Interview – Rob Quo

Rob Quo is an amazing songwriter and musician, creating beautiful soundscapes within his music that will leave you longing for more! His new EP, Now I See The Birds, sounds epic – you can check it out at the end of this interview.

By Jane Howkins

You recently released an EP titled Now I See the Birds, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about this EP and where can it be purchased?

This was the last of a series of four 5 track EPs recorded and released over the course of 18 months. As with them all, we had a clear idea of the sonic palette we wanted to achieve before going into the studio. The material (songs) in Now I See the Birds pushed us towards a whoozy, folky sound, and the lush string arrangements (by Daniel Springate) were central to achieving this. All these records can be found via my BandCamp page as a download or physical release.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

I was at a stage in my artistic development where I just needed to write and write. Seven months on furlough allowed me to dive headfirst into it, and I spent pretty much every single day playing and songwriting. Better still, I was living with my producer at the time, so we were able to plan/make records throughout the pandemic. I was so lucky to have an outlet, and you can bet that all my time, energy and resources went into the cause.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

Writing had always been a labour for me. Through the intensive period writing mentioned above, I definitely loosened up. When given some autonomy, the songs will help you write them. Generally, they’re more than happy to do most of the heavy-lifting. Once you have a body of work and the pressure to create the material has gone, it allows you to let the songs breathe a bit as you write them. This makes for more honest/intuitive work in my opinion, and I feel like this string of releases has charted my journey to this point.

Similarly, recording has been a skill that I’ve really had to work hard at. We record everything live (with some parts added onto the core band sound, if required), which can get pretty hardcore. You have to have really good musicians/people around you when you’re cutting tracks in the studio together, as you’re only ever as strong as your weakest link. It can get pretty existential. Me and my producer Gus White are always working on it to make the process better, and we definitely reached a pinnacle with this last release.

Do you plan to release any singles in the near future?

Nothing planned, but the next batch is in the oven.

Are there any plans to release another EP or an album anytime soon?

A debut album is next, and I’m currently plotting and planning how I might bring it into fruition.

What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

In terms of subject matter, all my work touches on the human condition. Life, love and nature, you know. John Martyn has been a great influence in demonstrating how to be a totally self-sufficient singer-songwriter with just a voice and an acoustic guitar, so he deserves a special mention. Most of my influence comes from the great voices of the 20th century: the jazzers/swingers; of soul, of folk and blues. Incredible songs. Sometimes I just want to quit and sing Ray Charles/Nina Simone to whoever’s willing to listen. Recent plays include Cate Le Bon, Aldous Harding and Big Thief.

Whereabouts are you based and what is the music scene like in your part of the world?

I’ve been in London since leaving school. The scene is obviously vast and vibrant. There are so many facets to it, it’s taken me years to discover what I have, and there’s still more I’m sure. Every time I try to leave I end up coming back, so it looks like I’m in it for now. My affair with London has been a very complex one, but it’s just an awesome city.

Do you have any tour dates lined up?

I’m doing some UK shows this spring/summer!

What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

Well, live is where the magic happens. As natural as you try to make it in the studio, there’s always something getting in the way. Live is the truth. As a performer, I’m always developing and learning to get more out of what I have. Studio recordings are a snapshot of a time, live shows are a living and breathing entity; new songs, new collaborators and new angles. Come on down!

Any last words for the fans?

Thanks for reading.