We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Robinson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, what do you attribute your success to?
Community. I wouldn’t be where I’m at at all if it wasn’t for a local art and music scene community. Within our local scene I was able to meet other artists and musicians who’s work is incredible and I am a huge fan of, they also supported me and the work I was doing. This was how I got my first public gig as a VJ although I didn’t really know what I was doing yet, they just liked my designs and ideas enough to take a chance on me and it went well enough that we built a long term work relationship and friendship. There is no local scene if people aren’t taking an active role to get involved. I’d say host DIY art gallery shows or music performances out of your living room if that’s all you got, That’s was what we were doing and it was more valuable than anything else for all of us to make real genuine connections to other people in our community. If you can’t host then attend as many as you can, people won’t know who you are or what you do if you don’t participate in the community in some way and not particiating will only make things harder for yourself in the long run. The more you can organize people around a shared love of art or music (or anything really) in your local community, not only will you find yourself being more successful but you will also start to see success happening for those around you in this community you’ve built together and you’ll all come up together. Remember most importantly, it takes time for things to start happening so don’t get discouraged, just stay focused on your work, building your community by supporting those around you, and if you take on that active organizing role eventually things will either start to fall into place for you or you will make your own opportunities. Covid has complicated all of this but also it’s made it that much more apparent we need this kind of community organizing, just because we can’t all interact in person right now doesn’t mean that the community is gone. We’re all still making art and we all still have the need to share and connect, that’s all you need to get started.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an interactive new media artist. I do audio, visual and lighting design that you can “play” with, It’s a very different type of art experience than looking at a painting or listening to a song. I really got my start designing interactive new media installations after I learned how to make visual animations that change and move when music is played. I would set these animations up as the backdrop for the live shows happening at The Sunroom and when the bands played the animations would flash, move, change color, or do whatever I programmed them to do as the appropriate aesthetic response to the vibe of the music. It was incredible to watch and made our little DIY house shows feel magical. The most challenging part was the learning curve, like all things some knowledge can only come with experience and practice. I design these animations in a programming language called max msp, which I was still learning the basics of how to use when I started designing these audiovisual animations (even getting to that point was about 2 years of learning) but once I made the connection of sharing my work to what was happening within our little community I took off running. I tried to learn everything I could about programming in max msp and by designing more and more audio reactive visuals for shows I got better and better at making them and also learning all the other things you can program with max msp. With that, the door to making other crazy ideas I’ve had opened up and became a reality. I was able to make interactive audio and lighting installations that respond to movement, I’ve created my own generative musical pieces and soundscapes, I built my own digital vj and lighting board, and so much more it’s honestly hard for me to list or describe them all.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There’s a lot of amazing live things happening in Tempe and downtown Phoenix. If music is your thing I would definitely take you to a house show, The Sunroom isn’t the only place that’s a DIY house venue, there were many before us and there will be many after us. If you wanted to check out some bigger venues than we would absolutely have to hit up The Van Buren, Crescent Ballroom, or Valley Bar. If you’re looking for food or drinks and the drunk college kid clubbing scene on mill isn’t for you, the area has other great spots with a more relaxed vibe such as Casey Moore’s, Four Peaks Brewery, or Shop Beer Co. Personally I also always love going to the Phoenix Art Museum and now a new museum called Wonderspace which is amazing because they focus on new media interactive art, it’s the perfect place for me to get inspired by other artists who are doing work similar to mine and it’s a way fun place to spend your time because you can play with the installations for hours and not get bored. This is also a hotly debated topic but if you’re looking for the best coffee in Tempe, Infusion Coffee gets my vote.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are two groups that deserve major shout outs from me. First is the band from my story that gave me my first vj gig, I really don’t think I’d be where I am right now if they didn’t take a chance on letting me do design work for them and since that first show i’ve done countless more shows with them as well as a music video. That band is Playboy Manbaby. Aside from being awesome people with an awesome band name these guys have been helping contribute and make the local scene incredible way before I was ever involved, in fact there may never have been a local scene to get involved with if they weren’t doing what they were doing. They are the realist of real people and make amazing music. Please go listen and support them. The second shout out I wanna give is to The Sunroom of Tempe, Arizona. This was the DIY house venue that I ran but it wouldn’t have been possible without the group of people that came together to make it happen and I’m beyond proud to call these people my best friends. What started as just 4 musicians wanting to offer their house as another DIY spot for other musicians to play at turned into a collective of musicians, videographers, photographers, painters, designers, audio engineers and many more. These shows launched all of our careers and we’ve all gone on to work on huge projects for big name artists. The Sunroom was also a starting point for many to become active participates in the local scene. New and incredibly talented bands played their first shows there and others were inspired to carry on the tradition of hosting house shows in their place thus growing the overall community and making all of us stronger.
The show photos were taken by Athena Burton. The photo of me was taken by Billy Hardiman Photography.