Smokey Robinson on not paying attention to past success: 'What’s happening now is what’s happening'

His new album ‘Gasms’ is out now
Smokey Robinson
Photo credit Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In the latest episode of the WTF with Marc Maron Podcast, Smokey Robinson revealed that he developed his latest album during the five years where his life felt the most uncontrollable.

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It goes without saying that Smokey Robinson is an R&B and Soul icon, having worked closely with Berry Gordy of Motown Records as a performer and songwriter. While the majority of the podcast episode focuses on his history with Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and the Miracles, Robinson never compares himself to his noteworthy past. “With me, what’s happening now is what’s happening,” he explained. “The mistake a lot of people make when they’re making music is to try to out-do their last music. And especially if they’ve had something that’s a really big hit, they’re gonna try to out-do that, and it stifles them.”

In many ways, Robinson demonstrates that he has never been stuck in the past (Remember his feature on Anderson .Paak’s 2019 “Make It Better”?) Thus, the 83-year-old is still incredibly forward thinking, especially as he released his “first album of original material” since 2009 . His last original album before that was released nearly a decade earlier, so this record is no small feat.

Gasms was released just last month and features nine new songs, including the single, “If We Don't Have Each Other.” Though it appears as a near fourteen year hiatus, the Motown legend never truly took a break. “I’ve been working man, I do concerts all the time, been doing live shows and I’ve been writing all the time” he said, though he admits that writing another full length album, “took a while.”

“It took about five years, really,” Robinson recalled. “I wanted it to be… when I heard it or listened back to it, I could say, ‘Ok I gave it all I got.’” The results? Gasms is an album full of the sensual smooth R&B he’s grown to master, while still bringing something new to the table. “It was very important, because it is the first original material album that I’ve had out in a long time,” Robinson said in the podcast. “And at my age, you know, it’s important that I come with something that I thought people would take to. And so I had to listen to it a thousand times and work on it, work on it, work on it until I feel like, ‘Yeah, this is it for this album.’”

The extent of his working prompted host Marc Maron to comment that he was being hard on himself. Ever the humble artist, Robinson merely brushed off the comment as part of the creative process. “I just wanted some music that I enjoyed, that feels good to me, that I think would get the attention of people, and then I just hope people will like it,” he said.

To listen to the full conversation, which includes Smokey Robinson’s experiences with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Berry Gordy and more, check out the podcast here on the Audacy app.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images