BIMM Introducing: Robbie Z

Words: Iris Beek

Photo: Evgeni Gochev

Someone that is making a name for himself as an artist in the last few years is Robbie Z. With songs like ‘Dream Creep’ and ‘Awkward in the Club’, he is maybe one of the most familiar faces from BIMM and in London. Ahead of the songwriter’s first headliner show The Butterfly Escape on the Battersea barge later this month, Robbie spoke with LDN about music, the future, and his first headline show.

Congratulations on your first headline show in London! How does that feel for you and what can we expect from it?

Thank you! It honestly feels oddly normal, yet surreal. It’s obviously a goal I’ve been working towards for years, which means I gradually got closer to it, so by theory, I know how crazy it is and how proud I should be of myself, but it feels like something I’ve done my whole life. You can expect a little bit of everything from the show. I’ll perform some really old songs of mine, which I’m excited about, some unreleased music and actually a few covers. I’m known as a rapper, but I’ve been working on my singing for a year and a half and I’m excited to showcase that as well! Of course, I’ll perform my EP too and people’s favourites.

We can’t wait! You already had a few shows in London, what is your pre-show ritual?

Oh my gosh! Well, I’m an anxious person, so getting ready for a show can be nerve-racking if I have too much going on. I prefer to get ready on my own, so I don’t get distracted. I know it’s bad, but I actually don’t eat much on the day of a show. I like to have a voice pastille before the performance and all the anxiety goes away as soon as I step foot on stage h.

It’s been a wild year for you. Now you’re closing your Butterfly Trap era. How did you experience this year? What was the most exciting thing for you?

It truly has been the best year ever for me. Releasing my EP last year was a huge weight off my chest. The songs are quite personal, even if they don’t seem so at first, so getting to move on from that period was relieving. Releasing my videos for ‘eyes don’t lie’ and ‘dream creep’ were full circle moments for me, as they are projects, I’ve worked on for a long, long time. Moving to London and having my first show there is a moment I won’t ever forget. I expected five people to come, so when I saw the venue full I was filled with positive emotions and got super inspired. I found my love for performing then. I’ve performed before, but to an older audience and I feel like they weren’t thrilled to see a young rapper who wears butterflies on his clothes.
Is there already a new era in the making that you can tell us a bit more about?

Yes! I can’t say much, but I’m currently working on my next EP. I spent almost a year not really making new music, just developing my lyricism, and singing voice and I feel like I’ve evolved a lot. This new stuff is honestly so much better! I’m also going to have a little bit of a genre-merging; I love mixing my different influences. The project will come out in the summer. You can expect the single soon…
I feel like you always have a story to tell in your eras. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Storytelling has become one of my favourite things about making music. As an artist I want my listeners to know they’re not alone and that we’re all going through the same sh*t! I am vulnerable in my new music. My inspiration comes from life experiences I have and making them into music helps me get past them. I also get really inspired by artists I love. One performer I am grateful to for showing me I can follow my dreams and make them is Iggy Azalea. I can talk about her for hours. Something else that inspires me is the little random moments of a day or a vibe I’m surrounded by; it fuels my inspiration.
Photo: Fraizer Dunleavy

You’re originally from Bulgaria but have been in London for almost a year. What have you learned during your time here?

A lot of things, even just living on my own for the first time, having to do everything by myself, and getting to find out what way I like my towels folded! I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a person. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it all if I want to. I’ve also learnt so much in university too. I feel like it’s been the year I’ve grown the most.

Away from the realities of adulting, how did making music start for you? 

I was in a choir since 6 years old, then I did covers for fun, but I was 15 when I wrote my first song. I did it with my best friend and she was featured. I loved the song so much, but she hated it, so we had to remove it from YouTube. Then I continued writing and released “Copy-Paste”. It’s my oldest song you can find online now. I decided to start because I’ve always had a thing for music, and I just really wanted to hear myself rap something I’ve written. And I loved writing, so it kept me going. I think I wanted to make it into a career after writing my second song.

Photo: Isabella Nixon

When making music, how do you start – first with lyrics, or first with the beat?

At first, I used to choose beats and write my raps over them. Nowadays the process is different. Random lyrics come to mind every day, so I just write them down so I don’t forget, then I let them sit for when I have inspiration to write or when I need lyrics to fill up a song. Then when I decide to write I just pull up my notes and develop them into whole song lyrics. I get the same random ideas for melodies. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to record a melody idea. Even though I get lyric ideas daily, I only prefer to write songs at night, I’m definitely a night owl. When I have the lyrics ready, I tell my producer the inspiration, references, and tell him the story, he usually comes up with some ideas and we go into a session and start brainstorming and changing melodies, lyrics, and record it.

Is there anything you still want to do in life but haven’t done yet?

Absolutely. I have a lot I want to accomplish, career wise and personally too. I feel like life and my career is just now getting started. Let’s just say I hope you’ll see me doing what I love for a while. The rest I will save for my 11:11 wish.

Photo: Lyn Obee

Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years as an artist, but also as person?

In five years, I’ll be almost 26. As a person, I really hope I’m healthy and happy. I hope I learn to love myself even more and be more confident. As an artist. I hope I still have just as much passion and drive, if not even more. I hope to have been on a tour or two, and to have released my debut album, which I’ve been slowly planning since I was 16.

We wish Robbie Z the best for in the future! Make sure to not miss out his headline show on April 24 at the Battersea Barge. Get your tickets right here.

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