Jester: Congratulations on your new child. How is she doing?
Robin: I am rather exhausted actually. She is 11 weeks old now and she doesn't sleep very well yet. So both my wife and I still get little sleep.
Jester: Why did you choose to leave Zoviet France after so long?
Robin: It wasn't an immediate decision to the leave the band. It actually took a few years. It almost seemed that the longer I was with Zoviet France the harder it was to leave. The original point behind Zoviet France was to be a lifetime project between all of the collaborators. However, after twelve years, things started to happen to the band that threatened that concept. When the band first was formed, we all had agreed to not fall into any of the traps which normally cause a band to break up. In the end, I became so disillusioned with Zoviet France than I had to leave for my own peace of mind.
Jester: What lead to your decision to continue writing music on your own?
Robin: Towards the ends of my career with Zoviet France, my contributions were mostly written alone anyways. This wasn't an inherent problem because I still believe that everyone involved still accepted the anonymity we regarded so highly in the composition of our music. Over time, I began to realize that the anonymity was breaking apart and there was a large disagreement about what music was appropriate for Zoviet France to release.
At the time, I had no ideas about what was going to replace Zoviet France in my life. However, I had written the first Rapoon album before departing the project, mostly because the other members of Zoviet France were involved in side projects themselves, and it seemed like the thing to do. It was very sad and heart wrenching to leave Zoviet France, and it felt like a waste of twelve years at the time. Looking back on it now,I know that it wasn't, even though I know that leaving was the right thing to do.
Jester: What moods, ideas, or concepts are you trying to evoke in your music?
Robin: Rapoon has always been more subtle in it's context than my previous music. One of the things I always tried to do was to avoid precluding any style of music in what I wrote. Rapoon was my outlet to write whatever music I enjoyed without having other people controlling my composition.
I really don't have any aims or objectives with my music. I simply pursue any avenue that interests me at the time. Yet, there is a conscious desire to not seem so negative. I wanted to write music that was a bit more spiritual, without being contrived.
Jester: Your album artwork is heavily influenced by natural, spiritual, and ethnic elements. Are you trying to compliment your music?
Robin: Yes. I think that the artwork and the music are very related. In the past people have been critical about using ethnic based artwork, but I feel like it gives my artwork a purer context and has more to do with being alive than just making pictures to compliment music. Somewhere along the line, spiritual awareness has become a commodity for people to make a living and I don't want to be associated with those people. I have no interest in that type of art. It's been done before and done better.
Jester: Why did you release this album through Relapse Records rather than Staalplat/Soleilmoon like your previous albums?
Robin: Mostly, I was looking for other avenues to expose the public to my art. I met the guys from Relapse briefly in Pittsburgh during the tour I did for Rapoon in 1996. At the time I wasn't aware of who Relapse were, so when they asked if they could release a Rapoon record I wasn't sure what to say. When I asked the tour promoter about the other artists on the label, he thought I wouldn't mesh well with the other artists on the roster. Over time, the label persisted in asking me and their roster expanded and I finally agreed. I don't really like saying no to people who want to release my music, and I knew that the people running the label enjoyed my music, so it made sense.
Jester: You just released a limited edition LP "Just Say the Faith" Can you describe this release?
Robin: That record just came out on Soleilmoon Records. It is a bit different than some of my previous releases. I think it is a bit more funky.
Jester: The new album seems to work more with rich, deep tones and is very powerful on the low end frequencies. Are you trying something new?
Robin: The concept behind "The Fires of the Borderlands" originated with a single note from a keyboard, that I sampled and altered. The tone of that note set the theme for the entire album which was written rather intensively over a few weeks. The mood of the album sounded very disembodied and that spoke to me.
Jester: I noticed a lot of the music for that performance was on tape. Can you describe your live set-up?
Robin: A whole of my live arrangement is the limitation of being only a single person with two hands. However, I found a way to make the music still improvisational by using random, unmarked four-track cassettes left over from previous albums, which contain unknown music. Then I insert the tapes in complete random, and it forces me to completely reinterpret my music every time I perform live.
Jester: I saw you on your 1996 tour at La Luna in Portland. How was that tour perceived by the press and fans? Would you consider touring again?
Robin: Yes, I would love to tour again. I had a really good time on that tour, more so than the 1991 North American tour with Zoviet France. It was largely due to the organizer of the tour. He was really enthusiastic about the tour and did a great job of promoting it. He brought his mother along as part of the road crew and it made for a very relaxed event.
Jester: What lead you to switch mediums from Fine Art to Music back in your university days?
Robin: It was completely due to poor approach of the art school I was attending. In England, your first year of college is called a foundation year, and then you go on to complete a three year graduate course. I had really enjoyed the first year which I had taken at a local college in Cumberland. Then when I went on to take the rest of the course, the whole mood of the school was very negative. I didn't visually understand what I was doing so I was becoming frustrated.
At the time, they offered an Experimental option to the degree that included performance art and music. I moved into that option simply to escape from all of the crushing negativity of the primary degree. I found out rather quickly that music became more important and easier to express myself with than painting. Music and art are completely different mediums because they exist in different dimensions. Paintings are simply a snapshot of a single event, but music evolves over a great length of time. The simple act of switching artistic mediums was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done.
Jester: Do you have an occupation outside of your music and art?
Robin: I used to work full time for an audio visual company. The job was often on a freelance basis and wasn't steady. My wife ended up acquiring a more secure and better paying job so I chose to stay home and look after the children. My personal opinion is that taking care of my children is just as valid an occupation as any other and I really enjoy it.
Jester: What does the future hold for Rapoon? Do you have any other musical projects you are involved with?
Robin: There are a number of releases in the pipeline. There are a series of collaborations that will be released on Soleilmoon that I did with Nigel Ayers of Nocturnal Emissions and Randy Grief. The releases will be a trilogy in which each of us collaborates with different members of the trio. All of the music is very different, but it was really great to do.
This project is the first time I have worked with anyone else since leaving Zoviet France. It was a very positive and invigorating event for me. It was nice to work with someone else, even if it was just by mail, because we spent a great deal of time building on each others ideas. I think that the end results are greater than the sums of their parts.
Jester: Do you think that this collaboration has served to revitalize your own music?
Robin: Definitely. The whole event was very cathartic and it has opened a lot more doors for me musically.
Jester: What is your favorite single piece of music you have composed? Why that piece?
Robin: I am not sure if I have written my best music yet. I have come close on a few occasions, where by chance I have been able to distance myself enough from my own music to truly hear it without bias. The best example was when I gave a friend a tape of something I was working on that contained completely different mixes from the final album. I happened to be in his car when he was playing the tape and I thought the music was amazing because I didn't recognize it. As soon as I realized it was mine, I immediately changed my opinion.
Almost the same thing happened again quite recently. The limited edition of "Messianic Ghosts" that was just released was originally written over two years ago. When it was written, all I had was a four-track recorder, and I still had the nasty habit of erasing and reusing my cassettes. Ultimately, I had deleted the original versions, so when I heard the music again on the final CD recently, I was able to listen to it as if I had never heard it before. The sad thing is, that release is very limited. The CD was released on Syntactic, but for various financial reasons, the press run dropped from 500 to 50.