A pop singer with serious soul, Bluey Robinson is one of the most exciting prospects of future music. Born in Sweden and raised in London, the 22 year-old is a captivating, charismatic act whose songwriting encapsulates a throwback feel with a futuristic twist. Retaining a distinct British personality, there are also echoes of Prince, Otis Redding, The Jackson 5, Cee-Lo Green and Bruno Mars in Bluey’s sonic spectrum. Having performed at London Westfield and the University of York, we were able to sit down with the talented singer and have a chat to him about his music, his journey and the rise of the afrobeats movement.
For those who don’t know about Bluey Robinson, give us a brief insight into your story up to where you are today.
I grew up listening to a lot of Jackson Five and motown music. It’s not like it was played in my house a lot but we just had some vinyls and I just loved Michael Jackson from seeing him on TV and stuff. So I always wanted to be a singer based off that feeling that music gave me and I carried on performing and singing growing up through school at performances and eventually I formed a group with some school friends, that didn’t work out so I had to go solo, working with loads of different producers, trying to get my name out there writing and perfecting my craft a little bit. Eventually I met my manager, who’s still my manager today and we started doing the online videos of me singing out in public which got me a bit of attention from the UK music scene. So I kept building up my name doing loads of shows and supporting a few different people and eventually got signed to Sony, put out some songs, and yeah, I’m here today.
Two of your tracks “Showgirl” and “Coming Back” are what many would call feel-good, genre crossover songs. What variety of influences brought this mix of genres together?
Like I said, I love that old-school, Showgirl has got that kind of funk and that soul that Labrinth and I both love. I always wanted to have that influence in my music because it makes me feel good, it gives me the most joy. The same goes for Coming Back, it’s got retro “boom-ka-boom-ka-ka” soul feel. But I also like popular music that’s out today, not all of it, but a lot of it, and I want to try and make songs that are commercially viable and like you say I want to cross over genres to make new and exciting music.
There’s a real element of soul in your voice that can best be heard in your refix of I Need A Dollar…. How did you upbringing mould your sound into what it is today?
A kind of discovered this whole side of me by myself. My mum listened to a lot of reggae, especially Bob Marley, so I always had that rootsy kind of soul and music with a message vibe. I really connect to music with a feeling to it and so I kind of discovered a lot of music by searching for it, or from hearing it on the radio or from people showing it to me. Music is what I love and it’s what speaks out to me, I mean I started out making typical R&B because that’s what producers were making and that seemed what I should be making because I’m a black mixed race urban kind of singer from the UK, but I started to think to myself I’m a bit more than this and I want to experiment a bit more, and that’s when I started to throw the old school in.
How did the Soul Sessions begin?
When I met my manager, we kind of both knew you have to have an online presence in this day and age to make a name for yourself. Most of the time people are just sitting in their room, singing straight at a camera but we wanted to be a bit different and see a bit more of my personality and fun side. Initially I was just going to go out in Trafalgar Square and sing, but it didn’t work out because of too much background noise from the fountains and crowds. So off the cuff we decided to go onto the Underground and the acoustics were great and it worked out dope! We carried on from there in Harrods, Paris and New York and it really took off online!
What was it like supporting Tinie Tempah on his UK tour?
Amazing! It was Tinie’s first headline tour, and it was the first tour I’ve ever done and it was really lovely for him to invite me because we’re from the same area, and I’ve known him since he was in school. It was a great feeling to be travelling around the country performing our music together. It was wicked but a bit surreal to be experiencing the tour lifestyle.
What part of your journey so far has been most inspiring to you?
There’s been a lot of things along the way that have inspired me, especially the Justin Bieber tour. Simply for the fact that I got to see what it’s like at the top, when there’s fans out there screaming your name in front of 20,000 capacity arenas. So I was mind blown a little bit, and knew this is what I wanna do, to be able perform around the worldand have any many people as possible hear my music.
Are we in for an EP or an album soon?
Definitely! I’ve been working on an EP for the last couple of months with a real summertime vibe and a message behind it. Im writing it all myself, no co-writes or anything so far, it’s been a real fun experience. It’s called “The Late Shift EP” as of now, but that could change. It’ll be out on iTunes near the end of the Summer.
After the sweeping craze of Afrobeats worldwide thanks to artists like D’Banj, do you see yourself experimenting with these kinds of beats or any other genres?
Yeah! I Like afrobeats, I hear it on the radio all the time! Can you hear that? *dances* They’re playing Oliver Twist right now! I’ve already experimented with it a little bit. One song off the EP has got an element of it, it’s a bit tribal with a bit of old school garage in it. It sounds good! I’m open to experimenting; I don’t want to get tied to one genre because I like all different kinds of music. But I haven’t really done a house track or anything like that.
What new sounds are on your iPod that you can’t get enough of?
Let’s have a look, I’ve got Encore by Cheryl Lynn, that’s got 1983 written next to it, Dance Tonight by Lucy Pearl, Chakha Khan, Earth Wind and Fire. I’m not really up to date with today’s music am i? I’m getting stuck behind! I’ve been listening to a girl called Elle Varner, she’s quite a new artist who my boy Bally got me introduced to, I checked out some of her stuff and I think she’s really good.
Got a bit of Beyoncé, Kanye West, Andre 3000, some Rick James on here *strums air guitar*
Can I steal your iPod please?
Ha-ha, you have taste my friend!
What direction do you see for the future of the UK music scene?
Hopefully it’ll become like America where there’s an audience for everything but obviously we’re a smaller country. They’ve got a big hip-hop scene out there but the audience over here is more mainstream. We have a few breakthrough artists, but it never really pops off big time! The music seems to go around in circles, from the dance craze, to the people who want to bring it down to the bare roots or take it back old school. Hopefully more genres crossing like rock R&B and stuff but hopefully somewhere good, where I will fit in!
What does the future hold for Bluey Robinson? Where do you see you and your music being in 5 years time?
I’d love to be known around the world and my music to be loved. That’s what I’m here for, I’m doing this to go as far as I can. I hope I’m enjoying it as much as I am now, I want to be able to look after my family and to inspire some people, so I can carry on for another five, ten years.
What advice would you give to upcoming artists to get noticed?
Do something crazy! Be yourself. I mean you can “not be yourself”, it works for some people. But find out what you like and the things that reflect you and blow them up so the whole world can see. Develop yourself and be as good as you can be, keep working and eventually people will wake up and take notice of you.
Any shoutouts you wanna give?
Shoutout to Bally (Bluey’s manager) and Christian (guitarist), the whole London Village kids, F Street, my family, shout out you guys at SuchATune and York! It’s up to it! And to people who are nice in the world. Peace. Thank you.
Cheers Bluey, thanks for chatting!