ARTS AND CULTURE: Winter Robins
Genre Style: House, Techno, Disco, Electronic, Dance Music
Location: Ashland/Ironton (Tri-State)
How did the project start?:
Erica: We’ve been longtime friends and musical collaborators for years. We both love dance music, but we weren’t hearing a lot of new stuff out there that was getting us excited, so we decided to make our own. In the winter of 2019, Mark brought over a demo of Don’t Want to be Alone and the rest is history.
What are three adjectives to describe your style?
Energetic, upbeat, infectious
Walk us through your creative process. Does it vary, if so, how?
Mark: The process can take a day or it can take months. I almost always start with a basic beat, or sample and a simple melody, and build from there. I will usually send demo ideas to Erica and she will write out her lyric and melody ideas. Then we get together and hash it out in the studio. Sometimes it hits immediately, other times we go back and mix it up. But once we get in the same room, something always clicks. Once we have all the components together, the long and arduous process of perfecting the production starts.
Erica: I usually write while I’m working out or in the car. I typically hear a melody the first time I hear a new track.
How has your art evolved since you started?
Mark: We both have been making solo music for decades, and in a way, this project is a melding of our two solo careers. My solo stuff was far more experimental electronic and techno music, while Erica’s was more in the singer/songwriter, pop category. With Winter Robins, we met in the middle and combined the best elements of both our worlds. To me, this project feels more accessible and more complete than anything we’ve ever done in our solo careers.
Erica: Our songs and ideas evolve constantly throughout the creative process, but we’ve also focused quite a bit on branding this project, which has helped immensely. That was something neither of us really cared about before.
What is your favorite creative tool, and why?
Erica: Peace and quiet. I can really write when I can focus on just the music. I have to have a quiet space to be able to listen to every beat in the track.
Mark: I love all my old analog synths and drum machines, but if I’m being honest, it’s my MacBook Pro. I use it for music editing, video editing, writing, marketing, school, work, everything. As nerdy as it sounds, it’s become an indispensable tool for me.
What about being an artist fills your cup? Why should others take interest in the arts?
Erica: This particular project has satisfied me in ways that no other music I’ve ever performed or recorded has. I’m able to become a different person outside of my corporate/business self and completely surrender to the music that I truly love listening to. That makes me whole.
Mark: I love the creative process, through all its ups and downs. For me, it’s the feeling I get when I look at a finished project. It’s the same feeling many people get when they cook a nice meal or build a house. Making something great and unique out of raw materials and a few ideas is a priceless experience.
Any advice for new or struggling artists?
Erica: Keep writing, playing and recording. Never give up on yourself and remember that persistence and hard work can pay off. Always find time for your art. It can be challenging when you have a million things going on, but it is worth every minute.
Mark: Evaluate why you’re making art. If it’s to become rich and famous, then you’re probably in for disappointment. Don’t get stuck in genres or styles. Technology is your friend, but don’t obsess over streaming stats or the latest gear. And most of all, be truly grateful to anyone who embraces your music. The amount of music to choose from in this world is endless. If people choose to listen to yours, that is something special and should not be taken lightly.
What upcoming project should we look for, and where can we look for it?
Erica: We will be working on a third and fourth music video for tracks on our newly released debut EP. We plan to start recording our follow-up EP this summer and hope to play out some now that our world is healing.
Mark: Well our debut EP just came out in May, and that’s available everywhere digitally and on cassette at our Bandcamp page. Like Erica said, there are music video plans for the summer. Also whisperings of a remix EP featuring some great producers. New tracks and ideas are always in the works. And there’s some other fun video and marketing stuff that we have planned as well.
What question do you never get asked that you would like to be asked? How would you answer?
Erica: What music do you enjoy listening to when you’re by yourself? I enjoy ambient and electronic music. I don’t listen to a lot of music that has vocals.
Mark: What got you into electronic and dance music? It was an accident! Back in high school (in the 90s!) I bought two CDs, Daft Punk’s album Homework and a compilation called Happy 2B Hardcore, thinking they were punk bands! I put them in my car stereo and was shocked at what I heard. Shocked, but not disappointed.