When we were young, we felt like we were unstoppable. There was a natural freeness and fearlessness embedded inside of us that took charge. There were no obstacles that felt too hard, nor was there internal doubt plaguing our thoughts. But as we began to get older those voices begin to creep in and hold us back from being the fearless version of ourselves that are still there and wanting to come out. New Zealand-born and London-based artist Robinson has created an anthem to encourage everyone to tap into their childhood self and lead with that fearlessness.
‘Teenage Renegade’ ultimately feels like the older-sister to her breakthrough single ‘Nothing To Regret’ as she pulls a parallel to those same euphoric feelings through a fresh perspective. She’s learnt that she should always embrace that freeing attitude, but through her personal battles with anxiety she has found herself being held back by these overwhelming thoughts. So this is her (and your) reminder to find your inner teenage renegade and unleash them to the world.
The pulsating pop production mixed with intoxicating drums will have you immediately entranced and rushed into what feels like a homecoming affair for the musician. After two years between releases, this single is a fresh taste of what is to come, and all of the dancing that is in store as she returns to the stage.
I chatted to Robinson about the freeing energy and carefree attitude behind her new single ‘Teenage Renegade’, and explored the creative process behind the accompanying music video which is premiering exclusively on ThomasBleach.com. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: ‘Teenage Renegade’ is your first single in two years, and it really is such a commanding and addictive little pop slice that genuinely feels so freeing. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?
ROBINSON: During those two years I went back to New Zealand, and like the rest of the world was forced to stay there. While I would have never chosen to actually go home for that amount of time, it really allowed me to connect with myself on a different level. I really got to explore all of these different genres, and even these concepts and thoughts that I maybe wasn’t able to explore while everything was fast paced.
Towards the end of the two year lockdown we were finally able to travel again, and I met Geoff who is now my manager, and we went to LA, and he set up a session with Tyler Spry who is this amazing producer and songwriter. We did a few sessions together, and immediately it just felt great. We just really connected and understood each other’s creative vision. And then I went back to London and we did this zoom one night, and the day before I had been stumbling around on the piano and came upon these very nostalgic feeling chords. I was playing them over and over again, and imagining this vision of me as a kid and how chaotic and free and open-hearted I was. And I think it just really inspired this story where I wrote verse upon verse. I did a Leonard Cohen, and decided the chorus was too much of a feat at the time and came back to it later. And from there we built it up.
TB: How many versions did you go through to get it where it is now sonically?
R: The track with the energetic drums and the really cool synths was kinda there from the start, but then we got Luke Hughes to come play live drums on it, and Charles added live bass, so a couple more instruments were added as the process went on. I think it was about really listening and having a bit of time to think about what live drums would do for the whole feeling of the song. I think it changed a lot from the demo, but at the same time a lot of what the demo was is harnessed in the final song.
TB: There’s a free-ness in the song that reminds me of ‘Nothing To Regret’. Do you see a correlation between those two songs?
R: Totally! Even in the concept; ‘Nothing To Regret’ was literally me as a 18 year old going “I’m young and free, and I have nothing to worry about”. Whereas ‘Teenage Renegade’ is reminiscent of that feeling of having nothing to regret. I didn’t even realise I had done that until after. It’s the mid 20’s version of ‘Nothing To Regret’ for sure.
TB: This song is all about remembering the carefree attitude that lives within us and is celebrated through reminiscing on your youth. After writing the lyric “I used to be so reckless. How could I forget this” – has this made an impact on you at all when you get stuck in your own head?
R: One hundred percent. I wrote that song as a reminder that we all have this natural ability to be fearless, brave, and tackle life without that overwhelming fear. I think it’s just those little voices that come in as we get older that say things like “well, if you do that then this could happen” or “I know you’re really happy right now but what if this came along and ruined everything”. It’s those really anxiety provoking feelings that stop you from giving your all to life, but that fearlessness from your childhood is still within you and you can stand up to those thoughts.
TB: You grew up in between New Zealand and Australia as well, and I feel like growing up between the two countries we were so blessed with the laid back attitude, and the adventurous and nature inclining focus that both countries have. When you look back on that carefree attitude, do you feel this also?
R: Oh totally. Just like you, I grew up in a really small town, and you wouldn’t create your own fun by being inside, it was all about being outside and adventuring. I think that is so ingrained into people who are born into those situations. So even now, if I’m living in London for a bit, I will be like I love this but after a while I will literally go to a cottage for a few days as I need trees and need to hear the birds.
TB: What songs soundtracked your childhood and early teen years, that made you feel free?
R: There has to be some ABBA in there, for sure. And then ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ from Tears And Fears. Every time I hear the opening of that song I melt.
TB: The accompanying music video cuts between some gorgeous city shots as well as some energetic performances in an intimate stage setting. What were the parallels you wanted to highlight between these two distinct visuals?
R: When I think of myself as a person, and who I am at home and with my family and friends, I love life, but I have some pretty intense anxiety. It can be this funny thing where you go on stage to perform and you step into the confident version of yourself, and that’s all that people see. We are presented with a particular image of someone, and you sometimes forget that there is so much behind each and every one of us. So I wanted to show who I really am when I go home and am in my head, and also highlight societal pressures that I have felt in the past like’ have a kid before your 30, or have a perfect relationship – whatever that might mean. I wanted to show the contrast of the confident performer side of me, as well as the very overwhelmed and anxious person that is in the world,
TB: When you were shooting the city scenes, did you get any funny reactions from people?
R: Yes! We had a lot of people asking “what are you filming for” and asking who the music video was for. But my favourite reaction was the Deliveroo guy that drives past me in the middle of the opening shot and just slightly looks back. I wonder if they will ever see the video one day and go “hey, that was me” *laughs*.
TB: You are now London based, so are there any specific places there that you feel visually resemble this new chapter for you creatively?
R: I think visually it doesn’t necessarily have a place, but it’s more of a feeling and something that I carry wherever I go.
TB: ‘Nothing To Regret’ is the anthem that continues to resonate with listeners globally. Where is the funniest or most random place you’ve heard the song being played?
R: I was told that it was played a lot on a Contiki trip in Europe, and that it became the group’s song for the tour, which I thought was crazy as that memory will stay with them forever, and every time they hear that song they will be taken back to that Contiki. I thought that was very cute!
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about ‘Teenage Renegade’. Are you ready?
TB: The emoji that best describes my new single Teenage Renegade is…
R: The dancing emoji and the cute simp eyes.
TB: My favourite lyric in the song is…
R: “She was a blue hot summer in the middle of July”.
TB: A lyric I changed in the song was…
R: I actually don’t think there were any big alterations after we originally wrote it.
TB: The colour that comes to mind when I think of this song is…
R: Blue! Like a blue sky tone, that is very freeing and resembles nature.
‘Teenage Renegade’ is out now!