Next Wave #855: Robinson

In Association With Vero True Social

There are times when listening to New Zealand pop riser Robinson that you have to pinch yourself.

Still only 21 years old, her songwriting is remarkably mature, incredibly fresh, a deft mixture of bold dance abandon and those enchanting piano notes, plucking at any heartstrings you have left available.

Speaking to Clash on a trip to London, she’s all boundless enthusiasm and fresh-faced possibility, an artist relishing any chance she can get to make music. “I think for me music was definitely in-built in my family – my grandmother played the piano, all my mum’s brothers and sisters did the same,” she explains. “It was something I was always surrounded by, but I was drawn – obviously – to singing, but also the writing side of it as well.”

“As I got older I was first and foremost ambitious to sing and play the piano. I remember my mum trying to teach me the piano and it just didn’t go down very well. As I got older and more into songwriting, and began to dug into that world, I became very passionate about it all, about playing piano and writing songs. I guess it fell into place like that.”

Growing up in the small town of Greymouth, Robinson took every chance she could to express herself. Each song is imbued with incredible honestly, a near-the-knuckle lyrical blow that is hewn from her own life, her own struggles. “I think it’s probably something that I’ve been inspired by artists I listened to growing up,” the singer says. “I know some of my favourite musicians are Jeff Buckley and Stevie Nicks, and they’re definitely musicians who tell it all like it is.”

“I think, for me, I suppose initially it can be quite a scary thing to say things as they are or how you’re really feeling, but that’s sort of the point of music. It’s to not hide anything or not be afraid, because ultimately that’s where the true emotion comes from.”

Already one of pop’s hottest new properties in the Southern hemisphere, breakout track ‘Nothing To Regret’ has been streamed over 50 millions times. “I think it’s platinum in Australia now… which is crazy!” she gasps. “My manager told me and I said, well, that’s incredible but what does it mean?!”

It means you need to clear space on your walls for some platinum discs, Clash offers.

Robinson starts to laugh out loud: “It’s too embarrassing to hang stuff in the house so I’ll give them to my mum!”

Family and friends are incredibly important to Robinson, a network of people to provide support, but also keep her feet on the ground. “They’re always checking in on me,” she smiles. “I think my mum checks my Instagram twice a day just to see how I am and if I’m eating properly! All the usual mum stuff!”

“I’m so lucky – my family and my friends are so supportive. Thinking back to when I was younger, if it wasn’t for my mum and my sister always encouraging me and building me up with that kind of confidence I feel like maybe I wouldn’t have the confidence to release music which is super-personal. I’ve been really lucky to have people who are genuinely supportive of what I’m doing. I’m very, very, privileged in that sense.”

An artist finding her first dose of acknowledgement, the very word ‘success’ causes Robinson to wrinkle her nose. “You know what?” she says. “I think success for me is being in a studio and being able to write your music. I think I feel really lucky that I get to do what I’ve always wanted to for my job. I feel like that’s what defines success for me – doing what I love, being able to release it, and have fun with the creative side. That’s success for me.”

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