By: Shayla Lee
New Zealand has no shortage of talent when it comes to musicians. From Lorde and Broods to So Below and The Naked And Famous, the NZ music community is really thriving.
Today I’m sharing another female musician that should be on your radar: Robinson. With danceability similar to fellow New Zealander Lorde and lyrics that capture what life feels like in your early twenties, Robinson’s latest track ‘Nothing to Regret’ perfectly juxtaposes the monotony of weekdays with the freedom of the weekends.
I had a chance to interview Robinson, whose full name is Anna Robinson, and she shared the inspiration behind her hit song ‘Nothing to Regret,’ the pressure she felt to “be something” after high school, and what we can expect from her this year.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What inspired you to become a musician?
Robinson: Music has been my whole world growing up. It was one of those things that was always very prominent in my life and at the forefront of all of my hopes, dreams and ambitions. I think for me, it has always been a best friend that I always could rely on to get me through a situation. I don’t know what exactly made me want to be a musician so badly, but I can’t remember a time where it wasn’t my everything! I think growing up listening to really incredible lyricists and story tellers inspired me to create honest and vulnerable music. I’d feel the way Jeff Buckley, Stevie Nicks, Liz Fraser etc would approach songwriting and remember just feeling so much when I would listen, I was very inspired to be so vulnerable and fearless in my music.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
I think the NZ music community is so tight-knit. Everyone knows one another, and is so supportive of what each other is doing which is amazing and so important having that music family. I think growing up in a small town in NZ influenced my music through nature, making my own fun with friends and just being a kid and experiencing all that comes with that.
There are so many NZ musicians killing it – Broods, Lorde, The Naked And Famous, and So Below to name a few! How did growing up in New Zealand influence your music? Are there any other Kiwi artists that should be on our radars?
Congratulations on your new single ‘Nothing to Regret!’ It has only been out for a few weeks and it already has over 13 million Spotify streams to date. It has also been added to some of the platform’s most popular playlists. This must feel so exciting! What was the inspiration behind this song? When you were writing it did you feel like it was special?
Thank you so much! I honestly can’t believe how many people have heard it and have sent lovely messages supporting it, and singing along to it. It’s such a ‘pinch me’ thing where I feel “wow… is this all really happening?” – I wrote the song when I was at a point in my life where I had a lot of spare time when I finally came home from these incredible writing trips of days filled with making music, meeting people, seeing new things and always being switched on.. when I’d come home, it was completely the opposite.
I’d be on my own a lot and I’d feel that low and just wish it was the weekend when friends didn’t have uni/work and we could go out, and have fun. It’s about the Monday – Friday struggle, and the thrill of the weekend keeping us going. When I wrote ‘Nothing To Regret’ in New York with Larzz Principato and Allie Crystal… I think I did feel it was really special because I’d written something that perfectly summed up my crazy year but in a way that was happy and people could dance to it! The whole session was very magical. I’ll never forget it.
You also released a music video for ‘Nothing to Regret’ which is full of dancing and partying with friends. I really love the little details like the subtle neutral colors used in the morning shots when you are alone contrasted with the bright red and blue hues when you are with friends. It looks like it would have been a blast to shoot! What was the creative process for this music video?
The ‘Nothing To Regret’ music video was so, so much fun to film! Thinking about it now, makes me laugh! The whole day was full of the whole crew just bursting into laughter at certain points and just having the best time. We wanted to portray a hyper-reality in a way and Morgan Gruer and Simian LA crew did such an incredible job of conveying light hearted-ness and the fun of it all, but still seeing that insecurity and that loneliness throughout. The video has me sitting around my flat living that Monday-Friday routine but then it flashes to these party scenes where I’m dancing and drinking with my friends and letting go of that loneliness for the night and really living in the moment. It was so important to me, that we showed both of those sides in the music video.
‘Don’t Forget About Me’ is such a pretty and ethereal sounding song and both the original and the acoustic versions are fantastic. I’m also loving the music video – it’s so textured and it’s visually stunning. Can you tell us more about this song and the inspiration behind it?
I wrote ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ on my first writing trip to LA late night in my hotel and then took it into my two amazing friends and musicians Daniel Ledinsky and David Sandström – it was such an incredible session and I was so in love with their approach to production and writing. Daniel and David put so much belief in me, and I felt like being in the studio with them was the safest place in the world to pour my heart out.
‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ is about insecurity and worrying what others think, and fretting about the big pressure I felt to be doing something great as soon as I left High School. “Need to know what I’m doing is important or take a hit so I can forget” is such a significant line in the song to me, as it really sums up how I felt. I think at times, we can feel like we have to have our whole lives together or people will judge us, I certainly fell into that for a while but came to realize the people who truly care and love us, will be there through it all and if we are constantly worrying what others think of us, we’ll always be putting ourselves and our true wants, last.
I think at times, we can feel like we have to have our whole lives together or people will judge us
I read in this interview that ‘Crave You’ is about “missing the routine, the company and the connection with someone at the end of a relationship, more than the person themselves.” I think this is a very interesting topic and is something that many of us go through. How do you eventually find the strength to move on from someone? Can you tell us more about this track?
‘Crave You’ is just a special song to me. I wrote it before I left high school at 18, before managers, publishers or labels. It is what I consider “the beginning” for me and finding my style in songwriting. I think relationships create a safe haven sometimes which can be such a beautiful thing, until something isn’t right or it just isn’t working. That safe haven that naturally also brings the routine and the company can leave us staying, even when it’s toxic.
I think it’s scary breaking up with someone because often follow feelings of “have I done the right thing” “am I letting something good go?” It’s those doubts that can sometimes hold us back, but ultimately we know deep down what’s right for us and I always believe in following gut instincts. ‘Crave You’ was the first song I ever sent to my now manager, Ashley Page. It sat there for a while in my computer until I met Sam De Jong and his production was just everything to me. It was so important to capture the same feelings from the demo and Sam De Jong’ did that in his production, so perfectly.
Have you experienced any adversity being a woman in the music industry? Do you have any tips for other women going through challenges in their own lives?
I feel I’ve been incredibly lucky, working with people who are so wonderful and just great human beings. I think my advice to any women experiencing any adversity would be to not be afraid to say how you feel about a situation, and you should ALWAYS feel comfortable, if you don’t… something needs to be done. Always follow your instincts and rather than letting anyone, in any industry, pit women against each other; support and love each other!
You should ALWAYS feel comfortable, if you don’t… something needs to be done.
You have recently been working with collaborators of Lorde, Halsey, and Dua Lipa. What has this experience been like for you? What can fans expect in the future from these collaborations?
Working with these amazing producers has been so amazing and I’ve been able to learn so much from them. They all are so open, fearless and incredible musicians so to say I have worked with them is amazing to me. I love the way they can take my sad songs and make them so fun, and able to dance wild to! You can expect a lot more fun songs, with emotional stories behind them… but don’t worry.. you can dance annnnnd cry to them!
What songs are you currently listening to?
I want to thank Anna for doing this interview with me! You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook– I promise you’ll have nothing to regret 😉. Embrace the good times and dance the days away by watching her music video and listening to her tracks below!