Robert Owens: I’m one of life’s introverts
Robert Owens is one of the voices of house music, a man whose vocals were present at the beginning and remain utterly timeless. He has the ability to convey emotion in such a pure form that he has touched music lovers all over the world. The singer became well known through his work with Fingers Inc. though he has also made worked on solo projects and collaborated with other producers over the years. In the last few months a slew of new music featuring Robert’s voice has been recorded, all coming from various exponents of today’s electronic music scene – from Mosca, to Monika Kruse and Mark E through to Audiofly, Luca C & Brigante and Jet Project.
You seem to have been a very busy man of late, what’s behind the increase in collaborations?
I think it’s because I’ve made myself more accessible for people to reach, often in life I’ve rested on the judgment of what others felt I should do. It’s important that you as an artist understand where you are and what you want to achieve.
Most of the people you’ve recorded with recently are relative newcomers compared to yourself – were you aware of say, Mosca, or Audiofly, before they approached you to work with them?
No, but through e-mails, conversations and meetings I felt something beautiful, I react to beautiful emotions.
And, in relation to that, do you keep up to date with the current scene much?
No, I’m one of life’s introverts. These days I enjoy spending time alone searching inside my mind – when I’m in the club environment, I enjoy the moment.
Being so highly regarded and revered within the house scene, you must get a lot of offers of work and collaborations – how do you decide which projects to work on and which to reject?
I go by feeling – one conversation and I get a pretty good idea about the possibility of how a project might develop and the person I’m dealing with.
You spent a few days in Ibiza with Luca C and the crew, how was that? Can you shed some light on the recording process and what you worked on together while you were there?
I had a great time with the crew but to date they’ve sat on the project. This has happened in the past with so many other individuals, the let down for me is when people have you there in the studio and you’re more then capable of correcting anything they’re not happy with. Them having me do track after track, then maybe after living with having too much they become confused, there have been times when I heard the track I did two or three years later earlier over new music played in a different key which makes me seem like I was the one out of place, one or two words of what I wrote. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m all for one word songs too, but make sure it’s a good one word, and that the vocal is not clipped by over-gating it – and that the vocal is in tune.
I guess you’ve spent quite a lot of time in Ibiza over the years, when did you first go there and what was that experience like?
I think my first time there was 1990 and I was with friends. The only thing I remember is spending most of my time on the beach loving the warmth and peace of listening to the water.
There seems to be a renewed interest in electronic music in the States, what do you think about the way things are at present?
I think it’s a shame no promoters in the States find an interest in booking me there. My only contact seems to be with fans on Facebook, thank God for that, lol.
Having lived through the birth and evolution of house music, how do you feel about the music that’s being made today? How do you think it compares to what was being made in the late eighties?
House music today, yesterday and tomorrow was and should be about unity and love, that’s the main focus of what I give.
Some people label you as ‘the voice of house’, but of course there are other famous house vocalists – who else would you place alongside you as ‘voices of house’?
Love, respect and power to the people anyone who has ever believed in me is my life line. I place no one beside me, I hope people view me as someone unique.
Your voice conveys so much emotion and seems to touch a raw nerve with so many people, where do you think it comes from?
It comes from me being grateful for every moment I’ve survived judgement, obstacles and pain. I’ve learned how to pour these things back into my tool of giving.
Was there ever a time, in those early stages of the music’s evolution, where you considered any other career options?
From the moment I felt love from people because I was offering an unconditional part of me, there has been no turning back.
If music/singing never worked out for you, what would you have done?
Who knows, maybe a maid with lots of discount offers.
Of all the many memories/stories that have shaped your life, would you mind sharing one which has particular significance to your music and where you are today?
The story of now. This moment someone is reading my thoughts, we only have moments in life, you being tuned to me is a perfect story.
If you could travel back through time to one particular musical period, where would you go and why?
I’d go back to the Den One and see Ron Hardy play music before I knew him, then I’d move forward to the time we became friends and then to the time before he died when I went back to that same club, rented it out and I got him to play for me and we sat in the booth and felt love for what we both gave musically.
What are you working on at the moment?
Almost everyday I write something down that, at some point, will turn into a song. I have some demo projects there but I’m not talking about them until every angle becomes a reality. I’ve been playing some of the tracks in my DJ set and people seem to like the new vibes so fingers are always crossed .
What are your plans for the summer?
Flying around the world, working and looking forward to feeling love from people.
How does it feel to still be in demand and respected for your work after all these years?
How do you stay motivated, having been involved in the music for so long?
I love what I do, that’s the greatest motivation for me. Meeting people and having them tell me I’ve touched their life in some way, somehow.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
Watching movies… lately, taking long walks alone and admiring the sight along the journey.
As someone with as much experience as yourself, what would our advice be to someone who’s new to the industry and wants to get their voice heard?
Be yourself and let no one push you away from your individuality.
Anything you’d care to add yourself, please feel free.
Thank you, love and respect forever.Audiofly, Chicago, Fingers Inc., house music, Jet Project, Luca C & Brigante, Mark E, Monika Kruse, mosca, music, Robert Owens, Voice of house
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter