Interviews  |   The Press, June 2006

Why are you playing a cinema in York, Robin?

“That's a bit of a curious question! It's basically because I've got this piece I've been playing in cinemas for the last couple of years. I made this Lumiere film three years ago, my first animated film, as I wanted something more than just being an uncomfortable guy sitting on stage with his guitar.

“It's very quiet, very down-tempo, and cinemas seemed to be the best place for it. I played the National Film Theatre last year and maybe that led to these shows this summer.”

Describe the experience that awaits your audience?

“As I say, it's a down-tempo thing; it's like checking in your stress at the door. I'm 44 now, I can get away with mellow, which I couldn't do before.

“I'm going to play something from Imperial his first instrumental album from 2003 and maybe something from Continental his second instrumental album, released on June 12. The music is not the same every night as a lot of it will be improvised: I've got some pieces that go well with particular parts of the film but other parts can be more free form.”

Fill in your diary for the days ahead, Robin.

“I've got 14 dates to play in a row; after London I'm doing a special event at the Seattle Film Festival: an evening of surrealist short films to a live score. Then I'm back to France, Ireland, New York That's quite normal for me, as I feel that for the last five years I've done a lot of things, though in the UK I'm aware that's not the case and maybe they've lost interest in me.

“I've not turned my back on the UK, but if you don't get asked to do things.”

Where do you live now?

“I've been living in Brittany for the last five years. I bought this little place 15 years ago, and when you're an artist and you don't get regular income, you have to live somewhere inexpensive.

“I'm a working musician and I feed my family by going out and playing shows and making records. I have no other income, and so, if I need to make money, I'll do shows. That's why I've been to the US six times in the past 12 months.

“In Britain, unless you're in the south east of England, you don't get a look in. I'll get asked to play for £150 and you think to yourself, why are musicians so unappreciated?'.”

However, Robin, you sustain diverse projects, from soundtracks to production and remix work, films to solo records. Give us an update on how your music is progressing.

“The approach to making Continental was the same as for Imperial, as I make records at my own pace, but I wanted it to be more up' because the Mysterious Skin soundtrack recorded with minimalist Harold Budd for Gregg Akari's film was very down-tempo, and so was Lumiere. I've just made an album with John Foxx and that's down-tempo, and I'm making an album with Harold Budd and, guess what, it's incredibly down-tempo, but that's how it is!

“For my own album, I've revisited the past for more noise, and then there are two EPs, Everlasting and Waiting For Dawn, with eight extra tracks between them. I really like that thing where you have an idea, not enough for an album, but an idea that you can flesh out into an EP.”

Why make instrumental records?

“It's simply that I don't have anyone to work with on my records. But I've also come to believe that this music is what emotions sound like.

“But I do still work with other people, such as the Violet Indiana albums I've done, which are much more traditional, and I believe they're some of the best music I've ever done. I get so much stick about Siobhan de Maré not being as good as Liz (Cocteau Twins singer and Robin's former squeeze Elizabeth Fraser) but, for me, you can't compare them. Siobhan is perfect for me to work with now: she's never heard the Cocteau Twins, she's into soul and hip hop and that's perfect because there's no baggage.”

Could you ever see yourself developing another musical partnership like you had with Liz?

“I don't really have a project in mind for finding a new singer. The Cocteau Twins have gone now, though I'm quite interested in doing an album with a different singer on each track but that would take, well, lots of emails.

“I play live, I do lots of studio work, I've just done the Apollo Heights and Mahogany records in New York, and I've been working with a singer from Los Angeles, Annie Barker, and I've been doing some songs with Sophie Barker the singer from Zero 7 another Barker!”