interview. Robbarti releases ‘Moving Away’. A musical renaissance from Glasgow’s heart

"The song is about leaving behind that old life which is so familiar and comfortable that it is difficult to walk away from"
23 February 2024

Inside the realm of Love, Loss, and Self-Discovery

Emerging from Glasgow, Scotland, Robbarti’s voice stands out prominently. This skilled singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist crafts an engaging narrative from his life experiences, emotions, and tales, providing his listeners with a deeply immersive musical journey.​ With Moving Away, his latest single, Robbarti makes a heartfelt comeback, offering a story filled with change and the beginning of new life chapters. This track invites listeners to delve deep into an emotional journey, showcasing Robbarti’s profound ability to connect through his work.

This feature delves into the heart and soul of Robbarti’s music, tracing his path from the indie rock echoes of Hip Parade to the nuanced soundscapes of his solo endeavors. It’s a tale of evolution, reflecting a decade of life lived away from the limelight—years filled with personal growth, fatherhood, and a deepening of musical prowess. The hiatus, rather than dimming his creative spark, has kindled a flame that burns with a more mature, reflective light. Through Moving Away, Robbarti channels his experiences of change and self-discovery into a sonic journey that resonates with authenticity and emotional depth.

​O​ur exclusive interview offers a glimpse into the essence of an artist who has journeyed through the challenging landscape of the music industry to discover his authentic voice in the narratives and melodies he creates. Robbarti delves into the inspirations for his recent projects, and reflects on how fatherhood and personal development have shaped his musical persona. He shares insights into his artistic process, illustrating the transformation he has undergone. Through his experiences, he aims to forge connections with listeners, exploring universal themes of love, loss, and the ongoing search for purpose.

I want the songs to leave my hands and go to a listener, to make it their own. Have their own interpretation of it

What inspired the narrative of transition and change in your latest single Moving Away?

I don’t think I am alone in thinking the world changed after the pandemic. We have all started to think differently about how we go about life. I have been on a personal journey in the last few years with my mental health and found myself needing a shake-up. I realised what was important in my life and what wasn’t and decided to prioritise the things that mean the most to me rather than doing what other people want me to do. The song is about leaving behind that old life which is so familiar and comfortable that it is difficult to walk away from. The song tries to acknowledge this while pointing towards the peace and happiness that awaits in the new life. The lyrics of the song do carry real pain for me.

How has your journey from being the frontman of Hip Parade to taking a decade-long break from music influenced your approach to songwriting and production now?

I have a lot more life experience and I’d like to think that I am a little wiser than I was then. I have great memories from those days but the music I am making now comes from a different place. I got so many messages from people who checked out the first Robbarti track to say how surprisingly different it was to Hip Parade which I am hoping is a compliment.

Can you describe the process and emotions involved in revisiting and releasing previously unheard Hip Parade songs on the 10th anniversary of I’ll Be Your Audience?

Dave (the guitarist of Hip Parade) and I were chatting on the phone back in 2021 about doing something to mark the anniversary, the following year. We talked about getting the band together and recording something, maybe even a reunion show but life kept getting in the way. Kids, work, family life and so on. It never happened. I was digging through old recordings and decided to try reviving a few of the unfinished demos myself. I had pro-tools and a little knowledge on how to work it. I mixed a couple of tracks, quite badly and then shut my laptop. It was good fun to revisit the old tapes but I decided that I should actually learn how to do it properly if we were to actually release them. I did a crash course in audio engineering and absolutely loved it. It was like learning another musical instrument and suddenly I was seeing new ways of writing music that were previously not available to me. It was very exciting and absolutely the birth of Robbarti.  

How do you feel fatherhood and the personal growth experienced during your hiatus have shaped your musical identity and the themes you explore in your songs?

Parenting is the most rewarding yet most time-consuming thing I have done. I definitely consider it to be my biggest achievement, even over playing at Wembley or being on TV. I find that having kids is a very good grounding experience. They are your biggest fans and your biggest critics. They have no qualms about pointing at your face and telling you how many lines you have on your forehead. My girls are right behind me on this new project and vet every single song I record or in their words, vibe check them. Overall, I think I am a more humbled musician with them in my life.

In what ways do you think your sound has evolved from the energetic angst of your youth to the mature themes of love, loss, and pain you address today?

I’ve always had sad songs and love songs in me. Even though the band was all about alcohol, girls and fighting, they did let me sneak the odd track in that was written more on the soft side. The lead single from I’ll Be Your Audience, Talk to Me was a bit of an odd ball on the album and is absolutely a love song. I would say the songs that I am writing with Robbarti are a lot more musically daring than Hip Parade.  Back then I was far too concerned with fitting into the music scene and pleasing record labels. Now I really couldn’t care less what industry types think. If the songs make me feel something and the production portrays the emotions I am trying to ignite, then it’s making the cut.

Could you share some insights into the creation of the lush music video for Moving Away and how it visually represents the song’s themes?

Aw thanks for calling it lush!! Love that word. You know, that video means so much to me. It wasn’t planned at all. I took the kids on a trip out to the beach. It was September/October and this is Scotland… So, still sunny but not exactly t-shirt weather. We live in Glasgow, so it’s about a two-hour drive to any decent seaside destination. On the drive, my daughter pointed out that I had a guitar sitting in the back seat and that we should shoot a video for Moving Away when we get there. She was referring directly to the line “I’m moving to the sea where there’s no crowds”. I told her I thought it was a lovely idea, but we don’t have a camera or any other equipment. She said, “Dad it’s 2023, we can shoot it on a phone” and that’s exactly what we did. It was a beautiful day and I loved making that video with her. When we went to edit, we decided to have this idea of the city appearing with the beat, like recurring memories of the world that was left behind. We used AI to generate the buildings into the scenes but it still took ages to do. It is far from professional but I like that it is DIY, like the entire Robbarti project and I think it works pretty well.

As a multi-instrumentalist, how do you approach composing and arranging your music, especially for deeply personal tracks like Moving Away?

I start most of my songs these days at the piano. I don’t think any other instrument can convey a feeling as quickly as a piano can. Sometimes I play a single chord and before I know it, I’ve hit that state of flow musicians chase. Something that I find can take hours to get to with a guitar. Once I have the bones of a song, I usually already have an idea of what I am going to do on drums and bass. After that it’s experimenting and trying to find sounds that tie into the energy. There’s a lot less guitar making its way into the Robbarti songs than I would have predicted given that’s been my go-to instrument for as long as I can remember.

If you had the opportunity to tour with any musicians, whether they were alive or dead, who would you choose?

Rob: I’ve been very lucky in that I have already shared a stage with a lot of my favourite musicians. Well, at least the ones are alive and kicking. So, I’ll go with the impossible and say Prince. The man was an enigma. I would have loved to have been side stage when he did that guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  

If you were tasked with describing your sound in just three words, what would they be?

Mid life crisis

What do you hope people will take away from your music?

I was joking with that last answer, I have no idea how to describe the sound, nevermind in just three words. I want the songs to leave my hands and go to a listener, to make it their own. Have their own interpretation of it. They are written from my experience but like all art, it should be subjective and once it’s out there, it’s no longer mine. I have tried to convey an experience into each song. Like in ‘Moving Away’, there’s the soothing sounds of the sea and birds singing… Things we want to hear when we are healing. I hope the song can connect with people and that they find comfort in it. In future releases I’ll be trying to make people cry but that’s hopefully something we can cover in our next chat. Hint hint, have me back 😉