Few voices are as closely tied with the history of house music as the mellifluous tones of Robert Owens. His velvet-smooth vocal talents were first picked up on by house luminary Larry Heard, with whom he formed the inestimably influential Fingers Inc., singing on house standards such as “Mysteries of Love” and “Can You Feel It”. Not content with working with only one of the genre’s founding fathers, Owens moved on to a second: Frankie Knuckles. His collaborations with Knuckles, David Morales, and Satoshi Tomiie announced the arrival of a supremely talented vocalist and lyricist and fixed his place in the house music pantheon with timeless classics such as the emotive “Tears”.
Since then, his 20+ year career as a vocalist, songwriter, producer, and DJ has seen inspired collaborations with a whos-who of producers both classic and contemporary. Now based in Berlin, Owens continues to record and perform to audiences around the world as an in-demand DJ and vocalist. We caught up with the iconic artist to hear about his recent work and plans for the future: here’s what he had to say.
Q: You’ve had some amazing gigs this year, what shows have particularly stood out?
A: I feel really fortunate and lucky. I perform throughout the year, almost every weekend – each time I’m given this opportunity, it’s a blessing, so I can’t say one show, in particular, stood out. This year has been a beautiful and special moment in time.
Q: What are some personal highlights from your recent creative output over the past few years?
A: Recently “Symphony Sounds of Leeds UK”’s Dave Beer invited me to perform last year and this year. B2B was and is a legendary landmark in club history, the past four years living here in Berlin has been overwhelmingly amazing. Nothing but love from all the clubs I play at here, and I’ve played most of them. At the moment I feel really grateful, I know some people that are beautiful inside and out and that’s my greatest highlight.
Q: You’ve worked with some amazing producers and musicians in your career. Could you tell us about a collaboration that particularly stands out?
A: Respect to the past, but right now I’m focussed on the future, I’m in the studio with an amazing artist Jamie Anderson working on my next album. There are lots of wonderful artists on the album who have made brilliant contributions to the project, for the moment I’m not stating names but soon all will be revealed.
Q: Berlin has been your home for some time now. It’s clearly a beneficial place to live from a career viewpoint – what else do you love about living there?
A: Yes, Berlin has been an inspiring move for me, it’s an artist’s paradise, calm warm energy from lots of people here. They have a 24-hour club system some places open on a Thursday and close on Tuesday, I don’t think you can find that in other parts of the world. Overall you feel a real sense of freedom here, you can be and do what you like with your life, and that’s beautiful.
Q: Do you think Berlin compares to what it used to be in terms of its culture and nightlife scene?
A: It was and is beautiful, I first came here 85-86 and things have just opened up to a new broader audience of clubbers.
Q: What else is on the agenda for you this year? What are your plans for the future?
A: Album, more dates around the world, enjoying being happy about a grateful life, and beautiful friends on and offline.
Check out Robert Owens profile for more information.