The Godmothers of Pop: Robin S interview
Robin S tells Douglas McPherson all about defining the sound of Diva House with her 1993 hit Show Me Love.
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Robin S shot to fame in 1993 with Show Me Love, a stripped-down but thumping dance track that defined the sound of Diva House. The song drew little attention on its first release in 1990 but took on a new life when it was remixed by fledgling Swedish DJ Sten Hallstrom, under his soon-to-be famous stage name StoneBridge. Initially issued on a 12” white label, Show Me Love took off in the clubs and quickly crossed over to the mainstream, reaching No.5 on the US Hot 100 and No.6 on the UK singles charts, leading Robin S to make her worldwide TV debut on Top of the Pops. The follow-up, Luv 4 Luv was another global smash that reached No.11 in the UK and paved the way for a brace of albums, Show Me Love in 1993 and From Now On in 1997. Multiple reissues of Show Me Love have since seen the track embraced by new generations of clubbers. This July, Robin S celebrated the hit’s 25th anniversary by appearing with a full orchestra at the Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics festival in Leeds.
Are you from a musical family?
Yes. I have siblings who sing and my father was a quartet singer for the World’s Fair in the US. He was also a boxer who fought as Stonewall Jackson, which is where I got my stage name. Jackson is my birth name. For a while, I became Robin Stone, from Stonewall, but I was never comfortable with that, so we shortened it to just Robin S.
What sort of music were you singing before Show Me Love and who were your big influences?
I was in a couple of covers bands – New York Soul Syndicate and Top Shelf – and we sang all of the Top 20 r’n’b songs. Growing up, I liked Nancy Wilson, Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker, Nina Simone, Larry Graham, Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Lena Horne, Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Annie Lennox and Bonnie Raitt to just name a few.
Were you into the club scene as a club-goer before Show Me Love?
No, not really. I loved Inner City’s Good Life – something about that song made me hit the floor. But I did not do it that often.
How did you come to record Show Me Love?
The producers Allan George and Fred McFarlane saw my show one night and asked me to demo the song, which they had written. I did, thinking nothing of it. The original came out on Champion Records in the UK and flopped. A couple of years later, I was told that a guy by the name of StoneBridge was going to remix it and once I heard it, I was super excited. The song had been reborn. His remix and my vocal… it was a perfect marriage!
Is it true you were working as a secretary and had a couple of children by the time Show Me Love took off?
It is, and the truth is that it enabled me to provide a more secure life for my children. Any good mother wants more for her children and I’m no different.
The song was a worldwide hit in 1993 and has since kept returning to the charts, making the UK Top 10 again in 1997. It was a European hit again in 2002 before it topped the charts in the Netherlands in 2008. Why do you think it has remained so popular?
This song is a time capsule that relates to every generation.
What was the plan for your second album, in terms of the music that you wanted to do?
I wanted people to see what my life consisted of. Your music is your life. When you share it, you invite people all over the world to know you.
Which of your recordings do you look back on most fondly or would most like people to hear?
A song on the first album called Who’s Gonna Raise The Child. When you really listen to the song, you will understand why. Yes, we had a relationship and a marriage. It’s not working and we are divorcing or going our own way. Wait, wait. What about the children? Why do we divorce them? Can someone, anyone, think about the child?
How would you sum up the spirit of the early-90s dance scene and why do you feel that it is still resonating with people today?
It was infectious and happy, riding the wave of what sounds really made you feel good. It brings back happy times in people’s lives and still makes them feel good on the inside and out.
What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m currently working on some new music with DJ Freez. I have songs already out on iTunes and this latest project will make its own mark.