By Andrew Catania
Born and raised in South Africa with multiple awards, projects, and performances under her belt have set the bar for all musicians in the South African and African metal communities.
Currently, an Elixir String, as well as, an Ibanez Guitars South African endorsee, Robyn, is a well respected virtuoso guitarist and unclean vocalist. She is widely known for her energetic stage performances. She has found herself performing both locally and internationally with some of the greats in the industry, including bands like Periphery, Norma Jean, Epica, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, Kataklysm, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Hatebreed, Becoming the Archetype, Decapitated and many many more.
Best known for her part in Adorned in Ash and Sistas of Metal, I speak to her about her new solo album “Falling Forward.”
When did you start playing guitar?
RF: I picked up the guitar when I was about 12. It was kind of a random event. I saw a guy playing on the corner, and it fascinated me. I started in a band is I think most people do in high school. We’d be jamming away in the garage. It only grew from there. I went through goth stuff with all the orchestral elements into heavier and more brutal stuff.
Were you self-taught?
RF: I’ve had lessons from a guy in South Africa called Nathan Smith. He’s a session guitarist that’s known for his work here.
I had lessons with him for about ten years in terms of playing techniques. So I wouldn’t say completely self-taught, but there’s a chunk of it that I’ve winged.
He laid an excellent foundation for me.
Was there any specific guitarist that inspired you to start playing?
RF: I wouldn’t say like a specific guitarist or a particular band. I think it’s a combination of things. I know a lot of people say, Oh, I listen to so and so, and that’s the most significant influence in my playing. I can’t pinpoint that, but I can say I pull a lot of inspiration from various things.
There are several bands I would say that kind of led me into where I am now. I think my ex, my dabbling into the heaviest stuff, started with the System Of A Down. Then, it went brutal quickly to extreme things like Sepultura.
I listened to classical music growing up and now everything from funk, jazz, pop, and everything in between.
It’s pulling all that together. It’s kind of where I get my vibe from.
System Of A Down made you start dabbling into the heavier stuff?
RF: I like listening to a lot of old school metal with my Dad, like Metallica and Ozzy. Some people will shoot me for saying this, but never quite gripped me such as Dio and Rainbow.
It is just finding a delicate balance between the shredders and the melodic players.
Did you want your album to have a particular sound this time around?
RF: A guy named Clinton Watts produced my first album and my other band I’ve worked with him a lot with side projects. I think we’ve got a relaxed relationship. I’m somewhat fussy about one or two things, but then really chilled out about some other vibes.
I approached him with the first album, and I said to him, I was quite specific with the vibe and the field that I was going for and how I wanted it. Then on the second album, I said, you did such a great job, but I felt like maybe I had the reins on you too tightly. So with this album, let’s have some fun and try something new.
The whole album is about trying something different and falling into a whole new world. I said to him if there’s something that you want to try and you haven’t had the opportunity to mess around with, go for it. I can guarantee it’s not going to sound bad because I trust you.
I think he did a fantastic job and ready for the world to hear it!