Guys, we’re back at it again with our creative interviews! Sorry it’s been a while, but trust us, this one was well worth the wait. We got to talking with a super accomplished playwright, film and television writer, as well as songwriter by the name of Robin French. Robin is the narrative voice behind some of your favourite shows such as Cuckoo and has provided the lyrical stylings behind Sugarcane’s tunes. So, here is what he had to say about the wild ride that is his life…
As with any creative, we always want to know where it all began for them. When did that spark truly come alive and when did they know. We asked Robin when he knew and he told us; “Hmm, I have a bit of a problem with that category because everybody is creative, aren’t they? It’s a mode of thinking we all have access to. Though obviously the more you use it, the bigger your creative muscle becomes, but I’ve been making stuff for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I used to spend my weekends in the attic painting wild animals. I was probably an odd anti-social child – my idea of a good time involved some pastels and a leopard.”Doesn’t sound anti-social to us, sounds like the beginnings of artistic genius being released.
We, of course, had to know where all Robin’s inspiration comes from. A man with that many creative outlets must find inspiration everywhere, right? He told us; “Well, often life – but just as often other art. Every time I see/hear something that I love. It could be films, theatre, TV, music. It’s such a buzz when someone does something stylistically fresh that’s full of meaning. That charge is really important for everybody’s creativity, I think. The things that you love are signposts to the stuff you should be making.” We couldn’t agree more, Robin. Life is definitely the greatest inspiration.
On the subject of creativity, we also wanted to know what disrupts Robin’s. Then we wanted some helpful tips on how to overcome it from a pro. Robin did not disappoint and told us; “Bad sleep is a killer. I also think writing something worthwhile involves a daily fight against doubt. You have to somehow keep faith with your idea, stay in love with it. As Hemmingway said “The first draft of everything is shit”. You can’t be disheartened. Creativity requires the nerve to keep going through the badlands.” Gotta love a good Hemmingway quote!
Any Cuckoo fans out there?! Great, then this part is for you (if you haven’t seen the show already, it’s is currently streaming on Netflix, so get on it!) A little Cuckoo background, the show started 5 years ago and is going from strength to strength! So, we asked Robin if he ever struggles finding new ideas and just where does he get those ideas! He told us;“It’s been a mad journey – I’m ridiculously lucky to be writing words that will be spoken by huge stars like Andy Samberg, Taylor Lautner and Andi McDowell. The English cast is extraordinary – Helen Baxendale, Esther Smith and Ken Collard among others – and of course the comic colossus, Greg Davies. He’s an awesome talent at the height of his powers. I’m such a big fan of what he does, it’s almost embarrassing. Fun fact, when I hug him in greeting, my forehead rests against his nipples! –
My day to day is generally spent hanging out with my co-creator, Kieron Quirke, who is an old school mate who just happens to have a magnificent comic mind. I noticed this aged 16 and never let go. Finding new ideas does get harder with Cuckoo. That said, I think the fifth series, which is filming now, has Andi McDowell and some of the best episodes we’ve ever done. I can’t wait for people to see it!”
Not content with just writing for film, screen and stage, Robin is a songwriter in the band Sugarcane. So, we demanded (joking, we asked nicely, we always do!) that he tell us all about Sugarcane; “I was about to go on stage at Glastonbury in 2007 with Mr Hudson and the Library – when I got a call from LA, saying they wanted to make one of mine and Kieron’s sitcoms. So, with a lot of regret I left the band – which was hard because it was like a little family. Since that point, I really missed making music – it’s just a really important part of my creative DNA. Leaving LA, I fell head over heels with a girl who was living in South America, who introduced me to a lot of old samba records – and something clicked. Sugarcane mixes the indie song writing I grew up on with more tropical rhythms like Samba and Calypso. It started off as a sort of bedroom recording project, then I got my friend Antonia Thomas on board to help with the singing on the first EP. Antonia has got such a gorgeous voice. Then this year, I’ve managed to get the most stupendously talented band around me to play the stuff live, including the girl I fell in love with from South America! Playing live again after so long is a total trip, I love it.”Love a bit of music and romance!
We couldn’t help wondering whether being a writer meant that the words came first to him or whether the melody did. Robin told us; “For me, the melody comes first. It’s weird – you’d think the lyrics would be easy for me – but oddly the stuff that comes most naturally is picking up random different instruments and arranging.” On the subject of music, we couldn’t help asking who Robin would do a gig with, dead or alive. He told us; “This is an easy question: Marvin Gaye. I just think he’s the best singer ever. He hated live performing because he thought he was a bad dancer, so I would make sure to compliment his steps, while enjoying my private concert.” We would 100% pay to see that!
The App and Farewells
Before we said goodbye (aw!) we had to ask if Robin had a question for the app. We always ask creatives to come up with a question and we love his!“This will separate the sheep from the goats. Marvin or Stevie.”
We at CLiKD like to look towards the future, so we had to ask Robin whether he feels like the future is bright for him and his work; “Well, aside from Cuckoo and Sugarcane, I have a play with the RSC called Crooked Dances, which I’m very excited about and a couple of new TV dramas I am writing – both of them in their different ways about race and music in the 20thcentury.” So excited to see all that come to fruition!
Thanks so much to Robin French for sitting down with us! It was a pleasure to hear all about your work and we can’t wait to see what you do next!
Robin French’s Links:
- Sugarcane’s Instagram
- Sugarcane’s Twitter
- Robin’s Twitter
- Sugarcane’s Facebook
- Sugarcane’s Soundcloud