Somojo Magazine

Robin James - Paper Earth

Saint Jude
Paper Earth

Hi Robin, how are you?
Damp and hungry.

Which instruments do you play?
Guitar, piano, banjo and harmonium

What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
Default setting.

Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
I recorded Saint Jude with just one mic and one guitar in a few hours.  The two people who played on Paper Earth are very busy.  It’s usually just me.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Fragile whispers.  A bit like prayers.

What have you been up to recently?
Thinking about never leaving Yorkshire.  I like limitation.

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
Paper Earth – and some gigs.

Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
I wanted to own a sweet shop.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
Pink Floyd, Paul Simon, Handel and hymns.

How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
I wrote a song about Ribena-milk when I was 2!

What is your current equipment?
A hummingbird

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
A new suit.

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Saint Jude was recorded with one mic, me and a guitar in a few hours.  Paper Earth took three days.  Things happen quite quickly.  I’m not sure if that’s inspiration.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
Yes – I’m going to record another album in the springtime

Which software/recording process do you use?
No computers were used on both records. 
Analogue only. The temptations to edit and manipulate the songs are taken away when recording onto tape, which is both liberating and slightly frightening. But as Leonard Cohen sings – ‘forget your perfect offering; there is a crack, a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in’.

Would you sign with a major record company?
May be when I’m 60 with 30 records under my belt.

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
There’s very little production.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Not really. 

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Yes and no.  It’s quite a quick process.  And I enjoy that.  I’ve recorded at two amazing studios with proper equipment and no tapes.  But there is something hard about pinning the songs down as a definitive version.  I see each album more as a sketchbook rather than a finished article.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
For this kind of music I think it should reflect the live sound, because it is just me and a guitar after all.  There’s a bit more stuff in this album, but not loads.  I might do something different next time though.

Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
They change.  Right this minute - Start From Here.

Robin James - Paper Earth

Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
I think everything is personal experience, even if it tries not to be. All events and occurrences are mediated in some way.  The secret is to get out the way, but I haven’t quite worked out how.  A lot of the songs are probably about that in some way.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Both.  The technique is quite easy and the process can be quite cathartic.  But what comes out is not necessarily the self-image I want to project.  So I am quite uncomfortable with the result.  I feel a bit naked.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Not at the moment.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Thom Yorke, Joni Mitchell, John Tavener, Tori Amos, etc

Which countries have you gigged in?
England, Ireland and Scotland

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
On a wing and a prayer

Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
Myspace.  I’m not in much contact with them.

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Yes, but I’m a bit of a technophobe.

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
You’re asking the wrong person.
How do you relax?
Cup of tea.

What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
Having the stage invaded by a dragon.

Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
Yes – hopefully.  It’s always a bit worrying if I’m not nervous.

What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?
I grow vegetables and teach Philosophy

Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
I might go for the second option when I’m 60 with 30 records under my belt.  I’m afraid of what it would do to me now.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?

Is composing for film & tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
If it seemed right and fitting.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

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