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Published on March 23rd, 2017 | by Craig Silliphant

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Local Music Feedback – Robot Hive

In this week’s Local Music Feedback, we talk to Chris Notenboom from Regina electro band Robot Hive as they release their new single, Electric Heel.

Regina’s Robot Hive has been more deliberate with their releases, putting out singles like 2013’s V.E.R.O.N.I.C.A rather than flooding the market with albums and tracks. That said, the electro outfit just put out a single for the track ‘Electric Heel,’ ahead of their planned full-length release later this year.

‘Electric Heel’ has a wicked groove that feels a bit like the love child of Peter Gabriel and LCD Soundsystem, with heavy synth work wrapped around arse-jiggling drums, all combining with the vocals to create some persistent melodies. Check it out here:

I sat down with Robot Hive’s Chris Notenboom (guitars, keys, vocals) to talk a bit about their music, but as is the gag with this column, to talk more about who he’s been listening to (and what he refuses to listen to).

THE FEEDBACK SOCIETY: How would you describe your sound?

CHRIS NOTENBOOM:  We often flip from electronic to rock, from one section to another, within a song.  Our textures can range from quite heavy to light and melodic. If I had to draw a comparison, I would put us somewhere between Depeche Mode and Muse.

TFS: What is your process for writing?

CN:  For our first album, which is nearing completion, about two thirds of the songs were based on demos that Elton [Roscoe, on hiatus keyboardist] and I each brought to the table; the others we wrote more as a group. Typically someone will present a demo or an idea to the group. Then, Dan [Besuijen, vocals, keys, guitar] will either find inspiration within the demo and come up with vocals, or he won’t, and the idea will wither and die. Once Dan has come up with a working version of his vocals, we typically go through a process of adapting the VST based arrangement to a live band arrangement. During this process we’ll tweak the arrangement and further develop our parts.  The songs aren’t really finished evolving until they are put to tape.

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TFS: What’s the best live show you’ve seen lately?

CN: Getting to see Wintersleep again was pretty great. It was really cool to see how their songs have evolved over the last few years. Prior to that I saw The Contortionist a while ago in Saskatoon; it was also a really good show.

TFS: Who would be a bucket list show for you to see?

CN: I would like to see Mastodon when they come through again, I missed them last time. I would love to see Gorillaz on their next tour. David Bowie would have been incredible. I would also have loved to see E.L.O. in their prime.

TFS: What is the album you can’t stop listening to right now?

CN: I’ve been back on The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, and Singles by Future Islands, and I have also begun to scratch the surface of the new James Blake album, Colour in Anything. I find I have albums that fall somewhere on the spectrum between; I immediately enjoy it but I lose interest quickly and it gets filed away, never to be listened again. Or, the album challenges me at first, it takes me a while a to begin to appreciate it, but then I find a depth within it that compels me for years to come. The Suburbs and Singles are both albums I have gone through cycles of revisiting, each time I feel like I have gained another level of appreciation for them, either on a production level, or on a songwriting level.

suburbs

TFS: What is a song (or band) you can’t stand hearing.  Why?

CN: Mumford and Sons from a few years ago, that one song by Of Monsters and Men —vomitrocious. The Lumineers, and the band Fun. I can’t stand cute or fluffy music. I am tired of the feel good gang vocal genre that has been plaguing us for some years now. I don’t feel like it’s a genuine reflection of the way life is in this age. I kind of feel like it’s musical diarrhea for the masses, from my perspective. That being said I have felt like that about one genre or another, throughout my life, and opinions are like…

TFS: Assholes. Everyone’s got them and some of them are shitty, haha. What is your favorite Saturday night record?

CN: Something on vinyl by Tom Waits (it’s what my girlfriend, Jasmine, and I like to listen to while we’re cooking), Daniel Lanois, a jazz playist, or Ghosts by N.I.N. if I am in a weirder mood. We busted out Chris Whitely, Living With The Law while discussing the alt country, blues, and folk genres a couple weekends ago.

ca.0224.waits2.Tom Waits, 1989, singer, songwriter, poet, actor ññ TOM WAITS takes a new direction as a stage actor, appearing in the play 'DEMON WINE" at the LATC. "It's nice not being the musician for a change." Photo shot Feb. 2, 1989 by Ellen Jaskol/LA Times. Photo credit: LOS ANGELES TIMES

TFS: Your favorite Sunday morning record?

CN: Something by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. It’s great stuff for cleaning and exorcising the anxious thoughts of the upcoming week. In days past I would have probably put on Sugar by Aloha.

TFS: Who is your favorite local band/act?  Why?

CN: I really Like Homo Monstrous; being a guitar player myself, I appreciate Jaye’s unique and articulate playing style and I like their gritty tones and use of loops. I like sharing the stage with them too.
TFS: What are you promoting right now?  Upcoming shows? New stuff on the horizon?  Anything I’ve missed you wanna mention?

CN: Our new single, ‘Electric Heel,’ is out.  I am really excited about it, because I feel like we’ve hit our stride with our production process, and I feel like we’re achieving what we set out to do with our songs from a writing and recording aspect. We have a show on March 24th at Cloud9 with, Brodie Moniker, and Homo Monstrous. We are nearing completion of our first full-length album. It will be out at some point this summer. Look for many more shows over the next year!

TFS: Awesome, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for the summer of Robot Hive!

CN: Thanks so much for your time!

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About the Author

Craig Silliphant

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.



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