The London Journalist catches up with singer-songwriter Willow Robinson to talk about life in between London/LA and his brand new single In A Daze...
Standing apart from most of today's young musicians, by being able to successfully wield a guitar, write his own songs and not be auto-tuned into utter abstraction, Willow Robinson's new single In a Daze is a strong reminder of why we should be paying attention to the 24-year-old Brit-blooded LA-baby.
Since being discovered and backed by Alan McGee (Creation Records) Willow has spent past couple of years gigging and recording in between Los Angeles and London-town – And it looks like its paid off. What we see here with In a Daze is a more mature and evolved sound that expands upon his signature unornamented rock/soul style by incorporating modern beats – Without sounding commerical.
While his new video's shower antics and brand new beats can't help but remind us of Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River (in a good way) Willow still continues to invoke the spirit of the great guitar gods while he performs lonely guitar solos against some pretty epic natural landscapes.
We caught up with guitarist to find out more...
What do you miss most about LA life when you are in London and vice versa?
I love London, the culture is awesome, the nightlife is great, there’s so much to do. But the obvious thing I miss about LA is the weather, and the ability to feel like I’m escaping the city when hiking in the hills, whilst still being in Hollywood. I miss English humour and cynicism, sometimes people are overly positive in the US, to the point it almost seems fake. But then again they’re positivity is also great at times, and the people are lovely. They are both really great places to be and I’m very lucky to be able to spend time between them.
Where are your favourite places to hang out in London and LA?
I love London's Soho, but also some of the more edgy parts in the north and east. It’s honestly hard to pin point a specific place as every night is a different gig and a different venue.
In LA obviously the beach, Zuma Beach in Malibu is stunning. My favourite neighbourhoods are Los feliz and silver lake, and my favourite hangout is a bar called La Poubelle; I always bump into interesting people in there, usually rock stars!
What are the difficulties about going back and forth?
With flights being so cheap it’s much easier, jet lag still sucks, but I guess the main difficulty comes after getting into the swing of things in one city and then having to leave and pick up from where I left off in the other. I think from now on I’m going to spend a lot more of my time in one place.
Tell me us bit about your recording set up.
I do a lot of my recordings from home. I have a basic recording studio that I built myself. All I need is one great mic, some good guitars, a keyboard and my voice. Two of the tracks on my new EP, ‘Far Away’ and the acoustic version of ‘In A Daze’ I did completely in my studio from start to finish.
What are your shortcuts to songwriting or getting in the mood for song writing?
Alcohol in obscene quantities. Ha no, although that can sometimes help a little. I usually dim the lights, get some candles and incense going. It’s about creating a mood that inspires you, I personally can’t write music in a space that looks like a hospital waiting room. So I cover my walls in art and psychedelic hangings. Also the best thing to do is to get out, travel, listen to people, write things down all the time. You never know when someone might say the line you’ve been looking for, or something that sparks inspiration in your head.
What practical ways has Alan McGee's support helped you?
Alan has been great when it comes to opening doors and putting a bit of clout behind my name. Also working with him I’ve learned so much about the business, and compacted in information that might have taken years to figure out by myself.
What is the inspiration behind your new single In a Daze?
The song has many meanings. Originally it was written about people who are blinded by their beliefs, and who cannot really open their eyes beyond what they’ve been told. It also ties into relationships and the ups and downs of being in love. How often, one partner is always taking score of all the bad things the other has done.
The video follows a relationship where one of the partners is using drugs in a destructive way. The drugs are a metaphor for the negative things in life, and they show how abuse can make a seemingly perfect relationship into something toxic.
How do you think you have progressed with this new single/album?
The new single is a bit of an update of my sound. I’ve incorporated quite a lot more modern production, trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. It’s exciting for me to have opened up all these new possibilities using modern instruments. From now I want to blend my older more organic sound with these elements to make something really different and interesting.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
This year I am recording an album out in LA, so I’m really excited to see how that turns out. I’ve just started working on it with two producers, we have already written 5 songs so are half way to getting it done. It’s super exciting!