Solo In Red – A Significant New Music and Video work from Kynan Robinson

Based on the Works of Cormac McCarthy, Commissioned by The Melbourne Writers Festival

Some very exciting news. In August of 2012 acclaimed Melbourne ensemble Collider will be performing a piece entitled Solo In Red, written by myself. The piece will be performed as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival program over 3 nights at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

“Kynan Robinson’s new piece Solo in Red is both astoundingly beautiful and original. Setting out to capture the atmospheres of a Cormac McCarthy novel it does all that and more.” – Vierre Magazine 2011

I prepared a statement for media discussing the work which reads as follows.

“With my new piece, Solo in Red, I feel as thoughI have found the creative and artistic expression/voice i have been searching for my entire career.The piece takes its inspiration from the writings of the hugely important American author Cormac McCarthy.My collision with McCarthy’s writing came at a time when I was formulating my ideas for this piece of music. In McCarthy’s work I found a literary parody for my musical concepts; the themes and atmospheres he creates, that so absorb you as a reader, were very similar to what i was interested in creating. Image

McCarthy’s writing and the atmosphere he creates has a sparseness, detachment and tension and is always touched with a dry wit. He presents both the absolute beauty and absolute ugliness of existence, often within the same sentence. To me his works sits somewhere in the place of the spirit world and if you enter it it will often bring forth both frightening and peaceful truths. In the composition of Solo In Red I am making a very personal statement on life and it’s deep sadness, only matched by its overwhelming beauty.
The many elements of this show, including performing with the incredible ensemble Collider  plus the breath taking multimedia component which includes lighting plus the most beautiful and lush video projections, (produced by Dotahn Caspi, Sean Kelly and Michelle Robinson) will all lend themselves to an experience that is both powerful and transporting for any audience member.
I am very excited to be presenting my new work at the Melbourne Recital Center and as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. The Recital Center has many great memories for me both as a performer and audience member. It is a building of such beautiful dynamics and delightful aesthetics that it is almost the perfect place to hear this work.”To book tickets to the show you can click on the following link Book Tickets

You can also read about the development of the multimedia and actually contribute towards the costs if you feel so philanthropic. You can either pledge support – (there are some great rewards – especially to those interested in attending the Melbourne Writers Festival Paperback and Hardback passes valued at $90 and $325 respectively) OR if you can’t contribute financially – no problems at all – but all we ask is that you spread the word!

Pledge support via our Pozibles site or simple share the link via email, fbook, twiiter or any other means :

It is a costly process to produce these large scale works and your contributions to the Arts are very very appreciated.

If you would like to  purchase a copy of the bands original album click here

The Thinking Behind My Latest David Lynch Inspired Musical Project “The Escalators”

The Australian band, The Escalators is my latest musical project. We launch our debut album “Wrapped in Plastic” and head out on a national tour this week.

The album can be purchased here

The Escalators instrumental lineup is unique, including jazz musicians on drums, bass, piano, trombone, trumpet, and extensive samples, electronics, and turntablism. The Escalators involved extensive set, lighting, and video design more than just a musical project. The music and set design stemmed from my academic research, notably my Masters completed in 2008.  

The key area of research that shaped the band’s music was my study into “sample-based music and its relationship to human memory.” Sampling and sample-based music involve the strategy of triggering memory using existing musical recordings and has been the dominant technique of contemporary music since hip hop emerged as a force in the 1980s. Before the 80s, artists such as Miles Davis, Stouckhousen and Gavin Briars, amongst many others, had played with it. Briar’s most famously in his long from minimalistic neo-classical composition Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, which looped one longish sample of an anonymous London tramp singing part of the old hymn. 

For fans of David Lynch, the second area of interest that shaped The Escalators music and live show is found in the album title, Wrapped In Plastic, referencing the famous three words used in Lynch’s TV series Twin Peaks. The film and TV work of David Lynch, including techniques Lynch uses himself and the resultant atmosphere found in a Lynch movie, have shaped much of this work. Rather than lifting tunes or compositions recognizable from Lynch’s work, I have placed this work in the Lynch Creative Universe. When listening to the album or city in a concert hall watching the band perform, one might feel a familiar but potentially unnamable feeling. It’s the same feeling you feel when watching Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet.

The Samples and Turntablist.

The Escalators’ distinctive identity is a consequence of crossing once-sacred style boundaries. In using samples, a composer can create hybrids that were previously unthinkable. This can produce new, unique and personalized musical identities.

Why the Name The Escalator’s

There are two reasons for the name. Firstly, for me, the name elicits the feeling of a constant returning to the same place; likewise, in my opinion, sample-based music also seems to have this effect. It creates memory confusion and a sense of return. The second and less obvious reason was Escalators starts with the letter E. 

All my jazz/improvisation groups have had names starting with the letter E (En Rusk, Escargone, The Electricians, so now the Escalators). Going agaisnt what would be common when trying to build a musical career I prefer ambiguity and uncertainty over simplicity and predictability. By continually using the letter E their is uncertainty created for those who have followed my career, as well as a slight confusion when talking about one band compared to another. 

The state of minimal uncertainty or subtle confusion is something that has always interested me.

Why The Mix of Jazz and Turntables?

At the early stages of development, the shared improvising, compositional language that the players possess has allowed me to rapidly explore concepts. It has helped me decide what to keep and what to discard. It frees me up from constantly producing physical written work that might or might not be kept, thus saving me time in decision making and allowing for a more flexible, responsive approach to the final pieces. 

The distinguished clarinetist Anthony Pay states, “I am the sort of player who is more disposed to start off from the accuracy point of view rather than starting off from the musical point of view. You can with some modern music start off and say : ‘I’m not going to pay any attention to the notational aspects of it, but initially I am going to decide what the music is about, the gestures – and language – the sort of thing if you are improvising, you have to deal with.’ Now, I tend when I’m approaching a modern score, to start off by trying to get, as accurately as I can, what he’s actually put down on paper.” (Bailey 1992, 67-68) That premise is precisely what I want to avoid.

The ensemble consists of Pat Thiel playing trumpet, Mark Hannaford playing piano, Joe Talia playing drums, Mick Meagher playing electric bass, Lawrence Folvig on electric guitar, DJ Element playing turntables/sampler, and myself on trombone.

How to Earn A Considerable Amount of Money Each and Every New Year’s Eve

The experiences of a musician for hire are the same the world over. A never-ending uncertainty concerning every single gig and added to that a general sense of weirdness surrounding almost every gig. Here’s a tale that gives you a taste.

Once a year, on the 15th of December, I get a phone call. The man on the other end of the line is a fat, very wealthy restaurateur who never has any idea who I am despite the fact he has called me every year on this exact date for the last 5 years.

“Hi is this ahhh how do you say your name? 

Kynan is it?” he says with what might be described as the tone that emanates from a fellow regarded as Jolly. 

“Yes, it is” I reply. “Hello, Alf. Good to speak to you again.”

“Ah, good. Hi Kynan, you don’t know me. Adam Simmons gave me your number. You see, we have a new years bash at my house every year, lots of fun, my wife likes to have a brass band at it, I want Adam Simmons, but it seems he’s swamped. He’s an excellent guy, that Adam. I love listening to him. Anyway, he tells me you might be able to organize something. Is that something you could do? Get my wife a brass band for my New Years’ bash.”

“Of course”

“Good good good, now go get some trumpets, saxophones drums the whole lot play some music, have a drink you’ll love it. Now I want American Patrol – you know that song Da Da Da dumda da. Of course, you know it, the wife loves it, so play that oh and also the Peter Gun tune play that. I don’t care what else you play. Actually, if you just want to play those two and keep playing them, that’s fine with me, especially Peter Gun. What do you play?”


“Oh right, oh, OK, bring one of those along…and some drums saxophones, oh I’m sure you know what you’re doing, just get American Patrol, OK. Right, see you then but 11.”

And the phone goes dead.

This conversation comes around like clockwork every year, word for word, and no matter what I try to do each year, big Alf blocks me from his memory without blocking the routine.

So I make a few phone calls get a baritone sax, a trumpet, and two marching band drummers, and we show up at his mansion at about 11.00 on New Year.

The party atmosphere is unchanging from year to year, with about 15 people sitting around looking fairly unenthused despite the surrounding madness. When we enter the house, pushing past the collection of choristers that are lining the staircase getting ready for their set Alf come s striding up, arm outstretched, huge feathers sticking out of what must be regarded in some quarters as a hat, shirt open revealing the grey haired mat on his leather chest.

“You must be Kynan, he bellows.

“Yes, sir, thats me, the same as last year.”

“Right, heres the routine. After the choir finishes, you guys come on for about an hour set, that be right with you? Great, what do you think of my hat? I got this at the set of Pricilla Queen of the Desert. I’ll put my fireman’s hat on in a while. Help yourself to anything; you want to come out and see my Lamborghini? What do you think of my chandelier? Had it imported from Italy, I hate it. I’ve got some costumes I want you to wear, go get changed in that spare bedroom. The chandelier cost me thousands, hundreds of thousands. The wife wanted it. See you when you’re ready.” 

Despite possessing an impressive overweight voice, Alf still has to speak louder than usual to be heard over the police bagpipe and drum band performing in the kitchen. This would seem like no place for a police outfit unless you were wearing a skirt that these conveniently are.

Same drill as last year, which we follow to the letter.

And come out charging, determined to blow the 15 drowsily drunk guests off their feet. We start with a calypso number that draws an immediate response from Alf at its conclusion.

“Alright, boys, enough of that. Just give us American Patrol followed by Peter Gun and loudly.”

So we do for the next hour, at which stage it is the comedian’s turn.

When it’s all over, Alf stuffs wads of 50 and 100 dollar bills into my hand tells me he loves it. And says. “I don’t think we’ll bother with that Adam Simmons next year. We’ll just get you.”