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INTERVIEW: Robin McKelle

Hi Robin, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hello!  I’ve been great, thanks! I just finished short tour in Europe for the album release here and now taking a few weeks off until I hit some summer festivals.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Do You Believe”?

Do You Believe is a tune that I wrote about religion but there is a deeper meaning.  I’ve been questioning so many things since the last election.  It seemed to have brought the worst out in people.  I had questions regarding how peoples’ religious view affected their daily actions.  I find that many people “preach” about the way we should live, but yet, they don’t practice what they preach.  We are all guilty of this in some way, but it got really ugly during the Trump election.  It’s like he gave people permission to be complete assholes.  Racism, bigotry, misogyny, and just pure hatred became a common behavior.   I was compelled to write about something that could possibly make a difference.  It was cathartic.

Can you describe the concept and the filming process behind the animated video?

I  wanted to do something really creative and different. The whole video is made out of paper objects and then animated. The lyrics are strong and thought provoking so I wanted them to be a main part.  But there is also a story that depicts elements that were a part of what I was thinking about when I was writing the song.  Violence, war, and hate are parts of the story and in the middle there is a small lost child.  In the middle of all this chaos stands the child .   It is very symbolic of this time we are living in.

The single comes off your new album Melodic Canvas – what’s the story behind the title?

I think of the album like a painter’s canvas.  It’s my  way of “painting” a picture  using melody, lyrics and harmony.

How was the recording and writing process?

I wrote a lot of the lyrics first then put them to melodies.  I found that I had stories that I wanted to tell and so it was better writing the lyrics before sitting down at the piano. Sometimes I actually could hear the melody in my head while I was writing the lyrics.  After I had most of the ideas I went to the piano, then spent time arranging the songs once I had decided on the instrumentation and the direction of the sound.  It was fairly easy after I had all the demos, I sent the music to the musicians.  We recorded 3 days in NY at The Samurai Hotel.  It was pretty laid back.

How have the Motown era and/or Sade influenced your sound?

I’m inspired by a lot of different music but Motown is cool because there are great grooves and memorable melodies.

You’re known for mixing different genres – how do you balance them?

Well, I have a really hard time defining music to a certain “genre” so I guess that’s why I mix them. It comes naturally and I just do what feels good in the moment.  I don’t really think about it too much.  Music today is really eclectic and we have some many genres that spill over into others.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with or covering someone else, rather than performing your own songs?

Sure, I think I try to hear the authenticity of where the song is coming from or where it needs to be.  I like to use different approaches with my voice.  Sometimes more quiet and breathy and then sometimes more strong and gritty.  It’s cool to be able to do different things.  I think it’s what makes me unique.

What elements of social commentary did you choose to explore on this record?

What didn’t I? LOL

Racism, sexism, misogyny, violence, anti-immigration, nationalism,  mental health of teens.  When I read these out loud, it sounds a bit dark, but actually, I feel the record has a positive message.  I didn’t want to make an angry, hate filled album.  I wanted to inspire people to think and feel more compassion.

Any plans to hit the road?

I’ve been on tour for a few weeks already in May and I’ll be on tour the rest of this year!  Looking forward to some US dates in November 2018.

What is happening next in Robin McKelle’s world?

Mostly touring in support of this album and  I have a few collaborations coming up.


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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