Friday, August 11

Center Stage - Dropkick The Robot

Congratulations to our latest Center Stage band, Dropkick The Robot

Dropkick The Robot count such diverse artists as Radiohead, Beck, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and modern jazz genius Brad Mehldau as influences. The vibrant creativity represented here bespeaks the duo’s own panoramic artistry. Both are formally trained musicians having earned degrees from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. This aspect of their artistry is distinct from many because they live in a house that was designed and built around a studio they run, Jettison Studios situated on 3 acres in rural Illinois, 45 minutes outside of St Louis.  Dropkick The Robot record, mix, and master all its own tracks and Daniel and Kara view the studio as an artistic extension of songwriting. Daniel currently teaches Digital Recording Techniques at Southwestern Illinois College. In 2014, Mehrmann was selected for the prestigious Mix with the Masters in Avignon, France where he earned the once in a lifetime opportunity to apprentice under Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Norah Jones, Josh Ritter). 
Kara is a jazz-trained pianist who has the distinction of being chosen to be part of the IAJE/BET Jazz- Sisters in Jazz Collegiate All-Stars where she performed at jazz festivals in Italy, France, Holland, Canada as well as the Kennedy Center on the Millennium Stage. Currently, she teaches jazz piano at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.
Aside from their impressive pedigrees, Daniel and Kara have a flair for clever and heartfelt lyrics, and a knack for contrasting classic pop songcraft with lush and fizzy electronic textural touches. Previous to Dropkick The Robot, Daniel won an honorable mention in the Pop category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for his song, “Comfortable.” In 2013, with Kara, as Dropkick The Robot, the pair won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize in the Electronic Category for the song, “Missed Out.” Dropkick The Robot also earned a semi-finalist award in the International Songwriting Competition for the song, “As Seen On TV.” Currently, the twosome is a semi-finalist for their song “Fall” off of Dropkick The Robot’s EP release, Gadgets.
Daniel and Kara first met in college. Dropkick The Robot emerged from the fertile scene surrounding Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Initially, the band was more of a conventional indie rock ensemble with Kara on keyboards and Daniel handling a lion’s share of the songwriting responsibilities. By 2013, Dropkick The Robot found themselves a duo. Pooling their prodigious talents as musicians, Daniel and Kara rediscovered the band. Buoyed by the sonic and compositional possibilities of electronic music, studio technology and their creative chemistry, they restarted Dropkick The Robot. 
Get to know the talented duo, what inspires them, and what they have planned for their future
What was the inspiration behind writing and recording your song Running The World?
Our inspiration around “Running the World” was unique in the fact that we aren’t usually politically motivated songwriters but we made an exception with this song.  The current climate that we live in feels so divided, and it’s us, collectively, that decide what direction the country goes.       

Describe your sound in one ramble-on sentence
We tend to be drawn to melody driven, indie electro-pop with a splash of rock guitar but we let the vibe of each song direct the arrangement and instrumentation we end up using.
What's your earliest music-related memory growing up?
Our earliest memories are hearing both of our families play and sing around the house, everything from guitar to organ to piano.   
If you were to cover another band/artist's album, which would you pick and why?
Good question, because we are actually in the middle of covering Radiohead’s - OK Computer - it is one of Dan’s favorite records and it turns 20 years old this year so we decided to cover the entire album.  Everything from the writing, to the performances, to the sounds captured on that album have been and still are inspiring to us as artists.     
Do you write/compose your own songs? Briefly describe your songwriting process
Yes we do write and record our own material. Our process differs from song to song, but generally we start by jamming in our home studio until we come up with a solid idea.  From there we’ll come up with a general melodic idea and song form and then strip everything else away to re-harmonize, and begin building up the arrangement.
What was the highlight of 2016, either for you personally or for you music career? What was the low point?
Personally in the past year, our highlight was getting married.  And professionally we opened up for Neon Indian and Peter Bjorn & John.  Getting our music and name out there is always the challenge.     
Can you give give us a little hint on what's to come in 2017?
What’s to come in 2017 -- we plan on covering all of OK Computer and we are working on a new release of original music with a new sound. 

What do you like more: Performing live or recording in the studio?
Since our home was designed and built around a recording studio, the studio is what we enjoy the most.  It’s more relaxed, better sound, and you can focus on the music.
Any embarrassing on stage moments you'd like to share? C’mon, don’t be shy.
Forgetting lyrics is always embarrassing, but generally it’s covered up by some improv.
What's one thing people should know about you?
Both of us are involved in music 100% of our time.  If we are not writing or recording with Dropkick the Robot, we are playing gigs as freelance musicians, or teaching, or recording other bands.    
What do you enjoy doing outside of music? Does your hobby rejuvenate your creativity?
We enjoy spending time with friends and family, trying new restaurants, and doing some traveling when time allows.  It definitely helps to step away from music, to live your life and gain new perspectives
What do you like the most about Radio Airplay?
Radio Airplay gives independent artists, like us, a unique chance to get our music to a larger audience… and that’s the point, right?  :)