we meet the fans dancing with robyn in the video for 'honey'
Go behind the scenes to a place of sweaty love, sensuality and acceptance.
Photography Zora Keuttner
Robyn’s music videos are synonymous with dancing. After dancing solo in a sports hall, standing in a corner or stuck in a pink box, 2018 Robyn is dancing in a beautiful abandoned church in the music video for the title track of her latest album, Honey. Here, the sacred space is kissed by colourful lights and filled with her fans -- united in their love for her and their commitment to freedom of expression.
You see, impressively hands-on, Robyn wanted the process of making the Max Vitali-directed video to embody her lifelong mantra of bringing people together. She shared an open casting call on Twitter, asking for fans to send in videos of themselves dancing. With her cast assembled -- fans flew in to London from America, Sweden, France, Norway, Denmark and everywhere in between -- the result is a testament to love, sensuality and the loose feeling during the after-hours of a great party, encapsulating the themes of Robyn’s completely perfect eighth album.
Discovering the stories of the said beautiful dancers, London director Laura Colada shot this moving behind the scenes video on set, a "magical experience" in her own words. “I met so many beautiful souls,” Laura says. “And it was such an honour to listen to their stories and capture the relationship between Robyn and her fans." In the below video, which we’re very pleased to be sharing exclusively with you today on i-D, Robyn speaks to camera from the middle of the dancefloor. "It's really nice to dance with all the people that are here. I'm looking at them when I perform and I get inspired... thinking about other people instead of what I'm doing myself."
17-year-old Noah Birgerson, a high school music student from Stockholm starred in the video with his 18-year-old boyfriend, Gabriel Frejsjö. Having modelled for her upcoming project in collaboration with a Swedish brand, Robyn reached out directly and asked if they’d like to come to London and be in the Honey video. To say they were into the idea would be an understatement. “Robyn and her music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Noah says. “I got my first ever CD, Body Talk, for my eleventh birthday and I remember that moment so well. All of my friends were outside but I snuck into my room to listen to the album instead. Her music has always been comforting, almost like an escape from reality.”
“I’m a very shy person and not the greatest dancer, but dancing with Robyn made me lose all those fears and insecurities,” Noah adds. “She danced around and made sure everyone felt good and encouraged us to have fun. It was like time stood still. I felt so free dancing with her and so many amazing, beautiful people. Something I’ll take with me is the feeling of being accepted, which is something I don’t always feel as a gay, dark-skinned man. Everyone made me feel so free and like I could be myself, there was no judgement at all, just so much love and happiness and that’s probably the best feeling I’ve ever had!”
19-year-old dancer Prince Riot flew in from Washington DC for the video after hearing about the open call on Twitter. “Several years ago, I developed and performed a dance piece based on Robyn and Röyksopp’s The Girl and the Robot,” Prince shares. “I’ve appreciated her artistry for a long time and to be a part of her bringing a new project into the world is a special opportunity. Robyn was extremely warm, considerate and inclusive — it was like dancing with a friend.”
Harry Swinnerton, a 21-year-old student and dancer from Manchester, also starred in Honey. "I saw Robyn tweet the announcement that she was going to be filming a video in London, SCREAMED, and five minutes later I was filming my audition tape,” he told i-D, “busting moves in my living room!” Robyn, it seems, has soothed Harry’s soul through heartache, guided him along the path to acceptance and taken him deep into moments when his thoughts have been running wild. I mean, same. “I met Robyn at 7am, giddy after drinking a Red Bull. She shook my hand and knew who I was from watching my tape. It felt so cool to be dancing with her all day.”
"When I read ‘looking for gender non-conforming people who love to dance in their own way — ethnic background diversity is a must’, I immediately said to myself: this is me,” remembers 22-year-old Amel from France. “Being in Robyn’s music video gave me the opportunity to showcase my self-discovery. Finding and building your own identity can be the hardest struggle of a lifetime,” they told i-D. “I was looking at everyone thinking to myself how we’ve probably all faced some type of rejection or bullying at some point in our lives. Yet on this day, we were fully embracing our weirdness and that’s what made us so beautiful. It seemed to me like we all had in common this feeling of what it’s like to live as queer people in the ‘real world’. And shooting this music video, we were given a safe space to release all of it and loose ourselves in dancing. We were shining. I was so moved and touched by the beauty of the moment; completely disconnected from my everyday life.”
“The adrenaline wouldn’t go down a week later,” Amel continues. “I danced with the most confidence the following Saturday. Robyn’s music was all I was listening to. She made me feel like I had a connection to her. It's a precious memory I want to carry with me. The song Honey was already a special and beautiful sound, but it’s even more special to me now. I get butterflies listening to it and can always get back to the feeling I had that day.”
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.