Bedroom artists. There's thousands of them out there who all post various sounds on the internet. Will the right person discover me? Is it an idler's dream or just a good place to start out? In reality, there's only a few who are great and even fewer who are really something special.
But despite this 'bedroom' tag, music made in such an environment really does have the potential to be something very special. That's what we've found. Robin Skinner AKA Cavetown; the Internet's best young songwriter.
2016 marks a big year for the young Robin Skinner, known in the world of Bandcamp as Cavetown. He's about to complete his A Levels, harbours ambitions to apprentice in the art of the recording studio, and oh, he's just written a full length album called 16/04/16 which in many ways documents his head after the death of his first best friend Jack, who passed away with cancer in April.
It's a big subject for the biggest of people, which is why the emergence of 16/04/16 on the internet stands out so much. This isn't just a bedroom record which documents Skinner's feelings. It's a crafted record which is cool, calculated, and portrays recording and composition techniques which even the best bedrooms in the history of music haven't levelled up to.
The themes are there for everybody to hear, and indeed the remarks left on the Bandcamp page couldn't ring truer. "So much thought was put into this and it turned out so beautiful"..."intricate, soothing and simply enjoyable to listen to". We need to look no further than the title track of the record 16/04/16 (Jack's Song) to back this up.
"I wanted the whole record to have a nostalgic feel to it, and while most of the tracks don't directly address Jack, I feel that the sounds and progressions I used create the same nostalgic feeling that I get when I think back to the fun we had..."
16/04/16 (Jack's Song) stands out on the record because it is a wonderfully crafted song. The changes in pace, dynamics, staccato outbursts and soothing vocal delivery all add up to create a perfectly balanced yet contrasting theme. On top of that, there's the little moments in the song that really make us believe that Skinner will go far in pursuing his career in music.
First of all, the meter in which Skinner delivers his lyrics are addictive. The perfect intonation for the perfect accompanying harmony. Then there's the manner in which each instrument or voice takes it's own leading role throughout the song. This (almost leitmotif) passes from section to section effortlessly, and is reminiscent of a trained classical nature; recreating that in the bedroom studio environment is nothing short of impressive. Finally, the lyrical aspect of Skinner's songwriting must be highlighted. It's sweet, insightful, and genuine. That feeling cannot be faked on a record, bedroom or otherwise.
Though 16/04/16 (Jack's Song) is certainly our stand out track, Skinner supports it with a full length record of extraordinary diversity. Many other tracks including BG Noise, Snake & The Prairie Dogs, and Sliiping Lately all deserve their own write up. It shows the incredible talent of a young songwriter and what's more proves that there are bedroom artists out there who are creating some very special works of art. And so we will return to the opening paragraph once again which will now make a little more sense...
*Despite this 'bedroom' tag, music made in such an environment really does have the potential to be something very special. That's what we've found. Robin Skinner AKA Cavetown; the Internet's best young songwriter*
Continue below for our full length interview with Robin Skinner, and download the album here where 60% of all proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research UK.
3rd: Robin Skinner AKA Cavetown. You're 17 years old, we saw a video on Youtube pronouncing you'd only had two gigs. Then you release such an in depth record with 16/04/16...
Robin: I'm currently studying for my A Levels in Cambridge, England. I consider myself outwardly quiet and introverted, but very loud on the inside. I feel that I have a lot to say about myself, my experiences, and the things in life that I really care about, and I have used music to help me get these words out of my head and into something physical. I also have a bad habit of staying up very late at night watching cooking videos!
We listen to 16/04/16 and can't help but be drawn to the title track. Your song to a good friend you lost...
Jack was my first best friend. He was my next door neighbour up until the age of 8, and us and his brother and sister used to play pretty much every day. We even build a bridge out of tree stumps which we used to climb over the fence between our gardens. I am still in touch with his younger siblings, and I love them dearly, but since Jack was the same age as me we naturally had a special friendship. 16/04/16 (Jack's Song) is obviously the main track in which I sing about him and some of the special memories I have of the times we spent together.
"In his last Facebook post to his friends before he passed, he said he hoped everyone would 'have good ones'"
Tell us about Jack? Where can we find him in the track and indeed the entire record?
In his last Facebook post to his friends before he passed, he said he hoped everyone would "have good ones". He just wanted his friends to be happy, which is why one of the lyrics in his song says "I'll have a good one 'til then, just like you told me". I also sing to him in the final section of Psychometry: "Are you near me? Can you see me? Can you hear me"? I wanted the whole record to have a nostalgic feel to it, and while most of the tracks don't directly address Jack, I feel that the sounds and progressions I used create the same nostalgic feeling that I get when I think back to the fun we had in our back gardens. So in a way, the whole album radiates 'Jack' for me.
We love how 16/04/16 progresses, such as the lovely flowing meters and punctual guitar strikes. How do you compose and how do you develop?
They all grow and develop in their own unique ways. Every composition tends to start with a strong feeling, and in the same way that many of the most beautiful songs are created, mine are often inspired by intense sadness or anxiety. This doesn't necessarily mean I know the exact topic that my lyrics will cover, I just take the strong emotion and play chord progressions until something clicks into place and I think "Yes! This sounds exactly how I feel"...it's like I'm in a trance when I'm working on a track, and I won't stop until I'm finished.
"Some days I feel like creating something gentle and calming, and others I feel like dropping a dirty bass line and screaming into my microphone"
BG Noise, Calpol, Sliiping Lately are other stand-out tracks on the record. Given the album's main subject, do you find it strange you've portrayed your feelings in so many different sounds throughout the record?
Yes, I think it is strange to have an album with such an inconsistent sound. I'm still exploring new ideas and trying to find my genre. People often ask me what sort of music I make and I always have to give the embarrassing response of "I don't know"! Some days I feel like creating something gentle and calming, and others I feel like dropping a dirty bass line and screaming into my microphone!
A word on the album artwork. It's a great idea, how did it come about?
I'm really very proud of it. I combined a picture taken of me as a baby digging in the garden with a photo of a house taken by my friend, talented artist, and photographer, Christian Novelli. I was inspired by Christian's collage style with a lot of his art, so I wanted to recreate this by merging our two pictures in this way. I feel that the green colour scheme creates the nostalgic feel I was going for because it reminds me of mine and Jack's gardens. I'm very happy with how it turned out, and the photo of me was taken around the beginning of my friendship with Jack, which I think fits nicely.