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INTERVIEW: Robin Kelly

How would you classify your music?

This is always a difficult question to answer. I’m a singer songwriter, a contemporary folk singer. And so I sing whatever comes to me as a song. The songs seem to carry my Celtic and English roots (I’m a Irish/English hybrid), with strong influences from the North American and Canadian songwriters of the 60s and 70s.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

I suspect I have been influenced by all the songs and songwriters I have heard and loved. Cole Porter, Paul Simon, Elton John/Bernie Taupin, and Bob Dylan of course. And by Buddy Holly, the great originator. Joni Mitchell and Harry Nilsson wrote two of my all time favourite songs .. ‘A Case of You’ and ‘The Moonbeam Song.’  In recent times, I have enjoyed and followed the North of England band Elbow, especially their lead singer Guy Garvey. Their pulsed strings and bass lines may even have influenced a couple of tracks on ‘Orewa Heartbeat.’ I like Bon Iver and Seattle’s Fleet Foxes too. Gretchen Peters’ writes great songs..and has become my  favourite female artist .

What do you want fans to take from your music?

A song simply reflects a feeling. This feeling may be joyful or sad, but either way it has to be genuine. Most of my songs are love songs – a song that connects stays with you in your memory, and is a great counterbalance to painful memories. Really I just want folk to listen and be moved.

How’s the music scene in your locale?

This music scene in Auckland, New Zealand is more vibrant now than ever I can remember. Intimate venues for my favourite music, jazz cafes, vineyards, street festivals, buskers, and of course our local big star Lorde. It is great that the digital age has been balanced by a craving for live music, and even vinyl.

What is the best concert you have been to?

I think Elton John in 1973 in an old converted cinema –The Sundown, in Edmonton, North London. The first airing of ‘Candle in the Wind’ and finished with an amazing cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition.’ Three hours of magic.

What do you like most about playing live?

Knowing that each song evolves with each performance. And getting feedback on which songs touch people, and which don’t!

Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

I think the last track ‘Someone Else’s Dream’ – because I wrote it at the end of the recording sessions, and recorded it a week after writing it. It reflects what I feel deeply about – how technology and Artificial Intelligence has the power to limit rather than augment our experience here on Earth. How it can steal childhoods. How it could undermine our creativity. I still think technology can be used to expand our consciousness, but we all have to be wary. We did the song in one and a half hours, from bare bones to mastering.

How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?

I am more and more attracted to songs and music that carry authenticity and naked emotion, rather than fancy production, and perfection. I would like to think that is where my art is taking me.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

If I could mix the living with the dead, I would love to have Bob Dylan and Cole Porter round to dinner. Arguably  the greatest songwriters of the past 100 years. Both I believe would be in awe of each others’ skill, and wanting to learn more. And also a chance to get to know the enigmatic  Dylan.

What’s next for you?

‘Orewa Heartbeat’ is my 5th album, so I now have quite a body of work to draw on.. I am also an author on health issues, presenter and doctor. I am always looking at ways to integrate all these aspects of my life. At present I am collaborating with other like minded musicians here in Auckland for what we hope to be an exciting performance project. I also have an agent in Nashville, and pitching songs for movies, TV and other artists. As my songs are so personal, this requires a lot of luck and synchronicity. However, whatever happens I’m enjoying the ride . Next album – maybe more guitar based and gutsy. Whatever comes.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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