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Kindred spirits explore fresh sounds while jamming on cruise ship; share discovery with the world through new album ‘Green Tea R&B’
AUSTIN, TX & LONDON, ENGLAND – Sometimes the path to creative expression is an unexpected one. Sometimes the spark of inspiration strikes like a flash of lightning. Such was the case for Bobby Noble and Chris Richardson.
Noble is a Singer-Songwriter from Texas who started in music at a young age when theater became an outlet that helped him focus, eventually studying jazz voice and acoustic guitar. Richardson is a British Pianist from a musical family surrounded by brass bands and classical music, later developing a love of Jazz and R&B. Eventually the two met while serving a seven-month contract on a cruise ship, and the encounter was one that spurred a collaboration that would continue for many years and eventually lead to their new album “Green Tea R&B.”
“I had a friend from jazz school who was doing cruise ships and suggested that I check it out,” Noble said. “I auditioned and got in. The contracts are long, four to ten months at a time, and sometimes one band will leave and a new band will come in. That’s when I met Chris. I went into the lounge to see the new group, and when I turned a corner I heard someone just ripping up the keys. It was Chris – this gentle giant, super tall. I’ve since learned that he can be pretty quiet a lot of the time. He just speaks so vividly through the music. His fingers were flying down some phrases at the speed of light, then he’d suddenly slow down and accentuate all the right beats to color the groove. I was really blown away. Right then I knew I wanted to do a project with this guy.”
“Bobby was one of the first people I met when joining the ship.” Richardson recounted. “He has this friendly energy where you just feel comfortable hanging around. I also felt it the first time we jammed together…we started making music before even picking a song. I played a chord and Bobby started free styling and making up vocal lines. It was a really beautiful moment where I felt a chemistry in the way we improvised together. Even when we did pick songs we could play them differently each time.”
The two played and it was during one of those voyages when Noble had a dream that would spark their collaboration on the album.
“As I drifted off one night, my mind concocted a fantasy about hanging with the new band and suddenly being struck by this yummy, groovy music in the background,” Noble said. “It was unlike anything I had ever heard…I turned to one of the cats and said, ‘What is this?’ He said, ‘It’s this new genre called ‘Green Tea R&B.’ When I woke up, I immediately ran over to Chris’ cabin and said, ‘We’re doing an album.’ That was how it started and in the years since, we’ve worked on it back and forth over distance – me on ships and him in London.”
Richardson said that the vibe of “Green Tea R&B” is also inspired by their mutual admiration for Robert Glasper – specifically Glasper’s attitude of putting colorful chords and textures in modern songs. They both described it as a pop R&B album, but with richer harmonies and a hint of jazz influence.
“It has accessible melodies and stuff like that,” Noble said. “It blends more complicated musical concepts. For me, it’s a combination of everything I ever wanted to do in an album which could be very fun and standard pop stuff, but also elements I learned at jazz school that aren’t as common now. It’s truly the sound of me and Chris coming together. With him behind the keyboard and the production, every track was endowed with harmonies and colors I always wanted but struggled to express alone. As we’ve worked together and added bit by bit, it became ‘Green Tea R&B’. It started with that dream and became very real as we laid down the tracks.”
Noble said that throughout the process, a lot of the album was improvised with ideas going back and forth between the two of them. Toward the end when Noble was recording vocal takes, he said he would start with a preconceived melody, then do something more improvised and see what would come out of it. Those explorations led to the discovery of new vines with quite a few being included in the final album.
“This music is transportation to a deep down part of yourself that can be very profound – the feeling when you’re all alone in the morning drinking green tea and having sultry music on,” Noble said. “The places your brain shows you in that moment is very daydream like. We want it to be yummy and solid and fun, but also to have an extra musical sense of being something that has no boundaries. Something touching… When you listen to an Erykah Badu album, it’s rad and goes a lot of different places, but it’s also very grounded. She has lyrics and melodies that strike out and center you. That’s what this album aspires to do. When you listen to it, you are hopefully carried away to a new place – a fantasy or reverie, perhaps.”
To listen to “Green Tea R&B” or to follow Noble and Richardson on social media, please visit:
“Green Tea R&B” album
Bobby Noble Live Demo