Lady Gaga may be touring with a giant monster, an army of backup dancers and costumes that spit out fireworks, but two other female stars want to bring the live pop show back to its roots. On July 23rd, Robyn and Kelis will hit the road for a limited six-date tour dubbed “All Hearts” and the pair are planning to turn theaters and larger-scale venues into sweaty, after-hours clubs. “This tour is more about getting to people to dance than impressing them with big muscles and fire machines,” Robyn says.
This year has seen a resurgence in dance music, from LCD Soundsystem’s disco-flavored indie grooves to David Guetta’s string of techno-flavored hits like Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and the Akon-assisted “Sexy Bitch.” Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” has been riding the top of the Billboard Dance charts for the last eight weeks while Kelis, whose new record Flesh Tone finds her moving away from R&B to more Euro-pop flavored beats, has been scoring some of the best reviews of her career. The two, who are both signed underneath the Interscope Records umbrella, decided to hit the road out of a mutual respect for each other’s music. “Honestly, I love her album and I figured she’s going on tour and I need to go on tour and we talked about it,” says Kelis. “It was just natural.”
The tour kicks off in just four days but Kelis and Robyn aren’t going crazy with pre-show preparations. Kelis still hasn’t quite hammered down her set list, which will include a more thumping, technofied version of her breakout hit “Milkshake.” “I’ve been doing this for a while,” she says. “It’s not brain surgery. I just go with what I feel.” Robyn, meanwhile, has been focusing on arrangements instead of elaborate stage production by rehearsing in her Stockholm hometown with her band, which includes two drummers and two keyboardists. “[My set] will be just me and them,” she says, adding that she’ll be debuting new tunes from her forthcoming Body Talk Pt. 2, which is due out later this year. “It’s really straightforward.”
The duo’s streamlined plans for their shows extend to their touring habits. Kelis and Robyn’s pre-show rituals don’t include any over-the-top rider requests or diva-like behavior. Robyn preps for the stage by massaging her tongue, a trick she learned from her Swedish vocal coach. “I haven’t lost my voice in 10 years,” she says. Kelis, on the other hand, prefers to snack on ginger. “It works as a lozenge type of thing,” she says. “It cuts away all the excess nonsense in there.”