singer/songwriter/guitarist ROBERT GERMAN
Interview by Robert Urban for GAY GUITARISTS WORLDWIDE
He delights audiences with his trademark inventive & ultra-funkay vocal acrobatics - and backs it all up with deftly executed guitar work.
Robert German's music is a blend of Jazz, folk and blues with a pinch of country flavor, quirky production and vocal acrobatics. Born in Oklahoma and raised in the heartland, Robert began to teach himself guitar and began writing songs at the age of nineteen. He moved to New York in 1999. Robert's full-length album Sirens of Brooklyn was released November 14th, 2006 on Pigeonhole Records. With his extraordinary voice Robert creates horns, stringed instruments, drums and other various sounds. The album is comprised of 12 songs, all of them written, produced and performed by Robert.
- What brand/model/year instrument(s) do you record and play out with?
I play a 1976 fender Strat, and I use a cheap little Godin as a backup guitar. That way when I travel I only have to really worry about one guitar.
- What brand/model/year amps & effects (if any) do you use?
I sometimes like to play with A little delay in live performance and recording of guitar tracks. Occasionally I like to go for a more electric sound playing with distortion. For vocals, I tend to not use much reverb and only occasional effects. I prefer them to be clean. I use effects sparingly and it really changes depending on the song.
- Who are your main influences as an instrumentalist? Which artists? Which bands? Instrumentalist? Which artists/bands were your favorites in your youth?
My two main influences in terms of guitar style would be Ani DiFranco and Dar Williams. Both favor finger-style over straight strumming.
- Tell fans about your luv for your particular style of music, as opposed to other styles - how it became your favorite style of rock, etc- I tend to gravitate more towards music that tells a story. This is not specific to a particular genre. I gravitate towards clever lyrics and interesting production. Music that has something to say and sounds different than what everyone else is doing speaks the loudest to me.
- Do you play/compose/record only your own original music? Do you do any other work in music - e.g. teaching, recording session work, hired gun, producing, etc? Does your playing appear on recordings of any other artists?
- I rarely play covers. I taught myself guitar by writing songs and almost only play my original music.
- Is there a particular favorite solo or part you played on a recording, or a certain piece of composed music you wrote, that you feel represents your finest work?
I feel my finest work is yet to come. I am constantly trying to improve my skills as a guitarist.
Any special thoughts on your instrument, and what it's meant to you in your life?
My guitar is like a friend and a therapist. It is always there when I need it and I can tell it all sorts of secrets. It vibrates against my body and It changes the shape of my fingers. We are family.
Can you relate any special feelings or experiences about being a glbt player in the mostly straight music world... especially regarding your formative/learning years on your instrument?
I think that writing music helped me to accept myself for who I am without guilt or fear. I was able to say a lot in song before I was able to live it comfortably with my skin.- For a glbt player - how does the overall music scene differ today
from years ago?
- I think that the the music scene isnít necessarily more accepting of gay artists. I think that there are however many more venues and tools available and geared towards gay artists that werenít around 10 years ago.
- How is the overall music scene in your locale?
I live in New York City. We have one of the most diverse constantly changing and energized music scenes in the world. The city however is oversaturated with musicians. It can create certain unique challenges in terms of not getting lost in the crowd.
- Any advice for young glbt players?
- Donít filter yourself. Donít compromise to please the masses if it harms the integrity of your music. Go with your heart and be true to yourself and do something interesting. If you want to leave a mark in this world, it will be by raising your own voice in a unique way.
- What are your current and future musical projects?
- I am currently touring to support the release of my debut album, Sirens of Brooklyn.
- I shoot my first music video in late March for my song, Open Wide. I get to wear a straight jacket, which is thrilling to me.
- I am in and out of the studio working on my second album. I have a few other projects under my sleeves, but for now Iím going to keep them in the top-secret file.
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