Hiya Robert thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Well, I grew up listening to my dad sing country songs and played his old 68 Yamaha guitar. But the real start was when I was about 11 years old. A f school friend of mine had a big stereo on his basement and he played me two tracks: “Bad boys” and “Black or white”. And the latter just changed my life. I bought a VHS about Michael Jackson called “The Legend continues.” On it was a clip of James Brown dancing and singing and I knew at that moment that was what I was supposed to do too!
Introduce us you to you and your musical history?
Hi everybody, my name is Robert Vendetta. I’ve released three albums as the retropop artist Robert Vendetta, and next year comes the fourth one. My music is a blend of everything I grew up with and listen to now – like everything from Elvis, Willie Nelson, James, Julio Iglesias to Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande. Since I grew adoring James Brown’s moves I’ve always worked hard to be both a composer and musician, but also an entertainer. So I practise those dance steps three times a week!
Name me your 3 favorite Albums.
That one is too hard. Maybe “Hell” by James Brown, “Rare” by Selena Gomez and… Oooo, Kiss'”Greatest hits?” I mean there are so many I could mention, like albums by Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Lara Fabian… The list is long.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
– That would be “Shantilly Lace” by Jerry Lee Lewis or maybe the first two songs I can remember from my childhood: “Cat People” by Bowie and “Way Down” by Elvis. But Jerry’s important too.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
That’s a tough one too. I feel how the music business has changed say the last twenty years gives one a lot more opportunities, but also a lot more competition.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
I haven’t heard of that being a problem in here in Norway, but I guess a little bit of french ubringing for the people that can’t behave would help and also just talking about it and making people aware is one thing. And at the end it’s about caring. If you see some one in trouble – be it a woman or a man – get help or if you feel it safe – help!
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
I worked with teenagers, which I think keeps both me and my musical taste young. I want to know what they’re listening to, and every once in a while we like the same thing. I also spend my summers listening to the radio station here in Norway that has teenagers as an audience. And I sometimes ask them to make me playlists.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
I know how to cook real Mexican, I’ve never been to Spain and I love to wear high heels.
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
Hmm… Spotify is an easy way to get everybody’s music out there. There was a song in Eurovision just about that and how much money artists make and stuff. I think it’s a difficult issue, and there’s people out there who are way more qualified than me to answer that. Rick Beato is a good example of that.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
Just that the Eurovision this year was rigged. Eurovision is the biggest song contest in the world, held in Europe.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Nope. I’m not materialistic. I grew up “Norwegian poor” So I’ve always tried to have what I need and not much more.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I played in a punk band way back then. We were called Lavatory so we had a toilet on stage. Until somebody decided to use it for number two…
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
I’m actually an educated bass player, who started on the guitar and wound up on the piano. I have to ask the other guys in the band, but they probably have more interesting facts. They’re awesome. Our drummer Andy has all these amazing stories. He’s so funny.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Well, if I’d listen to Andy it’s the songs. He always tells me he plays with me because the songs are great. And I’d like to believe I’m a good entertainer. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent in front of a mirror trying to get Dee Snider’s talks in between songs or get down on those James Brown dance moves. If I’m not sweating by the first song at a gig, I’m not working hard enough. And of course, we try to make our sound retro pop a unique thing.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
That’s very true. We have an album coming next year called “Vendetta Del Disco” and as usual it’s a concept album. The story is about someone who works so much work becomes his life and he loses everything else in his life. Friends and such. But then he gets a holiday and winds up in a discotheque called “Vendetta Del Disco.” Which actually was a discotheque in Italy. And there he finds the pleasure of dancing and having fun and slowly picks up the pieces of his life that actually matter. The current single “Vacation” is about that moment when his boss tells him: take some time off – go somewhere you want to go.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
Before I used to write just by inspiration, which got harder as the years rolled away. So the two last albums I started with a story first – what is the next album about? What do I wanna say? And so I’ve built up a story and found the perfect songs to fit the chapter of that story. Some old rewritten sons and some completely new. “vacation” is one of the new ones. During the pandemic I decided to spend every Friday on a Steinway grand piano to write. And sometimes I would actually come up with something useful like “Vacation.”
What was the recording process like?
Fast! Well, I did all the preproduction, sort of like demoes. To share where I was coming from with the songs to the band. Then we had about four to six rehearsals where we got the arrangement right and everybody had a say in the end result. Then we recorded bass and drums in 1,5 days, and then in two weeks. It was all recorded in my studio called “The Vendetta Room,” of course. And then mixed in my hometown by a good friend and great sound engineer called Lars Erik Humborstad. So unlike the writing process, the recording was quite quick.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
– To be honest, this time it was being challenged by my great band. Like you need to make this riff more interesting. And so I did. Or this part needs to be longer? So I made it longer. It was great getting feedback so early in the process.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No. Once it’s finished I let it all go. All the things I hear that maybe should have been different or fixed or whatever, they’re now on tape. So there’s nothing I can do about it, so why waste energy on worrying about it?
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Well, I have to introduce my amazing band. Andy on the drums is probably one of the best and nicest drummers I know. He can switch hands and say play the hi hat with both his left and right arm if he needs or wants to. Howie is one heck of a bass player, and he’s really smart. He knows even more music theory than I do. And Christelle is the soul of the band, with her so cool voice, and she’s even a better piano player than I am! I’m so lucky to be working with them.
📸 Credit – Bjørnar
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