We had the good fortune of connecting with Rob The Heart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rob The Heart, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Its all I know. As a kid, I learned things from experience, and having my hands on something rather than just reading it in a book. I never did extremely well in school, and eventually had to drop out of college. Making music, writing songs, being creative, helping others be creative is like an in-born second language to me. From an early age, it was sort of something I couldn’t avoid. I knew I could never work a regular 9-5, or in a cubicle because I just don’t have that personality type for it, and I was lucky that my family supported the sort unconventional path I wanted to take. By the age of 16 I had joined a band of members that were older than me and I was touring in vans up and down the east coast.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have two answers. By day I am the lead engineer at a studio in downtown Phoenix, called Epicentre Recording, and by night (or any personal free time) I am an artist and producer named Rob The Heart. What got me here is just saying yes, and following opened doors when I see them. I was a musician on the road for many years and toured the country, I have made countless records in many different studios. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but I’m glad I went through it. Maybe thats the thing that sets me apart from others: I’ve spent so much time on the other side of the glass, being the artist, that I try to really make the artists I’m working with feel comfortable. There is sometimes a very strange disconnect from Artist to Engineer. Sometimes engineers can be very controlling and somewhat condescending… and I have experienced that first hand. I take great pride and joy in helping people realize their visions. In a song, in a vocal performance, in an instrument, in an audiobook, they all take a level of understanding that I think is very important to get the best out of someone. My story and my brand, I guess is just the pursuit of doing what you love. I never want someone to be thinking about arbitrary rules or expectations that sometimes hinder creativity, on the contrary, I want to create and be apart of an environment where anyone is free to express themselves and I’m only there to capture it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I’m biased – I live and work downtown, so I love all the places around me. I love coffee, so I would take them to Giant, Dark Hall, or Songbird. For food, places like Angels Trumpet, Cornish Pasty, and Ziggys Magic Pizza is THE BEST and La Piñata for Mexican. For drinks, Stardust is awesome, Cobra Arcade bar is awesome, Lux Central is cool for late night drinks. If I really want to ham it up for a more needy crowd, what places like UnderTow and Centruy Grand are doing is pretty cool… although you might come across your occasional gaggle of courgars coming down from Scottsdale wanting see what the “kids” are doing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well, ironically, I already answered this in the question before, but I’d have to say my parents. I was a strange kid and teen, and I made strange choices, and I never fit into the boxes of “norms” that other kids easily fit into. I was a square peg, and the rest of my world was a round hole, and thankfully, my parents embraced that. I didn’t relate to my town, I didn’t release to my friends, I didn’t relate to the culture around me, I was a misfit and I knew I had to eventually find where I fit in. Another person who was important on my journey is a guy named Jeremy SH Griffith. He’s a Producer I know from Florida and he was a couple years older than me and found some early success and ended up at a studio in NYC. My band had a chance to record with him there and I remember having a very short, but very meaningful conversation with him one day on the sidewalk in front a giant Guitar Center, waiting for the rest of my band to show up. He said to me, “What are you still doing there?… You’re a city guy, this is where you belong.” As simple as that is, it spoke volumes. He was also somebody just like me, who was trapped in a small Florida town, never fitting in, and challenging me to start my own journey, just like he had done. I remember zoning out and for a moment and time stood still – the sounds of the city, cars horns, people walking, music playing, all seemed like the answer I had been searching for, and just as quickly I was snapped back to reality the second someone said we were ready to go. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. The third person is my best friend, Steven Lee Tracy. I met him through friends and we worked on an album together in Atlanta. After the record was finished I would be going back to my “normal” life, and was dreading it. I had begun the search to find my way out, I just had not found the metaphorical “golden ticket” yet. After several late night conversations during that 2 week recording session, he had a pretty good idea of where I was coming from, and he too was a misfit at one time, just like me. On one of the last days, he brought up the fact that he was moving to Arizona and was opening a recording studio and would need a second set of hands for the construction process and then a B-Room engineer once the studio finally opened. Needless to say, I submitted my verbal resume and he willing accepted. So, I went home, packed up my stuff, put in my two weeks notice at the crappy job I headed to Arizona to start on my new path.