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Montreal's Robert Robert Sits Sweetly Between Hip-Hop and Electronic

"I started making the music I'm often looking for on SoundCloud that I'm not finding."

by Lizzy Sermol
May 11 2015, 6:34pm

Robert Robert has put some serious blood, sweat, and tears into his newest EP. Lucky for him, it's paid off in a big way. The Montrealer has an enviable circle of highly talented collaborators and creatives who fuel his thirst for inspiration. Fellow Montreal producer Pheek, for example, masters his tracks and is responsible for teaching him the tools of the trade. His passion for collaboration has put him in orbit with other Montreal powerhouses like Jei Bandit and RYAN Playground. Furthermore, his music videos are a kaleidoscopic reflection of his sound and have tallied thousands of plays. Now, Robert Robert has a brand new EP in the wings—the track "Third Eye" can be heard above. It's a broodily introspective track that is ironically the only non-collaboration on the release.

Robert Robert is fueled and inspired by the creativity of the people around him; he's fascinated by what each can teach him. The video for his track " Stereochrome" plays homage to the city and the people he surrounds himself with, and that feeling comes across again in the Not Self-Titled EP, set to be released early June. "I love working with people," he says. "But it was a new experience to put your work in someone's hands and for them to make it theirs." If anyone is interested in working with Robert Robert, it might be your lucky day. He's currently on the prowl for vocalists to collaborate with on future endeavors. (Shoot him a demo if you're feeling brave.)

Despite the many contrasting voices on Not Self-Titled, Robert Robert balances his own sounds with the sounds of others in a way that never feels contrived. His music never sounds as if he's produced a track and slapped on a rap lyric overlay, everything is fluid. Throughout the EP, Robert Robert's voice is always present, no matter the other elements at play in the track. It's a gorgeous, riotous series of collaborations that—although very different from one another—have been expertly arranged.

Photo courtesy of Thibault Carron

In some ways, the sound of Not Self-Titled's final cut surprised Robert Robert. "I have some songs that are way more hip-hop oriented than usual, which I found to be a really interesting to try out," he says. "The hip-hop side of it was influenced by the fact that I was working with people who were also rappers or singers. I really wanted to work with them specifically. But I feel like I still have my touch in there. It's in the sweet spot between that and electronic music."

This release is also the first time he worked with live instruments. "I was recording real brass for this EP. It's nice to have artists there on a song who aren't just there with their voices, but also with their own instruments. It's interested to see how they interact and offer their own layers to the song," he says. "I don't think too much about what sound I wanted to have, and I guess it came together because at one point I was doing a lot of music, but I wasn't enjoying it anymore. I kept saying to myself, 'I have to make a cool song, I have to make a good song' instead of asking myself what I wanted to hear," he says. "I started making the music I'm often looking for on SoundCloud that I'm not finding. That made all the ideas come together so much more easily. The songs are made faster, people tell me that I have a signature sound, and I've discovered which elements I really like and how to use them."

He just finished up a set at a Canadian Music Week Showcase on May 6, followed by a quick jaunt to Halifax. Along the way, he's been fine tuning the ins and outs of DJ sets and performances. "I have a DJ set that I am constantly trying to make better and better, so I end up with different versions of it," he says. After that, he'll be rounding out the month by checking out MUTEK for some performance inspiration. This includes watching his friend and former teacher, Pheek, take the stage. "I feel like he's still my teacher even though I'm not in school anymore," jokes Robert Robert. "MUTEK is a lot of minimal music, but even if I'm not personally into that minimal sound, I'm excited to go there to see how they perform their live shows and what they use to make the show less of a DJ set."

Regardless of his minimal music naivety, Robert Robert can appreciate the level of skill required for an artist to get on MUTEK's lineup. "There are a lot of people who will never get there—they could have great careers musically but they're never going to get to MUTEK because they're never going to give themselves the time to develop something worthy of being selected by them. They're fantastic curators."

Robert Robert is on Facebook // SoundCloud // Twitter