A pop singer with serious soul, Bluey Robinson is one of the most exciting prospects of 2011. Born in Sweden and raised in London, the 22 year-old is a captivating, charismatic debut act whose songwriting encapsulates a throwback feel with a futuristic twist. Retaining a distinct British personality, there are also echoes of Prince, Otis Redding, The Jackson 5, Cee-Lo Green and Bruno Mars in Bluey's sonic spectrum. "I'm influenced by a lot of old music but I'm also a young guy living in London in 2011, so I want to tie the two angles together," says Bluey, who has worked with Labrinth ('Pass Out') and toured with Tinie Tempah. "I don't want it to be too retro where it doesn't fit and no one can relate to it, or me.”
Not only an enigmatic performer who brilliantly balances the line between commercial and credible, it's impossible not to be immediately won over by Bluey's skilled songwriting, ear-grabbing melodies and killer choruses. With the capability to crossover from MistaJam to Jools Holland, broadsheets to the style bibles, the Box to MTV Base, Bluey is a truly intriguing proposition.
Innate talent is just a part of Bluey's charm; this handsome, polite, thoughtful yet confident young performer is incredibly likeable and unafraid to show his sensitive side. “I was bought up with my mum and three younger sisters, so I was the only guy in the house,” says Bluey, his real name, who was raised without his father in the frame. “I want that side to reflect in my music; popping bottles doesn't really appeal to me. I'm not really a flashy, go to the club dude,” he says. “I want to make songs that will be remembered. I listen to a lot of pop and it's good for a time, but no one really remembers it after it's left the charts. Tina Turner might not bring out songs now but everyone knows 'Simply The Best'. I want to know that I made a real impact on music.”
Born to a Swedish mum and British/ Trinidadian father, the family moved to Hackney from Sweden when Bluey was three months old. He began his musical journey at the age of three when he stumbled upon his mum's vinyl collection. Spending hours sat by the turntable listening to Bob Marley, The Drifters, UB40 and Jackson 5 records, Bluey began singing along to the sounds of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. After taking – somewhat inexplicably, he laughs – Indian dance lessons during lunch break at Primary School, he was sent to audition for the West End production of 'The Lion King' Though he just missed out the first time round, casting directors suggested he get vocal lessons to strengthen his voice to auditorium standard; the next time, he landed the lead role of Simba. Bluey also starred alongside Jessie J and The Saturday's Rochelle Wiseman in 'Whistle Down The Wind'… "It was a great, great start for me," he remembers. "It helped improve my vocal, and more than anything else made me realise that whatever happened, I had to do music."
Throughout his teenage years, the sometime skateboarder and occasional guitar player continued to act and sing, winning a part in Eastenders as Billy Jackson for one episode, before forming a Boyz II Men/ 112 influenced band with some school friends. However, Bluey's obvious solo potential meant he was soon forced to go it alone. "They felt I'd work better as a solo artist, so they said I should leave and do my own thing. I was so sad, man. I actually cried," he remembers. "I was so upset I didn't know what to do with myself. The next thing I knew I was climbing a tree to get rid of the tension cos I was so pissed off! But the next day I pulled myself together and thought, 'Right, I'll do this thing solo then'.
After a couple of false starts, offers that didn't feel quite right and a stint working at Sports World in Charlton, Robinson eventually found a manager that understood him as an artist. "I'm into live instrumentation, I want to write my own material, I don’t want to be a puppet singing songs I don't believe in," he says. Through his friendship with fellow south Londoner Master Shortie, he was introduced to a budding beatmaker called Labrinth. In 2009, the pair wrote and recorded a number of songs, including 'I Know', which received over 300,000 combined views on Youtube and caught the attention of acclaimed American R&B singer Ryan Leslie, who recorded a remix of the single. Labrinth of course went on to have success with Tinie Tempah's 'Pass Out' and 'Frisky' and his own single, 'Let The Sun Shine', and the pair still continue to work together.
Throughout this time, Bluey used his initiative to further expand his fanbase by uploading videos of himself singing on the underground in London, Paris and New York. “We initially tried it in Trafalgar Square, but it was too noisy with the fountains and the traffic,” he recalls. “So we went into Charing Cross station and discovered the acoustics were amazing.” The Youtube clips of Bluey performing Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and Beyoncé for gobsmacked commuters and impressed tourists received over 500,000 views. With a real buzz building, he was asked to appear on BBC2's No Hats No Trainers, covered the Kings Of Leon on SBTV, and featured on the cover of RWD magazine alongside then unknowns Tinie Tempah and Devlin.
Since signing with Sony last year, Bluey has been busy both in the studio and building his live show; there's been tours with his friend Tinie Tempah as well as scene-stealing performances at Wireless, yOyO and the aftershow of the BBC's Electric Proms. Not only connecting with the record buying public eager for the next wave of Tinchy, Tinie, Chipmunk and Professor Green's, Bluey includes boxer David Haye, world renowned brand Blackberry and fashionista Nicole Fahri as fans.
With a growing online presence, engaging personality, drop dead gorgeous vocal and, most importantly, a string of quality, credible pop hits, it's clear that 2011 is Bluey's for the taking. "This might sound cliché, but I'm trying to follow the greats like Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Prince and Stevie," decides Bluey. "That’s who I want to be in years to come; I want to be someone who's remembered for changing the game and who leaves an imprint on music, worldwide."