INTERVIEW: 3 Questions With Robin Grey
I often forget that there's anyone reading this blog, happily wrapped
up as I am in my own obsessions. So imagine my delight
and surprise when I found out that London folksinger Robin Grey read an entry I wrote on him way back in April. Luckily, the medication was working that day and I was being nice.
And what is there not to love, really? The thoughtful Grey sings in a deep English voice that gives his songs a sweeping and poetic
quality. Right-click-save on the songs to hear for yourself. His album Only The Missile is out now. Read more from the ukulele-teaching and Eminem-loving (we have so much in common!) Robin Grey below :
Robin Grey: These Days.mp3
Robin Grey: The Finchley Waltz.mp3
Stop Okay Go (SOG): The song 'Every Waking Hour' is soooo romantic. What girl doesn’t want to hear that there’s a man who is thinking of her in his every waking hour? Tell the truth: was it written sincerely or as a way to pick up girls at shows?
RG: Definitely from the heart. I write silly/insincere songs too but they don't sit with the majority of my material so I choose not to perform or record them at the moment.
I have been toying with the idea of putting on a wig and adopting an alter ego so these other songs get an occasional airing in public but the lighter side of my personality gets a good work-out teaching kids ukulele so I feel no need at present. At the time of writing 'Every Waking Hour' I was lucky enough to be living next door to a drum and bass producer called Mark Watt who also rocked the double bass. He jammed a groove which made the song for me and really picked up the tempo. I recorded that rest of the song about two years later when I rediscovered Mark's bass line whilst deleting old material from my computer.
SOG: I also love the storytelling and delicate pluck-work in 'The Finchley Waltz.' What a beautiful song. I read a review that said your voice sounds like it would be suited for protest music. Is there a message in the song and how do you feel about political songs? You don’t hear many of them anymore.
RG: Thank you. There is a political message in 'The Finchley Waltz'
somewhere but it gets very tangled up with the other themes of
Englishness, motion, love and lost innocence. The song was written just
after the 7/7 bomb attacks in London when the police were bringing the town to a stand-still whilst raiding the houses of suspected 'terrorists'.
When I sing 'The Good Guys and The Bad Guys stopped play' I am certainly flagging up my sorrow at our politicians/media/societies urgent desire to pigeon-hole situations into 'us' v 'them' and 'good' v 'bad' etc. and how unhelpful I think that can be.
The image in my head at the time was of cops and robbers (suicide bombers) stopping a cricket match and stuffy elderly Englishmen in the crowd (politicians) tut tutting about what a bad show it was and how they should jolly well stop all that nonsense (and further opining it should be prevented by locking up anyone who stands out of line).
I have written political/protest songs but canned all of them thus far because they either sounded preachy or trite. For the time being I think politics will remain a background theme in my lyrics unless I can pen anything as good as 'Blowing In The Wind', 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall' or 'What's Going On.'
SOG: We’d love to see you here in the U.S. Will you be performing stateside any time soon and what does the future hold for Robin Grey?
RG: I'm currently settling for pretty much the first time in my nomadic little life with a lovely little studio and house in a leafy, ramshackle corner of East London. I am finding it hard to leave my neighbourhood, let alone the country at the moment. I would love to travel with my guitar again one day but I am enjoying putting down roots and growing things too much at the moment.
As for the future, I have another 20+ songs I am working on at the moment and now I have a better idea of the recording process I can't wait to start playing with microphones again. I may also have a stab at putting my own band together at some point to expand the live show.
Since my album has been out I have been getting better shows and audiences and I hope I can continue to grow things patiently whilst having fun and learning more about songwriting, arranging, recording and performing.
SOG: Thanks Robin! Best of luck!