Born: January 4, 1962 in Grangemouth, Scotland.
Robin is a co-founder of Cocteau Twins, and is one of the principal songwriters and musicians. Robin's unique style of guitar-playing and songwriting—not to mention his deft production skills in the recording studio—have earned him the respect of musicians throughout the world.
Working at first with Will Heggie and, since, with Simon, Robin has played guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and other instruments over the years, plus programming, sampling and sound processing.
Robin shares duties with Simon as a partner in Bella Union Records, and he now works and lives in France with his wife, Florence, and their two children. He is also the proud father of Lucy Belle, his daughter with Liz.
In addition to his work as a producer and engineer, Robin's latest musical collaboration is Violet Indiana, with singer Siobhan de Maré (formerly of MONO). VI's first full-length LP, Roulette, was released in 2001 to much critical acclaim. Their second LP, Russian Doll was released in 2004. Robin's first solo record, Imperial, was released in March 2003 by Bella Union. His follow-up LP, Continental—plus two EPs, Everlasting and Waiting for Dawn—were released in spring 2006. (You can buy Robin's solo albums online at Darla Records in the USA and from RocketGirl in the UK.)
Robin's online presence can be felt here.
It would seem difficult to imagine Robin's favorite records. What does such an influential musician listen to when he wants to relax or feel inspired? Melody Maker put him to the question in 1993. Some of his answers may surprise you, others may not.
My Favorite Records
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: "The Mercy Seat"
"They've been such a consistent band over the years. We used to follow The Birthday Party about, they were the ones that were responsible for getting us a deal with 4AD. Not a bit like the Cocteaus? Naah, it was that big guitar noise you got on 'The Friend Catcher' that was one of the things that inspired us. I've got a lot of time for Nick Cave. Every couple of years I retune myself into what's he doing, even the sea shanty stuff as some people call it. I'm a sucker for wasted types, men who can wear tight trousers and pointy shoes without looking like a pillock. Me, I turned out the wrong shape to be wasted!"
Donna Summer: "State of Independence"
"This was a hit in the early Eighties. I love the arrangement of it, the movement, the way it built up. This was just as we were starting out and maybe it influenced the way we built our sound up. It was before she became a born-again Christian and started talking about the evils of homosexuality when most of her fans were on the Hi-NRG circuit.
The Pop Group: "She is beyond Good and Evil"
"I haven't actually heard this in years but it sums up a particular moment in time for me. Again, it was the noise he [Mark Stewart] made. He's still really good now. The Pop Group were the first ones ever to mix post-punk with fun and dance rhythms. But it was always harder than the ones doing it now."
The Birthday Party: "The Friend Catcher"
"I've cheated here, having Nick Cave in twice but what the hell - I just remember listening to The Birthday Party on the radio thinking, 'Fucking Hell!' We'd be down the front at every gig, follow them around everywhere - when we were still young and stupid, these people were big stars to us. I know we weren't suppposed to have stars but we were still awestruck even though we could approach them anytime backstage, in a way you couldn't with Bowie and T Rex. The last time I saw Nick properly was a couple of years ago back in Sao Paolo. We got ourselves in a horrible state."
The The: "Lonely Planet"
"The The and The Birthday party were both on 4AD so there was no question that that was the label we were going to work for. So we made a demo, made two copies, sent one to Peel and one to 4AD. We chose 4AD, it never occurred to us that 4AD might not choose us. We thought it was a dead easy to get a record deal because we were so great - we were fucking crazy. Anyway, 'Lonely Planet', what a fucking record. 'If you can't change the world, change yourself.' It's only recently I've come round to thinking like that myself. He was only about 20 when he made it. I didn't have much time for the things he was doing a few years back but with his last album I'm right back into him."
Suicide: "Ghost Rider"
"I still rip'em off! Them and Roxy Music were the first people I ever heard using keybroads like machines and not just Hammond organs. The first album was great. You try sitting alone, fucked up on drugs, late at night, listening to that 10 minute track, 'Frankie Teardrop' - you'll fucking die! It's so scary. After that, they went on to make a lot of crap."
Rage Against The Machine: "Killing in The Name"
"Yeah, I love them, love this. It's not particularly the militant thing about them, it's more from hearing it in the clubs, the noise it makes. I don't know if it's exactly changed my life. I went through a phase a couple of years ago of not listening to anybody else's music at all, but just this past year I've had an incredibly refreshed attitude, I've rekindled my love. Also, I used to have a problem about listening to other people's stuff. The way I saw it, if theirs was good it meant mine must be crap. I've had a few problems in my head with that, I can tell you. It's not being competitive, it's insecurity and it meant not being able to own up to liking other people's stuff. It's only now I can do something like Rebellious Jukebox."
Patsy Cline: "Sweet Dreams"
"Well, it's the Voice, isn't it? The other Voice! Patsy Cline died 20-odd years ago, so it was a bit tricky getting her to join the Cocteaus so I had to get Liz. Just go pick up her greatest hits. It's not Country & Western, it's more ballads. Speaking of ballads, if you want a good, poncey ballad, put in Roddy Frame's 'How Men Are'. King of the poncey ballads, Roddy! I love him."
The Ronettes: "Be My Baby"
"I could have picked any number of Phil Spector tracks - I don't suppose I need to explain why. I've been an obsessive collector of Phil Spector's stuff, I've got loads and loads on vinyl, a lot of rarities. Nice tunes, big sounds - yeah, it was an obvious influence."
Roy Orbison: "In Dreams"
"Just before he made his comeback with The Traveling Wilburys, before he died, I saw him at the Mean Fiddler. It was just him, his guitar and voice, so beautiful, so moving - what a fucking guy. And I was waiting out back to meet him and I did. Y'know what he said to me? "Get out of the way, son,' as he pushed past me on the way to his limousine."
"I do love this but I know virtually nothing about the band. There was a time when liking a record meant I would have had to go out and find out everything about the band, these days, as long as it's a good fucking record, I really don't care - which is the way it should be, I suppose. But this is another of the records that's got me listening to music again."
John Lennon: "Woman"
"This is on his last album, 'Double Fantasy'. John Lennon's somebody I never even listened to until a few years ago. Same with The Doors, Dylan - I shut all these people out because punk rock told me to. And the wealth of stuff I was denying myself! Punk had always seemed such a positive energy to me that i never saw the negative side of it...the Cocteau Twins were the beginning of the end for punk? People think that? Oh, no! We're still making records nbow the way we did then, that's the bottom line - in the same uncontrived, honest way, doing what the fuck we feel like."
Drifting (Bella Union)
Imperial (Bella Union)
Mysterious Skin motion picture soundtrack (with Harold Budd)
Continental (Darla Records)
Everlasting EP (Darla Records)
Robin's musical collaborations are extensive, and focus primarily on production and engineering, although he has been featured as guest musician a number of times. The following list are his collaborative efforts to-date, from the earliest to the most recent.
This Mortal Coil, It'll End In Tears: "Song to the Siren" and "The Last Ray" (Instrumentation)
The Wolfgang Press, Scarecrow (Producer)
Dif Juz, Extractions (Producer)
The Wolfgang Press, Water (Co-producer)
A R Kane, Lollita (Producer)
Dif Juz, Lonely Is An Eyesore: "No Motion" (Producer)
Felt, Ignite the Seven Cannons (Producer)
Chapterhouse, Whirlpool (Producer)
Lush, Mad Love (Producer)
Lush, Gala (Producer)
The Veldt, Marigolds [Never Released] (Producer)
Lush, Black Spring (Producer)
Lush, For Love (Producer)
Shellyan Orphan, Burst (Producer)
Lush, Spooky (Producer)
Ian McCulloch, Mysterio (Producer)
Peace Together: "Be Still" (Remix) (Producer)
The Veldt, Afrodisiac (Producer and Instrumentation)
Fuel, Timeless EP (Producer)
Medicine, Sounds of Medicine: "Time Baby 3" (Producer)
Frente!, What's Come Over Me? (Producer)
Spooky, Found Sound: "Hypo-Allergenic" (Instrumentation)
Simon Raymonde, Blame Someone Else: "Muscle and Want" (Instrumentation)
Autour de Lucie, Chansons Sans Issue (Remix) (Producer)
Republica, Speed Ballads (Producer)
Guy Chadwick, Lazy, Soft and Slow (Producer and Instrumentation)
Mandalay, Flowers Bloom (Remix) (Producer and Instrumentation)
Guy Chadwick, This Strength EP
Sneakster, Fifty-fifty EP (Co-producer and Instrumentation)
Yu-Ra, Kumo EP (Producer)