Robert Robert Takes on The Arctic Experience
Montreal DJ Piles Up Musical Accomplishments With Upcoming Igloofest Performance
In a short musical career, DJ Robert Robert has already experienced many milestones. In September 2014 he released his first album, Pastel, with Silverstag Records. The LP is reminiscent of ‘90s RnB, combined with jazzy melodies and tropical hip hop beats, that also implements his electro roots fueled by catchy synthesizers and keyboards.
This Sunday will mark the DJ’s first appearance at Montreal’s renowned outdoor music festival, Igloofest.
“This is definitely a milestone in my career and my life altogether,” Robert Robert said of his upcoming performance. “Igloofest brings big names to Montreal. Being able to play at such a unique festival less than a year after releasing my album really motivates me to keep going.
“People are always thinking. I feel bad when I try to make a song that will make people think even more,” Robert continued. “What I really tried to do with Pastel is strip that thinking time away from the listener, so that they can just relax their brain. I hear more people saying that they’re stressed out than at ease. So I tried to make it as light and laid-back as possible.”
Robert Robert extended his thought and blurted the term “lo-fi” to give a more colorful sense of his truck-stop style.
Meanwhile, the DJ is making efforts to ease his own stress.
“I’m really trying to work on that as much as possible. But it’s hard. Hopefully my music can change that for some people,” he said.
“Trying to make an organic sound out of electronics was the biggest challenge for me when making Pastel,” said Robert Robert. “That was another goal for me, to make really organic stuff and bringing the electro I like inside that organic vibe. I want it to sound like my song is playing live next to you, not the way it would sound through earphones or on a computer.”
You may have seen the music video for Pastel ’s hit single “Stereochrome.” A growing trend in the realm of music videos is to produce clips that go beyond a regular performance and instead illustrate a narrative with a meaning. Viewers are usually left perplexed as to what message the artist tried to evoke.
“Stereochrome” instead invites viewers into the joyful and creative parallel universe of Robert Robert and his team. It requires no contemplation, only optical pleasure.
The video includes a superb fusion of colourful chaos, an abundance of broken glass, street art, graffiti and skateboards, along with synchronized swimmers and hipsters on bikes. “Stereochrome,” which sounds like an explosion of fireworks fused with electro beats and psychedelic phonetics, takes you on a multicoloured adventure of good vibes and smiles.
“My friends really helped take some of my ideas and inspirations and made them into a reality, with a lot of their [input] too, of course,” Robert said. Gratitude and appreciation are qualities characteristic of Montreal’s latest breakout artist.
Robert Robert’s sincere nature is also evident in the reasoning behind his stage name. It has no relevance to his birth name, Arthur Gaumont-Marchand, but does relate to his laid-back musical style.
“The first track I ever made was a joke song. It was a guy singing ‘bom diggy boom’ repeatedly. So I wanted to find a name that sounded like a joke, too. The name ‘Robert Robert’ reminds me of a frog. I don’t want to act like everything I chose was really thoughtful and had giant planning, as if I plotted the whole thing. I just wanted it to be human, and humans do things because they do it, without calculating all their moves. […] And this is the style that I try to evoke in my music, too.”
Robert Robert is currently working on a new EP and working on the side with Montreal’s praised DJ Ryan Playground, along with rappers Panther, Zefire, Retro Spark Static and Furst. Robert Robert wants to include more hip-hop in his upcoming EP, as well as unleash his inner pop sound.
“I want each track to be an entity of its own and offer something unique. I’m focusing less on the connection between each song; I don’t want one song to influence the following one like it did in Pastel,” he said.
“We [Ryan Playground] made a song together recently that we’re really proud of. It’s experimental with big chords, kind of a classical composition, but it also has the cheesy hip-hop sound, too. It’s nothing like we’ve ever done before so we’re really excited about that song.”
Robert Robert also confessed that his mother is a key contributor behind his inspiration.
“My mom used to play me artists like Manu Chao, which is more alternative Latin, along with bossa nova, which has a jazzy sound. So when I mix my music now, it always goes back to those influences that she would always play around the house,” he said. “Another major influence would be Boards of Canada. I like how they achieve a truly organic sound despite being made from a computer.”
Robert Robert explains that his objective at the moment is simply to explore his horizons. “I’m only 19, so I don’t want to stick with one thing right now,” he said. “I’m still discovering my style. I want to open as many doors, and just do pretty much everything before settling.
“One thing I want to do in particular is go to different cities, and play with different artists too to learn more. I think working with people will help me evolve.
“When I was 15, Igloofest was the biggest winter festival in Montreal […] there’s not that kind of stuff anywhere else. […] Now I get to be a part of it, not as a fan, but as an artist,” Robert Robert said, adding that he wants people to jump around and “go ham” during his set.
Robert Robert // Feb. 6 // Igloofest (Quai Jacques-Cartier) // 8 p.m. // $20 online