During Moogfest last month I was introduced to a lot of very cool new music (new to me anyway). One act that I was asked to checked out several times was RBTS WIN. The Asheville, NC duo is influenced by R&B and Hip-Hop but their sound blurs the lines between many genres. Still it all remains fresh somehow.
So, it just so happens that I was able to get this interview done just as RBTS Win drops their Palm Sunday (Deluxe Edition) album. It only seems right to stream the album and allow you to breath in this dope interview with one of my new favs.
RBTS WIN is Javier Bolea and Cliff B. Worsham – a sample-based/psych-pop production duo heavily influenced by the sounds of soul and R&B. Hailing from Asheville North Carolina, the band utilizes a feast of analog synthesizers, drum machines, guitars and vocals to create a world of swirling electronics and undeniable hooks. Their debut album Palm Sunday Deluxe Edition is out this week, and is streaming in full at PopMatters and can be heard via Soundcloud here. The album is available on vinyl, cd, and digitally here.
As much as Palm Sunday eschews formula or convention, there are themes (love, spirit, connection, nature) throughout, along with musical references to the natural world — as filtered through electronic instruments. The album is the band’s most fully-realized effort to date, a culmination of years of experimentation, personal growth, deepening friendship and an unrelenting exploration of melody, beats and words. Stand out cuts include the summery head-nodder “Beach Child” as well as the two newest tracks on the album “Live from the End of the World” and “Forgotten Coast,” both of which were recorded after the initial batch of tracks and are included in the forthcoming album (and hence the title, Palm Sunday Deluxe Edition). Charlotte rapperSchyler Chaise, who appeared with the live in at their memorable Moogfest performance, guests on “Live from the End of the World” as well.
The album was recorded in Asheville, NC at Tidal Prism Studio and the converted cathedral, Echo Mountain. The cover was designed by long-time RBTS collaborator Kent Hernandez. The band has recently finished up a new video for the album cut “Death Magic,” which will see the light of day early this summer.
Tell us a bit about who RBTS Win is?
RBTS WIN is Javier Bolea (production/keys) and Cliff B Worsham (production/vox). The duo handles majority of the song writing and production. Also on the team is Kent Hernandez who does all of the graphic design and additional production for the records and guitarist Josh Chassner.
What’s the name mean? how’d it come about?
We started as just Robots and our first ep in ’08 was called ‘Win’. As we evolved as a group we decided to merge the words to create a more unique name (also a Flaming Lips lyric). The name represents us as musicians leaving behind the traditional 4-5 person string instrument line-up and allowing the machines to “take over”. In the end, the robots really did win for us.
So I mentioned to a few folks at random during Moogfest that I planned to stop by to see RBTS Win perform. Every single person had nothing but positive things to say about the group. What do you attribute that good reputation to?
That is awesome!! I’d say we make a concerted effort to have something new to offer our crowd every time we play. Whether it’s a new song or a different synth/instrument to add to the set, we try to keep it fresh. Also I would say we are very aware of trying to truly make it a live electronic show. We won’t sound the same as the records. It’s a human show using these electronic instruments like samplers/synth/effects boxes in addition to the live vox and guitar. We are so blessed to have people connect with these songs and our live energy.. These are just bedroom tunes, ya know?
What’s your creative workflow or process like?
Most of our songs begin on MPC’s either the 2500, 4000 or 2000XL. We chop vinyl samples and add to the songs using mostly vintage keyboards like old Yamaha/Roland Juno/Moog/Casio stuff like that. Most of the drums are chopped from vinyl but we also use drum machine sounds. Once we have the blueprint for a tune we record out into Ableton Live and handle additional recording, editing and mixing from there. We have always used Pro Tools but recently made the move to Live for better midi options and more plugins.
Are you all traditionally trained musicians? If so what’s your instrument?
We started on keyboard, guitar and bass. Mostly self taught and playing in traditional style bands. We both started experimenting with old four tracks and tape machines at an early age layering drum machines and vocals etc. Later rediscovering the idea of a drum machine/sampler and synths.
Who do you listen to? Who inspires you?
A lot of hip hop. J-Dilla is a huge influence. Just caught Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer and Dan Deacon at Moogfest and we were both extremely inspired. We are huge on old Italian horror movie soundtracks, soul and Rnb. Phil Collins, Prince, Tears For Fears. Newer stuff – Lykke Li, Little Dragon, Why?, Mount Kimbie, Frank Ocean, King Krule.
What draws you towards the sort of music that you do?
It’s just feel. We want to feel alive, afraid, ecstasy. We all want to be inspired. What the fuck else are we here for, ya know!?
What’s you studio rig looking like these days?
MPC2500/4000, Minimoog Voyager, Minitaur, Korg Poly800, Juno-6, old Yamahas, Casio Sk-1, MPK25, We have a Rhodes and an old Wurlitzer Organ. Field recordings and a stack of dug up vinyl! DAW is Ableton Live
How’s that contrast with the live rig?
Live rig: 2 Roland SP404SX, Kaoss Pad, Alesis Sample Pad, Minimoog Voyager, Boss Delay, Fender Strat, Axe FX guitar processor by Fractal, Voice Box by Electro Harmonix
Favorite piece of gear?
Gotta say Akai MPC. Not gonna pick a model though.. haha
Any artist out there that you dream of working with?
Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon. Flying Lotus, Andre3000
What advise could you give to aspiring performers beatmakers?
Do it everyday. It’s not about the gear you have it’s what you do with it.
After we drop our new album Palm Sunday (Deluxe Edition) May 20th we have a collab ep with Charlotte, NC rapper Schyler Chaise of the FC Crew coming up later this year. Dropping a remix ep of Palm Sunday tunes. Javier is working on his solo record under the name Boy In Sleep. This week we start recording the next RBTS WIN record… probably looking at a 2015 release.
How can folks keep up with you?