Exclusive: CelebMix Interview With Robinson

Fresh off supporting Hayley Kiyoko on her sold-out European tour, breakthrough New Zealand pop star Robinson talks to CelebMix about ‘Nothing To Regret’, hitting Europe for the first time and ambitious phone calls as a 14-year-old…

“I knew I was going to have the best time”, Robinson opens with as we talk of the Hayley Kiyoko tour. In the space of a month, the singer had played in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and more, visiting many for the first time. “I’ve got an incredible band and incredible tour manager and incredible sound technician. The shows exceeded any expectation of it I had. I’ve still got tour blues.”

As far as support gigs go, playing to Kiyoko’s unwaveringly committed and love-filled fans couldn’t have been a better opportunity.

“Hayley’s fans are amazing and super welcoming for an opening act. They were so willing to have a really good time and Hayley’s team were incredible.”

When we finished the Paris show everyone was outside and said how much fun they had and how they were fans of the music now. It was so special to play in a new city and have so much support. It was so positive and so welcoming.” 

With pop gold such as ‘Nothing To Regret’ and ‘Medicine’ in her arsenal, Robinson’s live show is a sterling set. The former track has already surpassed 50 million Spotify streams, one of those earworms you will most definitely know the chorus to, even if you don’t think you’ve heard it.

We wrote it in New York a year and a half ago. We were in the studio and were so unassuming. I went to the piano and put down that chord progression, melodies seemed to flow over the top of it – we got the song.”

“Releasing it was amazing. It took a complete life of its own, it’s out of your control at that point, it does what it does. It was so surreal waking up to see so many people react in such a positive way to it.”

‘Medicine’, a moody break-up track that builds into a pumping chorus, is the current single and has the potential to hit the lofty heights that ‘Nothing To Regret’ already has.

“‘Medicine’ came about April in London on a writing trip. It was the last session and I was about to go home. We were just talking for three hours before we wrote the song, went for a walk… we all had the same feeling and energy. Writing sessions when you are on the same wavelength are so amazing.”

The visual for ‘Medicine’ sees Robinson on a Malibu beach at five in the morning, it’s easy to believe she’s “f**king freezing” as she sings it.

“It wasn’t as smooth sailing as it looks. The waves were crashing and there were stones in the bottom. I was in this crazy big red dress and every time I’d fall onto the stones and bruise like a peach. After there was a seal in the background and it was the best time.”

“Morgan Gruer always does such a great job in capturing the right feel. I’m super lucky to have such a great team on board.”

In terms of an album, it’s still in the works. Robinson talks of a full record being the main goal but wanting to get as many singles out as possible first. Headline December dates in Australia come first, not far from the singer’s homeland of New Zealand.

“We have heaps of great music in New Zealand. Something I love about the New Zealand music industry is that everyone knows each other. It’s really special because it’s such a family vibe and everyone is rooting for each other.”

It’s impossible not to ask about fellow Kiwi and popstar Lorde, who has been a leading light in New Zealand and in global music over the past five years.

Lorde has really paved the way for a lot of musicians in terms of the mindset you get in. She is who she is and was in New Zealand, she’s shown that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can make your impact anywhere.”

Robinson speaks of being surrounded by music as a kid, there never being a time when it wasn’t what she wanted to do. “I think even if I was bad, I’d still be doing it because it brings me so much happiness”, she laughs.

“I’ve always been very ambitious. I’ve always been driven and determined.”

She speaks of an amazing high school music teacher and her mum as two big influences in her career. As a teenager, Robinson craved a move to America to get stuck into the industry. One day she came home and looked up the record for Hollywood Records in the States.

“I asked mum to ring for me, I was too nervous obviously. My mum rung them up and had no idea what to say: ‘Oh you know, my daughter really loves music and it’s the only thing she wants to do and she wants to make a profession out of it. How would you go about doing it.'”

“This lady was a receptionist, probably just wondering how we got this number. She told me it was a tough industry but if you’ve got a passion for it and something to say, then you just have to get a really good manager and put all your heart and soul into it.”

“My mum then proceeded to go on and said, ‘Anna will sing a bit of Firework by Katy Perry down the line for you now.’ At this point, I was like, ‘Mum! No!’  Then I sang Firework down the phone and the receptionist probably thought, ‘what the hell is going on right now’.”

After those Australian dates, a move to London might be on the cards “in the foreseeable future”. Whilst recording in the capital, Robinson loved spending time at Primrose Hill, Islington and Shoreditch. A trip this year to see Dua Lipa at Alexandra Palace was another highlight.

“Big Dua fan. I love her. She is a pop princess. She has some sick moves. Love her fashion. Love her music. She’s great.”

Further than that, there are no concrete plans for a return to the U.K. Then again, there’s no need for Robinson to rush anything. Having just cracked Europe for the first time and sitting on a number of killer tracks, this is very much the beginning. For U.K. music fans, her return can’t come soon enough.

Have you checked out Robinson’s music? Let us know what you think @CelebMix on Twitter!

 

Written by Toby Bryant

Student journalist: music, sport, culture and just about anything in-between… Have worked for The Courier, NME, Daily Mirror, FourFourTwo & British Rowing, amongst others.
@toby_bryant_ on Twitter