Robin Richards is a neo-classical composer, multi-instrumentalist and the principle songwriter and bassist in Dutch Uncles. His composition style uses rhythmic, melodic and mathematical themes, taking influence from composers like Steve Reich and Igor Stravinsky, and artists including Kate Bush, Tears For Fears and Talking Heads.
He formed Dutch Uncles with four school friends in 2008 and has since written music for the band’s four albums. Dutch Uncles have toured internationally, supporting bands such as Paramore and Wild Beasts, as well as playing numerous festivals and appearing in headline slots at Lattitude, Bestival and SXSW, Texas.
For HOME, Robin has collaborated with the Royal Northern College of Music to create an original score for Paul Fejös’s 1928 silent film Lonesome, bringing this masterpiece of cinema to life in a completely new way.
Q & A
What’s your earliest memory of the arts?
My parents were in a Beach Boys tribute band when I was growing up. One of my earliest memories of live music was seeing them perform in local pubs when I was a toddler. We would then sing the songs on the way home and even attempt the complicated harmonies.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Steve Reich, particularly in the last 10 years. His measured, mathematical approach to composition has been a real inspiration when it comes to creating original concepts. Also, the way he doesn’t allow the mathematical concept to overpower the harmonic development and the emotive message of the piece, is a real gift.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Many people have told me to stick to my guns creatively when others have told me to conform to a certain style. I remember this being the subject of Johnny Marr’s guest lecture at Salford University a few years ago. His advice to the songwriters and composers in the audience was to capitalise on what comes naturally and always write music that you like, personally.
Who would you most like to take out for a pie and a pint?
It’s a tough call between Igor Stravinsky and Kate Bush. I’d like to think both would be partial to a pie and pint, but I’m not sure if they’d be able to put up with me talking about non-league football!