Interview: Robin Beck.
When they ask you to do an interview with one of the artists that you look up you always instantly agree. But afterwards you think to yourself, what will I be asking and will I find the words…
But when you start talking and they put your mind at ease within the first minute you know it’s gonna work out just fine.
An interview through Skype was scheduled and I awaited the call, but Robin asked If I could wait a few minutes…
Robin’s daughter had a Broadway audition that afternoon (it was 3PM New York time) and she couldn’t find her dance shoes and the interview was initially interrupted. It shows that Robin is a woman who has a busy life and above all she is a mother. Than the second call came in…. After a few minutes of loose talking and laughing I popped the first question.
When I first heard the new album, I found it to be a rocking journey! Cliff Magnes did a good job, didn’t he?
“Cliff did a fantastic job on writing most of it, producing the tracks. I had a really good time working with him. He’s become a close friend. He’s a household name now.”
He contributed on the ‘Can’t get off’ album as well, I believe?
“Yeah, he wrote ‘Footprints In The Rain’ with Steve Kipner. I didn’t knew him back then. I just had that song. We really only became attached to the hip, so to speak, when working on this album. We met real casual on facebook through messenger. He contacted me if I wanted to do a duet with him on his album. And I was pinching myself: ‘What, who is this?’. That was a moment in your life when the unexpeted you wish would happen, happens without even trying. I always been a big fan of his work.”
What stroke me when listening to the opener ‘Island’, was the fact that you developed a slight grain on your voice. But that fits perfectly with the more rocking tracks!
“I’m like an old Rolls Royce or Bentley that’s been on the road and past the 300.000 miles mark and I got a little bit of growl in my engine. I like it and I’m not complaining. I like that sound, it makes me feel more in touch with my real voice. Our bodies changes, we get older. It makes perfect sense that the engine needs to reoil regularly.”
Some singers still want to sound like when they started, but sometimes that’s really painfull to listen to!
“You can’t sound like twenty forver, but I can still sound like that on certain songs. It’s just that the songs I’m doing are deeper. They are calling for me to add much more tone and debt anyway, so it works out perfectly for me.”
The title track harvests many changes and the full guitar ending from Tommy Denander is superb. He is a member of the team, isn’t he?
“He did a great job. Yeah, he is a member of the family and he only contributed on a few songs here, but you spotted him. Many people know how he sounds like.”
The word to describe the song ‘Me, not being me’ is groove. Do you agree?
“It definitely got groove, it got some sas in it. It’s got a little attitude.”
The biggest surprise (in a good way) was ‘Crave the Touch’. It has a more modern approach and you sound a bit naughty!
“(Robin laughs..) When I was singing this song I was thinking: ‘She is calling him out on his own shit’. You want all those things and you’re stuck in yourself. And what you want the most is love, you crave the touch. You want to be held, you know. You scalp around doing everything else but finding that inner peace. She is kinda like reprimanding him in a way…”
‘If You Only Knew’ has sweet backing vocals, some old school keys, but also a minor dance beat. Where does new influences ideas of yourself?
“No, not at all! Every song was written by Cliff and I handpicked them. I had some kind of waltz feel.. It’s a slow dance song you could say.”
Let’s go back in time Robin!
“Must we? (adds Robin while laughing..) All right go ahead!”
I listened on the internet to your first album ‘Sweet Talk’, and I heard a true disco album?
Is it true you did some vocals for a Chaka Khan album?
“Aha… I sang background for her when Mardin was still alive. I sang on a couple of songs. I did ‘Best in the West’ and some other cuts.”
What made you decide to make the switch to rock?
“Well, you know what… disco was a big thing and I was a young girl. And what was I gonna do in 1979 when pop was The Carpenters and Debby this one and Sherry that one. The top-40 was all the rage. It wasn’t about Rod Steward and Janis Joplin. We had past that era and we went to the early 80’ties. That was mostly like Frankie Valli, it was just all pop songs. So it was the thing to do whatever the producers thought was gonna work for me to get me up and running. So it happened to be disco. It was not disco-disc it was pop-disco. It was a first step into the business and I wasn’t that sure of myself back then and what the right direction was for me. We didn’t focus on doing what was five years ahead of the game. We focused on what was happening right then and there with Donna Summer and some of the better disco singers of that era and tried to fit a slot for me. I was young and I was cute. I was outwriting the line of disco about to change to rock-pop, Pat Benatar, Roxette and stuff. I just didn’t know what to do to make relevance.”
On ‘Trouble or Nothing’ you worked with many artists such as Desmond Child, Steve Lukather. Was this all done by the record company?
“No, in this case I got to choose the songs with Desmond. I chose the songs that I wanted to do and wrote some of the songs. We started to feel that it was definitely the direction I wanted to go in.”
After ‘Can’t Get Off’ ther was a hiatus of seven years (euh, five years corrected Robin), but I believe the birth of a certain little lady Olivia had something to do with that?
“Yes, my daughter came and I said “I’m done”. I don’t wanna do this anymore, I wanna bring up my daughter. That was what pregnancy will do to you. Some people just wanna have the baby and go right back to work. For me it was the best time of my life. So I felt like, I better do this, because I never may have a second change for this.”
Robin, you mentioned earlier the Broadway audition from your daughter, but I believe you had a similar experience?
“Very short lived! I do not have that kind of talent. I don’t know why my record company or managers where thinking. I had two left feet and I did not belong on a Broadway stage. I was one of the main singers. There was an opening song and a closing song. I was basically hired to be in the ensemble, but I had a part in it. I think her name was Cassandra. On openings night Irene Cara didn’t show up and the show was a tremendous flaw and it was in one of the biggest theaters on Broadway. It was a great effort and it was really good music, but I didn’t belong there. That’s all I can say!”
Your daughter sang (backing vocals) on your previous two albums. It must give you a wonderful feeling that she follows in your footsteps!
“Absolutely… and she steps in my footsteps for free (Robin laughs..) and I don’t have to pay here either! I’m very proud of her. I always feel like if she is happy and she can support herself and be happy, I’ve done my job. I don’t give her a lot of advice on that except if it’s singing. I’ll give her my opinion and the response I usually get is: “Mommmmmm, I know what I’m doing!”.”
I saw you live on stage at Firefest in 2012. Even Fiona was on the bill that same weekend. Are there plans to go on tour in the future?
“There are plans been made every month since last june. But there is so much going on where I go out and play. Gigs didn’t go through, chaos in terms of safety, clubs closing down, to many acts on the road. For me to come to Europe with my band and play. I can’t just do two shows. I have to do a few weeks. If the booking agents leave a huge gap, I can’t do it. It’s much to expensive to stay there and take seven people. It’s been difficult and now we are looking at some festivals for summer. I was hoping for spring, but I’m still waiting to hear back from them. But I’m ready to go and I can’t wait, but it isn’t always up to me. I hope it happens and the fans support it.
When they buy the tickets and the venue will be full it will be no problem. But there are so many bands out there and many gigs fall on the same dates in the same areas. People can’t afford to go everywhere they wanna go. Another thing is the following, if a club wants to hire a new band and they are going to draw some new fans and they pay them a lot less money. There only concerned about their bottom line. They can sell liquor and have the admission fees. It’s a business! There aren’t that many music enthusiasts that are going like: “I have to have that band, I have to have Robin Beck”. It’s part of the building blocks or rock & roll, that comes first. And also the fans are changing their musical taste, because they have children or they don’t go out that much, or they can’t afford to go out as much. It all plays on it. But hopefully I’ll be doing some festivals. We’ll keep our fingers crossed on that.”
You also participated on some projects. There was the “Shining Line” album from Pierpaolo Monti and the “Marilyn” album from Saracen!
“Oh I loved that, that was fun!”
Are there still some projects hanging?
“Yeah, there are a few special projects. There is some music with me and Cliff Magness. I’m not allowed to say what’s coming, but there are two other albums. There is one really incredible project… I’m supposed to do a duet. The music is already done, but it hasn’t been released yet. And there is my next album where I’m already starting to put my head on for the start to collaborating on that. There is another guy who just called if I would guest on his album but I can’t reveal anything yet. That happens every few years and I like it. I like singing to other people’s music and it’s a way to discover new music and meeting new people.”
Well Robin I think I’m out of questions… Do you have something to add?
“Well Rik, I appreciate the time you took to do the interview and will you mention my website (http://www.robinbeckrocks.com) where people still can buy CD’s and they can be signed personally! People can get CD’s much cheaper by downloading it, but you can’t get my signature that way, so….”
So Robin all I want for Christmas is you (r CD)!
Interview by Rik Bauters