Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Bluey Robinson: True Colours

Bluey Robinson
Bluey Robinson Bluey Robinson

After hitching-up over half-a-million views on YouTube wit his acoustic performances at underground stations in London, Paris and New York, 22-year-old singer/songwriter Bluey Robinson this month releases his highly-anticipated debut single for Sony Music, the infectious ‘Showgirl’. Which - produced by London hitmaker Labrinth (of Tinie Tempah fame) - combines catchy, tuneful hooks and punchy production to create what has already been acclaimed as “a futuristic funk song with a Seventies/Eighties feel”.

Born in Sweden to a British/Trinidadian father and Swedish mother, at just three months old Bluey moved with his family to Hackney, London. Where he grew up spending hours sat by the turntable listening to his mum’s vinyl collection of albums from the likes of Bob Marley, The Drifters and The Jackson 5. Meanwhile, it was in 1999 that he first began his singing-and-acting career - going on to star as Simba in the West End musical ‘The Lion King’ and also performing alongside now-pop stars Jessie J and The Saturdays’ Rochelle Wiseman in the musical ‘Whistle Down the Wind’.

Nevertheless - despite further acting roles including a part in BBC flagship soap ‘East Enders’ as Billy Jackson - singing and songwriting always remained Bluey’s first love... Though his musical career per se didn’t properly get off the ground until, in 2009, he was introduced by South London rapper Master Shortie to aforementioned chart-topping beatmaker Labrith - whom he continues work with to this day. Meanwhile, going on to further expand his fanbase by uploading videos of himself singing on the underground in London, Paris and New York (and getting over 500,000 views in the process!), since signing as a solo artist to Sony Music’s RCA label, Bluey has since upped his profile further touring with both chart-topping South London rhymesmith Tinie Tempah plus global teen sensation Justin Bieber, with whom he duetted onstage nightly.

All of which brings us to a chatty and personable Mr. Robinson enjoying morning drinks at Sony’s Kensington HQ with ‘Blues & Soul’ Assistant Editor Pete Lewis, as he happily discusses his aforementioned new single, his forthcoming album, plus his early London upbringing.

PETE: Let’s start by discussing your new single ‘Showgirl’ - which has been described as “a futuristic funk song”

BLUEY: “Basically, me and Labrinth were in the studio and we were trying to come up with something that was kind of Seventies funk but with a sorta European dance vibe. You know, in weird way we were wanting to combine them both - and ‘Showgirl’ was the RESULT! And then the lyrical concept for the song came from an idea I had, where I’m performing at one of my shows when I see a girl in the audience and it ultimately becomes her show instead of mine! You know, she steals the show to where all eyes are on her and not on me, and I’m kinda caught up in the whole thing because I feel so drawn to her!”

PETE: What can we expect in general from your forthcoming, as-yet-untitled debut album?

BLUEY: “It’s very eclectic. But at the same time I still feel like I’m basically the thread that kind of brings it all together and connects everything. There’s a lot of old skool soul-type stuff like ‘Showgirl’; there’s kind of indie/poppy tracks... And overall I’m just trying to bring a good vibe and a positive energy, while lyrically dealing with concepts that are real to me and that I can talk about with honesty. I mean, the artists I love are Prince, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars - who to me musically has kinda like an old skool soul in a young person’s body... So, with that being the kinda music that’s always spoken to me, I guess it’s only natural that those influences come out when I’m MAKING music.”

PETE: Let’s talk about your early background

BLUEY: “When I was growing up my mum listened to a lot of Bob Marley - though my thing as a young kid was definitely Motown and The Jackson 5. And we actually started out living in Manor House in the Borough of Hackney - which is not the BEST area. So, because I think my mum really wanted to get us living somewhere else, from there we moved to Tottenham, and then to South London. And the one thing I was always adamant about was that I didn’t wanna be a product of my ENVIRONMENT! You know, because so many people - including even people that I grew up with - always use that as an excuse to do stupid things, I was desperate NOT to be like that and to always be trying for something BIGGER... So yeah, I think growing up where I did kinda had the REVERSE effect on me. In that, instead of getting caught up in all the madness and stuff and hanging out on the streets, I kinda just tried - in my own weird way - to do the OPPOSITE and keep striving for something BETTER!”

PETE: You first gained attention through YouTube videos of you performing acoustically in underground stations across London, Paris and New York. What was the story there?

BLUEY: “I did my YouTube videos after I signed with my manager and we were thinking of ways I could start getting my name out there and drawing some attention to myself. The first one we actually did was on the London Underground, and that kinda came about by accident. I’d originally gone to Trafalgar Square with my friend Billy - and I was basically just looking at the camera singing Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder songs. But then, when we watched it back, it was all very noisy, what with all the people and the fountains and the buses and stuff. So we were like ‘Charing Cross underground is right opposite, and the sound will be contained a bit more in there’... So we went down there to do my first video, then after that we went to the Paris Metro, the New York subway... And, because people reacted to it all really well, things basically just took off from THERE! I started doing a few shows; I released a song called ‘I Know’ independently which got played a bit on the radio… Then once I’d got my band together, record-label A&R’s started coming to see me perform; we started having some corporate meetings… And I ended up here with SONY!”

The single ‘Showgirl’ is out now through RCA/Sony Music

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