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Phone interview recorded November 9, 2011

He’s written for and worked with a number of your favorites artists, such as Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott, and DJ Jazzy Jeff. He’s been a strong leading force within the independent soul movement for over 10 years now. The self-proclaimed “Mr. Nice Guy,” better known as Eric Roberson is back with a new album, and a fresh approach to the music for his fans. Akim Bryant seized the opportunity to peel away some of Eric’s personal and professional layers, discovering exactly what makes this artist tick...

Akim Bryant:, Akim here, once again with our special guest who has been heralded as the premier face to the Indie soul movement. It's none other than my fellow Jersey native, singer, songwriter, producer Eric Roberson. He has a new album out today; it’s out there now. Go pick it up! It's called “MR. NICE GUY.” So welcome to, Eric.

Eric Roberson: Thank you, my fellow Jersey brother. How's everything?

AB: All right! Everything is good. Congrats on the new album.

ER: Thank you very much. I am quite happy that it's finally out and available to all.

AB: Yes, Indeed, and it’s called “MR. NICE GUY.” So I'm just taking this portion of the lyrics from the title track. It said, "the last one to be thought about, the first one she;s turning down." Pretty … It's pretty heavy.

ER: It’s funny, because I really wanted it not to be known as a “nice guy finishes last,” so I shouldn’t have started it off that way. But it’s really a … it’s really supposed to be the story, in general, is about a nice guy trying to find and maintain love, and he starts off on the wrong foot. He starts off going, "Man I am getting overlooked. I am not finding the right person." And if you kind of look at the album, it’s somewhat of a story where he finds it and he loses it, and then he pretty much finds it again, by the end of the album. But he starts off on the wrong foot, and a lot of times, us nice guys have been a bit overlooked at times, or that our actions aren’t appreciated, and so I am just trying to change the outlook of that whole thing … that we could be nice guys. We can pay attention to detail, and know that it can still be appreciated.

AB: Indeed, indeed. So nice guys don’t always finish last.

ER: No, I definitely don’t consider myself finishing last. I have finished last a few times, you know what I mean, but I never tended to try and make that a habit.

AB: You've always been pretty self-contained, when it comes to your material, but you have a special “executive producer” on this new album; I think his name is Rock.

ER: [Laughs] It’s so funny that you say that, because he was a star, my son who is now 13 months, and even if I get quiet right now and stop talking, I can hear him banging something downstairs. He is still “executive producer” in the house right now, but yeah, he was the reason why I started this album. I pretty much started it because my wife got pregnant, and I didn’t really want to be on the road when she had the baby.

I took some months off, so half that album was done while we are waiting, and the other half was done once he got here. So his energy and directions, in a way, dictated a lot of the songs. MR NICE GUY, from the time he was born, became his song. To this day, it is still the song that stops him from crying, the song that helped … when we were trying to wean him off the bottle at midnight and stuff like that, but now he sleeps through the night because we play that song. Whenever he was waking up we play that song to kind of ease him back down to go back to sleep. It was really, really crazy, man; it really became that song that, you know, his song. There was songs that didn’t work. It was a tough time still, making the album, but he kind of had a say on the track with this, and what was going down.

AB: That’s awesome. I saw some of that footage when you played the song in the car and he immediately … Right, right, right. [Laughs]

ER: You know its funny because we didn’t get to the greatest footage … greatest example, but it’s happened a million times. We know… there’s times when we’re driving or something, and he's just ready to get out the car, and we are looking at each other, and we are like, “Is the CD out? Get the CD out and go to song number one. Why didn’t you do this sooner?” You know what I mean so … but he's an amazing, amazing little man, and such a joy, man. He's already very, very musical; he's already very drawn to my song … which is amazing too. So, and that’s a pretty cool thing.

AB: Definitely. Yeah it looks like a regular old chip off the block. Definitely.

ER: Yeah man, I mean I lost the battle in looks; he looks just like my wife, but I will accept that, as long as he gets his father’s music chops. I'll take that.

AB: All right. So MR. NICE GUY is the new album. I want to talk about a few of the songs that definitely stuck out for me a lot, and one in particular is "The Magician."

ER: Aah man, great, glad we are talking about it.

AB: Hey, what's that about?

ER: You know, it’s funny … a lot of it just coming from when I was writing the album, I wasn’t necessarily writing an album. I was really just letting me see how I can get lost in music, and I think in a the way I kind of always approached that. But this time was even looser, so I may have, in a way, in the past … may have shied away from writing a story about something like that, a story about a magician, or something like that. But for me, a lot of times, it all just depends on what I hear in the music. And James Poyser had sent me some ideas, and the idea was very, very rough at first. It was, literally, very dark and empty, and that’s what I heard … this vaudeville, and just "step right up, ladies and gentlemen." That’s what I felt from it, so I was like, “What am I going to write about this song Is it going to be a circus or whatever, and I just started having this idea about a magician, and it played off of a line that I’ve said to a lot of my musician friends, and who asked me advice on how to balance your relationship and your music.

I get that a lot; I get a lot of guys who will say, "I'm bass playing with such and such. I got this young lady I'm dating and I really like her, but I don’t think she is going to understand this business that I am in, and how do you balance that; how do you?” And I often tell them that, at the end of the day, we are just magicians, we have to be satisfied with those closest to us, knowing the secrets of our tricks.

And actually, it's that simple: it’s as simple as it is. The song may be a little more exaggerated. The magician part may be exaggerated, but at the end of the day, I can't fall in love with how people see me pull a rabbit out of a hat--paraphrasing it from my actual career. Whereas my loved ones, my homies I grew up with, my guys in my barber shop, the people that sit in the studio while I’m working all the time--after a while, you are not going to be that amazing to them. And I just have to understand that; I have to understand that it’s not going to be--it’s not going to blow them away, like someone who just bought my album and listened to it like, "How did he come up with this?" Some people may think that these songs … they don’t realize that for a bass player to get to that talent level he’s spent hours, days, and years just ignoring other things in life but that bass. And to come up with a song in the studio, sometimes you are down there for, weeks at a time, days at a time. You are working on one line for four hours, and that’s the part where the secret of our tricks go. Once we’ve gotten that, I just kind of exaggerated in the story of … the song was actually first called "Disappearing Act," and then everyone just kept going, "Let me hear that magician song." People start saying that you kind of make sense, like you know what--let me stop fighting it.

But I love this song, man, and I really feel that song, and a few other songs opened some doors for where we may be able to go, writing-wise, later on. I am excited about being able to write about other characters, and other feelings, and just digging into stories. I want people to get lost at times, listening to a record of this kind. Where's it going? How's it going to end? And wow! It ended like that, and we've touched on it with “A Tale of Two,” off the last album and we definitely touched on it with this song right here.

AB: Yeah, yeah, I think you accomplished exactly what you set out to do. It definitely had that type of effect on me just getting so deep into … I am just big into story telling, in general, so especially if a song can give you a beginning, a middle, and an end, and you feel satisfied, and you feel completely lost in the story, it is special.

ER: Yeah. That's good man. I'll take that, and I appreciate it.

AB: And then, “How Would I Feel,” featuring Jean Baylor from the great Zhane group, back in the day.

ER: Yes, well, I am a huge fan.

AB: Is that her on the keys also?

ER: No, that is not her on the keys, though she is an extremely talented keyboardist. I know it’s funny: we, a brother named Dana Sorey, who actually—man, he deserves executive producing credits for this album, because he was one of the people that I trusted in, in playing things for, and asking for advice. Was I going too far, or “What do you think we need on this? Do you think we need drums here, or what kind of percussion here?” He was one of those guys, with that song, we knew we were stretching. We knew we were stepping out, doing something different, so we brought different keyboard players in to play keys. He was one of them, and just really, kind of spent time on making sure that it stayed honest … stayed true with that song. That song, once again, is a song that I, personally … that’s what I love so much about the Indie Soul movement, is that we do have the opportunity to write about things that I can honestly say I know, for a fact, a major record label would not let their artists sing that song.

AB: Yeah, yeah. Totally.

ER: They would just never risk it, never want to risk painting the artist as a villain. And, at the end of the day, man, singing and all this, it’s story telling. It's theater; it’s the same thing as playing a movie. There is very little difference between what Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks do, from what D'Angelo does or Erykah Badu does with telling stories, and we are portraying characters. If we really, really want to dig in there and do it … and that song … I really couldn’t tell you how we started that. But the song, I really wanted to play off the aspect that I wanted people to leave with something. To me, that song is my current “Previous Cats,” the song I wrote for Musiq Soulchild, where I wanted people to leave … I didn’t want people to leave from that song going, "Oh, man, that’s a banging song." I wanted people to leave from that song going, "Yeah, sometimes I do that. My last relationship kind of ended because of that right there.” You know what I mean. I kind of wanted that.

I kind of wanted them to leave with that, and a person sneaking and reading their loved one’s journal because they are insecure about something … can very well happen a lot of times. It doesn’t have to be a journal. If you have ever checked your loved one’s phone or email. "Let me just take a peek, and see if they spoke to somebody." And that guilt that sticks on you when you do that, or when you don’t find nothing, and you go kind of, “I should have never did that.” You know what I mean. At the end of the day, man, the whole thing is about trust. You got to learn to trust somebody, if you really want it to work, because your insecurities alone is just going to tear you apart. So I love that we were able to really, really stretch out on that song, and I think people are going to enjoy it.

AB: Yeah I think people definitely will, and I love the movements within the song, too. I think, as you know, it just helped to add to the story and the angle itself, just having that guilt from doing what so many people do … checking up behind their significant other, and you might find what you want and you might not find … it’s craziness.

ER: You know there was a huge debate on whether he should find something …

AB: Really.

ER: And at the end … and there was a huge debate amongst my staff. One of them brought it up. I think Deemo, my background singer. He always loves a little controversy, so he said, "I think he needs to find something." And that’s the story itself: What do you do when you find something? You can’t say you found it, because you shouldn’t have been looking in the first place … you know what I mean so … it’s that tough area. I said, that's not what I want people to walk away from with it. I want people to walk away with, “I should have never even looked in here,” not “I never should have looked in here but I found something anyway.” No. “I should never looked in here. I should have never questioned …questioning that she got my back, man. Oh, she loves me, man. She would never do that, and, hopefully, people can walk away with that feeling that we hope to give.

AB: Yeah, which I think helps the premise of the song which is “How would I feel if I she did that to me?” basically.

ER: Right, right.

AB: And then, another quite incredible ballad that stuck out for me was "Love’s Withdrawal," featuring the actor and poet, himself, Omari Hardwick.

ER: Yes, yes.

AB: Yeah that was completely out of left field. [Laughs]

ER: That’s great; that’s great. That’s perfect then. That’s what we want to do.

AB: And Omari killed it!

ER: Yeah, amazing. I mean, it was crazy because I met him at the NAACP Image Awards, and we were just big fans of each other, and I was … I mean, you look at certain actors and you go, "Man, this guy really could really be the next … he could be that next dude.” You know you're always searching for who's the next Denzel, or the next Will Smith, or the next Samuel L. Jackson, or the next Wesley Snipes, or whatever you are looking for-- the next great African American actor, and I've been watching him and his movies, and saying, "Man, this guy can really be that." Who knew that, on top of that, he was a phenomenal spoken-word artist. He has a phenomenal speaking voice, but, at the end of the day, I'm just in love with the combination of words.

I'm in love with combining words, or how words are combined. So I am in love with spoken word; I love it, love it, love it … have a great deal of respect for it, and so, once we met, and then he said he does spoken word, as well, I looked it up immediately on YouTube and saw some of the stuff that this guy is incredible, and within a month, he had flown to New Jersey and I played him ideas. “This is the kind of the idea I have,” and he sat there with a pad and pen, and probably thirty minutes later, he was like "I'm ready; let’s go." And it came out perfect, man, and then, the famous line, "You just ain’t going to call Me." You know what I mean.

AB: The perfect way to end it.

ER: Perfect way to end it. You know, the funny thing was, he actually had … there are no accidents, man. You got to learn when to know when something's finished. I learned that from Jay Dilla, if there's any lesson I learnt from loving his music, knowing when a song is done, and the beautiful thing was that he had another two lines, but in his delivery and his performance, we, said, “Slow it down. I want you to be a little more desperate. Take your time man. Slow it down; you're really leaving this message on her answering machine,” So it took … the way he wrote it was pretty much going to end right when the song ended, but we said slow it down, and now he still had a few more lines to go and once he said, "You just ain't going to call me," it felt so right that he stopped … and he had another two lines, but it just made sense. It just made perfect sense to … “It's perfect. Stop.”

And actually, a crazy thing: a lot of people, a lot of times. And it happened to me in my song writing where, I am sure, even in movies or whatever, where there is a lot that ends on a cutting room floor. It sure might be an amazing lyric … it might be the most amazing lyrics for the song, but sometimes you got to leave it. Sometimes, it doesn’t fit the bigger picture or the final feeling that you are after. Sometimes, you got to let that last line go, sometimes, you know.

AB: Big time, big time. All right. So the album is MR. NICE GUY. You've definitely been known to be that person over the years, throughout your independent career, but what would bring out the “asshole” in Eric Roberson? [Laughs]

ER: [Laughs] When you don’t take care of my friends and my band, I think, my staff at times will definitely see the “asshole” in me, or my band, so for the most part, do my best to really take care of them a great deal, and stuff like that, and I love my staff and my band, but I feel like all of them are aiming for greatness, and I think my label, if anything, is a stepping stone and training blocks for them to go to something great. So there is, sometimes, some level of tough love that comes into trying to run a competitive company. But, at the same time, I have never really been one who has taken offense to something that’s done to me, but if you are picking on someone, say like my little brother … something like that, I take major, major offense to that, and will probably have a stronger time of being, what you would call the “Mr. Asshole.” [Laughs]

I probably had a few arguments with some soundmen who were cocky, and thinking that they knew what they were doing, and overlooking it. Just recently, I think, we were sound-checking and my monitor went out … I couldn’t hear nothing, and when everything was over, I stopped the music, for a second, and I said, "Hey, you know, I can't hear in the monitor." “We gotta change the mic …” and started going into some explanation, and I was going ,"No, no, no. You don’t have to do all that."

My monitor is gone [Laughs}, and I was like, “My man … whenever I say ‘my man’ or ‘Yo, fam,’ - the band knows to kind of pay attention, because something may be going down real soon. I said to him, "Yo, I do this for a living. The monitor is not on." You know what I mean … “Take a minute; take a minute. Put your ego aside, and just listen to me for a second. We do this for a living. If the monitor is not on, then the monitor is not on. Trust me. I am not just saying that because I am in a mood or something.” Sometimes … I think, a lot of times, people mistake “Mr. Nice Guy” as being soft. It’s just more of my perception, or my intention comes from a good intent. We are trying to do right. That don’t mean that I can’t defend myself, or can't take care of someone who is wrongly overlooked, or whatever, or can’t be strong, you know what I mean. I would think that Martin Luther King was a “Mr. nice guy.” We can go down the line of people who will be the foundation of, say, the “Mr. nice guy” coalition. There's a lot of people I look up to that were strong visionaries, who, in my opinion, were probably “Mr. Nice Guys.”

AB: Yeah, definitely, and I think that comes across in the music, and definitely in your live shows and all, so…

ER: Cool.

AB: So do you feel … I said, in the beginning, a lot of people have said that you are the face to the Indie Soul movement. Do you feel a lot of pressure, sometimes, based on that, to kind of represent, and to be a proper role model, or is it something that you try not think about?

ER: I will tell you this: I never shy away from any title that any one wants to give me. I feel responsible to them, to a great degree, but I won't take complete credit for anything. I wasn’t the first to put out an independent album. I wasn’t ... I still always leave myself open to learn from other people, as well, that are doing the same thing that I'm doing. But at the same time, I think, even like doing the distribution deal with Purpose Records and E1, a lot of that has to do with not just me, but for the movement in general. What happens if, from an independent standpoint, we get in Best Buy; we get in Target’ we get in Wal-Mart, and we get in all the “mom and pop” stores, and we have perfect real estate on iTunes, and every other social media. What happens when we do that? And we almost have … that was the next step. It will leave you the next step. I can, literally, do just cruise control, and make sure I take care of myself, but if I ever want the producer that produce for me, that give me extreme discounts to work with--you know what I mean.

Think of … there are three Grammy award-winning producers on this album, alone, that make who knows how much money per track, and I don’t even know if they got a tenth of their asking price; you know what I mean. For us to ever get to that point, for us to ever get … so that a great artist like Conya Doss doesn't have to be a school teacher if she doesn’t want to be. Now, she is an amazing person, and I think a school teacher is one of the most important jobs you could ever have, so I would never want her to just quit her job, because she don’t want to … I want to be an artist--whatever. I think it’s very important.

I love the fact that she puts out great albums, and she is also a schoolteacher. But for that artist who is working at the post office who would love to sing, I would love to give them some kind of option, some kind of hope that you have other ways to do it. I don’t feel pressure off of it though, not in one form or fashion, because, truth be told, my fans have kind of rescued me out of this, and I am very much one person who believes in the statement, "process over product." And so I don’t dig too heavy, and, truth be told, I don’t dig too heavy into compliments, nor titles. I own it, sure, by all means, you want to call it Neo-Soul, or you want to call it Soul, Independent movement, you want to call it … whatever you want to, cool. Just call it. Just call it, you know…

AB: As long as they are calling it something, right?

ER: As long as you call it something—as long as it’s not being ignored, because that’s the main … the number one thing, I don’t want to be a part of lost art. We worked too hard for a beautiful song to be overlooked, and I mean being in the industry, I worked for years on artists who worked on great records that never came out. I just did not want to be a part of that.

AB: Alright. Do you think that you’ve reached your potential yet?

ER: Not at all, Not at all. I don’t know what my potential is, but I am constantly surprised at where my creativity … or just where the music, in general, can take me. Several albums ago, I thought I got as honest as I possibly could. I thought I was baring my soul as much as I possibly could. There is no way I could be anymore honest than I am right now, and I saw … I saw other layers still peeling away, still peeling away, and then, you start seeing what other people are going through, and if you can find the honesty in what they are going through, and relate to it, and grab hold of it, it extends it, you know. If I could tell every story that I possibly could tell about myself, there's still somebody else’s stories you got to tell. You can have something else to relate to, something you can be passionate about, and that excites me, man, and you know that so many other layers.

I grew up doing theater, went to college for it, and I think, just now, off of this album, we started seeing my theater background. And maybe I held it for so long because I wanted it to be able to compliment what I do. I didn’t want it to just come out and be like [singing] Who knows … I didn’t want it to be about the West Side Story … what in the world was that? What is this? You know what I mean I wanted to be able to incorporate it, and make it feel like it belonged, that it’s true, and I think we are kind of getting there now. I mean, look at it. I am looking at it kind of side-eyed: is it something that's really happening? I think it’s happening, and it’s happened in a way where even a Jay-Z fan can appreciate it; even a D'Angelo fan can appreciate it; even an Earth, Wind and Fire fan can appreciate it, and I love that.

AB: Yeah, yeah that’s definitely, definitely reflecting there in the music, and like you said, in this album, I think you did expose a different side of yourself that was more theatrical, and just really deep. I can just really hear that you spent a lot to time thinking about the story, and how it was going to be told.

ER: Wow! Wow, thank you.

AB: Yeah, definitely, definitely. I don’t know if many people know this, but you were originally signed to Warner Brothers back in 1994 right?

ER: Yes, yes.

AB: I know it’s a long history but if you can just run through exactly what happened during that period?

ER: Well, I just got signed to Warner Brothers through Benny Medina, and I was a sophomore at Howard, and not knowing that Benny's time there was going to be very, very short … it was pretty much the start of that, that really never stopped the musical chair game of label presidents. You know that changes all the time, and actually, at that point, he went to do Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I believe, so really, when he left Warner Brothers I left Warner Brothers, but I had a song called "The Moon" that I recorded, and it did pretty well, and went up the charts in Billboard, and brought me a good deal of early success at 19 years old. From there I went to Island Records, and as fast as I got signed, I got dropped.

Another president took over the label, pretty much just wiped the label clean, just wanted everybody out. “I am bringing my own artists in …” something like that, so I found myself with a half-recorded album and these songs. I learned a lot about business because that president didn’t want to hear the songs; he didn’t care what it was. It could have been the greatest thing since sliced bread, but he was, like, “Nah, I got my own; I got my people coming in. I have no desire to hear it; you are out.” And it was a learning lesson, and from that point, I went back to school. It was more just to regroup. I went back to college, and I graduated, but at that time, it was the most humbling moment of my life; it taught me so much, man. It made me a better student, a better person. I wouldn’t be the artist I am today if I didn’t have those roadblocks that I ran into. Those dark periods that … "Am I really going to have this opportunity ever again?"

I think, I kind of promised myself that no one, at that point, was ever going to out-work me again. I thought, probably after that point, music was just - rescue me out of anything, it can help me with everything. Music can get me girls; it’s going to give me a record deal … and it’s like, when you are faced with the possibility of not working, it allows you to have a serious conversation with yourself abut where you are, and what you need to do, and I was very appreciative. Now, looking back. I wasn’t happy about those moments, but very appreciative of all those opportunities that the sad days brought to me.

AB: And then it eventually led to you writing for a number of other artists, and things like that. How did that come about?

ER: Yeah, the studio that I worked out of in DC was called Night Flight Studios, and a Brother named Kevin Jackson, who actually still mixes my records, if you look on the album now--he mixed, like, half the album, and he's been mixing, you know, he is still ... we are mixing a great deal of the previous albums and stuff. A good guy, a good friend, and I’ve learned a lot from him, just in general. And on top of that, one of the reasons why my son was in the studio with me was watching Kevin … when his kids were little babies, how they went into the studio with us when we were working, but he is the one who really got me into writing songs for other people. And we wrote this song called "So Long /Well, Well, Well," and it landed on a girl group from Warner Brothers, and from there, that’s how it was connected...

AB: Phajja!

ER: Yeah Phajja! Yeah, yeah, man. I still see the girls; I still see them from different … they all live in different areas: One lives in New York; One lives in Atlanta, and some of them are still doing music, and its always good to see them and stuff, and that opened some other doors and then….

AB: I'm sorry, just to interject I actually … I own that single. [Laughs]

ER: [Laughs] that’s beautiful.

AB: I didn’t necessarily go out and get the album, because I wasn’t too sure, but I definitely purchased that single, because that was the bomb.

ER: That’s good. I appreciate it man ... It was exciting … to see someone else sing one of your stories--it comes alive, you know. I think it did start a strength and the hunger in me to do more of that, and from that point on, truth be told, I probably really, really dove into it, I owned up to--I really want to be a well-known songwriter. I thought maybe the artist thing was just passing by; I never said I was an artist anymore, but I think you are always an artist, but I was satisfied. If that was the story I had to be, I was going to be a songwriter. Then, I ran into 112 in a studio in Atlanta, and Jarelle, who actually still works for me, and he's on my staff now … knew them and introduced me, and I went and got my guitar out the car, and I played them "Funny Feelings." We were sitting right there in that lobby, and they loved it. They wanted it, and now they are huge fans, and another song plays, and from the next one on, there was no turning back. Now we just … we were full ahead, heading for writing and producing for artists.

AB: Ok, ok. I know this may sound very convenient, but it’s really not, and I am really telling the truth. [Laughs] But “Funny Feelings” is definitely one of my favorite 112 songs. I can definitely put it into my list of all-time favorite songs, period.

ER: Beautiful.

AB: I am not exactly sure how long that list is, but it made the list.

ER: That's good; that's good.

AB: And another …

ER: Sorry. What's that?

AB: I was going to say another one that you wrote for Musiq Soulchild, "Mary Go Round," also can be added to that list.

ER: Oh man, you know, I still love that song to this day. There are certain things that, that probably speaks for Osunlade, the producer, that I XXX with on that record, and he and I have done … we did "Emotional Rollercoaster" with Vivian Green and he did "Change" for me, and "Please don’t leave me" on my albums, and the song, "She" off my last album--just n amazing, amazing producer, man. He and I have been able to create a lot of great music together. He did a lot of early Eric Benet stuff, too, and I recently met Eric Benet, and that was the one thing that we had in common to talk about, was Osunlade, and how amazing a producer he is.

So yeah, it’s been a great time, and actually, funny thing on my album, I think, when I did "Funny Feelings" for my album, I had Osunlade produce that record, bringing it all full circle, funnily enough, but the story to "Funny Feelings" was that it was the first guitar song I ever wrote … and my father played guitar. It was a part of every room in the house, literally, my father just played guitar all day, all night. When he got home, the first thing he picked up was his guitar, and when he was going out, we know not to touch it. You know, "Don’t touch Dad’s guitar." I watched him play it so much. I remember I was home from college and my girlfriend, at the time, just had me so frustrated, so upset with her. I hung the phone up, and I just picked my father’s guitar up, and I played it, and I was on it, I knew it. In seconds, the song was written, and I think it also follows if you catch an emotion, if you catch that energy sometimes you don’t need a pen or pad. You just can follow what you are feeling, and that’s how that song came about, man.

AB: "Funny Feelings, I don’t love you anymore …” “but you don’t love me anymore,” actually [Laughs] let me take a moment …

ER: Yeah, take a moment, take your time…

AB: [Laughs] What would be your favorite album of all time, if there is one?

ER: Ooh, goodness, gracious, that’s so tough. You know I'm a Libra, man, so it's like everything is in twos … Ah, man--favorite album of all time. "Songs in the Key of Life." It has to go up there; it has to go up there. That’s really tough man; that’s really, really tough … I will have to say SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE, and I will say … and as crazy as this sounds, it's not my favorite Stevie Wonder album. Stevie Wonder's TALKING BOOK is my favorite Stevie Wonder album, but I am smart enough to know that the better album is SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE. It was just a ridiculously well made album, a double album that is pretty much flawless, you know. It's pretty much flawless.

I will probably say that, in building my creative foundation, musically, and when I first started understanding that people were writing these songs, and putting thought into how they recorded it, it just wasn’t so simple as these songs just appeared in my stereo, you know. Wow, somebody actually thought this out as an artist. It was probably SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE that woke me up to understand that. I probably looked at it and it was like, "Oh this is actually someone's intention." This is just not like air in the clouds and the sky and the sun is burning. This actually is someone who is really thinking this out. And that is SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE.

AB: That’s awesome. Yeah, I think that probably would be one of the top favorites of all time for a lot of people. Definitely, definitely, that goes down in history, without a doubt.

Cool, cool. So I think, we pretty much covered everything. Lastly, I would like to add, on another selfish note, when it comes to the music. Your own personal music. I would like to say that … first off, I think "Pretty Girl" is just one of those songs. for me iIt's always stuck out completely. I love the lyrics; I love the message; I love everything about it, and of course, one of your most in-demand hits, "Couldn’t hear me over the music."

What was the inspiration behind that particular … I know what the song is about, essentially, but was it based off of a real situation?

ER: Well, funny enough, "Couldn’t hear over the music" is scary, how real the song was. The song was one of the first songs, in that time, like I said, with life …”Funny Feelings” was an accident. I was so mad that I stumbled across a song, but as you continue to keep writing, you start realizing that, a lot of times, you won't need a pen or pad. I wrote that song in the shower. I just did a song with Redhead Kingpin. He gave me this music, and just playing the music around the house … I was getting ready for church. I remember that day like it was yesterday; I was getting ready for church and I started coming up with the lines, you know. “She was sitting listening for hours as I played guitar.” So, then remember getting in the car, so I wrote half of it in the shower, and I wrote the other half driving to church, and I am getting to church, and getting the program, and writing down as much as I could that I remembered, so I could retain it to record it that night.

And it really was about every girlfriend that I had lost or trouble with because of my music. Because, truth be told, up to that point I probably used music to get every girl I had. You know what I mean, but when you start getting older, and you start losing girlfriends to this, people that you really, really love to this music, because whether the temptations that come along with this, the attention that comes along with this, or just the simple aspect that we are studio rats, and to make an album--that’s a lot of nights in the studio. That’s a lot of nights that your woman is laying there by herself. You know what I mean? So even more, I remember when I used to play guitar, coming in from a date with a chick, and you pick your guitar up--that was an impressive thing. She loved that, but date her for a few years.

Have a child with that woman, and something needs to be done with the child, and you pick the guitar up--see what happens. See what she says to this. So you got to realize that you got to be careful with that: what you used to get them will be what you use to lose them, and so make sure that what you have, to really know what you have, you have to, sometimes, put aside the music and really see, you know, let them see you. Truth be told, "Pretty Girl" and “Couldn’t Hear Me Over The Music” is almost the same subject.

It’s just said a different way, but it’s the same theme. You show me who you are, I don’t want to see that; I don’t want you to just smile and all. It’s time to see your heart, I want to see are you a good person. You’re someone I can grow old with. That's what I want to see. I am not really that concerned with how fat your booty is---that’s only going to hold me only for a few weeks or a few minutes. There's booty all over the place. That don’t mean that … that ain’t going to hold me for long; you know what I mean. You got to show me something else if you expect to really stay around, so when I went in to record that song, I remember I was really, really shocked. I knew I was going to be in a lot of trouble, because the song, "Couldn’t hear me" had a lot to do with my current girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife.

There were lines in there about her, but she had to understand, you have to think that I go with my wife since I started being an independent artist. So when I was writing songs for other people, it was great, but then, I got in front of the microphone and started getting this huge fan base. It took a minute for her to understand it. It took a minute for her to understand it, and I thank God she had the patience to grow and understand that, while we were both learning how we were supposed to handle this. I remember playing the song for her … and I still do it. There's a song called "Shake Her Hand” on the new album. I came upstairs like, "I don’t know how you will feel about this one, but check it out anyway and let me know." Did I go too far? But that’s the thing about doing honest music man, like I said, if we have a great night I am going to write a song about it, but if we had an argument I'm probably going to write a song about that, too. So, there is nothing out of bounds, unfortunately. And I got somebody who supports me, and allows me to do it, so I am grateful for that.

AB: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Congrats on that; congrats on the new album. Congrats on the new son. Congrats on everything new that will be coming your way because of this album … [Laughs]

ER: No doubt, no doubt. Thank you. The interview that we took will just add, so thank you.

AB: Indeed, indeed. How can your fans keep up-to-date with you and what you're doing?

ER: The best way is my website which we are about to launch--a brand new website, as well, and that website is, but they also can follow me on Twitter which I try my best to be very active on, and I enjoy it a great deal, which is IAmEricRoberson, Facebook ,and My Space, and all those other gadgets, ReverbNation, and we are under the name Eric Roberson, as well. So they can holler at me, and shows will be listed, and if they go to the website, they can sign the mail list, too. Mail list is so very important. That helps establish our personal connection. If tomorrow Twitter went away, for whatever reason, we will literally lose our connection feed. So I would love for people to go to the website and join the mail list if they can.

AB: Yeah, that’s an important thing to know just in case Twitter goes down tomorrow, for weeks at a time, the mailing list will always be the backup so …

ER: Yeah, and that’s how I really built my following from the start. I really started with the mailing list, and I used to always tell every artist, it's more important that someone walks away with their name on a mailing list than walk away with my CD, because, if I leave with your email address, then I have an opportunity to have a relationship with you throughout our careers, and that's going to be the business. It doesn’t matter; that’s what music business is all about … the relationship with the artist and his fans now. I use it for the social media, but with record sales where they are right now, that’s the way it has to be. They are investing in our career now, not just a song or an album.

AB: Exactly, exactly. Alright. Anything else you would like to add before this is over.

ER: No man, it was good to rap with you, and just … I'm just enjoying stuff, man, and I look forward to people getting the album, and let me know what they think about it.

AB: Indeed, indeed. Alright! That wraps it up for me, Thanks again for taking this time out to do this interview.

ER: No problem.

AB: And God bless on everything that you have going on, and we'll be …

ER: And God bless you with everything you have going on, as well. We’re just
going to ask for it to be just as productive and fruitful as it possibly can be.

AB: I appreciate that. [Laughs] Definitely. Alright, Eric.

About the Writer
With nearly a decade of experience in programming content for Music Choice (24/7 music channels, cable-on-demand shows, website and cell), Akim Bryant has just begun to scratch the surface of journalism having already written for GIANT and The Source magazines as well as a number of start-up publications. This self-professed R&B junkie also has a strong knack for the art of interviewing. Be on the lookout for his semi-autobiographical debut novel coming out in 2012.
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