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Robin Fox Sees Stars...

ROBIN

FOX

NAJM Dance Culture
Robin Fox exploded onto the dance music scene last March with her breakout trance hit "I See Stars," which peaked at #13 on the Billboard Dance Music Charts. Based in Miami, Robin and her producer "FLF" met with NAJM at The Cheesecake Factory in Boca Raton for this in depth look at Robin and her drive to succeed.
NAJM: You are a relatively new artist with your breakout hit "I See Stars," tell us a little about where you came from and how you choose dance music as a form of expression?  

 

RF: Well, I originally come from Boston and that's primarily a rock and roll town, but I liked disco, Motown, and the Supremes. It seemed as if no one liked that style except for me, so it was a way to be different. I enjoy Donna Summer, Grace Jones, the B-52's, Punk Rock, and the 80's. I love to dance! So dance music was in my blood.
NAJM: Was music always a part of your childhood?
RF: I never learned to play an instrument, but I always knew I wanted to sing. I would sing along with my records and dream about being like Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder. I didn't know that it would come out this way. I love to dance! It makes you feel really good. I have a lot of messages and poems that I want to put together. It's all very natural for me.
NAJM: What was the inspiration behind "I See Stars?"
RF: "I See Stars" is actually a love song. I was involved with a fellow that for some reason I felt like I couldn't live without him. We only went out for 3 months and soon broke up. Later, I had this party at my house where my friends were trying to get me to come out of my shell from losing this love. They brought the party upstairs to my attic where I had a light bulb and a fan. I was like, hey guys; want to hear this song I wrote? So I put the fan in front of my face, and you know how when you're a kid and you blow in the fan and it makes noises?
NAJM: Yeah.
RF: So I started singing this poem I had written for this guy; I need your love, like the flowers need the sun, inside my soul there is a hole that only you can fill. It wasn't until two or three years later that FLF, my producer, saw the words and said, "that's really good, let's put it to this music." That is how "I See Stars" came about.
NAJM: Cool! Complete with a fan Vocoder!
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I See Stars & Orgasms...

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RF: When I say, "I See Stars," that means an orgasm to me. To some people it means drugs. There are many people who say that when they use Ecstasy, they see stars. If they do, let them. It doesn't bother me.
NAJM: So it is whatever people choose to interpret it as?
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) RF: Right. Originally it was a love song. About that love, that magic, almost like a love at first sight. Like having an orgasm, it's really great. That's what I sing about, I sing about orgasms!
NAJM: How important is it for you to write your own material?
RF: At first it was very important because you don't get paid for the song unless you write the words. I'm a writer and I have always been a writer. To have someone else write the words and then sing them is like singing someone else's message. I have learned in the business that some of their words are better or just as good as mine, so we try to collaborate.
NAJM: So you have learned to collaborate with other artists?
RF: No, not with other artists, but with the producer. There are arrangers and background singers who also help me. They sometimes say that it isn't going to work or that you can't fit it in the melody, so we'll have to change around a few things. You have to learn that you can't hold on to songs very tight. We had one song where I said, "drugs" and everyone was like "you can't use that", even though it was like a witchy kind of thing. We ended up using the word "potion" instead. There are a lot of artists, who would say no, that's my art and don't want to let it go - but sometimes things fit better into the song for commercial reasons.
NAJM: Tell us how you managed to hook up with your collaborator and producer "FLF?"
RF: He had a band on Friday and Saturday nights. His music was like Duran Duran, and Depeche Mode, they were really very good. I worked for a newspaper at the time, and I was like "Lawrence (FLF), why don't you bring your music to a record company?" He said, "you can't just walk in and say here's my music," - and I said "why not?" I walked into a newspaper and said "here's my articles, publish them!" It seemed easy. So I called up a record company in Miami and set up a job interview. The label was floored when they heard his music. They gave him a record deal that week. He came to me and said, "I need lyrics you can write lyrics?" I'm like, I can't write lyrics, I write articles, and science fiction!" So the first lyrics I wrote were science fiction in nature.
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Finding a Label

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NAJM: How did you hook up with Streetbeat in Miami?
RF: We had been working for another company in Miami, but we wanted to work with someone who had a good reputation and stood behind its artists. We went to Midem and gave out our resumes and hoped that someone would call us back. We made lots of calls, pleading for people to get back with us. People were like "send a demo", and I was like, "no we're not sending demos! We're already established!" By this time FLF had made 163 albums!
NAJM: Someone recently told me that demos really don't exist anymore when you take your single to a label; you have to have a finished product. Do you find that to be the case?
RF: It depends on how talented you are. If you are a great singer and you have great material, you don't need a demo, but it does help. The other day we had someone in the studio and she was singing to everyone who walked in, even the accountant! That was sort of embarrassing, but it does help to have a calling card, something to remember you by.
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Getting it on the Radio...

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NAJM: "I See Stars" broke on Power 96 out of Miami. How did you get them to give the single spins, let alone pick it up for regular rotation?
RF: You have to be determined. I would go to Power 96 for the past seven years every Thursday between 3 and 5 pm, which is their record day. I would jump up on the desk in a plastic see through outfit and say, "play my fucking song, it's as good as anything that's out there!" They'd say, "we love it" and then I would go out to my car and expect them to play it right then, but they didn't. I kept at them and they would say it's too slow. I'd bring them something fast the words then they would say that is wasn't good enough. There was always something. I'd listen to Power 96 and I knew what was marketable. By the time I made "I See Stars" two things happened. I made a perfect song that Power 96 would have to play. It was everything they ever wanted and there wasn't any other artist out there in South Florida that could beat us.
NAJM: There are many other dance oriented stations outside of Power 96 in the States have you met much resistance from other radio stations to play "I See Stars?"
RF: I didn't know that dance music was such an uphill battle until I got to New York. I love freestyle and I listen to it at least an hour everyday. I was shocked to hear how behind in music New York was. I just felt they really didn't know what was going on around them. Especially when we went to France and England where their stuff blows away anything that I have written. We do the best that we can here and hopefully those stations will want to play "I See Stars." They are starting too, a little at a time. I don't know what kind of things need to happen, but whatever I need to do to get it played, I will get my song played in New York.
NAJM: How active are you in promoting your single or record?
RF: For the past two years I was the only person promoting myself. I would go into nice restaurants in Palm Beach dressed in a plastic dress made from the game Twister with the spinner on my head as a hat. I would just get the table and sing my songs to the patrons. I didn't care how crazy that looked. I went to Power 96 and Y-100 myself. I made calls across the country to make sure my records were in the stores. It was a lot of groundwork. I would sleep during the day and at night I would go into clubs.
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Slap The DJ?

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NAJM: Did you ever approach the DJ's yourself?
RF: At one club, I had to slap the DJ with my CD! I was like, "play my song, what are you an idiot? This is good music, play it now!" A couple weeks later the promoter who was at the club came up to me and said, "I want you to come to my birthday party." I said, "no, they won't even play my song at that club." He's like, "Robin, I guarantee you we will have a video camera and you can sing your song." Just persistence. I believed in myself.
NAJM: That's encouraging to hear. "I See Stars" is more or less a Trance single. Trance is something that is becoming big, it's been big, is probably going to stay big. How committed are you to staying with Trance, or are you going to explore other dance music genres?
RF: I spent a year in a club called the Shadow Lounge in Miami listening to Trance night after night. I hated trance! The people were sweating all over me, drunken bastards, high, there was no place to sit, but I did it. I realized that this was a big thing. Trance is something that people were enjoying, but I didn't enjoy it because there were no lyrics. Every now and then there would be some scattered lyrics, but it wasn't on the radio. All I could listen to the radio was Top 40 and Hip-Hop. I was instrumental in getting trance on the radio. I told FLF, why don't we cut this song down from 20 minutes to 2 minutes, I'll put some clever lyrics over it.
NAJM: When Trance first hit the scene, it was not very melodic or memorable was it?
RF: When ATB came out, no one could identify it by just the sound, it needed lyrics. When "I See Stars" came out everyone said "we'll play it" and I was like, "don't blow smoke." But when I got in the car to leave, turned on the radio and almost died. They said they would play it, and they did! Trance music is a big thing in Miami and it's very exciting. It's like being a prophet and you see what's coming down the line and no one believes you. It's such a satisfaction, and now I love trance music, I really do. There are a lot of good ones out there like Sonique, Alice DJ, and Grace. My favorite song is by Sasha and Marie, "Be As One!" I heard that song four or five years ago in California and it's still my favorite song today!
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Robin's Bright Future

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NAJM: What other projects are you currently working on?
RF: I am currently working with FLF on the follow-up single and a full-length album for Streetbeat. We are also out touring in clubs to support the single.
NAJM: What is next for Robin Fox?
RF: Posters, tee shirts, a Grammy, Book deal on my life story, modeling contract, movie deal, magazine covers, fashion modeling, MTV, VH1, a cartoon series, a sitcom, a variety show, Broadway, the works!
NAJM: Wow! Well you certainly on your way!
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Robin's Producer FLF

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NAJM: Ok, for all of our bedroom Dj's out there, FLF, can you tell us some of the equipment you use in your studio?
FLF: Well, as far as equipment goes, my main piece of gear is a Korg Trinity (which I have maxed out). I love the textures and editing capabilities that really enable me to create sounds that inspire me to write songs. Some of the other pieces of gear that I really love are the Yamaha RM1-X and the Proteus 2000.
NAJM: What about sequencing and recording audio?
FLF: As far as sequencing goes, I have been and always will be a diehard Cubase fan. I still run an old version of Cubase on an OLD Mac Quadra 604 computer. I have chosen to sacrifice the speed and amenities (VST in off position) of a newer Mac or IBM because the processor in the Quadra runs a really tight clock and superiorly handles sequencing at low PPQ's, a must for creating dance music. After sequencing I record the tracks onto a state of the art pro-tools system designed by Audio One. From there vocals are laid, I mix the song down and master it in Peak. And then presto! (Don't forget to say presto!)
NAJM: We wish you and Robin all the success you deserve. Thank you for spending the evening with us! We really enjoyed hooking up with you guys!

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Coming Attractions:

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After spending the evening with Robin and FLF, we have to admit that these two are a force to reckon with. After Dinner, we went out to FLF's car and listened to some upcoming tracks that are slated for Robin's debut album. We heard "Superstar" which Robin hopes to be her next single. It was absolutely fantastic! You trance fans have just heard the tip of the iceberg with "I See Stars!" "Superstar" is sure to be another hit for Robin and FLF.

Next we listened to "Its Gonna Be OK", which FLF described as a lullaby for the dance floor. The song was nothing short of amazing with its beautiful chord progressions and gentle lyrics. After listening to these sound bites, we are really excited about Robin's forthcoming album. Check back with NAJM for updates and release information!

     

 

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