ROBINSON Q+A / OCTOBER 2011

robinson-qa

1. You recently made a trip to California for some touring. What was the music scene like compared to that of the UK?

“It’s hard to say, I’d have to play in excess of over 500 gigs to give you an honest answer for that. It was similar in a way that some (not all!) promoters just don’t have a clue. Some try to be an “all you can eat buffet”, and try to offer everything…but a plate full of music that doesn’t harmonise with each other, often leaves a dissatisfaction in the taste. For instance it just doesn’t work putting on an acoustic act followed by a goth metal band closely followed by an indie band, the genres and dynamic are just to extreme. But I have to say that the audiences were far more enthusiastic and wanted you to triumph rather than to watch you burn.

2. Beneath The Ballroom has a noticeably stronger sound than your debut album. Were you trying to achieve a different sound or is this a natural progression of Robinson?

“Absolutely, an artist that keeps on creating the same work is dead, there is no more meaning to his journey. My music is my life and much like life, your attitudes and opinions are always changing, much like the British weather. I never want to be genre specific or follow a fashion or a trend. I refuse to take the public footpath and would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t hack down and carve my own path through the brambles and wild bushes.

3. What are the next steps in the life of Robinson?

“I’ve just had new soles custom made for my shoes as I’ve had agonising feet all of my life, so the next steps I take will be ones of comfort and relief (hopefully!)”

4. Who are your main influences and do you feel that they are apparent in your sound?

“The obvious answer is that John Martyn, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Otis Reading, The Doors, The Beatles and The beach boys have all played their roles in my making but it’s all to difficult to say who influenced what. The truth is that you don’t ever know what your influences are, much like the sponge has no idea of how much water it’s absorbing. But its not just music that affects, it can be the 3/4 part harmony of the Freight train horn, or the wail from a baby to how the babbling brook on a fresh winters day makes you feel. I’ll leave for you to hear if it’s apparent in the music.

5. Can you give us some background information on the track “I’m Leaving”?

“Well, I was sleeping with the devil, she was a corporate banker but she had great legs and her demonic eyes were weirdly sexy, I couldn’t resist. She became my “Suga’ mama”. She always made sure I could drink, would take me out to meals, pay for my haircut, pay for my shoe shine. It was almost like being in heaven but of course I was just tasting the high life of hell and I would have stayed but morally I kind of felt like a whore.

So I knew it couldn’t last, at first she loved the idea of me being a musician, i think she found it romantic but as we all know a dream can’t buy luxury. Although she was extremely wealthy I think she was getting tired of supporting me. She became resentful towards me and would spit at my guitar if it was propped up anywhere. “This isn’t gonna work” I told myself, I had to leave, so I wrote the song “I’m leaving”, Played it to her, she slapped me round the face and threw me out of her house and I never heard from her again.”

6. We are told that you spent time in the Portland area to record this album. What was your experience like while there? What stood out to you about our Pacific Northwest?

“How green it all was, it truly is a beautiful part of the world. I loved how much it rained there. I’ve never been a solar powered person, I find much more beauty and melancholy in the rain, it washes all the filth away and as Tom Waits said “sounds like a round of applause”. I never experienced Portland, it was a place called “McMinnville” that I stayed in, which was about 2 hours out of Portland. It was a sleepy town that time had forgotten about. It felt like I was walking through a film set, the year being 1890, I loved it, to me this was perfect. I was touched with how welcoming, hospitable and friendly the American people were… “Have a great day!!” … – you would never hear that in England! ”

7. If you could be featured on a fellow artists’ album, who would it be and why? (Current recording artist)

“Tom Waits, because I really want to know the magicians tricks!”

8. You seem to be quite the musical talent. What was your first musical love and who influenced you to get involved with music?

“I was 3 years old when I was first electrocuted by music, it was fast foot-stomping Irish music that my dad was playing on the car stereo. I got so excited that I bust out of my buckles, my arms were flying in all directions and my legs kicked like the can-can! At about the age of 5 I had a rather unhealthy obsession with the Jackson 5 and Buddy Holly that stayed with me until the age of 11. I believe the ghost of my Grandpa got me involved with music. He died when I was just 3 so i didn’t really know anything about him. I was in primary school aged 9 when it happened… I was bursting for the toilet and asked to be excused from the classroom. As I walked down the long oppressive Victorian corridor I began to hear the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I couldn’t move, the earth stood still while the notes of that clarinet danced like comets through the galaxies. When the clarinet stopped playing, the earth woke up to find that I had wet myself… but I didn’t care, I cared for nothing from that day forward other than music. I ran home after school to announce to my mum what had happened to me, “I want to play the clarinet! can I please have lessons and a clarinet??! I’ll never expect anything for any birthday or Christmas for the rest of my life! please mum, please!!”. She told me to calm down as she had some extraordinary news to tell me….. She told me that my Grandpa played the clarinet and that he had left it in his will for me to have! It was my Grandpa’s ghost that led me out of the classroom that day and who is still watching over me at every step of my journey.

9. Describe the typical emotions you have right before you go on stage to perform.

“I feel like a firework that has just been ignited ready to soar high into the sky… so naturally you hope you don’t plummet into the ground. Anxiety is the most typical emotion, I worry about practical things, like strings breaking, the P.A exploding, the guitar leads working properly, my voice breaking or my trousers falling down.”

10. What has been the standout moment of your career thus far?

“Since the age of 16 I had played around pubs, clubs and bars only to play to very few people with many ears closed and more often than not, a projector screen showing the football or rugby whilst trying to deliver a delicate acoustic set. Over the years it had become frustrating to say the least. This is why this year was like clean air entering my lungs after drowning in a sea of doubt. For the first time in my life I saw people from my hometown (and not just friends and family) turn up to the shows. I never told anyone this and this is the first time I’ve ever admitted it and here I am doing it publicly… but we played a gig this summer at “The Old Rectifying House” in Worcester as part of the music festival and something very strange came over me. After playing the show I went to the toilets and locked the cubicle door behind me. I held my head in my hands and wept in sheer happiness and relief. I couldn’t remember the last time I had even shed a tear let alone cried and here I was bawling like a little baby! I just couldn’t believe it. Some dream of Grammy awards or world wide fame or a number 1 in the charts. For me it was always my ambition to have the support of my hometown and here I was being backed by Worcester’s finest musicians, (John-Joe Murray, Josh Taylor, Will Hughes, Hywel Payne, Wes Dance, Rich Clarke, Josh Crivelli) playing to a room that was singing along to my songs and was so full that they were turning people away at the door! Truly I was touched, it felt much like falling in Love.

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