Chaz Robinson has done it all. From dancing on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” to performing with the biggest names in music, he’s carved out a career to take note of. With his debut album, Chaz, out now, I caught up with the triple-threat performer to talk everything from music to jump ropes.
The visual aspect of music is important to you. As you record the music, do you see what the performance might look like?
I absolutely do see what the performance might look like. Once the song is finished and I’ve made notes about what I want the music production to sound like, I start brainstorming ideas for a live show environment. I have pages of notes detailing stage design, dance style, fashion, lighting, and thematic elements.
What did you learn from “America’s Best Dance Crew” that you’ve been able to bring into your solo performances?
ABDC really was a catalytic moment for my dance abilities. I was surrounded by incredibly talented dancers who pushed me to become a better dancer. I knew, from that moment, I wanted to be able to enhance my performances by being a dynamic dancer as well. It also exposed me to an incredibly wide array of dance styles, from which I began imagining what style I wanted my dancing to be.
The album cover was something we knew was going to be striking, from the moment the idea hit me. I was inspired by a set of body paint glitter photos I saw and thought it would a beautiful way to personify and theme the album. I wanted the cover to be artistic, but edgy, and beautiful. I was so lucky to have my makeup artist, Isidro Valencia, bring the cover to life.
Speaking of inspiration, how did “Without You” come to life?
“Without You,” from a lyrical standpoint, really is one of my most imaginary and dramatic songs. The song talks about being no better with someone than you are without them, but it describes them as if it were happening in a nightmare — painting mental images, poetically, instead of just coming out and saying it. One of my incredible producers, Michael Cochran, did a spectacular job of creating the track for this song. The track has just as much thought, intensity, and poeticism as the lyrics.
You’re an incredibly accomplished jump rope champion, something I can’t let pass by without asking about it. How did you get into that?
I started jumping rope was I was 10. My coach, Nikki Glover, was also my elementary school gym teacher. After a lot of coaxing, I finally decided to try out and I made the team. I’ve been jumping 17 years now, am a 2-time world champion, have made appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Disney’s Shake It Up, and America’s Best Dance Crew, and have traveled to dozens of countries…teaching and performing.
What’s coming up next and what can we expect when they download the full album?
Currently, my team and I are pushing the album worldwide — making TV appearances, doing live performances, and working on launching a fall tour! The album: every song tells a story, tells a secret, tells of who I am. The songs are catchy, unique, and exciting.