For a country with less than 5 million residents, New Zealand has been remarkably proficient at turning out top quality female pop stars in the last few years. From the world conquering Lorde to Georgia Nott (Broods) and Ladyhawke, you can now add 21-year old Robinson (real name Anna Robinson) to the list. With just three singles under her belt, she has already racked up 1.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify and is being touted as the next big thing in pop. Take just one listen to new single ‘Nothing To Regret’ and you’ll understand why. Women In Pop recently met with Robinson to find out more about her life, music and future plans.
What are your first memories of music?
Music was something that was sort of always around me, so I don’t necessarily remember anything specific, but lots of little moments. I remember being in the car with my dad when I was quite young and the Salt-n-Pepa song ‘Push It’ came on. We were at the beach and my dad played it really loud and at that moment I cut my foot on coral - which was really random, but that’s my memory of music as a child!
What type of music did you like when you were growing up?
A big, big, wide spectrum. I loved Fleetwood Mac, Abba, Jeff Buckley. My dad was in the army, so ‘True Blue’ by John Williamson was played a lot. Then, on the other end of the spectrum I remember having the Britney Spears album in the car. So, very pop, but I also had my Jeff Buckley and my Fleetwood Mac.
When did you decide you wanted to do music as a career?
I was always singing around the house and when I was little my mum dragged me to a mall and wanted me to enter a talent competition, but I was too shy. I don’t remember a specific time when I was like ‘this is what I want to do’ – it was just always something that I was going to do. As much as I wanted to be a singer and to write music, I also lacked a lot of confidence at performing. My mum was so amazing at being supportive, she’d encourage me to take baby steps, just perform here and sing in front of these people, in front of your family. And I slowly built up that confidence to be able to do it in front of everyone.
Why did you choose to perform under the name Robinson?
For such a long time, I never really thought of having a stage name. Then I got a message from Ashley, my manager and he said, ‘Anna, what about Robinson for a stage name?’ At the beginning I thought it was so odd, but a couple of days later I was like yep, I love it. For me, it’s a really nice way to remember my dad. I lost him when I was 11, so it’s a beautiful tribute to him. It was such a wonderful way to incorporate him into my music.
Do you have a process you go through when you’re writing your music?
Song writing is so random and quite spontaneous really. Sometimes, I might get a melody in my head and I’ll be like ‘Oh my god this is the best melody I’ve ever thought of, I need to record it right now.’ If I don’t have my phone, I can’t talk to anyone until I’m back home or I’m able to record it. But other times, I’ll be in the studio and it can be a piano progression or a chord progression and I just write over that. Or I might have a couple of words or phrase that really inspire me. It changes.
Is there any particular message you like to portray in your music?
I think just honesty and vulnerability. With song writing you have to be honest because that’s what people relate to. If you pretend, people see through it. And I’m a terrible liar, so I don’t think I could say something that didn’t actually happen!
You’ve only released three singles but have already gained 1.8m monthly listeners on Spotify. How does it feel to become so successful so quickly?
It’s crazy. It’s a weird feeling going from being in the studio space writing music to suddenly reaching parts of the world that I’ve never even been to. That’s the amazing thing about music, it can reach people so far away – music has the ability to teleport! It just blows my mind that so many people have discovered my music.
Your latest single ‘Nothing to Regret’ has such an amazing video, with you having a solo house party in a dilapidated house. What was shooting the video like?
The music video was absolutely one of the most fun days I’ve had! I was so nervous going into it because I knew I had an unchoreographed dance scene and I’m not a good dancer. I was told ‘We’re just going to blast the music, you’re just going to go absolutely crazy like you would at home.’ I gave myself a little pep talk – ‘Anna, you’ve got to go 150% because it’s better to look full on crazy than just giving it a little bit.’ So that’s what I did! I went crazy and had just the most fun.
What do you think it is about the New Zealand music scene that is producing so many amazing female singers at the moment?
I think we’re all just super supportive of each other and because it’s so small you just know everybody. I don’t know what it is exactly but I feel so grateful to be a part of the New Zealand music industry because you really do feel so supported and like everyone’s got your back. It’s very, very cool having lots of amazing people to look up to.
What’s up next for Robinson?
In April, I’m heading to the UK, then Sweden, and then LA and the goal of that trip is to just finish the album, which I’m unbelievably excited about – so excited I’m like ‘Did I just say that?’ And from there, getting a live show together. To be in the studio for the past two or three years is amazing, but you kind of get in this bubble, so it’s exciting to see how that energy transitions into a live show - I’m very excited about it.
Robinson’s new single ‘Nothing to Regret’ is available now through Sony Music. You can buy it on iTunes or stream on Spotify