A Walk Down the Street…with Robert Nix

Canadian experimental music artist Robert Nix. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Robert Nix is an exciting and unique experimental Rock/Pop artist from Toronto, Canada. He has received lavish praise from the Canadian music press since his career took off in the late 1980’s, and he remains one of Canada’s most highly respected artists. His music, which is virtually impossible to pigeonhole or place within a specific genre, has been described as everything from “other-worldly”, “dream-like”, “spiritual” and “New Wave.” What it issheer brilliance.

Robert Nix seems to find his musical inspiration everywhere. A walk down the street for him brings new discoveries right before his eyes…ready to be turned into music or art. Nix does not see the world so much as he feels it, and seems to effortlessly translate it into music that is infused with bright, minor notes and daring tempo changes found in the best work of other musical visionaries like Syd Barrett and Devo.

One of the more striking aspects of Nix’s music is just how he uses tempo change. In his skilled hands it serves to draw one’s attention to specific points in his songs; pivotal points that otherwise might be lost within the complexity of the overall arrangement or mix. At other times it aids him as he’ll deliberately isolate all sound to one specific instrument he allows to take center stage.  The effect is dramatic and evocative without being obvious.

No less thrilling are his lyrics which are poetic yet direct, without a word wasted. At times they hark back to some of the best work by Syd Barrett, in the way that words are used to create not just ideas, places or things but actual sounds in one’s mind. Only the best lyricists can pull off that neat feat, and Robert Nix is among them.

Of his latest album, ‘Walk Down the Street’, Skope Magazine had this to say:
“The title track spits electro fire to back up Robert’s haunted, crooned, minor notes reminiscent of David Byrne of The Talking Heads. Walking down the street never sounded so interesting and forbidden. At once panicked but wide-eyed, disturbed but fearless, there is something indescribably spiritual about this piece that seems to morph into a dozen different forms as it progresses. Robert asks “Are you just another person walking down the street to seek the truth?”

The Los Angeles Beat took a walk down the street with Robert Nix. Here is what we found:

You seem to have the ability to actually feel or sense musical possibilities in your environment. It reminds me of an interview I did last year with Gary Numan, in which he told me that he can actually hear music in everyday sounds. Most people pay no attention to, much less actually hear music emanating from, everyday sounds.

Shirley, that’s a very interesting thing to hear about Gary Numan, and I think many great writers seem to have some unique, added sense that allows them to compose.

For someone who had never heard your music, how would you describe it to them?

I would say The Beatles and The Doors meets 80’s New Wave (maybe even Gary Numan ha ha) with Rush knocking on the ‘Doors’ to my sound as well.

Robert, what/who inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I’ve never actually thought of music as a ‘career’ because I started at it (formal piano lessons and school band) at such an early age.  It’s just a way of life it seems.

At what age did you tell yourself: “This (music) is what I want to do for a living.”

In my early 20’s, when I started writing and then recording, that’s when the desire and dream to make a living at creating albums kicked in .

Who currently in music do you admire the most and why?

I have to admire Paul McCartney for carrying on. I think, like the rest of The Beatles, much of his solo work is underrated and he’s probably aware of that. But regardless he’ll still be at it till the day he dies. He made his mark big, big bigtime with The Beatles and yet in his mind I think he still thinks he has yet to write the greatest song of his life.

Is there any particular style/genre of music that you appreciate/admire the most?

Yes, The Beatles. Particularly their work 1967 and onward, which is the segment of their career that I most appreciate. ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ was the first album I heard by them at age 5.  It was a most ‘magical’ treat back then, and still sounds just as fresh and ‘magical’ today.

Currently you’ve released three albums, the most recent being ‘Walk Down the Street.’ Of your three albums so far, do you have a favorite?

Shirley, I have to go with my latest: ‘Walk Down The Street.’

In the recording of your latest album, what did you find to be your greatest challenge and why?  What came the easiest?

The greatest challenge was the production, as I really put on the ‘producer’s hat’ when recording ‘Walk Down The Street’: making myself re-record vocals, re-do guitar parts    and questioning myself if this chorus sounded different enough from that chorus when analyzing the songs.

Perhaps the keyboard parts were the easiest for me to come up with and play on the album.  Once I get a part figured out for the keyboard it’s usually nailed within 1-3 takes.

Your video for ‘Walk Down the Street’ looked like great fun making. Where/when was it filmed and who was involved in the creation of it?

The video was filmed August 2011 in downtown Toronto, and shot/directed/edited by Rohit ‘Badmash’ Thakur. I thought he did a superb job on it. The basic concept of the video was mine, and Rohit suggested things as we went along.  It was a great team effort.

One of the most striking aspects of your music is your unique and creative use of tempo changes. Can you tell our readers how/why/when you employ it?

Something like that has to be employed at the right spot to work effectively, and the whole idea behind it is to add something to the song that will make it work just a little bit better.

How would you like future generations to remember you as both an artist and a man?

Someone who composed/recorded the best songs that I could come up with, and as an individual with true integrity of character.







For more info. please visit the Robert Nix Website:
Album available through the uploader,cdbaby,and itunes.

Shirley Pena

About Shirley Pena

A native of Southern California, Shirley Peña began her career as a music journalist almost twenty years ago, writing for her websites "Stars In My Eyes: the Girlhowdy Website" and "La Raza Rock!" and progressed to creating various fan sites on Yahoo, including the first for New Zealand singer/songwriter Tim Finn. From there, she became a free agent, arranging online interviews for Yahoo fan clubs with various music artists (Andy White, John Crawford, Debora Iyall, John Easdale, etc.). She also lent her support in creating and moderating a number of Yahoo fan clubs for various music artists from the 1990s-today. As a music journalist, Shirley Peña has contributed to a number of magazines (both hard copy and online), among them: Goldmine, American Songwriter, Classic Drummer Magazine and UK-based Keyboard Player (where she was a principal journalist). A self-confessed "fanatic" of 1960s "British Invasion" bands, Classic Rock and nostalgic "Old Hollywood ", she also keeps her finger on the pulse of current trends in music, with a keen eye for up and coming artists of special merit. Shirley Peña loves Los Angeles, and is thrilled to join the writing staff of The Los Angeles Beat!
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