Have you ever stumbled upon a photograph of a cherished life highlight and experienced a thrilling emotional flashback? Listening to Robinson’s reflective new single “Teenage Renegade” unleashes similarly vivid nostalgic reminiscences. During the chorus of her brand-new single – an irresistibly catchy slice of wistful pop brilliance – Robinson laments the loss of her inner-rebel: “I was a teenage renegade/How’d I end up so afraid?”
Kicking off with a cruisy, pulsing beat, “Teenage Renegade’s” arrangement builds gradually, with dreamy washes of synth and jaunty drumming underscoring Robinson’s majestic vocal performance. Once the full-tilt chorus hits, with Robinson waxing lyrical about her unshakeable younger self – “She was a blue hot summer in the middle of July/ She wanted everything she couldn’t have and nothing made her cry…” – the soaring vocal melodies call to mind reckless abandon, like poking your head out the sunroof to inhale the salty sea air during a carefree, spontaneous road trip down the coast.
“I used to be so reckless/ How could I forget this?/ Wasting my time/ Used to wanna run/ Don’t know where that girl has gone.”
So why is it that we tend to lose our sense of childlike wonder as we get older? “When we’re young, we often have a blissful unawareness of the consequences and do things without a second thought,” Anna Robinson – the remarkable New Zealand-born, London-based artist who releases music under her surname, Robinson – ponders. “But as we experience pain, loss and hurt, we start to walk through life more carefully, protecting our hearts.”
Robinson can’t remember wanting to be anything other than a singer. “I feel so much gratitude to my family for immersing me in music as a kid. My grandmother was an incredible singer and pianist, much of which she played by ear and feel.” Anna’s mother was also very musical, being classically trained in piano... “she was incredible at teaching friends from school how to play… but when it came to me, I seemed to have a hard time paying attention so instead, I picked it up the way my grandmother did,” she tells.
With the songs of ABBA, Stevie Nicks and Jeff Buckley on high rotation during her formative years, Robinson was a prolific songwriter throughout high school and lived for music class.
Since 2015, Robinson has spent time co-writing and recording in studios all around the globe – including New Zealand, Australia, the UK and US – with many respected songwriter/producers such as Fred Gibson (aka Fred Again), Daniel Ledinsky and Adam Argyle (James Bay, Ella Henderson).
Birthed from a collaborative songwriting session in New York, Robinson’s sparkling pop gem about giving yourself permission to live for the weekend, 2018’s “Nothing To Regret” (certified Platinum in New Zealand and double Platinum in Australia), attracted in excess of 80 million streams and prompted her to relocate to London the following year. “Having a song that connected with so many people when I was 18 was such a special time in my life, and really opened me up to the world and all of the incredible people I wouldn’t know otherwise,” she reflects.
At the start of 2020, Robinson returned to New Zealand for two years, during which she reconnected with herself and did some soul searching. “I learned that for me to give not only everything to my art but also live the most fulfilling life possible, I need to be healthy and happy in mind, body and soul. Putting that first changed everything for me.”
Then Robinson released her stunning debut four-track EP “Watching You”, which was largely inspired by unrequited love, on Valentine’s Day in 2020. She was also invited to record her own take on “How Can I Resist Her” by Split Enz for 2021’s “True Colours, New Colours” tribute album with Robinson’s exceptional interpretive ability truly elevating this reimagined version.
When Robinson met her manager, Jeff Figueroa of Patriot Management, the stars aligned. During her first LA songwriting trip post-lockdown, he set up a co-writing session with songwriter/producer Tyler Spry – one of just a handful of co-producers, outside of the band, who’s collaborated with global hitmakers OneRepublic – and Areli Castro.
The night before Robinson’s scheduled session in LA, she recalls circling around “four nostalgic chords” on the piano. “I mentally went to the joyful moments of my childhood and teenage years – channeling a fearless version of myself – and the verse melody and lyrics sort of fell out together,” she recounts.
On collaborating with Spry and Areli, Robinson enthuses, “They are both so incredibly talented and, from the first moment we worked together, I just knew we were on the same page creatively. The whole atmosphere was so fluid and exciting. We went deep into discussing how invincible you feel in your youth and questioned the way many of us doubt ourselves and become more fearful as we get older. Tyler was playing these incredibly inspiring sounds and the three of us were all melodically bouncing off each other.”
From this session, “Teenage Renegade” emerged, and it wasn’t until Robinson heard the fruits of their labour that she recognised this song’s verse closely resembled the very same piano chords she’d been tinkering with the night prior (albeit a few octaves lower and with revised lyrics).
When she first listened to the “Teenage Renegade” demo, Robinson recalls, “My whole heart lit up, because we had written an anthem for the part of us that longs to be fearless, our inner Teenage Renegade. I wrote this song to remind myself that inside us all is a wild, joyful soul that needs to be free in all of our beauty. We are all teenage renegades at heart.”
“Teenage Renegade” also signals a creative reawakening for the newly independent Robinson, who was previously signed to Sony Music. “Whether you’re independent or signed, the biggest necessity is feeling self-assured and supported enough to express yourself freely and make the music you want to make,” she says.
Having already ticked off many bucket list international festival appearances, Robinson has also performed sold-out headline shows at the Queen Of Hoxton in London and toured with global success stories including Hayley Kiyoko, Lany, Dean Lewis and Dermot Kennedy.
Robinson has never felt more ready to turn her artistic vision for this project into reality and can’t wait to release her new music. She also looks forward to gracing many more stages the world over. Prepare to be wowed.