7.28.2013

At the Bar with Davina Robinson

I first was introduced to "powerhouse" blues rocker Davina Robinson on the Blasian Narrative.  To be honest, I was simply blinded by her beauty and managed to sweet talk my way into an interview.  It was a great opportunity to complete this with her.

So how are you doing? Tell us a few things about yourself, including your favorite drink.

Doing well in the heat - working hard and thanking the inventor of air conditioning.

I'm a night owl. One of my friends calls me "Vamp", as in vampire.

Of current TV shows, I love Breaking Bad, Dexter, Homeland and anything Gordon Ramsay does.

I was a lurker on the Vote For the Worst website. RIP.

I have a black pug named Bruce and a black cat named Bella.

I LOVE super flare jeans. Superfly, like the 70s.

My hairstyle of choice is a big puffy afro. The bigger and frizzier the better.

My favorite drink of all time is the lovely Long Island Iced Tea. Outback's recipe is the best.

My second choice drink is Ume-shuu, which is a Japanese-style plum wine.

You are an Afro-American blues/rock musician based in Osaka, Japan. How did that happen?

I ask myself the same question every day. :)

I first came to Japan as an English teacher, with the goal of studying Japanese while earning some money. I studied International Affairs in graduate school, and had planned to work at a non-profit, like in cultural affairs or student exchange.

Japanese is a tough language and it took longer than I'd anticipated to get to a certain level, so I stayed longer than I'd originally planned. But I liked my life in Japan and wasn't ready to go back to the US anyway. So I stayed!

As for my genre, blues and rock are in my heart. That's just who I am and have always been, despite the detours I may have taken. I listen to different genres but I'm a big fan of the old school.

As a working musician/singer, I perform different genres to earn a living. But when I write my songs, I have a heavy guitar sound in mind, with bluesy/funky vox and drum line.

How long have you been in music? What got you started?

All I knew is that I wanted to sing, so I went to open mics and jam sessions, and then got a band together. Like a lot of bands, music started out as a weekend hobby. I like to think of it as "training". Performing cover songs was fun, but once I started writing my own songs, it became more serious for me, and music was all I wanted to do. Forget cultural affairs!

My turning point was 2007, when I met Osamu Mochinaga, who later wound up arranging and producing my first CD, The Blazing Heart.

What all instruments do you play?

I "dabble" with guitar, keyboards and drums. But I don't feel I play any of them well enough to perform live. I will someday, though. I've been practicing keyboards a lot these days.

When I write, I do a basic arrangement with either a guitar or keyboards, then send it to my guitarist Masaaki Watanuki to arrange for real.

Who would you say influences you the most?

Picking one is tough but vocally I'd say Chaka Khan or Melissa Etheridge.  Musically I'd say Led Zeppelin or Living Colour.

In your song about Osaka Boys, you talk about lovin’ them Osaka Boys. What’s the dating scene like where you are?

Osakans love to eat and laugh. So food and jokes are the keys to an Osaka man's heart. The dating scene can be tough in Japan because Japanese are generally shy. I know women who have been lucky and some unlucky in the dating scene. But the scene is definitely active and lively, as long as you yourself are active and lively, with a touch of friendly aggressiveness. Osaka men need that little "push". They're tough on the outside, but soft on the inside.



You are a seriously beautiful woman. Like…stunning. You make me want to squeal like an idiot fangirl.  What’s your secret?

THANK YOU! No particular secrets except lots of food and lots of booze. :) Makeup doesn't hurt, either.

What are you currently working on, and with whom?

I've kinda become addicted to doing acoustic gigs. It's more intimate, and establishes a real connection with the audience. It's more challenging but I feel freer to take my time with a song.



I've been working with guitarist Masaaki Watanuki for almost 4 years now. He arranges for me and also plays in my band. I've been writing some new material and Masaaki's working on the arrangements now. I can't wait for people to hear the new stuff.

Do you have set band or do you mostly do collaborations?

I have a set band. Occasionally our schedules don't mesh so I hire a replacement but only when necessary. I really like playing with a set group of people because it keeps the sound tight.

I occasionally do guest vocals for other artists, and I wouldn't mind doing more.

What does the future hold for the beautiful Davina Robinson?

I want to record another CD and play in my hometown of Philadelphia! With what money, I have no idea, but I'm putting it out into the universe. :)

Davina, it was a pleasure.  Please stop by the bar again some time.

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