The best Christmas gifts are the ones that can result in the production of more gifts. Like a cheese or beer-making kit. The kind of gift that will aid the recipient in further assisting and perfecting an already existing talent, yielding an inspirational and entertaining product friends, family members and future fans will forever enjoy.
For local singer-songwriter Jade Robbins, that gift was not something that will add to her personal girth, but it will add to her personal record collection. It was audio recording software, and it’s what the Animas High School senior and one-time winner of the “Durango Voice” talent competition used to record her latest record, “The Call,” a 13-song collection of soft, electro-folk that lives somewhere between the sounds of Mazzy Star and Nora O’Connor.
COVID-19 has given a lot of people a lot of spare time. It’s had a New Year’s resolution effect, where people realized they will have some unexpected and forced downtime, resulting in claims to do something with said downtime. Yet unlike a New Year’s resolution, Robbins followed through on her pursuit and wasted no time in teaching herself home recording and making a record, taking the songs that have been in her back pocket and turning them into a shareable product; it was all very DIY.
“I’ve been writing the songs for ‘The Call’ for a year and a half, and I started learning how to produce on Logic Pro a few months ago, and because of the coronavirus, I got a lot of extra time to sit down and just get to it, so the majority of the recording and producing happened in the last two months,” Robbins said in a recent interview. “I recorded in two houses, my dad’s and my mom’s. I got the recording software for Christmas, and it was a really great Christmas present. I didn’t know that I would have the time to really learn it in high school, so I’m really glad that I got to.”
Robbins is a “bedroom-pop” artist. Bedroom pop not being a genre, but an approach. Much like the DIY ethic that has spread through the industry since punk bands first started making music on their own terms decades ago, it’s a way for an artist like Robbins to release a record on her own schedule, and on her own dime. It works for “The Call,” which is a minimalist recording of down-beat and lo-fi folk.
“I wanted to take all of these songs that were super slow and acoustic and amp them up a little bit with a lot of synths and stuff,” she said. “I thought it was cool to mix the acoustic and really raw guitar and vocals with more electronic instrumentation.”
“The Call” drops today, which coincidentally is also Robbins’ last day of high school. While she’s stoked on being in the bedroom pop and DIY world, she knows that not everyone pursuing a music career where DIY is the mindset ends up being successful – she’s aiming to be somewhere between the DIY world that could also have some label backing
“It’s really cool to see that people are able to be their own record label, create all the music from home and be able to have full creative control, but on the other end of the scenario, it’s awesome to be able to delegate different things and not do it all yourself,” Robbins said. “Both are really appealing to me; I’m kind of just seeing where it goes.”
If all goes as planned, Robbins will be off to New Orleans in the fall to study at Loyola.
While she’ll still make music, she will also turn to the business side of the music world, looking into music management as well as production.
“I feel like the community is similar to that of Durango, and I felt like that is where I’d be most comfortable making music and doing my thing,” she said.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at email@example.com.