The ever talented Eric Roberson stopped by a recent episode of our SoulBack R&B Podcast for an interview. During that appearance, he discussed building success all of these years, his process for writing sad songs, the unique way he released his latest album “LNS”, and much more.
You can check out the full episode here, and read some of what he had to say below.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about how you’re able to be so consistent all of these years.
Eric Roberson: For me, if there is a level of consistency, it starts with me being a fan first. I’m probably creating really from a void. I wake up most days and I hear ideas, I hear songs, I hear lines, I hear melodies. I’m constantly chasing those down. I’ve never got tired of trying to unlock that formula that sometimes is dancing around my head. For me, I’m trying to please myself first and give myself a feeling musically. Hopefully somebody can relate to it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve written some sad songs for other artists! “Love of My Life” by Case. “Mary Go Round” by Musiq Soulchild, “Funny Feelings” by 112. What’s up with that?
Eric Roberson: The funny thing is, I learned two things a long time ago. I promised myself back in college when I was really going to another level. I worked on a project that went nowhere. The records I did spoke to me. The writing was so good. It made me take writing to another level and take it seriously. I remember telling myself that whatever happened in my life from that point on, I was going to write about it, without compromise. Whether it would get me in trouble or sound crazy, whatever. If I got hurt, I was going to write about it. If I fell in love, I was going to write about it. My best and worst days would be made into a song. What’s crazy is, I really made a living off of a lot of my worst days! *Laughs* “Funny Feelings”, I could tell you the day that happened and how I was feeling and how let down I felt that day. I think the adrenaline of being so upset and being so hurt allowed me to craft the song. That was the first guitar song I ever wrote. I watched my dad play guitar my entire life. That song was all emotions. For me, I started realizing that one, when people hear a sad song, they realize that they are not alone. It’s crazy, I just got a message from a guy on Instagram whose wife passed on my birthday last year. He wrote to say how his life is pretty tough right now and his kids are pulling him through. He said my song “Still” has really helped him. That song is about losing a loved one, but when I made the video, I made it about a man losing his wife to cancer. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to tell me that song has helped. It’s crazy because that song doesn’t end on a positive note. It just shows this life that a lot of people are living. Those people just need to know at a moment that they are not alone, someone else is feeling that way.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I remember hearing this story of back when you were first coming out, you used to come to shows with not even enough gas money to get home. You’d have to win over that crowd that night to sell enough CD’s to be able to make it hope. Talk about that mentality.
Eric Roberson: A lot of stuff goes back to when I went to Howard University. If you’ve want to do something, you’ve go to go into it full steam. A lot of my teachers were still in the industry. When I graduated college, I wasn’t going to wait tables and do music on the side, it was sink or swim. I was doing musical theater at the time and auditioning. As a songwriter I had a lot of success, but there was really successful months followed by quiet months. That’s how the music business is. I knew I needed to be close to it. If I could write for someone else or sing backgrounds. My way of thinking when I went to put an album out, we had some shows in NY and NJ, but how did I get to Chicago or Ohio or Oakland? It was finding venues that already had someone performing. I offered to go to their event, and if they liked me, next time they’d pay me. It was just figuring it out. No way was I going to allow myself to sit home and not make it happen. Being a songwriter, if I didn’t get in the business as a songwriter and work on so many albums that didn’t come out. You see the Jill Scott, the Musiq Soulchild, the Vivian Green, the Case, the Charlie Wilson. For every album that I worked on that came out, there was an album that didn’t come out. I watched those artists go home and those dreams get crushed. They had to go back to a 9-5. I remember that taste of that. What the world was robbed of. Imagine your favorite artist if their best album never came out, how much you would have missed. A lot of times it was too dope for too ahead of its time for the label to understand. I got to a point in my life in my 20’s where I had all of these songs I wasn’t willing to sell, and I was about to give everything away. Eventually fans gravitated to the music and challenged me to do more. I think I was just too dumb to stop! It had to work!
Where things really started for me in NY was at Sol Village and SOB’s. Everyone was doing shows at SOB’s, and I kept calling and they wouldn’t book me. They didn’t know who I was. One day we called and asked how much the venue cost to rent the venue. We booked the venue and I did my own show. The show was so successful that they started booking me. A year after that, they asked if there were other artists like me that didn’t have a platform. That’s how Sol Village started.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about this new album you put out and the unique way you released it.
Eric Roberson: We have this interesting thing called The Process. It’s a music community group on the Patreon page. People subscribe to follow me in the studio. Right now we’re a little under 500 people. We do songwriting workshops, we do Q&A’s. Everyone gets a copy of every song I do as fast as I make it. You get to watch the process of every idea I have, to who I shopped it to, to when we brought other musicians in to produce it. I did an album for that group. It’s called “LNS”. They picked what songs made the album and voted on album covers. Eventually I released the album to everyone, but originally I kept it internally. We just have fun because it’s a bunch of music lovers. I would say if you love music, it’s $5 a month, just take a look. There are over 100 songs in there, and you can leave at any time. It’s really for me, we are in an industry where nobody knows who did what, there are no credits to read. Why not show them everything? Why not give you an inside peak at how we create? That’s where the new album came from. You can find everything on my website.