After a wildly successful debut season of VERSES & FLOW, LEXUS decided to extend the season by visiting three different cities, kicking off in Chicago, with Philadelphia and Dallas to follow. In each city, a spoken word audition/competition was held, as well as a live performance. Chicago was the first stop, and the featured performer was the GRAMMY-nominated ROBIN THICKE. We caught up with the soul singer while he was on daddy duty, and he spoke to us about family, his soul inspirations, and the meaning behind his newest album, Love After War.
LA: Tell us about your experience performing at VERSES & FLOW LIVE in Chicago.
RT: Oh, it was a great time, and a wonderful venue [the River East Arts Center]. I liked that it was intimate, and that the crowd was very into the performance. That's what made it such a great time. I got there just before I was scheduled to perform, so I didn't get a chance to interact with the poets, but I love the blend of poetry and live singing.
You've been writing songs for a while now. What was the first song you wrote for someone else that was placed?
The first song I wrote that was placed was for Brandy called "Love Is On My Side," and appeared on her debut album. Placing that song got me work writing for other artists. And actually, most of the songs I wrote were for women, or in a woman's voice--which probably explains why most of my fans are women as well [laughs].
You have two famous parents [Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke]. Your dad played a father on television. Was there every any resentment watching your dad have 'another family?'
No. Not at all. It was great growing up with my dad working on a set. It was a fun environment. I would leave school and ride my bike over and hang out with the other kids. So it was really like I had two families instead of one, with the kids on the television show being like brothers and sisters, or cousins.
What influence did each of your parents have on you musically?
It was interesting growing up in that household, really. My mom was more of a soul music fan, listening to artists such as Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder, while my dad was more into Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. So I got the best of both worlds when it came to music, hearing some of the best music ever created.
So, seeing that you eventually veered into the R&B lane, is it safe to say that your mother was more of a prominent influence?
Well, I wouldn't say I have a lane, per se. I just do the music that moves me. Whatever it may be. That's like saying Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder had a lane, or were classified as strictly R&B. There were more soul singers. If anything, I'd call myself that as well. A soul singer. Ultimately, I want to be known as a singer/songwriter that makes good music.
With that in mind, which artists did you most identify with while growing up in the 70s/80s?
My favorite artist when I was really young--like, 7-12 years old--was Michael Jackson. Hands down. When I got a little older, it was all about Stevie Wonder--the way he composed, wrote and sang blew me away. And when I got older, I loved Marvin Gaye, The Beatles and Al Green. Their music really spoke to me.
Your latest album is Love After War. What was the thinking behind giving it that title?
I was working on this album while my wife was pregnant, and then the first year and a half of us having our baby. So basically it was being done all while I was trying to figure out how to be a dad, which in itself is a lot to process. And I loved it. When you talk about wars, there are so many that we face everywhere, whether it's in relationships, internally, with outside forces. It's a lot to deal with, but we have to get through it. Get to the other side to the love. That's what this album is focused on, quelling the inner wars, the fears and the things that set us off and tear us apart--getting past that--and concentrating on love, which makes us whole.
You've got a lot going on right now. You're a new dad, you have a new album, and you're also an advisor on The Voice. How did that come about, and how is it working with the contestants?
It's been different than anything I've done in my career, that's for sure. I know Adam [Levine], and he asked me to come on board to help. I'd never seen the show before going there, so I was pleasantly surprised by the contestants and what they bring. The whole concept of them being selected based solely on their talent is incredible, though. That definitely made the experience more attractive to me.
I have another project I'm working on that will air this summer on ABC called Duets. Myself, Lionel Richie, Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Nettles will be working with our proteges and performing duets with them each week, and America will choose the top team. It gives me a chance to sing every week to a large audience, which I love. All of these opportunities are a good chance to get my music out to a wider audience.
Also, I did a tribute to Whitney Houston from her song ["Exhale (Shoop Shoop)"] on the "Waiting To Exhale" soundtrack that I'm very proud of, and hopefully she'd be proud of as well.
Robin Thicke's latest album Love After War is currently available via iTunes. To find out more about the singer/songwriter, please go to robinthicke.com.