Review and Photos by Dave MacIntyre
Canadian Music Week 2011
I never make it part of my normal routine to start off a Canadian Music Fest evening with bass-heavy electronic music and then move on to folky-acoustic sets. Really good techno is infectious and gets trapped in my head, making the appreciation for a banjo playing musician challenging. So what made Wednesday night different then? Jake Brower did.
To the misfortune of patrons who didn’t arrive early, the artist better know as Robot Bomb Shelter, the San Francisco based electro wizard worked his brand of catchy dance tunes to a steadily filling room. What makes RBS’s music so unique is the fact that he creates it on the spot using a laptop and an Akai APC40. Everything coming from the speakers is improvised, original and highly magnetic in its appeal, as those who did take advantage of the roomy dance floor would testify. It was a fantastic set, but as feared, ruined any hopes I had of listening to other bands that night. I headed home with Robot Bomb Shelter’s 10-track CD Staring at Screens booming through my speakers.
Read the full article.
Looking back at 2011’s electronic concerts and what’s to come for 2012
A chat with electronic mastermind Robot Bomb Shelter
Jake Brower, also known as Robot Bomb Shelter, is changing the dance floor experience with his innovative, fresh and extremely infectious brand of. What sets Robot Bomb Shelter apart is the fact that he creates the music on the spot. The beats are not pre-scripted, and Jake is not a DJ. The music is unique, improvised and always original. Most importantly, the music is amazing!
Robot Bomb Shelter took time from his busy schedule to answer some questions about his music, influences and upcoming plans.
At what age did you get involved with music? When did you realize you were serious about it? Did your parents approve?
I started studying music in the 4th grade by learning the clarinet. I quickly developed an aptitude for being able to pick up an instrument and play it. From there, I learned the oboe and bassoon and other woodwind instruments as well as piano. In the late 70s, I wasn't really into radio music. What was playing on the radio or on my parents' hifi wasn't what I was interested in...groups like Fleetwood Mac or Rod Stewart or Rolling Stones. I just didn't groove on those styles.
In late 1981 - when I was 11 - I was listening to the radio at some underground station and this band came on and it would forever change my life. The band was Front 242 and the song was Body to Body. Never before had I heard such amazing sounds that really slapped everything else in the face. I was hooked. I then went on a mission to find more like that...and I found a lot. The European music scene was bustling with this new electronic sound that really made me happy.
In 1987, I realized that making the music that influenced me was what I wanted to do, so I bought a cheap Casio keyboard and, using the rudimentary tools of the time, tried to recreate what I was hearing. I would spend hours playing "live" while I listened to the music. I didn't know how to record at that point.
I ended up being in a couple of bands in high school and throughout college and they really taught me about song construction and how to collaborate. It even taught me about what makes people dance and what doesn't. That's why I tended to go more towards industrial dance...Techno was in its infancy.
My parents did approve, but never imagined that I would really do anything with it. My dad was a classical 12-string guitarist and he loved it when I played for him. They had a harder time approving when I was being loud in the basement. My parents are so proud now and they couldn't be happier knowing that I am doing what I love.
Are you a self-taught musician / singer or formally trained? What instruments can you play? Are you planning to learn others?
I am classically trained as far as wind instruments and piano, but what I do now is self taught, with a ton of influence from my past. I study a ton.
How would you describe your music and your approach to songwriting?
I also believe in the live performance. What I do on stage is mostly improvisation; that's why no two shows are the same. I really want to help people understand that electronic dance music can be played live and is a skill that has taken years - decades - to develop. Many people believe that I am DJing, simply because they see a solo artist behind machines and computers. My mission is to change people's minds, one show at a time. I like to play near or on the floor so people can actually see what I am doing.
Are your songs written based on personal life experiences or from external influences? If both, which is the dominant source?
Is making music your full-time job or do you have a day job?
If you didn't discover music as a career, what do you think you'd be doing professionally?
Do you remember the first vinyl/CD etc you ever purchased? Who was it and do you still listen to them?
Who are your biggest influences?
If you could tour with any currently active band / artist, who would it be?
What are your plans for the future?
Jake was recently signed to Blue Pie Records in Australia and has the following appearances scheduled. Do not miss your chance to see him work his magic!
(c) 2012,Robot Bomb Shelter