Justin Roberts rockets toward another Grammy nod for ‘Space Cadet’

Chicago based singer-songwriter Justin Roberts has already racked up four Grammy Award nominations, and he just received a fifth nod for his latest release, “Space Cadet.” 

Known for his children’s music recordings and concerts, Roberts is a master of many genres, as “Space Cadet” demonstrates. A regular guest artist on the CSO for Kids series, Roberts returns to Symphony Center for two performances Nov. 19 of “Exploring the Orchestra: A Universe of Sounds,” with Andrew Grams conducting members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Recently, Roberts sat down for an interview with Morgan Enos for grammy.com, the website of the Recording Academy, in which he discussed his inspirations and influences, including Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, punk rockers the Ramones and soul music greats Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson.

“I found, even early on, that the influences of what I listened to as an adult worked really well for kids. I worked at a preschool briefly and would play Sam Cooke songs for the kids — or a Ramones song if it was lyrically appropriate. I'm just a big fan of really melodic pop music, and a giant Brian Wilson fan. I love hearing music with a lot of things going on.

“I write on the computer, primarily, when I'm doing demos. And if I hear something in my head, I add another vocal part or vibes or whatever it is to the demo, and then get in the studio and reconstruct that with actual musicians. Like real string quartets and things like that.

“Something I learned early on from working with kids is that they'll take in whatever you give them. So, I just tried to make stuff that I enjoy as an adult. That makes me make things that get stuck in my head and move me emotionally — and I've found that generally translates to kids and adults enjoying the music.”