The power of music to express the things we don’t want to say.
The owl, Robin Perkins, has sought a common space in music to talk about our happiness and the things that concern us. With the release of his new album strata We know a new facet of his music, musical fusions and duality. In Indie Rocks! We spoke with the musician and here we tell you everything he told us.
The launch of a new studio album is the perfect opportunity to reinvent sounds and find new dimensions in the world of ideas, with two new singles he launched a call to the world to reflect on issues that concern us all, such as climate change. Not only did he stop there, he also seeks to connect with his most vulnerable and personal side, which makes strata a dual album.
I had this personal side in mind, very family-oriented, I had my second child while I was composing the songs for the album. At the same time I was thinking about the climate and the role music plays in it. This dynamic of the good that there is personally, what happens in your life, your loved ones and your family, and around many crises, many things that you cannot believe, like a science fiction movie and how to live with that,” commented the musician.
While we have our minds fixed on the adversity of everyday life, we can enjoy the small notes of joy that life has. Reflecting both parts is something essential in these new songs, especially with themes that are naturally complex: some from the outside and everything we find in ourselves.
There comes a time when you have to compartmentalize your personal things and not see what is happening outside. On the album there are songs that are very personal and other songs that are more about trying to use music as therapy. Thinking about those themes that are heavy and much more difficult, for me it is easier to enter and produce music as the way to enter all those things that happen in your mind or that happen in the world, many negative things, but you have to stay positive and add something to those themes, such as climate action,” added El Búho.
Adding something to the world through music is a risky journey, but necessary. Art, like music, is a cathartic and free space, where communication becomes a unique process. This is how the DJ arrived at songs as intimate as “Timini”told us about his process.
For me they are like (personal) songs that come out alone, there are songs that take time and where you think about a theme well, but the songs that come from the soul or the heart, from very special moments, come out without thinking. For example, there is a song on the album called “Timini”, I composed it when I was returning from the hospital where my son was born and there was a lot of wind in the trees, you could just hear the trees moving. I got home, I started making music and in two hours the song was done. I was inspired by that feeling of so much happiness, tiredness and the memory of the wind and the leaves.”
Events as special as the birth of his son are found in his songs. The music of The owl It moves through different intimate spaces, which connects with its listeners. The artist’s own process is within the creation, which can be simple or difficult, but is always reflected in the music.
Personal things are the strongest, most emotional topics and the topics where people connect much more. They are the topics that you think about or overthink, you come with an idea and it connects us (…) it is my way, there are times when I have to make music, I have something in there and the best way to get it out is to open the computer and enter that world. It’s easy, there are other times when it’s not so easy, music can apply to everything, but, in general, I feel that the best music comes from what you have inside and what happens to you,” he shared. Robin Perkins.
Of course, if we deal with a duality in terms of the themes that make up the album, there is also very clear musical experimentation. The owl He is known for mixing English electro sound with folk influences from around the world. This album is no exception, as we discover new African and South American rhythms, all transformed in the DJ’s way.
I like to explore rhythms and other sounds, and mix. On the album I have been listening to a lot of music called amapiano, is electronic music from Africa, which emerged and has a very special rhythm, it has bass and a very different sound. I thought it would be very interesting to do a amapianobut using traditional sounds from Latin America and the huaino, in particular. I said: ‘What happens if you mix instruments and chords of this style from Peru, Bolivia and the Andes, with amapiano?’”, explained the singer-songwriter.
The sound selection process is complicated, even more so when it comes to representing the clear theme of the album through musical mixes. All as a result of the challenge of continuing to make new music throughout his career.
It comes to you as a musician, after many years, a challenge, new sounds and new places arrive, also on that song (‘Piañuco’) we recorded like 50 or 60 sax lines, something I had never done before. Suddenly there is a sound of saxes as if it were an orchestra, there are many elements. I like this search, returning to rhythms like cumbia, I have done many cumbias on all my albums and it is a rhythm that has always been very dear to me,” he mentioned. The owl.
It is clear that with a new musical facet we can also achieve self-introspection and our place on the planet as human beings. The melody is then a way to evolve from your place as a musician and personally:
On this album I also wanted to make a cumbia, but more about the weather, so the topic also came out on its own. I like to explore new sounds and mix things that people say ‘huh?’. Why not, that’s how music advances too, if you return to the same sound at some point I’m no longer interested in it and so are people. “You have to have sound, but evolve at the same time,” he said. Perkins.
This is how the singles from the album reach us: “Ashes of Water” ft. Nita and “Witchcraft” ft. Lee Saumet, vocalist of Stereo Bomb. Two collaborations that seem to have been chosen perfectly, not only for his musical contribution, but for the new perspective they give to the English musician’s music. About the process to form these featurings tells us.
It was quite natural, in the end, with Li we had played in the same music scene for years, we met in Mexico, at the festival Tecate Pal Norte (…) there were many people who spoke to me about reggaeton, many criticisms, dembowI said ‘well, in the end it’s just a rhythm, I’m going to make a dembow in my style’. When I finished, I thought there were missing vowels and the first person I thought of was Li, she was also thinking of a song that talked about witchcraft, so it fell at a good time, the lyrics were written and it was very natural, when I finished the song I thought of that it was for her,” he recalled.
This same natural process and selection of collaborators whom he trusts and admires was repeated with Nitavocalist of Fuel Fandangoand MinukColombian group:
With Nita, I started that song (‘Cenizas de agua’) with her vocals cut, so it was an instrumental song with her voice, then I said ‘what if I send her to see if she wants to sing on that piece?’ and he also went out alone. The third collaboration is with Minük, on each album I have to have a song with them because they are incredible musicians. “I like to work with people who have their own thing, but who also fit into my world and they always take the song to new territory,” added the DJ.
Referring to these two singles, in both there is a clear message: we are in a climate crisis, which we need to talk about. In “Ashes of Water”, for example, in the middle of the voice of Nita We remember everything we can lose by neglecting the environment. About this message The owl reflect:
It is a topic that is very difficult to address, above all it is a topic that no one talks about. I always feel that music has an art of expressing things that people don’t want to say. I felt that without words it is easier, but with Nita it became a poetry that is very fine, very delicate, and that talks about the subject without being negative or heavy, which is what is required when the topics are complex.”
It is then that music becomes a favorable vehicle to begin to discuss the topic, with ourselves and with others.
I believe that music has the power to express things that people cannot, to carry a message. For me it was, above all, reflecting on ourselves and why we don’t talk about it, how we continue as if everything was normal, as if nothing was happening, until the fire reaches your house. It was a bit of pushing ourselves to think, realize and wonder what can be done, what action to take,” she shared.
The place occupied by the message of The owl in music it is essential, making its creation a participant in its own activism and reflection, a risk that many artists do not take.
There are few musicians who talk about it, when it is possibly the crisis that ends humanity. I feel that music has a place there, it can be art, interesting, challenging, many people are thinking about it, but few are talking about it. “Music opens the discussion more to those topics that are going to come or are already there,” he said. Perkins.
Thus we arrive at the reception that the musician’s messages have had among his fans and new listeners, especially in the language borders that he has had to confront, his first language being English.
It happens to me that the lyrics are in Spanish, I understand the lyrics, but I have to translate it. Someone wrote to me from Peru saying that it touched their soul and it is also very interesting when you listen to it in your own language, you don’t have to think about it, you understand it, everything is there, it is different from how I hear it. “It always fascinates me to know how people who speak Spanish listen to it,” he mentioned.
With a new release we can think about tour dates, however, The owl seeks to reduce his footprint in the climate crisis from his place as an artist, with effects such as the carbon footprint derived from travel, but not before noting that he is saddened by not being able to bring music to all his fans:
I would love to (visit Mexico), but it is a little linked to what the album talks about, I am in a phase of trying to live what I say a little more. He lifestyle of electronic music DJs often means taking many planes, having a ridiculous carbon footprint, and I got to the point of saying ‘I can’t continue with this model while I’m talking about those issues,’” he reflected.
Even so, he reminded us of the good reception he has in Spanish-speaking countries, like Mexico, which is the country in the world that listens to his music the most.
I would love to return to Mexico, I hope it comes for a moment, it is the country of the best shows, it is the country that listens to my music the most, I lived there for two years, it has a very special place for my music. The shows there are incredible, I need that,” commented Perkins.
With an album with a clear purpose, the musical evolution in each track and the reflection that guides the musician, we are left with a great taste in our mouths. Soon you will be able to hear strata completely, meanwhile, here it is “Witchcraft” with Li Saumet.