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Moods: Solo Female Artist Moods: Mood: Dreamy Rock: Folk Rock Folk: like Joni Folk: Power-folk

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Robin O'Brien

Robin O'Brien is a singer-songwriter and an indie music veteran. A native of Highland Park, Illinois, she studied music at Hamilton College and then Boston's Berklee College of Music. With classmates such as Juliana Hatfield, Aimee Mann, and her friend Bob (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Kinkel, Robin honed her talents and was pursued by major labels and producers. What flowered, however, were not major-label dreams (though there are some stunning NYC demos out there) but Robin's own tapes--her "diaries," she calls them--containing personal, dynamic, and honest performances that were often about the trials and tribulations of working with major-label producers. These tapes she produced by herself, for herself, free from the marketing categories and artistic tugs of war that make many signed artists long for their musical independence.

Robin took the direct route to independence by marrying, raising a family, and writing songs---constantly. She sang on other artist’s projects, became a fixture of the cassette culture by trading around the world, and fielded calls from AR assistants following up on rumors they heard about her. (Interview magazine featured her in the early 90s as an up-and-coming “one to watch”.) But it became clear to me as I watched her navigate her perpetual major-label limbo (I played guitar for Robin during these years) that she was becoming her own best producer and engineer. And that her tapes were not stepping stones to some dubious marketing pitch (“Robin O’Brien will be a female Seal!,” one of them went) but rather artistic projects in their own right, needing no additional justification or purpose, and deserving as wide an audience as possible.

Luxotone has rescued these songs and performances from Robin’s tapes and embedded them in new instrument tracks, sometimes in altogether new genres (such as Luxotone’s “Mama,” which puts Robin on a euro-disco dance floor). The result is a trilogy of releases that have garnered steady and positive reviews since they began to appear. 2006’s EP FORE was hailed by for “a lyrical and sonic range that is staggering,” while Lucid Culture compared 2008’s EYE AND STORM to nothing less than Joni Mitchell’s Blue on account of it’s “purity and intensity.” Robin’s THE APPLE IN MAN (2009) combines both the indie-acoustic vibe of FORE with the pop songcraft of EYE AND STORM and dives into the darker, mystical recesses of Robin's musical universe.

Robin lives in California where she continues to write music, perform with friends and family, and leads musical worship in her church.