Emotions in men are kind of like the Lockness Monster; everybody wants to see them, but no one knows quite how to handle them if and when they do. Show too much and you’re labeled an emo wreck like Drake, show them too little and you’ve got the glut of shirtless, unchecked bravado prevalent in much of today’s rap and R&B. Fortunately, there are singers like Eric Roberson who know how to toe the line of being honest without sounding like a prescription of anti-depressents needs to come with each disc. Emotionally raw compositions like “Find The Way” and “Couldn’t Hear Me Over The Music” have lived on to be welcome betrayals of men’s thoughts, absolving us of our silent agreement to be bereft of feeling.
“You know that I need you, but girl not this way
I want so much more than what you give today
To show you I want you, I push you away
If it’s meant to be girl, I trust that it will find the way”
However, it’s a challenge to get some people to give it a fair listen. This is why ten years ago Roberson took matters into his own hands and launched a monthly music series at S.O.B’s in New York entitled, Sol Village. Frustrated with not being invited to play at the venue, he rented it out and invited like-minded artists to share the stage with him. Weeks later he released a collection of his music called “The Vault” and both live on as living breathing examples of how the masculine heart can find an audience in today’s fickle music landscape.
A decade and six albums later ( “The Vault 1.5,” “The Appetizer,” “…Left,” “The Collection,” “Music Fan First” and “Mr. Nice Guy”) Roberson is still passionately independent and has communed with artists across the musical map (Jazzy Jeff, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Phonte Coleman and DJ Spinna).
TheUrbanDaily.com spoke with Eric Roberson about the continued success of Sol Village and how a married man gets away with writing songs about all of his ex-girlfriends.
TUD: Congratulations on the success of Sol Village. How did you come to lock down one of the most coveted venues in NYC?
Eric Roberson: I remember wanting to be an artist and wanting a stage to showcase my talent and not really finding opportunities. I remember trying to get on SOB’s stage, and the way I got it was I booked a night there. They wouldn’t book me so I rented out the place for a night and did my own show. That kind of opened the dialogue of me performing there. Then they asked me if there were other artists like myself that are trying to get on this stage and can’t get on it. I said yeah, there is a whole movement of people out here looking for an opportunity. Then they asked me if I’d be interested in hosting it. That was pretty much ten years ago. The whole purpose is to bring attention to talent that may not have an opportunity to perform on a stage in front of a certain crowd and it’s been very rewarding. I started doing Sol Village a couple of months before I put out “The Vault” album. The Vault Vol. 1 came out and Sol Village started in august of 2003. I remember because I did my 30th birthday party at SOBs that year and I was already doing Sol Village.
To do anything for 10 years is pretty amazing. To do a show where you need a lot of people to keep it going. The band is still the same, management is still the same. We had some struggles, but it’s as strong as when we started.
TUD: For those who are unfamiliar, tell us what you can expect at a Sol Village show.
It’s a community of music lovers. Soul music lovers. And soul doesn’t just have to be Fender Rhodes type music or spoken word. It can be rock, it can be hip-hop. If you’re giving your all I think it’s soul music. It’s a fun time as well. The greatest part about this show is that it has allowed me to be very loose on stage. A lot of times we’d get on stage and not know what we’re going to do. You’re going to see some of the best upcoming talent, three to five acts that will blow you away, as well as me and my band acting a complete fool from start to finish.
Speaking of acting the fool, you did a freestyle called “H1-N1” back in 2010 that was silly as hell.
Before Sol Village I’d have never sang a song like that. That song doesn’t even match how crazy it’s gotten. If you come to the show with a crazy haircut or outfit, there is a good chance there will be a song made about you. We’re making fun of ourselves, everything that’s going around, but sometimes it’s very serious. We just did a beautiful freestyle about Trayvon Martin. During Obama’s campaing in 2008 we aired his debate at Sol Village and just had Obama talking between the acts. If it feels right we go with it.
TUD: Are you doing any Improv? I saw Wayne Brady at BB Kings and you two would work well together.
Our management has talked about doing some type of improv song together. I’d be honored to work with him because he’s a genius at improv. At least my part of Sol Village, atleast 50 percent of it is improv. “H1N1” was completely made up from the gate. I love not knowing if something is going to work. I love not knowing how something is going to end because we’re literally creating it right then and there.
Click to read what his wife thinks of all these songs about other women…and her!