We caught up with producer, multi instrumentalist Robbie G from Modern Whale to chat about his career as a producer, his new project Modern Whale and the new infectious single ‘Dead Wrong’.
Tell us how Modern Whale came about?
Modern Whale came about kind of organically, I’ve been a record producer and musician for all my adult life and in early 2016 I sort of went back to basics. What I mean is I did some things that were reminiscent of why I got into music in the first place, with the electric guitar and just doing some things for myself. In the many years that I have been doing record production and songwriting with other people I have consistently been very good at compromising, always happy to change for the sake of the artist or songwriter or whoever I was with at the time. With Modern Whale it was really an experience to do what I wanted to do and to be honest it was something I thought wouldn’t be released. I was just in my studio and I was just creating and one thing led to another and here we are. We’ve released 6 songs at this point starting in June 2017 and I’m very thankful and excited that people have loved what I have released this far, so it’s all been very good.
As you said you are a record producer and published songwriter, you are also a seasoned lead guitarist and bass player. Do you feel that it’s important for a producer to be a musician of sorts to bring enough to the table and make the tracks come to life?
My first instinct is actually no and the reason why I say that is because as I get older I continue to realise that there is really no rules.I certainly think that the more skill sets or abilities that a producer has the more he or she might be able to bring to the table but I don’t know that there is necessarily a rulebook that says that you have to be well versed in something to be able to do something creative. Music is an art form in general, you know there is really no rules. You can just have ideas and be able to direct or be able to hum but there is no question about the fact that again the more of a skill set that you have the more you can bring to the party. But I don’t necessarily see that you have to be a virtuoso at a certain instrument to succeed or to do something creative. Another thing that I have also seen in myself over the years is when I started as a kid I was just a guitar player. I was interested in Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page and I was never thinking about singing songs.I was never thinking about writing songs really. I was just thinking about learning Led Zeppelin riffs and that sort of thing so even the idea of being a record producer and making music with other people you can’t help but learn and develop and that’s the thing about music you know, when you play with other people and you make music with other people you do end up learning just from the experience of it all.
It would also increase your experience with other genres of music and make your own music a bit more rich
Absolutely, it’s because of my experience that I am here on the phone with you right now. It’s because..of my heartfelt passion to make music and be creative,my many skill sets have been born because of my effort to make a living in music or continue doing what I’ve been passionate about and quite frankly it’s really what it comes down to.
You have released your new single ‘Dead Wrong’ talk us through how that song came into fruition?
Well ‘Dead Wrong’ is an interesting song I co-wrote with a good good friend of mine who I’ve known since about 2004.His name is Scott Harris.Scott has recently had great success as a songwriter, writing for people like The Chainsmokers and Shawn Mendes. Scott and I have been friends for many many years before one of us were really making a living in the music industry but we have written a lot over the years together and we still write together and Dead Wrong was a song that sort of happened naturally. The lyric itself is very much about something that was going on in my life where I have a relationship with someone, who like any other relationship, we are trying to figure it out and make sense of things. It really was organic and we wrote it on a little Casio keyboard and I had actually done the song in a couple of different versions after we wrote it. It was a little bit slower, in a higher key, I did more of a rock n’ roll version with a lot of drums and more guitars but I keep on coming back to that first version that Scott and I had done with the keyboard where the vocal was really the main point of it and I’m quite pleased with that song. I think it’s a really nice statement. I think it’s just very clear.
Yeah it’s a lot more electronic pop root compared to your previous releases ‘Kill the Flame’ ‘The Dirt’ ‘How Deep We Get’ and’ Brave Face’.
Yeah there is actually a version that’s a little bit more like the Modern Whale that had been released earlier but I think you know in the grand scheme of things I’m a new artist and the music that I had made initially and I’m still making was fully for myself.But I’m reminded again about Led Zeppelin because if you think about Led Zeppelin I and how heavy that record was and then Led Zeppelin III and how it was very acoustic. Like growing up with mom and dad’s record collection and seeing an artist like that have multiple sides of them for me it’s completely ok and also, truth be told and this is not to throw myself under the bus but I think that Modern Whale is something that’s developing in many ways and over the last few years or so I have been finding my voice. I don’t mean that necessarily from the singing perspective but just becoming more comfortable as an artist…in many ways ‘Dead Wrong’ has opened up some doors for me that again I’m just struck by the fact that if you continue with something more doors open up. If you don’t give up and you just continue being creative and making music and being true to yourself the possibilities are endless. It’s quite nice to be talking to you about this and to be reminded why I’m doing this in the first place.
How does your work with other artists influence or aid your own material?
Ultimately I’m easily inspired, I’m the kind of person that if you came over with a piano part or you play the guitar or if you sang a melody its very easy for me to work with something and I think thats what makes me an ideal record producer. It just flows out of me. I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to answer that question, only because I think that inspiration comes from all different kinds of places – some of its subconscious so I never really set out and think well I’d like to write a song like this or I’d like to try to do this. I’m really doing it because I just can’t help myself and want to be creative and I want to do things and I’m sort of doing it regardless of anything. It’s in me to create and my passion has always been over welling. I think it’s a long career of being out on the road and being around a lot of talented people and you know whether it’s development of the different musical instruments or even developing my singing voice over the years, these are things I never saw coming, you just can’t predict how life is gonna go.Even with ‘Dead Wrong’ Scott came over that afternoon and we had this idea and in just a few hours we had the raw sketch of what ‘Dead Wrong’ was and it just was a very heartfelt melody and a heartfelt lyric and as much as I tried to produce it in some ways like the first batch of Modern Whale songs it just kept on calling to be this way. It’s a different side of me. I could see potentially moving forward releasing something acoustic I don’t see a reason when I’m able to make records by myself like this I find that I’m just being inspired and letting to not just let it happen.
You can tell that ‘Dead Wrong’ came from the heart the melody is very sweet and dreamy it doesn’t at all come across manufactured
Yes that’s true, I appreciate that, that’s a nice thing to hear. I’m just singing about things that are important to me or things that make me feel an emotion and being a human being. When you have to really try to do something it shows and it’s effortless and it comes out. That’s the thing about keeping the original Modern Whale songs I did them for myself. I didn’t even tell anybody I had done them for the first 6 or 7 months. In April 2016 I just started being creative and a few of the songs were born over a couple of days and then over the course of a few months I worked on them and I didn’t even tell anybody about it. It was really a thing that was special for me, I was just being creative and having a release. There were things happening in my life that were personal.I lost my father in 2015 to cancer, I had a bad break up in 2015 and by the time I started recovering in April 2016 it was a release and I never saw any of this coming. It’s nice to hear somebody be so real but I never thought I would be on the phone doing an interview with someone from Ireland. It wasn’t even a part of my equation. I didn’t even have an equation.
Do you have plans to release a video for the single?
Interestingly enough I’ve just watched the final video and some of my reason for being late was dealing with the final changes with the video.So the video will come out likely … I wanna say January it could be as late as February but it will be early next year. But the video is done, it’s very cool I wish I could share it with you right now because it makes me super happy and I think it’s very creative and I’m psyched about it.
What can we expect from your upcoming EP which is due out next year?
The EP is another thing that is pretty mind blowing to me.It’s almost like its the term paper of my life, It’s this thing where I’ve been on this road this whole time making music, being creative, finding my way, touring the world, making records with people, developing my own skill set and I think for the first time ever I have the opportunity now to focus on myself and it’s a gift that is indescribable.So to have December and January to do the EP and to work on this balance of four songs – basically it will be a five song EP so one of the songs is ‘Dead Wrong’ and then there will be four more songs which I’m working on right now.I’m just arriving at a place of being more confident and also being more comfortable with understanding my position as an artist and just being a little bit more self aware of who I wanna be and I just couldn’t be more happy about it. I feel like I’m on the precipice of doing the best work that I’ve ever done.
To round out the lineup for your live performance you have added bassist Rocky Russo and drummer Kerel Lacy how did you choose who you would add to your line up?
Well, it was a timing thing it just happened. With Kerel I met him through a mutual friend at a bar in New York City he’d just moved from Texas. I was looking for a drummer and about a month later after we met that night at this particular bar he hit me up, he found my phone number through another friend and it was the day that I had a number of different drummers scheduled and the guys scheduled at 3 o’clock had canceled and Kerel hit me up literally in that window. It was like it was meant to be and the rest is history. He’s been a great teammate and he’s been a great inspiration to me.With Rocky it’s a similar story. I was trying to get this girl to be in the group as a bass player and I went to a venue in New York to check out this bass player. I actually had opened up the show, so her and I sort of became friendly and we were raising money for those being held by ICE for their legal fees, etc.. The girl I was trying to get as a bass player was playing the next set after me and I ended up hitting it off with the sound guy who is Rocky Russo and he just was really cool. I asked him for his card because I thought he was professional and about two or three days later I peeled his business card away from my phone case and recognized on the card it said audio design or sound guys or whatever and it also said bass player. I thought aww man! Maybe I should have a backup plan just in case this particular woman doesn’t work out and that’s it.
What is a live show with Modern Whale like?
It’s definitely energetic. It’s very true to the way the stuff is recorded. Sometimes it gets a little bit heavier than the record just because of the way the electric guitar is but it is upbeat and it’s fun. At the end of the day I’m really just trying to entertain people.I want people to lose themselves in the moment and be happy. When I go to a concert and it’s great and it’s exciting I forget about my day and my problems, that’s the kind of thing I want to put in peoples lives. Make a really nice vibe and entertain people, get back to basics of just being around a campfire and making people at peace or comfortable and enjoy the show
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start a music career?
Don’t give up just keep on going. That’s the easiest way to put it. Like I said earlier I never saw any of this coming and I think it’s fully because of my sticking with something. I guess it’s easier to give up isn’t it? Sometimes the hardest part is just sticking with something but I think that a real parable about life in general whether its a relationship or if its a job sometimes things aren’t easy and if you continue to weather those storms good things can happen. I think it’s a matter of staying true to yourself and doing what you are passionate about – that’s my best advice.
What’s next for Modern Whale?
Right now I’m totally focused on the EP. Doing very little outside production work. It’s an absolute blessing that I have the opportunity to make an EP and to focus on the EP. So right now my head is totally in the studio game just wrapping up these four songs. I have them written so right now I’m in the production stage and I’m really just developing the material. My feeling is that I will have them all done by February 1st. I’ll likely release them throughout 2019 and they will ultimately be bundled as one EP which will include ‘Dead Wrong’.
Stream ‘Dead Wrong’ below