Robohands: Smashing the Jazz Scene from Album One

by Kieran Mallon, Nov 28, 2018

Robohands shares some thoughts on the early stages of his new jazz project ahead of a debut Brighton appearance as Patterns' Jazz Club

Fresh off the release of a scintillating debut LP, Robohands, AKA Andy Baxter, has been in high-demand for live gigs. The albumGreen, sees Baxter flitter between percussive hip-hop sounds, ambient atmospherics, and of course highly skilled jazz sequences.

The young musician is in excellent company as he becomes the third guest of Jazz Club at Patterns, an intimate jazz experience on Patterns' warm, ground floor space which has already welcomed the likes of Joe Armon-Jones and Penya. The first run is curated by Brighton's national treasure Mr Bongo, with a new collective taking on curation duties each season.

You can listen to Green below:

 

First off, congratulations on Green, your highly-praised debut release - what were you doing before this? How did the Robohands project come about?

Thanks! I was working several terrible part-time jobs and this project pretty much started as escapism from that in my spare time. Initially, I wanted to make some ambient backing tracks to play drums to, but then I started to really enjoy the process of writing the melodies and arranging the parts. I released an EP and carried on writing, ending up with an album’s worth of material. There was just about enough funds to go in the studio for two days to get it recorded, a lot of the drums and bass parts were written there on the spot and somehow in the end it all came together as a finished piece.

You're something of a multi-instrumentalist, listed on the record as playing drums, guitar, bass, piano, and synths - is there a particular section of the band you enjoy playing the most? What is your live set-up?

It changes I think, I love playing drums, my keys playing is at a very low standard. I’m playing more guitar these days, but there is something about playing acoustic drums that is super addictive. I still feel like I have a huge amount to improve on as a musician. The live set up at the moment is a six-piece band, we’ve only just started playing with each other and it’s a slightly different vibe from the album, I think it’s going to develop into something really interesting the more we gig together.

Similar to hip-hop, collaborations feature heavily in the new wave of UK jazz - is this something you'd pursue? Are there any artists you're thinking about reaching out to? 

I guess the music is very influenced by the current wave of stuff coming out of London, but I don’t really see it as part of any scene, but there are loads of people I would like to work with. I’m currently working on some new material with a guy in the U.S who has played on loads of great jazz fusion albums from the 1970’s.

I really like the idea of the project being kind of international and collaborating with musicians that might not necessarily be huge names or professionals but still are really talented and passionate about what they do. But if I could work with anyone right now it would be Arthur Verocai, unlikely to happen but would be amazing.

You're playing at Patterns as part of the new Patterns and Mr Bongo project, Jazz Club, will we see a full Robohands tour in the future?

I hope so, the project was intended to just be a studio thing but the response has been pretty overwhelming and there seems to be demand for live shows, had lots of offers from venues all over the world. At the same time, it’s really early days still and the fan base is still quite small but if it continues to grow then it should be feasible to go out and do a tour soon.

Now a fun one - you can go to dinner with one jazz artist, one pop star, one rapper, and one DJ - who's coming round for tacos?

Allan Holdsworth, Donna Summer, Phife Dawg and Funkmaster Flex are coming over.

And finally, what are you listening to right now?

Right this minute I’m listening to Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. Newer artists I’ve recently been listening to include Sam Wilkes and Khruangbin. Also on heavy rotation are the latest Village Live releases; albums from Gas-Lab, Micall Parknsun & Mr Thing, Remulak and Aver. Always listening to Beefheart, Zappa and Can too.

Robohands is playing the next Jazz Club at Patterns on Thursday, December 6th.

Tickets: http://patternsbrighton.com/jazz-club-mr-bongo-presents-robohands/

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