Robin S. features on Beyoncé’s new single – she didn’t know until her phone started pinging – Music Reads

Robin S. features on Beyoncé’s new single – she didn’t know until her phone started pinging – Music Reads

Nineties pop icon Robin S. opens up about her involvement in ‘Break My Soul’

Yesterday, Beyonce released the first single from her first album in over six years.

Given she’s one of the most popular and progressive pop artists on the planet, a culture-changing icon, it’s a big deal.

‘Break My Soul’ is a high-energy, dancefloor-ready jam reminiscent of the house/pop/R&B that dominated the charts in the early 90s.

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Beyoncé, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream co-produced the track – the first time they’ve collaborated since 2008 megahit ‘Single Ladies’ – and went back to the source to help get the vibe and sound just right.

That source was a song called ‘Show Me Love’, originally released by American singer Robin S. in 1990, but which found enormous success after it was remixed by Swedish producers Stonebridge and Nick Nice in 1992.

Robin S. is in her home in Atlanta, Georgia, and she still can’t quite believe what just happened.

“I’m a person of transparency: I did not know about this single,” she reveals to Double J’s Tim Shiel. “I knew nothing about it. Nothing.

“This morning when I woke up and my alarm went off, so did my phone. It just kept going off. It kept pinging, pinging, pinging, pinging, pinging.”

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So, how does it feel to wake up and find out that the biggest pop star in the world has just included you on her new single?

“I have a plethora of emotions going on right now,” Robin says. “Elated, proud, happy, shocked, excited. I just keep going up and down the scale here.

“I don’t know whether to cry because I’m so happy, or to laugh because this is so exciting, or do both at the same time.

“I’m just moved. Because most times people give you your braces after you’ve transitioned from this world. So, to be able to enjoy my flowers while I’m alive, I’m giddy. It feels good!”

It feels especially good to feature on a track from an artist like Beyoncé, an artist that Robin has watched with awe for decades.

“I’m very proud of her,” she says. “I’ve always been proud of her. Because she’s put out stuff that puts women in a position to understand who they are and the power that they have in this world.

“Because we were made to feel, in the industry, that we were subservient. The industry was always a man’s world and certain women had to give in or sell their souls in order to make it.

“She’s changed the game.”

Four illustrated images of Beyoncé's most iconic looks, set on the queen of spades, hearts, clubs & diamonds playing cards

It’s not just her work behind the scenes that Robin finds inspiring. She’s also in awe of her talents on record.

“Her delivery is always on point with her songs,” Robin says. “You feel what she’s feeling when she’s singing it.

“That right there is what it’s all about. If I feel what you feel when you are singing this, it’s a groovy thing, it’s a great situation, it’s a wonderful marriage.”

Beyoncé’s continual artistic evolution has been one of the most fascinating aspects of her storied career. While Robin S. made her mark in the world of dance music, she wasn’t afforded the same opportunities to develop.

“For the most part, no one really wanted to hear anything else that I was capable of doing,” she says. “I was in this box, and they wanted to keep me in this box and never let me out.

“Every artist is allowed to grow throughout their career. They sing about it, they talk about it, they live it, they mature. With a dance artist, you’re not supposed to. I don’t know where they got that from , but they don’t want to allow you to do that.”

These days she has taken it upon herself to show the world the breadth of her talents. She tours often – last visiting Australia in 2018 – and has self-released a number of tracks that offer a fuller picture of her as an artist.

“There’s so many pieces of me that people have yet to experience,” she says.

“When I’m touring and I talk to people, I let them know, ‘You’re gonna hear some different things, it’s still me, and I still love you. Just hang there with me. I gotta get this out of my system’.

“I have plenty of songs that are on iTunes that I released myself, because it was inside of me, and I had to get it out. I didn’t have any major backing behind me.”

It’s not as though she’s abandoning her biggest hit. In fact, she continues to embrace the song that had her on the top of charts the world over 30 years ago.

“The remix of ‘Show Me Love’ that I did with Emmaculate was something that I redid. And that’s the way I sing a song now, which is totally different from the original one.

“I’m proud of that, I’m proud of the fact that I was able to do that and have a soulful house song get people grooving.”

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Music tends to be cyclical. Trends come and go, but they often come back again. As the sound of 90s dance music comes roaring back into vogue (excuse the pun), Robin is happy to hear what the next generation artists do with it.

“I’m not mad about it,” Robin says. “We’re supposed to grow off of each other.

“I mean, that’s what music is all about. We’re supposed to take from our elders, and grow and enhance it, not so much recreate it, but do it better. That’s what we’re supposed to do.

“We don’t try to reinvent the wheel, we just add more flavor to it, add more seasoning to it. That’s it.

“It’s just so crazy to me that things happen and you have no idea where it’s gonna take you years from now. Like, you just don’t know. You just don’t know. I think that it is pretty freaking awesome. “

If Beyoncé is reading this (hi by the way), Robin would love a quick chat.

“I would love to be able to thank her in person,” she says.

Mainly though, Robin is thankful that people continue to discover and enjoy her music after so many years.

“‘Show Me Love’ is going to be 30 years old in 2023,” she says. “What a way to enter into 2023. I have goosebumps when I think about it.

“I’m so, so thankful. I don’t think I can express enough how thankful I am for the longevity of this song and the longevity of my life.”

Hear Tim Shiel on Double J Arvos, Monday to Thursday from 3pm.

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