On April 18 pop singer Robyn premiered three new songs in a spirited performance in front of 200 young women at the first ever Tekla Festival. And no boys were allowed.
Tekla, a free event held in Robyn’s hometown of Stockholm, included a full day of workshops, talks by female tech leaders and hands-on activities designed to encourage teen girls to explore the creative possibilities of technology. Also there was dancing.
Robyn — herself a pioneer in merging different aspects of art, music, technology and performance — partnered with Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (think of it as Sweden’s version of MIT) to put together this festival, while Google and Spotify brought their technology for the girls to play with. Google gave a primer on virtual reality, while Spotify (headquartered just a few blocks away) opened up the music app’s API to make different uses of its interface.
“The [workshops] were designed not to let adults in, so the girls feel like they’re in charge,” Robyn told Pitchfork. The singer said that she decided to make Tekla girls-only to see “what happens when there are no boys in the room—maybe a girl decides that she wants to play the drums, and she wouldn’t if there was a boy there. A different dynamic happens, it frees the situation from some restrictive behaviors for girls.”
Zhala, the first artist to be signed to Robyn’s Konichiwa Records, also performed during Tekla. The enigmatic singer taught herself how to engineer her own music by watching YouTube tutorials of the Ableton music production software.
“We’re rarely in a girl group when we just allow each other to play around and try stuff,” Robyn added. “I think that’s what it’s about—when you develop an interest, it usually comes from an environment that de-dramatizes things. Because then you’re able to find your own entrance into it.”