June’s Man of the Month is:
Here’s a little bit about him:
Robert Wilson is a Songwriter, Singer, Musician,
Record Producer, Music Teacher, Production Manager, Audio Technician, and Creator of events and happenings.
His music career has seen him performing on stages across North America, Europe and Asia, sharing the stage with Jason Mraz, Aimee Mann, Suzanne Vega, Ani Difranco and many more of the world finest songwriters. Robert has self-produced four records, his most recent release is titled Lovers One, Haters Zero.”
His songs have appeared in many films, and television shows.
Alongside of his successful career as a recording artist, Robert has worked behind the scenes as a Technician and Production Manager, for a virtual encyclopedia of live events. Some highlights of his production career have been stage managing for the 2010 Olympic games, and the grand opening of Rogers Arena, and doing concert security for Metallica.
A short list of some of the people Robert has worked with would include: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cirque du Soleil, Maya Angelou, John Denver, Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Kim Campbell, and Paul Martin, President Bill Clinton, Dolly Parton, Coldplay, Nellie Furtado, Sarah Mclachlan, Carol Burnett, Steve Earle, Shania Twain, Allen Ginsberg, Goldie Hawn, Sir Bob Gueldoff, Betty White, Lucinda Williams, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Wilco, Peter Mansbridge and of course Gino Vinelli.
And here’s how he answered my 6 questions about creativity:
What does it mean to you to be creative?
To be creative is to be aware and present in your life. The heart of creativity is choice. Do I do this? Or that? Our lives are the best document of our creativity. There is also an inherent generosity in the creative act. The artist has to look into the nothing and pull something ordered and composed from it. Then they have to give it away. Although creating can be deeply personally fulfilling, I believe that it’s in the sharing of our creations that we see them truly come to life. My favourite creative acts, whether it be music, art, dance or any other medium, contain an honesty about the human condition and the generosity of an artist to bring them into reality.
What triggers your creativity?
For me it’s a multi-step process. I need a time to collect and receive ideas, concepts and pictures. I’m always checking in with myself and asking “Was I affected by that?” This stage appears to be the opposite of creating but often it’s the most important part. It’s just listening and watching closely.
The second part of the process, I mentioned above, well, it takes some discipline. At this point you need to reach out into the nothing and conjure something up. If I’m songwriting this means I need to find the time to sit down with an instrument and play. I’m very careful to avoid editing myself in this stage. My best ideas come when I’m not asking if it’s a good idea or a bad idea, but just following some kind of selfless instinct.
Other things that can sometimes help trigger creativity are lots of coffee, soft drugs, heartbreak or desperate need. These may also help.
What hinders your creativity?
A lack of self-discipline.
Too much of an editorial or critical outlook towards my own creations.
A lack of venues to present your creativity. I find I create a lot more when I have a chance and a place to present it to the world.
Too much coffee, soft drugs, heartbreak or desperate need can also hinder, so watch out for those!
What’s the wildest journey your venturesome spirit has taken you on?
I did a lot of traveling as a young man. I was in Europe and north Africa in my twenties but my first solo adventure to South East Asia was perhaps the wildest for me because I was so young and the world was still so new to me, plus I was all by myself.
I flew into Thailand in 1990, 2 days after a military coup in the country. The airport was filled with soldiers with machine guns, I didn’t speak a word of Thai and I was 18 years old. I spent 4 months in Asia on this trip.
I stood in a dark field and looked into the eyes of a wild tiger.
I saw a million bats fly all around me as I stood in the mouth of giant cave in a mountain overlooking the jungle.
Drunk on Thai whisky, I sang Beatles tunes with a Thai cover band that didn’t speak any English.
These were the days before the internet and my contact with friends and family back home was limited to what mail was sent to the post offices of towns I had told my folks I might be going to. It was scary and lonely and simultaneously exciting and exotic and beautiful.
The first live solo show I ever did was in a bar on the east coast of Malaysia. It was an open mic night where foreign tourists would tip the performers with drinks if they liked the songs they played. I stayed for a week and drank well on a nightly basis. It was a wild journey and proved to be very formative.
What does being bold and provocative mean to you?
At this moment in my life I’m not sure that I’m tuned into being bold and provocative. I’m trying to focus on the more subtle ways of communicating. But above all I believe it’s important to be truthful to those around you and most of all to yourself. This can take a good amount of boldness and provocation. That said, I do believe in messing with people just a little.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working as the Production Manager for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. This is my 5th year in this roll and it’s a job that I look forward to all year round. With over 400 concerts in 40 venues over 10 days, I have my hands full with working through the fine details to make sure each performance is all that it can be. The Jazzfest run June 22- July 1.
I’ll be stage-managing for rising star Dan Mangan at the Vancouver Folk Festival in July.
This summer I’m very excited to once again be working on the Richmond Maritime Festival in Steveston. This is a very cool little festival.
I’m currently working on songs for my 5th studio record. I’ll be producing a record for another upcoming artist named Caleb Stull in July and I’ll continue to teach songwriting and voice to a number of students in between it all.
It’s going to be a great summer!
And here’s a few things that inspire Rob’s creativity:
Thank you Robert for conjuring up the tunes and spreading your words!
Be sure to check out Robert’s website www.robertmilsonmusic.com.
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