Going solo lets James's songs find their breath
When James Robinson sings, he cuts straight to the chase – whether that's soulful heartache or rabble-rousing joy. As singer and frontman with bright and bouncy alt-pop ensemble Two Spot Gobi – frequently seen on Westcountry stages over the past five years – the Plymouth born and bred musician has firmly established himself as a highly charged and charismatic songwriter and performer.
Now, with the six members of the well-loved Brighton-based band electing to go their separate ways, James is striking out as a solo artist, with confidence, a hopeful spirit, a batch of brand new tunes, and a short UK tour to test the water.
He has just released a five-track EP – Ropes – offering a window into his more thoughtful and emotional side.
Produced in Brighton by Max Gilkes, who has worked with Lily Allen, Roots Manuva and Fink, it showcases a stripped-back vibe that he says is just one aspect of a sound he feels defines his current, forward-thinking mood.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
"Really the whole vibe of the EP is finding out – slowly or quickly – who you are and what you want from life," says James. "I do feel confident in the new songs and the direction I'm going in now.
"It's been quite a hard step to take. I loved being in the band and when things were good they were really, really good; some bands never have the kind of experiences we had," he adds, wistfully. Two Spot Gobi were spotted by US singer Jason Mraz when he dropped in at a local late gig after his own Plymouth Pavilions show. That was the beginning of a long and fruitful transatlantic relationship.
Jason invited James and the band to support him on tours in Europe, the USA and the UK – including two nights at Hammersmith Apollo; they also recorded at Jason's studio in California. James also duetted with Jason on Tomorrow, a track that he had specifically written for them to sing together. In spite of this prestigious association, Two Spot, distinguished by their unique cello and trumpet accents and full-fat atmosphere, never seemed to find their niche in the music industry. Virtually everyone who saw them play live became enchanted, but that didn't translate into mainstream success. James says the time was right to move on.
"I had already written a bunch of songs that didn't suit the band and I was recording them just before we played our last string of dates," he explains. "It was great working with new people on Ropes and having the possibility of songs with a lot of breathing space in them," adds James, who cites singer songwriters like Ray Lamontagne, James Blake, Adele and Sting as key influences.
He has been working hard to build a strong portfolio of songs, writing with a variety of other people to bring the best out of his lyrics.
"I'm playing the music I really love now," adds James, who has already recorded another four songs with the fresh, three-piece band who are accompanying him on the road.
He promised plenty of light and shade on their live setlist.
"There is some full-on uptempo stuff and we also bring it right down; we'll be playing the new songs, of course, but there will be some Two Spot Gobi numbers in there too."
James Robinson plays at Mama Stone's, Exeter on March 21; James Street Vaults, Plymouth on March 21 and The Barrelhouse, Totnes on March 23.