5 minutes with… Robin Romei

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Just back from his UK tour, british multi-talented musician Robin Romei is set to release his second single entitled ‘Effy / (We Are) The Underdogs’ on the 25th November 2013. Inhabiting a very special world of extraordinary sounds and endless vision, Robin composes and arranges all of his songs and performs live with an electric backdrop of virtuoso musicians.

Robin Romei – (We Are) The Underdogs | Out November 25th by ThePlayground PR

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?

Hello! I feel great! I am currently on a promotion campaign for my double A-Side Single ‘Effy / (We Are) The Underdogs’ which is set for release on November 25th. I’m also sorting out some samples for a live show and just come back from a gym session so I feel really pumped right now.

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

Well I would listen to the tracks and decide what you feel the sound is like. I always start by saying the engine of the music is upbeat, almost dance based, with strong elements of punk and rock. Then I would say there is an electronic element, then on top of that I would say there is downbeat lyrical content to contrast the thundering upbeat rock elements of the music.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

Good questions but let’s start with ‘The White Album’ by the Beatles. Very surreal and expansive and it made me think outside the box with my writing. The next big album for me was ‘Appetite for Destruction’ by Guns N’ Roses which pretty much made me take up the guitar. Let’s throw in ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson because it is so musically strong and then let’s look at ‘Hysteria’ by Def Leppard because they were great live in the day. Finally MGMT’s first album is probably the most emotional one for me because the songs resonate a lot with my late teens and early twenties.

What other artists do you really like at the moment and why?

I’m spinning ‘The 1975’ a lot at the moment. I am listening to Haim’s new album quite a lot now. Also Abba, Depeche Mode. Whatever I feel like when I wake up. Anything too heavy both lyrically and musically doesn’t appeal to me right now. I’m carrying the burden of the world so any more weight will make things less fruitful.

What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks?

I tend to write in different ways. For example, some songs I just sit down with a notebook and a guitar. I write lyrics separate from music most of the time, and when I get a guitar line or progression I often instinctively connect that with some words I have written. Other times I just sit down behind a computer and throw ideas down. Writing one song to the next is never the same for me.

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

I would say playing the Whisky Ago go was a big gig, but one of my favourites was playing Crawley in the last tour. The place was really packed out and we felt welcome there, a real homecoming. I’ve always liked the place and the people there and they got behind every track. The more shows you play the more you appreciate coming back home and having a party.

What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?

We were playing the Tunbridge Wells Forum in 2010 as part of a tour that eventually led us to the States. The gig was going pretty well. We used backing tracks in those days. We had a technical error whereby Patrick Christie, on drums lost a click (metronome) feed. The track was incredibly slow and it meant we were out of time with the backing track. Amazingly we managed to bring it back in time at the end as the backing track contained more rhythmic Synth lines. That was awkward but ultimately we found backing tracks restrictive so we moved away from them this year.

What are your thoughts on the following genres?

Classical
I feel I could take more out of listening to classical music if I had had a traditional musical upbringing, Patrick Christie who plays drums in the project learnt piano from a young age and he seems a lot more able to appreciate the intricacies than I can. I enjoy the way the music unpacks, the change in dynamics and the atmosphere.
Blues
All guitarists have a connection with blues in some way even if they are not quite aware of it. My connection comes with the way it was the backbone to hard rock, and bands like Led Zeppelin but also in the way it was used by Artists like Depeche Mode. I’m a fan of the blues but prefer looking at it as a layer to work with as oppose to the be all and end all.
Soul
I grew up on soul and I find it one of my favourite genres. My mother was big on it so I listened to it regularly and it has a quality which makes it transcend.

New music today I find lacks that soul element. It lacks something spiritual. I’m Not 100% sure why, I feel it is because nowadays so much is computer based and tweaked. Real soul embraces a true vocal performance and puts emphasis on emotion, I feel a lot of newer songs really are quite superficial with their message, are plastic and do not actually represent a feeling ahead of just containing a melody.
Hip-Hop
I like early hip-hop and like the way the genre re-explores songs with sampling. I like the idea of unpacking a song and finding more ways of utilising what a song has. I do this in the writing process myself and I think that additional process comes from hip-hop.

When we were in america we listened to a lot of hip-hop and we would tune into KDAY when we were on the road. It made perfect sense.
Folk
My experience of folk is interesting. I never had a strong background of it and I remember listening to it on Radio 2 in the evenings on night shifts working in car maintenance. It never really appealed to me. I’m still not a great fan of it in all honesty and I don’t have much of that music in my library.
Dubstep
We enjoyed spells of gigs in the South West around the Bristol area when it was really growing and they took to it there in a big way. We played a few gigs alongside some electronic dubstep artists. We had to make our sets more electronic which was exciting. It was unusual for us at first, we weren’t sure how to dance to it. After a while we took to it and I have a lot of memories associated to the genre now.
Trap
A newer genre for me but I am always listening to new things and can take a lot from the synthesiser sounds and heavy bass elements.