“Right now the songs I’m writing definitely explore all the stuff my friends and I are going through in our late 20’s and early 30’s.”
Hey Robert! Tell us what your new song, ‘No Second Chances’ is all about?
It’s a pre-, mid- and post- break-up song that deals with indecision in a long-term relationship – it’s a bit more serious than the break-up songs I’d have written five or ten years ago.
You say it’s a change of pace. How so?
It’s almost all the way country, whereas my previous single, ‘You Found Me’ was more of an ‘80s’ rock/pop track overall, with a chorus that just hinted that I was toying with the Nashville vibes. It’s also quite literally a change of pace too, being more mid- than up-tempo.
What age were you when you discovered you were gay, and how did you feel?
I enjoyed Brokeback Mountain in 2005, and that raised some questions like: ‘Do I like Jake Gyllenhaal or do I just really like plaid?’
How has it been being out in the music industry?
I haven’t had that experience! I’ve always preferred to tell my story through the music and lyrics. We don’t have enough mystery these days for my liking. Though I suppose we always have Sia and her wig for that.
What are you interested in exploring with all your work, Robert?
I just want to make records that will still sound great 10 or 20 years from now. Songs that have a story, rather than just looking for a hook that’s gonna be a hit with 17 year-olds with a five-second attention span.
Right now the songs I’m writing definitely explore all the stuff my friends and I are going through in our late 20’s and early 30’s. It’d be nice to be 50 or 60 and listen back to a body of work and say: ‘There it is, that was my life story’.
Who is your greatest personal influence, and why?
I look up to anyone who doesn’t take no for an answer. Someone who has bomb-proof self-belief, whether that’s Madonna or Conor McGregor. It does tend to be artists and sportsmen from normal backgrounds. The way I look at it is, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, how can you expect anyone else to?
If you could duet with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Lana Del Rey. I love that she has such a strong identity, and the sonic and visual world she has created for herself, that kinda upscale ghetto old Hollywood vibe. I’d love to do something with a bit of a western feel, and her label could foot the bill for a video that we’d film in the dodgier parts of Vegas.
What really impresses me about her is that she panders to no-one – when that remix of ‘Summertime Sadness’ became a huge hit, a lot of artists would have detoured and made an album full of songs in the same vein trying to re-create the success, but she just kept doing her own thing.
So, Robert, what is your favourite song of all time?
I just can’t come to a conclusion on this one. I’m so erratic with all the genres I become obsessed with that it changes all the time. I’ve started making playlists on Spotify, I made a country one last week that I can’t stop listening to, and I’m making a Dream-pop one right now. Maybe the readers will go follow me on Spotify – I love making a connection with people through sharing music.
Who would play you in the biopic of your life, and what would it be called?
I would play myself. I did a good bit of acting when I was younger, I spent more time on the stage than I did in school! Sometimes I feel like an actor in my own life, jumping from one role to another.
Remember Joan and Melissa Rivers were in their own biopic playing themselves after Joan’s husband killed himself? I thought that was a great idea, it was their way of dealing with it. My biopic would be called Persistence, because I don’t stop ’til I get what I want. And it rhymes with ‘Distance’ and ‘Resistance’, my first two records. I’m big on consistency.
And last but not least, Robert, what’s the best piece of life advice you ever received?
“Do it.” I was sitting with a couple of my best friends around last September and I said, “I’m thinking about dropping everything and going back to making music”. I thought they’d say I was deluded and that I should be more responsible, but instead they were totally behind me and it really pushed me over the line.
It had been five years and I hadn’t done anything music-related or even spoken about it in that time. I needed someone to tell me “you can do this”.
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