Robin Buckley

Robin Buckley

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Robin’s electronic vibe is related to club culture – As a mostly sober, transgender person, her music is fluid, dynamic and social. The idea is to share and connect through her difference rather than erasing it and invite everyone else to do the same. 

Her previous pieces of work have explored the materiality of film sound, YouTube and EDM sample packs through the lens of house and ambient. Buckley also runs a radio series for Resonance Extra called Lossless Communication, which explores sound discovery in the internet era. Other recent work includes a live improvised performance with Claire Tolan in Berlin, sound design for the art website Clubdead and Brostep in the Style of Florian Hecker, a multichannel composition available for download with limited edition lanyards and a game which offers a virtual environment for listening to the composition.

Using a geeky vocabulary, Robin explained to us what's the process to make music like as a computer artist, with all its complexity. She also told us more about her music, the message behind it and what she hopes to bring to the social space and world of club culture.

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As a young and emerging artist from the London scene – who are you and what’s your vibe? 
I'm Robin and I'm a 25-year-old musician and sound artist who has spent a lot of their life in Germany as well as in the UK.

When did you decide to take a music path? 
Well, I used to be in a few bands through school, but at some point, I started exploring electronic music as a way to reproduce some of the things I was listening to around that time. 

How would you describe your music to someone who doesn’t know you yet?
It depends how much I know about them, but on a basic level, I would say it's electronic music. If they know a bit more about the area I'm involved in, I would describe it as music that plays with the idea of how club music should function in a space.

Could you explain how club music should function in a space, according to you?
Well it should be expansive in various kinds of ways, for example, letting people think about new kinds of rhythms and textures they can experience in a club, as well as different forms of social relations... i.e. reactions to the music, to each other and the room.

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Robin Buckley aka @rkss for those in the know – why this alias? What musical projects have you already released under this name and where can we find them?
haha, it doesn't come up very often in interviews but basically, it was me using a letter generator and then choosing my favorite combination. Names and titles weren't particularly important to me at the time when I started the project. Some recent releases from the last two years include Top Charted, which is a precursor conceptually to DJ Tools, Cutoff EP which is my take on house music and Brostep in the Style of Florian Hecker, which looked at the relations between academic art music and commercial dance music.

Sounds like your music required lots of materials and digital instruments – what’s your creative process like and what do you use to create it? 
I'm a very 'in the box' producer, which means I do everything on the computer and don't use outboard gear or hardware. I use Ableton Live and always start with a certain set of samples, such as audio from a film or a certain sample pack or some recordings I might have made (these are like the theme for me of the project). Then I will take these samples and either edit them extensively or just simply put them into some kind of time frame, whether that be techno or house or computer music.

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What’s the most powerful tool/instrument? What are your most prized possessions, both physical and digital?
I really like simple things, so for me (other than the laptop itself) is the LFO Max for Live tool, which is like a very simple device that can control other elements on a track. I mostly use it for rhythmic elements, say I have a percussive sound, I can connect the LFO to an arpeggiator (a device that automatically plays rhythms with the sound), and it will keep changing and morphing the rhythm and creates these very interest swings that are not tied to the BPM of Ableton at all... a few of these sounds are once can be very hypnotic because it's quite loop-y , but not in the way we are normally used to when everything is put to one BPM.

Your sound can be described, as club and computer music, isn’t? Who do you want to engage within that social space? Are you performing/DJing in clubs, as well?
Yeah, it's definitely pulling from club music but isn't necessarily presented in a club, i.e. could be venues and sitting down concerts. I always find it interesting to see people's different takes on my works. Even a good friend who's only newest musical references was New Order, said he really heard the music as being a lot like me, which I thought was very sweet. I'll play wherever someone books me!

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Ideally, in what sort of space would you like to play? 
Still waiting to be asked to play Berghain!

Are there any other countries or clubs, you have your heart set on playing and you are planning to go soon?
Yes! I really want to tour the US and Japan, but I need to figure out how this will be possible with Visa stuff. In terms of spaces, TUF Seattle looks like a very beautiful festival.

What do you want to say with your work? 
I just really want people to think about the social space that we are in, like why are we here? What are we meant to be doing here? Look around and see how much you do or do not fit into space and what you can bring to the space to make it better.

What are the other projects you are working on if any?
This is definitely my main project at the moment. I have worked on other kinds of electronic music that don't dance music under my name Robin Buckley, exploring queer ecology and sound. I also do freelance mixing work for other, predominantly, visual artists.

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Oh, that's really interesting! Have you found an answer to this, personally - why are we here and what are we meant to be doing? I guess we are all here for a purpose and we all have a role to play. What's yours? What do you think or hope to bring as a person and musician?
I'm not sure I have the answer, but I would like to work with people to think of new ways to listen to and experience sound.

We are looking forward to hearing your first album titled ‘DJ Tools’ – when is the release and where will we be able to listen to it?
31st of August, check Boomkat to buy a copy or listen to it on SoundCloud! It's coming out on UIQ, an amazing label run by Lee Gamble, with two more LPs coming out this year one from Zuli and another from Nkisi.

What are you most excited about the world in 2018? 
It's #20gayteen.

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artist ROBIN BUCKLEY
photography ALESSIA GUNAWAN
styling and interview LEA FEDERMANN
make up STEVIE SQUIRE

 

interview LEA FEDERMANN

 

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