ages."

Her own lyric, "Once you gone tech you ain’t never going back," from the song "Fembot", might also reflect why she was chosen.

KTH President Peter Gudmundson believes Robyn is a very worthy winner.

“Through her music, her entrepreneurship, and her integrity, she is an amazing role model to many and she makes use of new technology in an exciting way. Music and technology have many similarities - both are borderless and affect people in their everyday lives. Also, I personally like several of her songs,” Gudmundson says.

In being awarded KTH’s Great Prize, Robyn joins the company of Spotify's Daniel Ek, fashion designer Gunilla Pontén, photographer Lennart Nilsson, Technical Museum founder Torsten Althin, Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén, sex education pioneer and RFSU founder Elise Ottesen -Jensen and Volvo's co-founder Assar Gabrielsson. 

“I can honestly say that it is difficult to process. The fact that the jury finds that I correspond to the description of KTH's Great Prize - it's overwhelming to think about. I am truly humbled to be one of the winners for this amazing, fine prize,” Robyn says.

Robyn has worked as a musician for almost 20 years. In 1995 she released her debut single "You've Got That Somethin'", and later that year came the big breakthrough single, "Do You Really Want Me (Show Respect)?” and the debut album, "Robyn Is Here", was released in Sweden.

What will Robyn do with the prize money? Has she had time to think about any of this?

“I will make a donation to a cause that I know is specifically consistent with the character of the prize. I'm still thinking. There are so many important issues, but I would like it to reflect the vision of the future, education and have a scientific foundation,” she says.

Robyn is one of fairly few Swedish artists who managed to put Sweden on the music map internationally, both with the most top-10 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart.

Your lyrics refer to a lot of technological advances and scientific phenomena - satellites, robots, sound and speed of light, time machines, bio-mimicry, planets, processors, and so on. Why are you fascinated with these topics?

“Our world is an amazing place and I am childishly interested in the universe, nature and humanity. Where science and the inexplicable meet is a place that holds something sensual and poignant that I think connects the world we have within us with the outside,” Robyn says.

She also explains her thoughts behind the line, "Once you've gone tech you is not never going back".

“I think it's fun to write about difficult-to-define emotions like love through tangible things like robots and physical laws; but for me the goal is still to make way for what is difficult to explain. There is the excitement there in between which is interesting, I think,” she says.

For more information or to contact Robyn, email Lina Thomsgård at .

For more information or questions about KTH Great Prize, contact KTH President Peter Gudmundson at .

About KTH Great Prize .

Peter Larsson