HOW “SHOW ME LOVE” BECAME AN UNEXPECTED HOUSE CLASSIC
Robin S and StoneBridge share their sides of the story.
There are very few records in dance music history that can match the durability of “Show Me Love,” the early 90s house anthem that propelled little-known singer Robin S into the charts. In the 23 years since its release, “Show Me Love” has inspired a steady string of remixes, cover versions, updates, and knock-offs, but the original remains untouchable. As enduring as the track has been, though, its runaway success sprung from an inauspicious origin story.
While “Show Me Love” features a powerhouse turn from Robin S, another name was instrumental in making it a hit: Swedish producer Sten “StoneBridge” Hallström. It was Hallström who took the singer’s original demo, which was gathering dust in the basement of London label Champion, and made it into the 1993 club record we know. Within six months, Robin S had world tours booked and Hallström was in high demand as a remixer. “I didn’t get paid much and I didn’t get royalties on it,” the producer recalls, “but it gave me a career, more or less.”
“Show Me Love” can still light up a dancefloor, and its combination of a gutsy vocal and the Korg M1 synthesizer set a template that’s since been replicated by many other chart hits. As Hallström tells it, he’s reverse engineered his mix “a hundred times” to decipher what made it so powerful. “Obviously Robin sings it very well,” he says. “The kick drum and the organ clearly were in the right key, so you had the soulful bottom-end of the mix. I couldn’t find a clean snare, so I had to take one with a kick in it, so it’s really heavy. Plus the bassline is a hook—the whole record is a big hook. It’s relentless.”
For this edition of Beatport’s How I Made That series, Robin S and StoneBridge tell how “Show Me Love” came to life.
“It started out as a demo, which the label had shelved before StoneBridge asked if they had anything he could remix. Honestly, I was sick with the flu when I recorded the demo, so I don’t feel like I was at my best. When you’re sick, you have to sing from the gut and push everything out. Obviously that’s what happened and it sounded like I was really feeling this song, but I was really feeling sick! God knows I pushed from every part of my body that I could.
I liked StoneBridge’s version when I heard it. It was a new sound. At that time, you had everyone following the New Jack Swing sound, and this represented something totally different. I was absolutely not involved in the house music scene at the time. I was in the R&B and jazz world, right up until I had to go on tour with ‘Show Me Love.’ From then, life got very busy, constantly flying back and forth overseas for [UK chart show] Top of the Pops and all of that. It was everything all at once.
It was never my intention for this to be my destiny, but God has the bigger plan. I would never turn my back on the dance community, because for so many years I’ve had a lot of love from that world. Turning my back on that because I want to only do other stuff is not even an option.
Some people tell me the song saved their life. Some people tell me it’s the song that helped them come out. It speaks volumes: no matter who I am or what I do in life, you’ve still got to show me love. Actions always speak louder than words. ‘Show Me Love’ is one of those time capsule songs—you could put it away, dig it up in 20 years and you’ll still get that feeling.”
“I had a thing going with Champion Records where I licensed tracks, and being a young producer, I asked them, ‘Don’t you have any old shit in the basement I could remix?’ They had this record called ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin Stone. I was thinking, ‘Robin Stone plus StoneBridge—it’s meant to be.’
The demo was a vague copy of Jocelyn Brown’s ‘Somebody Else’s Guy,’ with all the little synth hooks and the boogie bassline. I did the bassline and added my own drums to it, then sent it off to the label, and they didn’t like it at all. I got really pissed off about it.
It was a Saturday when I went back to the studio, and I had a gig that night. On the M1 keyboard, preset number 16 is called PickBass, which I used for the bassline, then I went to preset 17, which is Organ 2. I added a little delay, two chords in the chorus, and just before I mixed it down, I decided I needed something hard. That’s when I put that intro in—I distorted an old Yamaha synth that sounded almost like a guitar. Techno was quite big at the time, and especially in Germany, so I thought, why not put some German shit in there.
I decided not to play it at the gig that night, and I wasn’t sure if I’d send it to Champion on Monday. Then my friend said, ‘Dude, that’s the best thing you’ve ever done.’ So I sent it off again, and the UK forced me to re-edit the thing about 14 times. Eventually they cut a white label on vinyl and floated it—one ended up in New York with Roger Sanchez, David Morales had one, Pete Tong got one; all these big guys. Joey Negro sent me a fax to say, ‘Man, your track is the biggest thing in London.’ I had to scribble back on the fax, ‘Which record?’ I was surprised to hear it was the Robin S one.
About six months later, I was in the UK and I turned on the TV in my hotel room. Top of the Pops was on, and I see ‘Show Me Love’ is in the top five. The label kept me in the dark that it was a hit so that my remix fee wouldn’t go up. I had done loads of remixes for them really cheap.
After that record, the phone didn’t stop ringing for five years. I did a follow-up called ‘Luv 4 Luv,’ which was exactly the same—the label sort of demanded it. It got absolutely slated in a Mixmag review. After that, I decided to give away the M1 to a friend so I couldn’t use it again. From there, I didn’t look back. Now here we are, 23 years later, and the sound is all over the place.”
Source : Beatport