Introducing: Willow Robinson
Singer-songwriter Willow Robinson has seen the bright sunshine of LA and Hay-on-Wye, plays guitar and writes songs. He's about to release his debut EP and lead single 'Stones' is out now. We had a chat with him about his plans for 2016, how he approaches songwriting, and how California's main city compares to a tiny Welsh town.
Hey Willow, can you introduce yourself to The Music Fix readers?
I'm Willow, a 22 year old Singer and Guitarist! I play a blend of mellow folk, and anthemic rock, with soul and blues mixed in to the cooking pot.
How did things get started for you?
I moved to LA to pursue my dream of being a rock guitarist, and after a year and a half came back to England a singer-songwriter. I couldn't find the right dynamic in a band so I decided to try my luck playing alone. The craziest part of my story so far was probably after the first gig I ever played solo, Alan McGee (Ed: of Creation Records and therefore Oasis fame) came up to me after my set and asked if I wanted a manager! I didn't even know he was watching, it was a very fateful night!
What have you been listening to that finds its way into your music?
I try and find inspiration from everything I listen to. Even when I dislike something I look for the good elements, and use them to my advantage whilst writing my own songs. The classic artists like Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Nick Drake live through my songs. But I also love lots of modern stuff, it's good to keep it current and try and push new boundaries! I would hate to sound like someone else, I want to be me.
What’s your approach to songwriting?
I have a journal where I write loads of lyrics and poetry. I can pull stuff from that when I come up with a good guitar part to match. But it's hard to plan, sometimes I sit down with my guitar and write a whole song instantly! Afterwards scratching my head thinking where the hell did that come from? I'm always trying to come up with a formula to write, but in the end it just comes down to holding a guitar when inspiration strikes.
What can you tell us about your upcoming EP?
The single of the EP is called 'Stones' and its out now! It's a big climactic track that ends with a bang, you'll have to listen and hear for yourself! The other songs were self recorded and produced at home, so they are more acoustic, raw and stripped back. But I like the balance, keeps it fresh!
You’re touring with Cast at the moment, how’s that going?
It's been great! The band are lovely and they are top musicians, so I've really enjoyed watching them after my set. I love playing live, so the chance to go up and down the country and share my music with people is a dream. It's what it's all about.
And where’s the strangest place you’ve played live?
I once played on a beach in LA, half the crowd were hula hooping or whatever the hell you call it. When you gyrate your hips and spin a hoop around. Was some bizarre festival where obviously that's all the rage! I went for a quick swim before my set and went onstage with wet hair, great times.
How does living in Hay-on-Wye compare to LA?
Hay-on-Wye is beautiful and peaceful. No light or noise pollution. Also it provides real seclusion from the craziness of the outside world, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If I stay there too long I get major cabin fever and have to go to London! Also the weather in England is obviously a little bit worse than LA. I love the heat and the fast paced life that LA offers, always something to do, and an opportunity to grab. A balance between them would be ideal in my eyes.
Are you excited for 2016, how do you see it playing out for you?
2016 is a big year for me! My first official music is being released, I have gigs left right and centre, and hopefully people will come to watch me play haha. It's the beginning of a long journey and I have lots of work to do, but when it's for the thing I love, It doesn't bother me. I know it will go well, gotta have faith!
We always like to check whether there’s a musical style you just don’t get?
Disco, I know it's pretty old news now, but I have never liked it. Just really rubs me up the wrong way!
You’re pretty active on social media, are Twitter and Facebook a blessing or curse for artists?
Social media is great because, for example, I have lots of people listening my music from all over the world, which 20 years ago (for an upcoming artist) would have been impossible. Unless I had toured in other countries or been on the TV. It's an amazing platform for finding an audience!
If you could only listen to one song this week, what would it be?
The song that I most like to listen to whilst I drive is 'River Love' by Angus Stone. Such a great tune. Either that or 'Going To California' by Led Zeppelin.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
How do you intend to revive rock n roll decadence?
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
I like a strong espresso with a drop of milk
Thanks so much for your time Willow. Good luck with the EP.