Hi Robbie, where in the world are you right now and what have you been up to?
Right now I’m in my studio in Margate finishing off an ‘influences mix’ as part of my new release! This morning I taught a yoga class and then walked along the beach back home to get into the studio. A charmed existence.
Taking it back to the very beginning, how did you first get into music and how did that lead into pursuing it professionally?
My mum’s a music teacher so she made sure I learnt an instrument from a young age. It was the cello first, then the trumpet, then I started writing songs and singing as a teenager. I think it just got to a point where it was the thing I enjoyed most and was best at so it made sense to try to make a career out of it. It still only just makes sense… And it’s not been easy, but I also think it’s important to do other things, hence the yoga teaching, I also teach music production for an arts charity here in Margate. It gives me a different kind of fulfilment to creating my own stuff.
You studied Music at Leeds Uni where you were very involved in the local scene, and then moved to London, followed by Margate where you are now. Can you tell us a bit about your time in these three cities? Is there a notable difference between the scenes aside from size?
Aside from size, not a huge amount, they are 3 brilliant places to live, especially if you’re into music. When I was at Leeds it was super eclectic, and it was a different era. Most of my mates were students so it would be 3/4 gigs or club nights every week. Anything from folk to minimal tech, haha. Obviously somewhere like London there’s scenes but it seems they’re not so mixed up. I’ve got mates in electronic music and mates in more band-oriented scenes and there’s not so much crossover. In Margate it’s a whole different thing, because it’s so much smaller. There’s a cool little scene and there’s some incredible musicians here but everyone just knows everyone and you’ll see the same people at a jazz gig at Radio Margate, then the next weekend at a punk show at Elsewhere. I love that aspect of living here.
What was the turning point that brought on the decision to move to Margate and what is it about the city you enjoy?
I had quite an intense psychedelic vision which involved me being by the sea and finding a lot of peace in it, that was kind of the catalyst. I think London had just kind of exhausted me and I wanted a change but didn’t want to move too far away. Margate was already in my mind as a cool place and I went to visit a few times and loved it. I had one mate already there, which is all you need really to help settle somewhere and as I say, it’s got a great community full of interesting, creative people. It’s also way more affordable than London, which allows me more time to do what I really love doing. Another thing is the sunsets. They really are quite something here.
Which artists, if there are any, influenced your shapeshifting sound? Who would you love to work with who you haven’t already?
Radiohead are the kings of my heart musically. If I could be as dark and simultaneously beautiful as them I would, but it’s tricky. Mount Kimbie I think are doing their own amazing thing and they cross over so brilliantly. Rhye, Bon Iver and Pional have been pretty influential to me. I’ve recently become quite obsessed with Bibio, and have been influenced by Jeff Buckley from a very young age. There’s so many but that’s a little cross-section for you… Apart from Jeff Buckley all the above are still making music so a collaboration with any of them would be nice wouldn’t it.
What other upcoming, about to blow artists are you listening to right now?
They are mates of mine, but Childcare, a band from London, will be releasing their debut album soon and it’s really very good. Holly Walker too, she’s done so well with Maribou State but she’s gonna be putting out lots of amazing solo stuff in the near future. She’s a superb lyricist and singer. Art School Girlfriend, Fleet Dreams, Penny Engine and World Brain also all spring to mind as artists to look out for!
Release wise we first heard about you with Arp Chime, your breakout solo single with an accompanying cool video last year. How did the inspiration for this song come about and what does it refer to?
Arp Chime was a response to all the political and social turmoil of 2016 when it felt like the world was going mad and everything was out of control. I didn’t think it would actually get worse, but I guess it does have to get worse before it gets better. I genuinely do think it will get better eventually.
How does it differ from your new single ‘Cinemas’? Obviously Arp Chime is a bit more electronic whilst Cinemas is more indie pop. What was the reason for this changing style?
It’s a shift I think that’s come about from two things. Firstly that I bought a piano about a year ago, so pretty much everything I write now starts off on the piano, which I think lends itself to me writing more typical pop structures. Secondly I am thinking more now about playing these songs live when I’m writing them, so I’m trying to be more aware of hooks and bring them more prominently into my songs.
With your background in so many different styles of music, what do you want future Rondo Mo releases to sound like?
Well, my new demos are along the lines of what this Cinemas EP sounds like, which I think is a kind of left-field alternative pop. Synth-led indie might be another way of describing it. I would like it to be something people want to hear live and sing along to, even dance to. Also to move the listener emotionally in some way. That’s just what every artist wants really though isn’t it.
Gigwise, where are your favourite places to play, and your favourite set to date?
Corsica Studios holds a very special place in my heart. I recently played a show for ‘Secret Sessions’ too which was a room full of people who had never heard of me but gave me such a warm, attentive response. That was probably my favourite show so far as Rondo Mo. My Margate EP release show is at the Tom Thumb Theatre which has quickly become one of my favourite gig venues.
Where are the next gigs in your schedule that ATB readers can catch you at?
Apart from a Sofar Sounds show on June 13th (which I will be giving away a few tickets for) I am currently planning my first 2 headline shows. Bermondsey Social Club on Sept 19th and Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate on 20th Sept. Come to them. They will be fun.