|Interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: After having a successful career in songwriting, what made you want to step out and become a recording artist?
ROBIN THICKE: Actually, I had a record deal when I was 16 and I was always a singer first and foremost. I just wrote songs so I would have something to sing. I think out of fear of people not liking it or out of failure, I started doing other projects and putting my music other places when I really should have been singing all along. Then about five years ago, I decided that I need to get focused and I don’t want to lose this opportunity. I need to sing. I really need to start doing songs for myself. So I started making an album and that’s when I ran into Andre Harrell. He hooked up and I ended up going back to Interscope Records where I first was when I was 16. Jimmy Iovine loved what I was doing and put out the first album which received a lot of love and now I am really
doing what I love to do. Now I really feel a lot better about my life.
Do you know how that is? When you finally start doing what you always dreamed of doing? It just seemed right, so I think it’s right.
WHO?MAG: How did you get discovered at such a young age?
ROBIN THICKE: Well actually, I did some demos when I was 13 or 14 and people would hear it and go “oh, that’s a white boy singing.” Then Brian McKnight heard what I was doing and I started working with him and I signed with him under Interscope Records. Through my experience of working with him, I got the opportunity to work with other artists such as Brandy, then I started producing my own records like with Christine Aguilera. Brian was the first person to put me down.
WHO?MAG: What signifies the “Robin Thicke” sound?
ROBIN THICKE: I think one thing that I always try to have is passion and soul. I try to use the word soul lightly because people tend to think it only means one thing. But I think John Legend and Kurt Cobain had soul, Jack White from the White Stripes had soul as well as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Michael Jackson. They have all been the biggest influences to my music. When I think about my music I think there are some rock & roll attitudes, some soulful vocals, and the hip-hop mentality because I grew up listening to hip-hop music because I am part of the hip-hop generation.
WHO?MAG: What is your creative process for writing a song?
ROBIN THICKE: Go in and just have space and quiet and wait for something to come to me. Sometimes things just pop in my head from nowhere and that’s usually the best songs. That’s when I am not trying to write something. I feel something and the emotion takes over.
WHO?MAG: What key factors attributed your introduction into music?
ROBIN THICKE: Probably just people like Michael Jackson and Prince. When I would start singing, I would do impressions of their singing on the school bus and I would get lots of attention. So I was like “okay, this attention thing is good.” So I just would try to sing if I wanted to impress somebody.
WHO?MAG: How did you go about getting your deal with Interscope?
ROBIN THICKE: My first deal was with Brian McKnight and with John Mclame who signed me up there with Jimmy Iovine. Then, a few years later, I went to Sony with Tommy Mottola and that situation wasn’t really working. A few years later I just started making my own album and that’s when I met Andre. I went back to Interscope and Jimmy Iovine was like “I thought you were always signed here! Where have you been?” So Jimmy has been amazing
to me and has giving me so many opportunities and never stopped believing in me. Then he hooked me up with Pharrell and things have been getting better and better.
WHO?MAG: If you could change one thing about the entertainment industry, what would that be?
ROBIN THICKE: Right now downloading. What fans don’t realize is that the people that you love that you are downloading, some of them they are affecting their career and their chance to make another album or letting them go on tour. If you are downloading our album, then the label won’t give us the money to help support us coming out to see you and to put out more albums. Unfortunately, downloading is hurting a lot of these smaller acts.
WHO?MAG: What advice would you get an upcoming singer trying to break into the entertainment industry?
ROBIN THICKE: You have to listen and learn and be willing to criticize yourself and take criticism. Then you have to trust yourself because in the end, you are the only one like you and your individualality will always be the most important thing.
WHO?MAG: What’s next in store for Robin Thicke?
ROBIN THICKE: Hopefully, lots of money and fame and popularity (laugh). But really, right now I am in a good spot with my first album out. I used to worry a lot if people would really like it. But then, when I finished the album, it wouldn’t reach my expectations. Then I would be like “wow! I really wasted a lot of time worrying about something I couldn’t control!” So now I am really enjoying it and I am really thankful that I can sing and that I am making records for people like Pharrell, Faith Evans, Lil’ Wayne, and everyone else I have on the album. I am really having the time of my life right now so I am enjoying it. Slow motion, baby, slow motion!