At a time like this, it’s more imperative than ever that we are all doing our part.
Due to the pandemic, the fact of the matter is that the events going on in our world right now have ignited a domino effect of misfortune for many. On top of resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, the outbreak has left us terribly uncertain and– many of us– jobless. From business owners to part-time workers– to musicians. As the state of Washington issued stay-at-home orders and began to enforce isolation, singer-songwriter RX came up with a solution to safely bring people together.
Based in Seattle, RX is more than acquainted with the unorthodox new life COVID-19 has given him and his community. In addition to fully experiencing the every-day changes that have come with the disease’s tragic destruction, he has been deeply impacted by the distance public safety measures have created between artists and listeners. As a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter himself, RX has been devoted to finding a way to not only support his own creative endeavors but to give a platform to other blossoming Seattle musicians. Thus, his series “Work From Home” was born.
“Work From Home” is a Friday-night livestream series streaming straight from Facebook and Twitch and features a fresh bunch of Seattle-based artists each week. Filmed straight from his garage, (where he happened to record his upcoming album, “Epilogue,”), RX has given local artists an opportunity to not only obtain financial support through listeners’ tips via PayPal and Venmo but to get great exposure amongst the Seattle community and beyond.
Successful as ever, “Work From Home” has evolved into both a resource for Seattle artists struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic but also into a platform for artists of color. Following the hard work activists have done to combat racism in our country recently, all tips received by Eric Blue & The Soul Revue during the June 5th show were matched and sent to a charity of the artists’ choosing. With not a lot of time or money, RX has defied tragedy and brought life back into his community– which is exactly what Seattle needs.
We had the chance to chat to RX about “Work From Home,” his upcoming single, and more.
In an Instagram caption, you described your upcoming single, “Reckless,” as having “a new sound.” What can fans expect from this new release?
“Reckless” sounds like nothing I’ve ever done before. Every record I’ve done in the past has been playing my acoustic guitar. But while I was writing this album, I was only playing my electric guitar. You can’t play an electric guitar the same way you play an acoustic. It forced me to come at it from a different angle. “Reckless” has so many textures and layers in its production that you could literally spend days picking it apart. I also had the chance to feature two friends of mine, Tasia Ann Thomas and Eric Blu Martin who lent their voices to create beautiful gospel harmonies. You will hear that sound woven throughout the rest of the record.
You also described “Reckless” as more than a love song in that it is especially raw and vulnerable. Emotionally, what was it like to write such a confessional?
It’s raw and vulnerable because it’s about being with someone who sees right through you. Some people come into our lives and hold up a mirror. And it’s in that moment they can stay or run. It’s about living with an anxious, compulsive mind; constantly questioning what “quirk” will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s about putting the person you love on a pedestal and the struggle of a power dynamic in a relationship.
“Reckless” also happens to be the lead single off your upcoming record– in what ways does the song fit in with others on the album?
It’s definitely the most upbeat song on the record. But just like “Reckless”, the entire record is a very raw and honest look back at who I was during the relationship. I called the album Epilogue because it represents closure; what did I learn? How did I get here? “Reckless” also sets the tone by being the first song on the record.
In what ways has your songwriting process developed over the course of your career so far?
I’m definitely getting better at following my instincts with my ideas on melody and song structure. I don’t second guess myself as much as I used to. I don’t add as much pressure on myself either. I’m still chasing the perfect line that someone can listen to and say, “That sums up exactly what I feel like right now.” It’s validation, really. And with regard to this album, I think I’ve turned things up another level.
While writing this new album, what has inspired you most?
I wrote this album right after a break up. At the same time, I really dove deep into the Derek & The Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. That album was a huge inspiration to me while making this record. It’s extremely raw and honest and as a result, it’s arguably Clapton’s best work. I don’t hold back on this album.
How did the idea for “Work From Home” come about, and what was the conceptualization process like for the project?
“Work From Home” started out as a way for me to support the community of musicians that had been affected by COVID-19. Everyone including myself had gone from playing regular shows every week to make a living to nothing for months. And since live streaming was listed as an “essential job” in Washington State, I took advantage of that exemption and started a series of live stream concerts from my studio where artists could perform and make virtual tips online. For me, it was all about the community. The artists that I have met in Seattle are among some of the most gracious human beings around. There was no question of whether or not I would contribute and help out. They’ve been there for me.
What has the selection process been like in terms of artists performing in “Work From Home?”
We’ve tried to prioritize artists who make 100% of their living through performing. That way we know that it’s more urgent for them. It started out with a simple submission form online and we were blown away by how many people submitted to perform.
What is something new that you learned by putting on the “Work From Home” series?
I’ve learned that despite the amount of tips that an artist on our show makes, they’re just happy to be performing for the first time in months, and be around people (within a safe 6 feet apart). Performing is really an outlet for artists. Keeping them couped up and telling them not to be around people is asking a lot of anybody, but an artist needs to connect with people, relate, and express themselves. I’ve learned that the people watching are just happy to support the artists even when they haven’t heard of them before. It’s definitely redeemed my faith in people.
To follow up on that, in what ways has the “Work From Home” series been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding take away from “Work From Home” has been how quickly it all came together. It started with me having absolutely zero idea of how live streaming worked and now I feel like I could teach a clinic on it. Also, the people all around me came out to offer their support. Now we have a team of 7 people, all of whom love live music and are extremely passionate about making this a place for artists to feel safe and somewhat normal in what has been a far from normal environment the last few months.
2020 has already been a very pivotal year in our history in the sense that a lot of what many consider to be “the norm” is being challenged– extra precautions are being taken to keep ourselves healthy and many are stepping up to conquer racial injustice. How important do you believe it is that musicians use their platforms to speak out?
It is crucial that we speak out. I know enough to know what I don’t know. And one of those things is that I will never know what it is like to be black; I will never know what it feels like to be a minority. I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against for the color of my skin. My job right now as an ally is to listen, be educated, and go where I’m told to; to help conquer the racial injustice that happens in our communities. My number one way of contributing to the movement has been by offering a platform like “Work From Home” for artists of color to perform, speak out, and educate if they choose to. As far as COVID-19 is concerned, I grew up with a nurse for a mother so taking extra precautions to be healthy is nothing new to me. We’re still not in Phase 2 here in my county so we have a ways to go.
With touring and live performance being limited due to the pandemic, in what ways can fans best support musicians?
The best ways to support musicians is a few things: Asking them to do a live stream – that’s huge. Apart from “Work From Home”, I also stream live on Twitch solo a few times a week www.twitch.com/RXRobbie and I’ve found it is a great way to connect with my fans. Obviously another way is to stream their music, share it with friends and buy their merchandise online. Right now is the time for creators to connect with their fans more than ever because everyone is online.