By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Dayton, Ohio-based pop-punk singer-songwriter roberts. has released his debut five-track EP ‘fine – ep,’ which is now streaming on Spotify.
The EP focuses on the grief experience associated with a breakup from start to finish, but ultimately ending up “fine,” hence the name. It also marks the return from a musical hiatus that spanned over a decade for him.
On the strengths of the lyric videos for tracks “fine” and “day 2,” the EP had already amassed over 2,500 plays across all streaming platforms within 10 days of its release, while his Instagram page (@roberts.is.ok) continues to gain followers aplenty.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with him about ‘fine’ and more.
Music Bugle – What was it like making your debut EP and what kind of impression did you want to send out?
roberts. – The actual process of writing the EP was pretty cathartic for me. I was going through a few personal challenges in my life – obviously – and it just spilled out in bunches as I was messing around with my guitar. Truth be told, it had been six years or so since I’d last messed with it and I didn’t expect anything to even come of it once I started arranging chords. Then eventually, I was spitting out lyrics that kind of surprised me. I’ve never taken such a vulnerable approach to songwriting in past projects, so this is a huge leap for me. I was also really fortunate with the producer I found as well. Matt Qualls (@letsjumpin) from Young Avenue Sound in Memphis really helped me with experimenting on this project and taking a couple risks. We spent two days going through these songs and really hammering them down to make them as raw-feeling as possible. I think the route we took was smart for a debut due to the raw nature.
Music Bugle – Are you working on any new music at the moment?
roberts. – Absolutely! I am putting out an alternate version of my song “day 2” from the ‘fine – ep’ on July 24th. It’s even more stripped-down and I played with the vocal tone quite a bit. I think the song in general sits on a fence between sad and angry, so I’m really happy I’ll be able to have a version that is on each side of it once it’s all said and done. I also just wrapped up a new project with Matt Qualls that I hope to be putting out in early Fall. We went a lot bigger with this one and focused on making this round so much more produced and full as opposed to the bare bones acoustic EP that ‘fine’ was.
Music Bugle – Which of the songs on your EP was the hardest for you to write?
roberts. – I think “day 2” was the hardest for me to write. I went back and rewrote it actually and that’s why there’s an alternate version available! (Laughs) It just didn’t feel powerful enough to me once I sat down and listened to version 1. It’s honestly a really hard song to listen to for me, so it took a while to even get to that point. I had to write this song to get some weight off of my shoulders. However, I guess you could say it was therapeutic in a sense, but still to this day, I have a pretty tough time knowing I allowed myself to hold onto some of the things I said in there.
Music Bugle – What’s something people should know about you as a person, away from music?
roberts. – Oh, this is a tough one. So, my music is pretty focused around the low points of my life and I try to speak candidly about it. However, I’m such a happy person 90 percent of the time. I love rippin’ drinks with my friends and just hanging out more than anything. I know if your only opinion of me is based off of my music, you’d probably think I’m some mopey sad sack, but I’m a pretty relaxed and calm person, all in all.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
roberts. – I think the biggest thing in regards to music has been just not being able to play shows in support of this release. I recorded this album starting back in November of 2019 with hopes to play shows upon its release, so it’s made me get a little creative and focus a lot more on social media, which has been nice. I’ve been able to connect with so many interesting and kind people that way. Other than that, it’s definitely forced me into a lot of isolation, which has been good for writing music and all, but it’s been unfortunate for my social life. I have a pretty small, but close group of friends in Memphis where I currently live and we haven’t been able to go do what we usually would or spend as much time together. I’m moving to Houston in August, so it’s just kind of a bummer that my last four months in a town that I love are going to be spent pretty much by myself.
Music Bugle – Who are some of your musical influences?
roberts. – Currently, I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from With Confidence, This Wild Life and Sorority Noise. My all-time influences are Blink-182, New Found Glory, Bayside – Bayside’s acoustic was amazing by the way – Fall Out Boy and just all of the bands from that genre. I really miss the generation of bands that were storytellers and could amplify it with their music. I try my best to keep that part of my influence alive within my songs.
Music Bugle – What made you want to become a musician?
roberts. – When I was pretty young, my parents took me to see Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, Less Than Jake and The Disasters. I couldn’t believe how fun the show was and I didn’t understand why I was jumping every time they told me to! (Laughs) So, I guess that imprinted itself on me and eventually, I asked if I could get a guitar. The other two people that had guitars in my hometown must have heard about me getting one, so we all linked up and started playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and all the other beginner songs. Then, I got pretty obsessed with the teamwork of it, so we started a cover band. Eventually, I found out I was able to write songs and since then, there’s just been no turning back for me.
Music Bugle – You’ve got an abundance of tattoos. Which ones do you get asked about the most?
roberts. – Probably the picture frame on my forearm. It remains empty on purpose as an homage to Hellogoodbye’s album ‘Would It Kill You?’ and people always ask me what I’m going to put in there. Everyone has kind of just come up with this assumption that it’s reserved for a future wife or child, etc., but in reality, it’s going to remain empty. I tried to focus on bands I grew up with for all of my arm tattoos.
Music Bugle – According to one of your Instagram posts, you said your fans have streamed the ‘fine’ EP over 5,000 times within its first month of release. How does that make you feel?
roberts. – That was so cool. I had such a small Instagram following when I put it out like… 300 followers or something. Then, a couple of playlists ran into my music and helped me out so so much. Everyone who came across it was reposting the album and helping it gain traction. It was honestly shocking to see this thing I made get such a good response for having zero actual promotion leading up to it.
Music Bugle – What has been your favorite song to cover?
roberts. – Easily “Little Lies” by Fleetwood Mac. I had always wanted to do a full version of a cover, but never wanted to waste the studio time with a band to do it. Going off on my own allowed me to finally do so and the result was so cool. It was such a big song by them that I was able to strip down and mellow out for myself, but still pay respects to one of the all-time greats.