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Phil robson quartet 2 1


  • Interviews / Q&As

The development of a musical work begins a long time before an audience sees it, with inspiration, creation, choices, and many hours of work in rehearsal, practice, recording, and organisation. We love hearing the stories of how albums or concerts get from their initial seeds of thought to the final production, and how different musicians think about their creative process and work they do. Other Side of the Tracks gives us insights into this process from a range of musicians, and provides some fantastic perspectives on music, inspiration, work, and life.

Jazz guitarist Phil Robson shared his thoughts about his lockdown release 'Portraits in Extreme' with us ahead of his performance at the Fumbally Stables with the Robson/Levy Quartet on the 24th September.

Q. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind this album?

The idea behind the album was to capture the polarities and extremes of my life between the end of 2019 to the end of 2021 with as much joy, humour and sense of adventure as possible. This included relocating from NYC to rural Co Roscommon, the pandemic of course, the huge political stuff which happened in that era, the stray cat we took in and other events, big and small which were happening in my life. That is why I chose the title ‘Portrait in Extreme’.

Q. As a self-produced and recorded work, how did the music progress from initial inspiration to a finished album? How different was it from your previous albums?

It was completely different because all my previous albums were made by playing with bands, either in the studio or live situations. This was recorded and mixed at home by myself in bits and pieces and put together, although I always had a strong idea of the overall shape. I used drum loops which my friend David Lyttle sent to me for some tracks. I’d sent him a list of different vibes and tempos I wanted and he sent back very exciting drum tracks. I kept some of those back from this album and intend to do something with them at a later stage. I also made many sounds using a combination of home-made recordings such as grooves tapped on tables, nature sounds and all sorts of stuff mixed with a very sophisticated software program called Ableton Live Suite 11, which I learned to use to make the recording. I also played bass on it, which I’d never done before other than in a pantomime years ago. My friend in London Alex Bonney did the mastering and that gave the whole album a homogenous sound to finish it off.

Q3. What is the most important thing to you when making music?

Integrity, honesty and deep listening.

Q4. What would you like listeners to get from this music?

I would hope they’d find the music interesting and challenging at times but also good fun and full of energy and melody, which has been central to all my work.

Thanks Phil!

Don't miss the Robson/Levy Quartet at the Fumbally Stables
Saturday 24th September, doors 8pm, music 8:30pm

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