• Sonny Neil

Contemporary Roots at its Finest: A Chat With Robin Miller

Redhanded Magazine spoke with Robin Miller, discussing his musical inspirations, growing up in the Hebrides and recording an album in one sitting.

Growing up in a remote village in Islay in the Hebrides, Robin Miller's key exposure to music was during monthly cattle auctions where they also sell smaller second hand items such as records exposing him to the likes of Bert Jansch and Nick Drake. However, at this point in time, the folk music revival had yet to fully flourish.

"It wasn’t even a village it was kind of in the middle of nowhere. It was as far away from anywhere as you possibly imagine. When I was growing up in Islay there hadn’t really been a folk music revival at that point, that became fashionable and cooler later. If you heard folk music it would be people like The Corries which was music your granny would listen to but now its quite cool for people to play the fiddle."

Beyond his childhood, Robin spent his teenage years busking in the streets of Glasgow, playing in folk bands and later touring in France and Italy as a session. His musical influences as well as the music he experienced while growing up drives the way he creates music. While folk music in later eras has become more polished and edited, Robin prefers the raw, natural sounds reminiscent of live music.

"The album is entirely stripped down, just me with a guitar, and that felt very important to me to have it like that. When I was growing up, on the rare occasion I would hear live music it would be like a guy in a pub with an accordion playing very roughly but in the 80s and 90s there was a tendency for folk music to be very polished. Enya was a good touchstone for that. Folk music to me is much more earthy."

Catriona's Butterfly Wish, the debut single of 'Beelines' is a demonstration of what the album represents. An uplifting, beautiful and whimsical track that truly showcases Robins talent, drawing from his heritage as well as the various musical influences he has found along the way.

"I always wanted to do something where the music is beautiful and uplifting, that has always been the aim. When you listen to the rest of the album you’ll hear more of my various influences. It’s not overly Hebridean or Celtic but there is definitely a hint of it there"

Beelines, scheduled to release in August this year was recorded last year. Drawing inspiration from his musical heroes who would record their music in a single session, Robin wished to emulate that process when creating his own album

"I recorded my album last year in the way I always wanted to; as quickly as possible in a single session. I was really pleased that I managed to do that. It was quite important as that’s how my heroes did it back in the day in the 60s and 70s."

"Having my music being as good as it can be before going into the session knowing there was a lot riding on it if I didn’t get it right I would have to go back which, during Covid, was difficult. The engineer was very patient though so it all kind of worked out. There was a lot of takes like there was in the 60s rather than editing with pro tools."

The albums name and the tracks within pay direct homage to Robin's heritage. 'Beelines' itself references his father who kept bees on the west coast where swarms of bees flying from point A to point B was a common sight.

"There is one particular track that actually sounds like bees believe it or not so it felt appropriate to call the album Beelines. The music and titles reference where I am from with an influence from the rest of the world as well."

Be sure to check out Robin Miller's debut single Catriona's Butterfly Wish, now available via Foxstar Records