If you meet the voice of house music face to face, he is so gentle, relaxed and he smiles like a young boy who just has finished building up his Lego Star Wars spaceship. His charisma and vibrancy is as warm as his velvet vocal tone. Despite being a major part of house musics history, club life, rave experiences, cat walk jobs in the fashion industry, and over hundred cooperations with producers and dozen labels, Robert Owens remains a moderate, down to earth person. After the 2008 released album „Night-time Stories“ on Compost, which featured eleven new tracks by eleven different producers, this time he teamed up with four producers over 19 songs, to get a stronger homogeneous album in various moods and tempi. Alongside his old time friend and house pioneer Larry Heard (Fingers Inc), Atjazz, Beanfield and Show-B, all approved and respected producers for working with vocals, able to slow it down or keeping the emotional house vibe at attested bpm’s. „Art“ offering not only more songs, but also it offers more variety. Vault 1 contains the down- to midtempi more reflective tunes, while Vault 2 moves through Robert’s house history in the old and new school vein.
Robert Owens: „Art for me is about people that I’ve met throughout my life around the world or conversations with people, they created thoughts and emotions in my mind and I look at each thought as a painting, a canvas filled with all kind of feelings and emotions. From the vault of the gallery in my mind, each song is an artistic expression of feelings and emotions of mixed people I´ve met in my life“
Art is something that has no price tag on it, some historic moment and a value in my life, it´s almost a gift.“ A gift that Robert Owens wants to give back to his fans. The truth, well perhaps the cosmic link between house music and real life.
Robert Owens: „You must keep moving, keep active and change will come. You have to believe. That’s the elements, the message of house music. And beside some snares and beats it needs this positive message. The point is to not stopp and get aggrevated and caught up into the reality of a negative situation. Sometimes you have to look above situations even if you can´t do a lot about things you see, like political or economical situations, as long as you continuely look above and cultivating things within yourself, sooner or later things will change.
Techno and house have the same repetitive elements, but the difference is not necessarily only the positive message like „keep moving“, beyond that it is the positive, optimistic feeling. Techno rarely doesn’t have that.
Robert Owens: „It has always been hard and difficult. But does the people really face the difficulties in the hardships anymore, because all that builds aggravation and anger in you. These days I listen to a lot more vocal layered house and a lot more emotional vocals, vocals that are telling constructive stories. I think about things that people can apply in their life, about things that make people think, opposed to just dance, just an instrumental track, where you land in LalaLand. Everywhere I´m playing, the vocal stuff stands out the strongest. I just see the reaction, and the strongest reaction I´m getting at the moment is through the vocal material, especially the constructive messages about „We can make it! You can survive! You can go beyond oppression and poverty.“
People have stopped reflecting on the hardships.. Some do, some others can’t, because they never had the chance and that’s maybe why they become aggressive. If the soul is empty, it seems they not looking…. they gazing through other people. See the mirrors on the cover, they may have reflecting power, helping. Art is a kind of reflecting surface as well. Maybe that’s why the mirrorball became a synonym for disco and house. For everybody in the club a little mirror.
Robert Owens: „Things go around in circles, they went through this whole instrumental layered thing, minimal and all of that, but a lot of that was mainly drug fueled, people didn´t care. All they wanted to hear was THE BEAT. But we´re coming back around sensibility and i’m feeling that people getting their lifes back together. When they go out they wanna hear somebody talking to them, about something constructive. Especially in anonymous times of Facebook, Twitter et cetera, the people want emotion and devotion.“
If you like you can interpret the mask as the anonymity of the My Space, Twitter generation, which may try to fool someone, put something across as a friend. Same in real clubland. Clubland has changed much since the early days of house and techno.
Robert Owens: „Back then, I was playing at these places regularly and was living in Chicago, where alot of this was cultivated. That’s why i choose Art as an title, because any Art in it’s own way is more cultivated. The last ten, fifteen years a lot of raves or clubs had a negative aftertaste, perhaps were rotten, dirty, more about alcohol, drugs or making money. Back in the days, it was totally diffrent in Chicago, even in New York and London, it was about the vibe, the positive feeling, a mixed up crowd. We should bring this back again.“
Some of the pioneers from that field have stuck to their roots and continue to give people faith in that format of music. Good to see that there is a new younger generation that are just giving their dues to that format of music and they´re learning about the history. They´re in positions, they´re running labels and they have the networks and connections. So it´s generating a whole new culture of kids that are fascinated by deep house.
Robert Owens: „I’m often asked why i have diffrent producers. Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Ashford & Simpson, if it´d be one of these three, that would be amazing, but that’s impossible, so then it’s best for me to work with various producers. There are pioneers like Larry, but there are these younger generation, so i would like to combine both. Because I wanted to make sure to have it uniquely different.
Larry and me have always been brothers, he can just come and knock on my door and say „Come listen to this! What you get?“ It was never a question, that Larry and me would get back together and work. I knew, I wanted him on my album, so I had to push him. We reunified and we still can do it instantly. We can sit together and put a song together in 5 minutes. We just have that kind of connection and energy with each other, it´s an absolute flow, which is rare in the music industry.“