1-Friend is your recent collaborative project with PPU, a selection of written songs from your archive. (digital release May 18th) How did this collaboration happened? What influenced the selection of these songs?
In 2008, I was contacted by Andrew Morgan of PPU. He was very interested in the song that I had written while in the Midnight Express Show Band titled Danger Zone. Danger Zone did so well over the internet and overseas that it opened the pathway for more of my music to be exposed to the world. Andrew, then became interested in more of my music and I introduced him to my extensive song catalog. I sent over a box of Cassette tapes and Andrew reviewed them and called me about collaborating on getting more of my music heard. We then began to release tracks from my song catalog under PPU and Ronea Records. Friend is one of the releases out of this collaboration. The songs were individually picked from many tapes that were sent over to PPU. We talked about the songs individually and as they were picked for the Album “Friend” was born. The title has a special meaning. It is because of my fans and friends my music is now getting the recognition that I have always hoped for.
2-According to your LP promo, Friend is dedicated to all lovers of your music, your fans, friends. We noticed that in your music whether it’s the content of the lyrics or the evocative feeling generated by them, there is always a strong connection to love. Is the notion of love still important in your work as an artist?
Music is what feelings sound like. I love music and from the time I was very young I have grown to love it more. I have learned to appreciate the lyrical content that tells the story of how people feel about the joy in their life, their heartaches and troubles, and most of all their successes in life. I have been given a gift to share all of these feelings inside of my music. When you listen to Robbie M, I want to be able to connect with someone and their feelings. I feel that it is very important that we have music to do that.
(L) Listen (O) be open to what you hear (V) Visualize your feelings (E) Elevate yourself to new heights
3-In the 80’s you founded the band Midnight Express Show Band and released the incredible record ‘Danger Zone’ . Since then, you have been producing and making music under your alias Robbie M. Is your current music influenced by your past?
It is because of my experience and exposure from generations of music, that I have come to appreciate it even more. People all over the world share their feelings about life experiences through their music. What an opportunity that we have nowadays to share these feelings with the world. The internet has really allowed musicians to expand their horizons.
4-You own the label Ronea Records, is it a challenge nowadays to keep a label running. What do you see for its future?
I am always looking for more ways to get my music exposed to the world. Owning a label is hard work but I know that one day it will pay off. Ronea Records is “where music comes to life”, and I am very excited about the label living up to that slogan. I would like the future to see Ronea Records standing on its own and being able to help others present their music to audiences around the world.
5-Listening to this album (preview) made us feel just even more impatient for the digital release. We liked its timeless quality and how there is in each track an 80’s nostalgic feeling that speaks directly to any music lover. Is time a barrier in your work? Why did the digital release took 5 more months than the vinyl release?!
I have always felt in creating my music that it had qualities in it that would be timeless. Feelings, emotions, life experiences and love are all still very much the same today as they were when the world was first created.
All my projects first start with Andrew Morgan and he deals more with vinyl. I have several Digital mp3 contracts, and usually contact them after the initial release on vinyl. The Digital releases depend on the Digital Distributors. You can, however, buy the mp3 tracks on ITunes, Amazon, EMusic, and Juno Download. Starting May 18th, 2015 you will be able to purchase from other Digital MP3 sites.
6-Along with ‘I’ve been searching’, ‘Friends’ is one of our favorite. We liked it’s catchy melody and the veracity of the lyrics.”Friends we all need friends no matter what your friend might said”. Speaking of friends, are you still in touch with members of your band “Midnight Express Show Band”?
The members of that band were like my brothers and sisters. We experienced good and bad times that always seemed to bond us together like a family. I do see some of them occasionally. We lost one of our members many years ago, Melvin Martin (Drummer) who started co-managing the group and was one of the reasons that Midnight Express Show Band was able to do so well regionally. He was always looking out for the progress of the band. I miss him dearly. I do keep in contact with Larnette Winston, female vocalist, Terry Patton, Bass player, Coleman Harris, Keyboards, Richard Farrar, guitar, Vivian Freeman, female vocalist, Mike Banks soundman, Mark Hart, Sax, Reggie Webster, trumpet, and Tony Banks, Trumpet.
7-What did your creative process look like in the making of these songs? What gear did you use?
After the break up of the Midnight Express Show Band in 1985, I decided to dedicate myself to writing and producing my own material. I have always had many ideas and melodies roaming around in my head. I had to get them out and without a band to express myself I decided I had to do this on my own. I began arming myself with keyboards recorders and recording processing equipment. I had a Juno poly 61 and a Yamaha sound module that was controlled by a Yamaha KX5 controller keyboard or keytar what they call them now. I used a Yamaha MT100 4 track recorder and a Roland TR505 Drum Machine. I remember bouncing tracks to get more out of the Yamaha 4 track recorder. I later purchased a TOA 8 track cassette recorder and finally a Fostex B16 Multitrack recorder. My first recordings were all done on four track and 8 track cassette recorders, but once the B16 came into play, magic happened. I loved that big analog sound. I was later able to purchase an Ensoniq VFXsd and shortly after a SD1. I also purchased an Ensoniq EPS sampler which I used a lot, for string lines.
8-Although, this LP exhales a timeless quality. We are curious to know if all the songs were created during the same time/period?
All my material started coming in heavy volume between (1985-1998.) There are many songs to choose from and combine for many future albums to come. I continue to write and produce songs yearly, and I am currently in the process of finishing up a Ronea Records Release Titled: Robbie M “Still Jammin” The Album will feature 9 songs written in (2014-2015).
9-Which song holds a sentimental value to you? and Why?
When you write so many songs it is sometimes very hard to choose because each song seems to fit some period in your life when something was going on that sparked it. Off of the Strictly business CD is a track called “Close Your Eyes”. After 911 I wanted to showcase that song because of the lyrics and their soothing effect that I felt would help the hurting hearts of my fellow Americans and the families that suffered so much. I never had a chance to present this song and really did not know how but it is timeless like so many other of my songs and maybe one day it will be able to help someone through difficult times in their life.
10-We heard that you are currently working on an autobiographical film project?
I though you’d never ask1(smile) Lol. “Hear the Music is a full featured film about a young musician who at the age of 13 struggles to keep his family together after his father is paralyzed by a stroke”
I was doing an interview with danceclassics.com and they asked me about the Midnight Express Band Story. During writing the story I was able to see how much my family and my musical background history influenced so much of my musical career. I was able to go back and see how each moment and experience of my life history brought me to the Midnight Express Show Band. In doing so it brought tears to my eyes and those who read my life history. I was so young and did not realize that my steps were being guided by my family’s struggles and successes. I am currently looking for funding for this project and plan to start a kick Starter interest to help fund the project.
Well I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you my musical experiences and hope that you will continue enjoying the music of Robbie M.