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Introducing: Robin Joel Sangster

posted September 22, 2014, 10:11 am by henshaw | Filed Under Bio, Editorial, General Interest, Introducing, On The Verge | comment Leave a Comment


In addition to our ever-popular UNSW contests every month, Music Emissions is constantly striving to introduce you to the most underrated indie artists in the globe. With that said, we introduce you to Robin Joel Sangster.

Robin Joel Sangster

No one ever said being indie is easy, much less for London-based musicians going against the tide. Thirty-three year old singer songwriter Robin Joel Sangster knows this all too well.rjsvert

“Don’t confuse making music and being famous, there are too many famous people,” says Sangster. “Most real musicians have to keep making music (whether it sells or not) or they would probably keel over and die. Most of the famous people out there should just concentrate on the latter.”

Although he has had no formal training, growing up under parental influences such as Van Morrison, James Taylor and Loudon Wainwright III sort of speaks for itself. These days, RJS, has found inspiration in artists like The Decemberists, Otis Redding and Brandy Clark, helping mold his own original score and sound, subsequently resulting in his 2013 LP, “Upstream.”

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Songs like Welcome Back, The Water and Under the Skin are traditionally structured but have a very unique identity lathered in high-energy bluegrass and folk. Sangster, who still carries a torch for 90’s alt-rockers, Marcy Playground, has a voice so ascending but echoed with an intense focus on subtlety between the lines of instrumentation and vocals.

“At 14, when my friends were listening to the latest generic pop music of the time, I was getting down to Buddy Holly.”

While on the surface it’s easy to group Sangster in with millennial pop acts like Mumford & Sons, most of his originals consist of a neo-60’s vibe, likely leaving a comparison to anything but Robin Joel Sangster a waste of breath. Robin Snagster

Although the term, one man band, could be thrown around when referring to Sangster, his eye for talent on “Upstream” is evident. An upbeat, atmospheric blend of folk and classic style rock comes across genuine and true with the use of specifically selected musician friends. The use of cajon pedals, violins, slide guitars, banjo’s and harmonica speak volumes of Sangster’s integrity to keep his musings diverse but clear.

More impressively and quite rare for most indie artists nowadays, a few of Sangster’s songs provide a ‘boozy, bar style’ much more likely to be ingrained live than in any studio. In a century drowning from at-home producers and tom, dick and harry labels, sometimes it can be frustrating driving that point home to an industry of consumers who want instant gratification. Ultimately, this is where recordings such as “Upstream.” are born.

So where is the title derived from?

“The word “Upstream” is mentioned in one of the songs, and it symbolizes the struggle of making an album. I asked, Tim Downy, who created the artwork for the album to come up with something that was acoustic and dark but not metal dark. I love what he created, and it goes perfectly with the album. The not knowing of what dangers there are [ahead], if you choose to walk the unknown path.”

Whether or not he becomes a household name remains to be seen, but regardless of his fate, one thing is clear. Sangster will continue heading upstream, making jovial music for world, whether we hear it or not.

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