JANUARY 28, 2020
Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Robinson.
Michael, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My motivation has always been to create original music as opposed to copying styles of the past or present. This has entailed distilling elements of American jazz, European classical, and Indian classical music into a personal new or strange brew, the latter phrase evoking how rock and pop are so much a part of me as to be invisible. Central to my vision is composing and creating performances using a combination of software and hardware named the Meruvina, taking advantage of this medium’s unique expressive and technical capabilities.
Together with creating music, I decided to form my own record label, preferring this approach to the compromises inherent in working with existing labels. Today, Azure Miles Records has 143 releases of my music, enough to fill nearly a week of time. Various publications and radio programs have included these recordings with the leading labels and artists in the world. For example, one of my three 2019 releases was featured in a prestigious multi-genre Best 100 Recordings of 2019 together with albums by Billie Eilish, Kronos Quartet, Steve Reich, Stan Getz and Chick Corea among other luminaries from diverse genres. Over the last few years, I’ve begun recording piano improvisations, too, and this is something I enjoy and plan to continue.
In addition to being a composer and performer, I’m also a musicologist who has been a lecturer at leading universities including UCLA and Bard College. My essays about music, numbering well over 200 to date, have been used by Carnegie Hall and MIT publications; classes at NYU, CalArts and UC Berkeley, and are included in the Bob Dylan Archive in Oklahoma.
I’ve also given programs for kids, and especially wonderful was doing so with underprivileged children in Pasadena. These girls and boys were so excited hearing my melodically colorful and rhythmically animated music they began dancing along with vocal exclamations. They were responding joyously to music not normally heard in their lives that touched something deep inside nonetheless.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Can you give our readers some background on your music?
Looking back, at the time Azure Miles Records was formed, Karlheinz Stockhausen was the only other composer I was aware of with a label featuring only his music, and since then myriad others have followed similar models. Many find my music highly original, and I do my best to support this with distinctive production virtues, including superior recording, mastering, liner notes, and packaging. I suppose I’m most proud of having a catalog of 143 albums even though quality is always the issue rather than quantity.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I truly enjoyed this interview experience in a publication that focuses on all walks of life including avant-garde music, apparently! They did an excellent job trimming some of my answers while retaining the essential portions. Thank you to the unknown person who brought me to them. Actually, I've found that sometimes the most appreciative people are those outside of music with a fresher, more open-minded perspective. These tend to be brilliant individuals who simply love music while working in areas other than music itself. - Michael Robinson