Interview: Big Pretty

Departing from previous rock and indie ventures, South-London based Jimmy Robinson brings his blend of ‘pure pop’ to the forefront under the guise of Big Pretty.

Composed of uplifting melodies and warm, nostalgic guitar hooks, Big Pretty’s new single Diamond Eyes (The Room Upstairs) is simultaneously delicate and anthemic – striking a balance between sensitivity and dynamism.

I caught up with Jimmy to chat about his writing process, plans for live shows and why he feels he’s finally found his musical identity…

Hey Jimmy! It sounds like you’ve been on quite a musical journey through different projects. What’s brought you to your current sound releasing as Big Pretty?

It’s been crazy really! I started out playing in heavy metal and punk bands when I was younger and ended up playing on bills at Reading Festival and Download. I always had this great love of indie, urban and mainstream pop music though.

When my last band Bad Names split up, I had no real idea where my life was going. It took my friends Jack and Harry to kind of grab hold of me and shake me into action.

To be honest, I think this is the truest reflection of my own musical identity, to chuck a cliché into the mix. Big Pretty gives me the freedom to incorporate influences from everything I listen to without fear of selling out or being commercial or lame – I don’t really care!

It’s got to the point though where some people call me ‘Big Pretty’ when I’m writing or producing for them, which is really weird.

You’ve just released your new single Diamond Eyes (The Room Upstairs). Can you give us some insight into the writing / recording process?

I was messing around with the guitar riff for about a year before the song even took shape. I was playing it one day at a friend’s house, and the two of us fleshed out the basic sketch of the song, with me playing the guitars, bass & synths and him handling the drums.

I’ll usually walk around with the skeleton of a track for ages until a melody takes shape, and then I’ll have to quickly get it down somehow. You’ll regularly find me in the corner of like, a train station or something, whistling or humming into my phone so I don’t forget it. Same with lyrics – all written on my phone on trains and the London Underground, about how lonely it can feel in a crowd. I’ve lost a few family members and friends in the last few years and I was reflecting on what it means to still be here without their guidance.

Who would you cite as your biggest musical influences?

Growing up, my parents had all these fantastic records by people like INXS, Alexander O’Neal, The Police, Duran Duran and Prince, and I was always really drawn to how bold and melodic they were. Artists like Jai Paul and Blood Orange combine that with a really strong sense of groove. I’ll always lean on that combination more than anything else, because that’s what makes people dance and sing.

If you could play any venue in the world, where would it be and why?

Brixton Academy, ‘cos it’s massive and loud and I saw all my favourite artists there.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as musician?

That you’ll never get anywhere if you’re not being true to yourself. People can detect if you’re trying to write something cool or current, rather than what you’re naturally drawn to. No one’s ever going to like your music if you don’t back it 100% yourself.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any live shows we should watch out for?

There will definitely be Big Pretty live shows later this year; I’ve been watching my friends put on these amazing performances recently and I can’t stand to be away from the stage any longer. I’ll be recruiting a band in the next few weeks, and I’ve just finished the follow-up single which I’m really excited about.

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