Robi Mitch is a very gifted songwriter and storyteller who has a lovely ability to effortlessly express himself through a diverse range of styles.
Robi, it’s lovely to have you with us. Please tell us more…
Hi Chris, it’s lovely to be with you!
For those who don’t know me, I’m based out of Bristol in the UK, and have been putting out DIY albums and EPs in all sorts of styles and genres over the last 5 years. In 2017 I’m using the name Robi Mitch, and my main output is Featherweight Soul (indie pop with soul and hip-hop influences, plus lofi electronics). But I’ve also been writing lots of old-time gospel and blues songs, and have a side project called B. Moody and the Sky Pilots (sky pilot is slang for a preacher), with this 7-piece band / makeshift choir, which is a lot of fun too.
So, what is it about writing songs/music?
I always had a lot of songs going around my head as a kid. My dad used to make up songs for us, too, silly songs mostly. So it has always felt fairly instinctive. I started learning guitar aged 14, and recording songs onto an old tape deck using guitar and keyboard around that time. I found it so thrilling to be able to layer up sounds, and later, I found it thrilling to be able to deliver an image, a message or a story through a song.
You’re a beautiful storyteller. Is music the only way you tell story?
I also write poetry and short stories, usually children’s stories (but with dark or subversive undertones!). There’s a sense of fantastical possibility in children’s stories: anything can happen, there’s no need to adhere to logic. It’s almost dreamlike.
Who inspires you?
So many people! I flit between feeling that I have a voice which deserves to be heard, and recognising that there are already so many incredible voices out there, saying some powerful and beautiful and mind-blowing things. As a songwriter, in the past few years I’ve become enamoured with the work of Stanley Brinks. He writes songs purely for the joy of it, it seems, and his songs have this delightfully familiar, cosy quality. Devon Sproule is another of my heroes, a mind-blowing songwriter and performer. She nails confessional songwriting without overloading the angst. There’s this guy called Jim Kroft who lives in Berlin, we met in China when our respective tours crossed paths. He has a wonderful insight into humanity, and uses music and film as a vehicle for meeting people all around the world and sharing their stories. Sufjan Stevens is a huge inspiration, for reasons too many to mention.
Through all the songs you have half-written, written, recorded and performed, what has been the biggest thing you’ve learnt as a songwriter and as a person?
We all have bad days, and you can’t hate yourself for those days or judge yourself based on those days. I prefer to think of bad days as ‘good days stored up’ – it’s liberating!
What has been among your biggest challenges?
Yikes. It is really hard trying to be heard above the noise. Whether or not I earn a decent income from music, my primary motivation is to know that people want to listen, to know that they understand what I’m doing, and to know that it enriches their experience of life in some way. When you go through a season of feeling like no-one is listening, that can be really disheartening.
What would you say to anyone disillusioned with where they’re at with their talents and passions?
Regular reality checks are essential. Why is it that you have that passion in the first place? What has it cost you to follow it this far, and is it worth the cost? However much we love something (music, art, sport, academia, our job), if that has become the ultimate focus of our life, the thing that makes or breaks our happiness, we need a perspective shift. Because it will never be enough to fully satisfy us, any how.
What does this next year look like for you?
Increased collaboration, hopefully. I would love to end up working with a record label, agent, manager, or some sort of collective. Whichever way it turns out, I hope to be around people who share the same vision as me for what it means to break new ground with our music, our songs, and our lifestyles as we chase the dream. I’ll be putting out a bunch of featherweight soul songs (hopefully with some awesome music videos), playing gigs in London and in France as well as in my hometown of Bristol. And I’ll try and get those old-time gospel songs down on tape. That would be fun.
Have a listen to these songs I wrote:
‘Do not let the darkness overtake you’ https://youtu.be/kV0z16sdkDU
‘Loving U’ (featherweight soul) https://soundcloud.com/robimitchsounds/robin-mitchells-featherweight-soul-loving-u
At the moment I love this: ‘White Egrets’ by Derek Walcott. Sublime poetry.
This inspires me: Chance The Rapper’s Grammy’s performance. Awesome!