By Myki Angeline
Powerhouse guitarist Janet Robin is once again in the spotlight to announce not one, but two new CD releases in 2016. Robin, who is best known for touring with The Lindsey Buckingham Band, Meredith Brooks, and being the first female to have performed with Air Supply, took time out of her busy schedule to talk with the WiMN about her latest projects, what it was like to record in the famous Cash Cabin, and her experiences with being a woman in the music industry.
Her solo album Take Me As I Am represents a milestone for Robin who turns 50 this year. The album was produced by John Carter Cash and Chuck Turner and recorded at the legendary Cash Cabin Studios in Nashville, TN. It is an eclectic mix rock/blues and Americana, with major emphasis on her incredible guitar skills that earned her the title as one of the “Top 10 Female Guitarists” by Guitar World. This was Robin’s 2nd time working with Cash and Turner, and truly appreciates their incredible talents and hard work ethic to bring the best out of an artist. She describes working in the Cash Cabin as simply magical, “Johnny and June did a lot of writing and recording there. It was originally Johnny’s hunting cabin before it became a recording studio. It’s decorated with personal memorabilia including that awesome piano that everyone has seen in the ‘Hurt’ video. I feel like home there. It’s out in the woods where you are not distracted by anything and can focus solely on your work. I just love the whole organic family feeling of it.” says, Robin. That organic, grassroots feel is definitely present in every song on this album.
Her group project The String Revolution was a long time coming that was inspired by her time working with legendary musician Lindsey Buckingham. Robin credits Buckingham with teaching her how to be an immense pro in the music industry when it came to songwriting, producing, and performing. She recalls his 10 piece band with five guitar players which had completely astounded her and thought, “what could be better than having a band of guitars?” Robin’s dream was to form a band of guitarists she had never worked with before to collaborate on new, experimental sounds using pedals and percussive techniques with little to no vocals. She found her eclectic group by placing an ad on Craigslist: “It was really amazing and didn’t take very long. I was quite specific in the ad, and it drew certain people in. What’s cool is that we are multi-cultural; one is Latino, one is from Austria, and one is from Switzerland.” she says. Their album Stringborn was mixed and mastered in London by Matt Hyde and contains 7 tracks, including a unique rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.
Not only has Robin worked with many famous and iconic musicians throughout her career, she has also written songs for television shows and movie scores which is an experience all its own. It will vary with each project, sometimes requiring her to watch an entire film in order to write her songs. For a television soap opera, the network would send her a sample song to guide Robin in writing original tunes that would best fit that show or episode. In 2015, she was hired to coach actress Jennifer Jason Leigh on playing guitar in the Quentin Tarantino movie, “The Hateful Eight.” She worked closely with the actress for two months on location in Telluride, CO, teaching her the art of finger-picking.
I asked Robin to describe her experiences with being a woman working in such a male-dominated industry, especially since she has been creating music for over 35 years. Robin, who started playing acoustic guitar at age six, changed to electric guitar by age nine with legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads as her instructor. Fortunately, he wasn’t concerned with her gender, focusing on her skill and passion for playing instead. This changed the game for Robin who would continue to work with other iconic male artists, pushing her to perform at her fullest capabilities. By age 17, she played in the all girl rock band, Precious Metal and the members found themselves having to perform 200% better than male musicians in order to get noticed by producers. It paid off with the band being signed twice by major labels. There were very few female rock artists in the 1980’s. One band who took notice was Heart, lead by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson who were big supporters of Precious Metal. The Wilson’s worked with the band, lending their writing skills on a song for their final album, and Nancy Wilson flew out to perform on it. Years later, when Robin pursued a solo career, she was given the opportunity to open for Heart.
Despite her intense national and international touring schedule (150 dates a year), Robin finds time to conduct workshops, produce other artists in her studio, and teaches guitar to a select group of students. While she doesn’t consider herself a household name, she feels that is not what is most important, “One’s legacy isn’t necessarily from name recognition or how many records you have sold. I think it’s from how many people have you touched, and how you have helped people. That is what people will remember you by.” she says.
To learn more about Janet Robin and purchase her music, visit her website HERE.
Janet Robin’s “Take me as I am” -New CD promo!