interview. Robbi Atkins sets the right tone with ‘A Good One’ featuring Wild Horse Desert

"I do cover a very big range of themes and styles. Isn’t life a range of themes? I write what I feel at the moment"
7th November 2023

Emerging from the heart of Texas, Robbi Atkins, a soulful country artist, intricately threads her life’s journey into the emotional fabric of her ​d​ebut album, A Good One. Her singles, including the poignant Your Memory Is a Song and the haunting Devil, have already ​made a mark on listeners’ ​f​eels.

The title track sets the tone for A Good One, through earnest lyricism and stirring arrangements. Written entirely by Atkins herself, the album delves into the complexities of long-term love, rodeo anthems, heartfelt letters to a son, and more. 

Each of the 10 tracks serves as a chapter in Atkins’ musical journey, inviting listeners to explore the rich landscapes of her emotions.​ Collaborating with an eclectic ensemble of South Texan vocalists named Wild Horse Desert, Atkins brings a unique flavor to her music. 

In the third track, Get it Done, Atkins introduces us to her warm vocals, inviting us into a world where appreciating everyday pleasures, from enduring love to a glass of whiskey, takes center stage. A Good One is a sonic exploration of life’s highs and lows, wrapped in the comforting embrace of Atkins’ melodies.

Born and bred in Texas, Robbi Atkins is a songwriter whose roots run deep in the sounds of iconic 70s and 80s Country and US Heartland scenes. What began as a childhood hobby evolved into a passion that Atkins embraced fully in 2019, leading to a cascade of accolades. Her music has graced the final scenes of the film ‘Daughter of the Bride,’ and ‘Go Get It Girl’ soared to number 2 in Africa, thanks to artist Daniel Wesley.

Robbi Atkins’ influences include the likes of George Strait, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, and Dolly Parton. Drawing inspiration from these legends, Atkins has carved her own niche in the country music landscape, a fact underscored by having one of her songs recognized by Nashville’s Jennifer Wrinkle.

As ‘A Good One’ sets the perfect soundtrack for the fall season, whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to her soulful tunes, indulging in Atkins’ best material to date is an experience not to be missed.

During a candid discussion, we immersed ourselves in Robbi Atkins’ universe, uncovering precious insights into her music and the elaborate creative process that shaped her debut album. She illuminated the intricacies of weaving her life experiences into each track, delving into the sources of her inspiration and sharing details about her distinctive fashion sense.

This is my life. It is truly some of everything. It is the good moments that get me through the really hard ones. 

A Good One covers a range of themes, from long-time love to rodeo anthems and sincere letters to a son. How did you decide on the diverse topics for each track, and do they reflect personal experiences?

I do cover a very big range of themes and styles. Isn’t life a range of themes? I write what I feel at the moment. Sure, it’s all fun and games when you are young, then you grow and you learn about loss and grief and anger as well, but hopefully you still mix in the joy and laughter and hope with all those harder places. That idea in itself led to the song  “A Good One”…at the end, I hope I take those with me, I hope there are more good than hard times, and that is my life sum when it replays in my mind. They all reflect some part of my personal journey…to varying degrees. Dear Boy was for my son. Human Heart I wrote right after my little sister passed away. I had a dream one night that I was flying up in the stars and one turned yellow and started winking at me, standing way out from the rest. I said her name and woke up. It was so vivid that I wrote the song almost immediately. Like, she IS there and I can always feel that. Ever since then sometimes I can make it back up there to that higher plane in my dreams, and I feel close to her there. Lead You Home, another song of mine, was from a melody I dreamed about. I had the melody before the lyrics. The B-Team was a FUN tongue in cheek song I wrote after a friend told me we had demoted them to the Junior Varsity friend group because they aren’t fun anymore. He told me to write one about it, all in fun, so I did, all in fun. Sort of a plot line similar to All My Rowdy Friends by Hank Jr. Big fun!

Your warm vocals are introduced in the third track, ‘Get it Done.’ How does this song fit into the overall narrative of the album, and what significance does it hold for you?

First I need to be very clear that I am not the vocalist! Aside from horrifying my people at karaoke nights, weddings, and around the house…I do the world a solid favor and stick with melody and lyrics. I have a few amazing vocalists in the gang that bring it all home and to life. Get It Done…fits in with what I wanted for the album…to show EVERY side of life, the good, the bad, the ugly. This was another hoot to write, sometimes a girl just wants to LET LOOSE with her pals and have some fun. This is my life. It is truly some of everything. It is the good moments that get me through the really hard ones. 

Working alongside an assorted collection of South Texan-based vocalists called Wild Horse Desert, how did this collaboration influence the sound and dynamics of the album?

Again, wanting to mix it up some I wanted some female and male singing (perspectives!), and varied subject matter and vibes: some honky tonk dance hall, some rodeo anthem, some modern, some more traditional, some more 90’s sounding country rock and so on. I now know whose vocal will work with the vibe of the song…sometimes I need a soft sweet female vocal, sometimes a tough chick sound for a grittier subject delivery…same with the men…and they all do their thing. My catalog now includes a LOT of folk, singer-songwriter vibes that I am loving. My next album will have a lot of that.

The album is said to be a perfect soundtrack for the fall season. How did you curate the musical elements to capture the essence of this particular season?

Well, for me…the fall means campfires and listening to music with friends after a day in the field or cooking with friends and family and listening to music. We always love music but there is something about a South Texas fall…you’ve been hot and irritated for like 7 months because it is 192 degrees…you are swimming, or fishing, or boating or beaching and listening to a lot of salt life music (My single song Salty is also out now!). I feel like in the fall you sit a little more and enjoy it. The first cold snap down here should be it’s own holiday!

As a Texas native, your love for music is rooted in the sounds of iconic 70s and 80s Country and US Heartland scenes. How do these influences manifest in your music, and can you pinpoint specific artists or songs that have inspired you?

Oh my…well I may be aging myself here but that’s okay.  Born in the 70’s and loved music for all of it. So from then up until now the list is huge and the genre is all over the map. I mean literally. Bobby Bare, Kenny Rogers (my first album after The Muppets!) Waylon, Merle, Don Williams, John Denver, Crystal Gale, Dolly Parton, Creedence, George Strait, Queen, The Violent Femmes, Adam and the Ants, Rick Springfield, Duran Duran, The Cure, Anne Murray, Oakridge Boys, Garth, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Shania, Robert Earl Keen, Charlie Robison, John Prine, Keith Whitley, Earl Thomas Conley, Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, Tricia Yearwood, Alabama, Journey,  Conway Twitty, Billy Joel, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Bob Seger, Bellamy Brothers, Kid Rock, Pink, Mary Gauthier, Gaga, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney…I could go ON.  I LOVE music. I have a few decades of inspirations as far as genres go. You should listen to my workout playlist for one minute. I am listening to Air Supply, then maybe Nirvana, then a Willie song or something.  It is how I know when to speed up for cardio, or slow down, ha ha! Keeps it interesting. Which I guess relates back to number 1, about the album being some of everything. 

Your journey as a songwriter began as a hobby and continued during your time working in counseling and teaching. How has your background in these fields influenced your songwriting style or the themes you explore in your music?

I would say yes…being a therapist…was the “feelings” experience…I am very much a feeling person, some would say to a fault, that it makes me tired sometimes. It is actually a part of why I stepped back from it.  Those people are heroes! Being a teacher was so fun and brought out the creativity for sure. I loved being a teacher! We would be so corny together, me and the kids. I have played with song writing my whole life. A few years ago I thought why not? Life is short, try it out and get one produced and learn about it all, and I couldn’t stop. What made me think “life is short” is actually that it had been too short for a loved one, and I was in a really hard place and needed a lifeboat. Songwriting was that for me. 

You’ve already achieved notable recognition, including having one of your songs featured in the final scenes of the film ‘Daughter of the Bride’ and reaching number 2 in Africa with ‘Go Get It Girl.’ How have these experiences shaped your approach to your music career?

Well my first movie placement was a brief background scene in Daughter of the Bride, and it was a very cool email to get:) I have signed about 18 of my songs with this particular sync placement company and am always hopeful for the next email. I was so lucky to have Daniel Wesley (Africa) record “Being Home” a pandemic song and “Go Get It Girl” that I wrote for my daughter and did well on the charts overseas. I also made an awesome new friend!  have also had three other songs cut by awesome indie artists.  I have had some songs chosen for pitches to some pretty big names in Nashville…and those emails are a rush to even read those words! I don’t want to jinx any possibilities so I won’t name them and believe me, I know the odds, BUT this helps answer the questions…Every experience lifts me up and makes me want to try again because man, it is true when they say “if you aren’t getting over 40 rejections a day, you aren’t working hard enough!” Even an email about a pitch to an amazing artist…wow what that email does for a busted spirit! I feel blessed to have accomplished this much in four years. 

If you had to describe your sound in three words what would they be?

Something. For. Everyone.

How would you describe your personal fashion style?

Oh, my it is pretty boring. Mostly black…My friends make fun of me. Lots of black, and flip flops or high tops or boots and jeans. I sort of loathe shopping but sometimes I can get into the mood and clean up nicely for special occasions. But even then, it’s probably going to be black.

What do you want people to take away from listening to your music?

I want people to take away whatever the emotional purpose of the song is…my older sister says I always wanted to make people cry ever since I was a little girl and she gets mad when I send her the sad songs…But it’s not necessarily that I want to make people “cry” I like to convey any emotion to others and therefore, elicit some from them.