Unrequited love spawned Hackney artist’s upbeat ukelele melody

Bobby Shoebotham

Bobby Shoebotham - Credit: Archant

Bobby Shoebotham talks to Emma Bartholomew about jacking in his job to record and engineer his debut EP alone, surviving on chilli con carne and the girl who rejected him.

Bobby Shoebotham with his Mariachi band

Bobby Shoebotham with his Mariachi band - Credit: Archant

Most songs about heartbreak tend to err on the side of wistful melancholia – but not Bobby Shoebotham’s.

The 29-year-old’s catchy, upbeat, debut single, Somebody Else’s Girl, was written within half an hour on a cheap ukulele after returning home from the last meeting with his girlfriend – who had just decided to return to her ex.

The infectious, but simple song revolves around just three chords and two hooks, and the girl he wrote it about “loved it”.

“It’s about exactly what it says on the tin,” Bobby, from Birmingham and now living in Hackney Road, told the Gazette.

Bobby Shoebotham

Bobby Shoebotham - Credit: Archant

“I wasn’t going for catchy, it just kind of came out that way.

“It’s about someone I still know, she definitely knows the song is about her, her boyfriend does too,” he laughed.

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“We used to be good friends, I guess we still are, but the whole thing obviously had a strange effect on the relationship - we went out and then she broke up with her boyfriend and then she decided not to break up with her boyfriend.”

The track is one of six tunes on his eclectic album, with country, soul and swing music, that’s been recorded in Dalston and will be released this summer.

Bobby Shoebotham

Bobby Shoebotham - Credit: Archant

It is unique in that Bobby does everything himself – from the drums, bass, guitar and uke as well as the singing.

The process has been so time consuming he had to give up his job working in the records department at Moorfields Eye Hospital in City Road four months ago to complete it.

“I couldn’t really have done both at the same time, I’m recording and engineering it, and I’m also playing all the instruments,” he explained.

“I think that’s fairly unusual, most people probably couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of it because it’s been quite a long slog.”

Bobby Shoebotham with his Mariachi band

Bobby Shoebotham with his Mariachi band - Credit: Archant

It’s also been an exercise in frugality for him, learning how to survive on £20 a week.

“Whether it’s brave or stupid to give up my job to do it is the question,” he mused.

“It doesn’t pay you any money, so you have to be pretty brave, I had some savings so I’ve been living off them while I’ve been recording this.

“You have to find ways to survive without money, I’ve got pretty good at it. Basically I’m quite lucky - although I don’t think anyone else would call it lucky - but I don’t mind eating the same thing all the time, I just made a massive meal at the start of the week and ate it every day, if you do chilli con carne it goes a long way.”

His comedy Mexican band, Mariachi El Pinche Gingo, also helps pay the bills.

Bobby and his band mates don sombreros, ponchos and sing in Spanish accents, and play festivals like Boom Town, the club night Rumpus, and gig at private parties and weddings.

“What I like about music is how it can make you feel,” said Bobby.

“If you are having a bad day and you hear a song you love it can totally turn you mood around and make you feel amazing, which is weird because it’s just something you hear.

“It’s always been my dream to record one thing with me doing literally everything, I figured while I’m young enough and got this chance

to do it then I should - it’s more for the love of doing it and wanting to say I’ve done it.

“Obviously I’ll try my hardest to make it go places.”

To listen to Somebody Else’s Girl, go to http://bit.ly/1G9P2Ac.