Bobby Newberry on choreographing Pussycat Dolls and Nicki Minaj, and being gay

Sep 02, 2018, 09:37 IST | Anju Maskeri

Although Bobby Newberry's career first began with breaks in choreography, he is currently focused on the vocal aspect of his talents. He has begun collaborating with a group of producers in Los Angeles, including Damon Sharpe.

Bobby Newberry on choreographing Pussycat Dolls and Nicki Minaj, and being gay
Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

It's been only a couple of hours since LA-based choreographer Bobby Newberry landed in Mumbai and he has barely managed to catch a wink. But, it's hard to tell. Dressed in a casual white tee and denims, there's no sign of jet lag or fatigue. On the contrary, he is busy shimmying around and prepping for his photoshoot with model and reality star Divya Agarwal that will appear as part of his upcoming single. "India was on my vision board. And the day my trip got finalised, I decided to write an original song and call it Chance, because it's all about taking chances," he says. But the single is not the only reason that brings the 31-year-old artist here.

Dancing with the stars
Having choreographed the most sought-after names in the music scene including Pussycat Dolls, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Girlicious, Jessie and the Toyboys, Lil' Wayne, Jody Watley and Aaron Kwok, Newberry is in the country to hold his first-ever jazz funk masterclass. He will then select fresh faces who can be part of his upcoming music videos and live shows. "My Instagram is already flooded with dance videos that people here have sent me and it's impressive. So I've got a sense of what I'll get to see," he says.

As a self-taught artiste, he knows how hard it is to get a foothold in an industry that judges you at every step. Born in an underprivileged household in Orange County, California, he discovered his passion for music and movement when he was 10. "I would spend countless hours dissecting and emulating the dance styles of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. In fact, during the telecast of their stage shows, when they would pant, I would too," he laughs. By the time he was 16, he had also honed his passion for singing and songwriting.

"I would drive to Los Angeles to take music classes in my rickety car which would overheat. I would have to pull over and put water in it," he says. Newberry finally broke into the music scene following the success of the dance hit Dirrty Up featuring Jessie and the Toy Boys, followed by the Pussycat Dolls music video for When I Grow Up, which won Best Dance Video at the 2008 VMAs. While he admits to having enjoyed the most while shooting with Pussycat Dolls — Ashley Roberts is his best friend —it's Nicki Minaj that he relates to the most. "She is very involved and invested in the whole process. I admire that quality," he says.

Saying it as is
Although Newberry's career first began with breaks in choreography, he is currently focused on the vocal aspect of his talents. He has begun collaborating with a group of producers in Los Angeles, including Damon Sharpe, whose clientele include Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue. "Earlier I would write what people wanted to hear like partying and hip hop, but now I also write what I want to say," he says. It's the reason why he decided to come out of the closet with his 2017 single Up that featured gay love. "As an artiste, you have to always be real."

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