Interview: Robert Vincent at The Cambridge Folk Festival

With a soulful, smooth, southern touch that is deep and knowing, Robert Vincent simply captivates.  He is at once laid back in his delivery yet eager and urgent at times.  In his return to the Cambridge Folk Festival this year, seeing him progress in favour and adoration, it conveys the growing understanding of the talented, able song-writer and musician that he is.  It is an easy task to fall for him bit by bit every time he performs, it’s as natural as breathing.  Because, listening to his undeniably strong song-writing joined with his silken vocals resonates and illuminates within something that is innately worthy and of a standard that is all too often never achieved.

 

How did you find a home in Americana?

My father was a big fan of anything that was blues or country or rootsy-based, and he just introduced me to a lot of that.  I think that’s where the sound comes from basically.  My music has got its roots in the Americana sounds but then with a bit of a British influence of stuff as well introduced to me by my brothers like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. It’s just all that mixture, all that melting pot.  But, it was definitely by my dad with artists like Charlie Rich and Waylon Jennings, all of the great stuff, you know?

When I had my little boy about 5 or 6 years ago, my dad did the sweetest thing really, he gave me this song to me by Charlie Rich called, ‘He Follows In My Shadow’ I think its called. Its about Charlie Rich’s experience about being on tour and having a little boy.  And, it’s about his little boy was wanting to be with him all the time but Charlie having to go off on tour and it just slayed me just listening to this song.  The older artists could write songs that could just stop you in your tracks.  I have really tried to follow in that mindset.

What is it about Country and Americana that has caused such an increase in adoration here in the UK in recent years do you think?

I don’t know whether it’s just a need for something that is a little bit more real and realistic writing, that’s probably it.  Whereas, we kinda went through a period in the 80’s and 90’s that was all a bit, you know… And, I was never really listening to it, I was listening to the other stuff then when I was growing up.  The music then didn’t resonate with me, I didn’t connect to it in the same way as everyone else.  It was more style over substance.  I think that’s why people kinda turn to this music more and more now, its just seems more real.   People want real music and performers, people are looking for something now.  It reflects exactly what is going on in the world right now.

Tell me how you come about finding inspiration for your new material? What is your process?

You have to write songs that are just truthful, and true to you. I kinda go from writing personal songs to writing like some of the songs that are coming on the next album more songs that reflect what is happening in the world now.  It’s sort of unavoidable.  The macro rather than the micro.   I am just driven to do that. I didn’t intentionally set out to do that it’s just kinda what comes out of you, you know?   I think you just become more aware, even I have seen my awareness change in the last 5 or 6 years.  And, as I say, its gone from a more personal to what is going on in the world right now.  I think you can’t help, if you are kinda a true songwriter, it just gets in there.

 

Is that what comprises mostly what you’ve written recently, the larger view of things?

It does really.  The next album, I don’t know what I am going to do with it really.  Whether I should take it to the next level and draw more people in  or whether to go more personal.  I don’t know.  It’s a funny balance trying to know what is too much and what is enough.  For people listening to my music up until now over the last few years, they kinda expect a certain thing.  You don’t want to bombard them with something that is too heavy.  But, at the same time, I still want to have my say. I think I put something other week on social media and you get those type of comments from people that musicians shouldn’t open their mouths about what is going on in the world.  And, I just think it’s important.

I obviously am a big Pink Floyd fan, anyone who knows my music would know that, and people like Roger Waters are a huge influence on my song writing.  And, strangely enough, people ask, ‘Where is the connection with that?’ But, in fact, Roger was listening to people like John Prine in the 70’s as well.  And, he was channelling that too, a lot of feeling that he had about what was going on here compared to what John Prine and Bob Dylan were saying then about what was happening in America, he felt that was kind of his thing to say over here.  I went to see Roger Waters recently and that guy has not given up with saying what he feels he should say and using that huge platform that he has to try and get a message of peace across to people.  People need to wake up and see that and what’s around them.  It’s as important as ever if not more important.



How was it playing the Americana Awards Showcase festival in Nashville a few years ago, the home of country music?  What was that like for you?

Yeah, the Nashville thing, I am actually going back in September, its been really good to me, that relationship I have had with it.  I first went there around four years ago I think, and as soon as I got there and was just meeting people and being introduced to people.  And, then the Americana Association over here in the U.K., well, it was actually through Bob Harris, he saw me play a song for a panel of people, and Bob has just been a huge champion ever since which is amazing, and the whole Under The Apple Tree family.  They have been great for me.  The Americana group over here is just growing and growing.

What does the rest of the year look like for you?

Well, the new album, were gonna go in and start on that in November or December and we are hoping it to be out before or around the summer next year.  We just want to keep the momentum going.  And, get around all of the festivals again next year as well.  It’d be great to come back here again (to the Cambridge Folk Festival).  I love the way it’s all sort of close together, it’s a lovely atmosphere.

I have a few more festivals in Liverpool and then we are going to one in September in Scotland.  Then, we are doing a national tour in November, me and the band will be on the road.  We have a London show at Lexington, as well as dates in Birmingham and other big cities.  We are really looking forward to that.

 

Check out Robert here!

 

Words by:  Dana Miller

 

Photos by ©PremiumPhotographic

Written by Dana Miller, Head of Music News for GSGM

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