Our newest Spotlight – Mike Robins. We caught up with Mike to talk about his musical career and new release Lightning Don’t Strike Twice. The first time I got to see Mike live was with East Adelaide at Algonquin College and I could see his passion right away. Take a look at what he had to say about his music.
You’ve been huge in the country music scene since 2013 tell us, what got you into country music? Do you come from a musical family? Listening with friends?
Thanks guys and yes, I come from a very musical and creative family. My mother is a singer, pianist, and a painter and my father is an amazing drummer. I grew up with a huge classic music influence. My parents loved everyone from the Beatles to Johnny Cash. I would listen to music from the 50’s to anything current. Country always was a part of that. It was the guitar pickers like Vince Gill, Keith Urban, and Brad Paisley that really hit home. The combination of incredible songwriting in the genre and the amazing guitar playing as well definitely drew me in.
The first group you were known for being part of was Autumn Hill. For several years you had a wildly loved and critically successful career. What was it like having such huge success at a young age? Talk us through those early years of travelling and performing.
I absolutely loved that project and poured my heart into every bit of it. I think everyone was surprised at how fast it really took off. Our first single went top 20 and crossed over to pop radio as well, it was wild. Travelling throughout Canada playing our music was my dream. Being able to do it and connecting with all the country music fans was incredible. I really feel privileged to be a part of such an amazing group of people. I’ll never forget the first time stepping onto that CCMA stage, it was so exciting and nerve-racking, just an amazing experience.
From there, you performed in East Adelaide, which was a combo of other seasoned performers. What was it like going from a group that you had many years of performing together and knowing each other to a new group where you all have varying experiences?
That was such a natural progression, Andrew had been drumming for Autumn Hill for years and it was a great feeling putting a band together. I grew up playing in bands and it was really cool having that energy a band can bring again. I had written some songs that I was really excited about and we were able to give them a life and a direction through that project. We just had a blast.
You have travelled and played all over North America, what was your first BIG stage show, and walk us through that feeling of getting on stage vs other performances? Do you have any crazy tour stories to share?
The first really huge country festival I got invited to perform at was the “Cavendish Beach Fest”. That was so surreal and incredible. I loved every minute of that show, and it still is one of my favourite festivals to play. Stepping onto a stage that size really amps you up, you know you have to bring it. I also love intimate performances. Being able to strip the songs back and tell stories about the music, really allows you to connect with the audience in this amazing way.
With such a prolific career in country music as a member of 2 successful bands what was the decision process like to go solo?
This has always been a dream of mine. I have music in me that I really want to share, and this feels like the right time to do it. It really was a natural progression, into going solo. I am so happy to have been in those projects, but I felt like it was time to bet on myself and not hold back.
Your new single- “Lightning Don’t Strike Twice” is such a strong, heavy hitter to debut your solo act with. I had the pleasure of listening to it, and it did not disappoint. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for the song and how it felt to finally see it completed?
Thank you so much, that’s great to hear! I am very happy you are liking the song. The song was sent to me by my long-time collaborator and friend David Thomson. He has produced so much of my music, including this song. He had written it with some amazing writers, Phil Barton and Kyle Clark.
During the pandemic, I had to postpone my wedding and I really wanted to let my fiancée know she is my “once in a lifetime”. When the song came to me, it just said everything I wanted to say to her perfectly. I really felt I needed to record this one, it’s special and really hit home for me. Hearing it go from a rough demo, to tracking it in two different cities and hearing the finished version is just amazing. I am really proud of this one and I think a lot of people can relate to it.
There’s been a lot of talk over the last few years about Toronto becoming a low-key country hotspot; what are your thoughts regarding the country music scene and where it’s going?
I think Toronto has a fantastic country music scene. I have always loved coming and playing shows here. We have a couple of killer country bars like The Dakota and Rocking Horse. I really think country is strong here and will continue to grow. I mean Boots and Hearts is pretty close to Toronto and if you have ever been to that then you know, we are in good shape in Toronto.
Back in October 2019, you got engaged- congratulations. Have you set a date yet? Was the decision to get married and the decision to go solo after being in bands for so long at all intertwined with each other?
Firstly, thanks so much it’s an amazing feeling! I can honestly say they are two separate decisions, and both are perfect for me. My fiancée Amanda and I met in University. She has supported this dream like no other, she is the best person I know, and I am a lucky guy to have found her. The idea to go solo, has always been a dream of mine. I am very grateful to have connected with country music fans with my music so far and can’t wait to share the new music. I really feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
COVID-19 disrupted a lot of plans, but with a surprise new single- can we expect an album or tour anytime soon?
I would love to say yes there is a tour, I really miss getting on that stage. Of course, everyone’s safety has to come first. I can however say that yes there will be lots of new music coming. I’ve been writing and recording for a while now and I can’t wait to get all the new music out there.
During quarantine, you had the “Stairwell Series” was it weird going from such big stages and big performances to essentially playing alone like you did when you were younger?
Thanks for checking those out, they are always lots of fun. It’s only weird when people need to go down to the parking lot lol. I really miss getting on those stages, but it was really great to learn new songs and play them that way. Social media is an amazing tool, between those sessions and my Instagram lives I’ve really been able to stay connected.
How have you been staying sane over the last few months being indoors and not playing shows? What are some other forms of self-care you suggest to folks?
I’ve been getting into new things like cooking, that was a big one during all this. I’ve been perfecting a few recipes. My homemade BBQ chicken and maple glazed spicy sweet potatoes are definitely a favourite in my table. Fitness is something very important to me and I’ve been trying to work out at home. Let’s just say…I really miss going to the gym and also love hiking. I try to be outside as much as possible.
With some places reopened, what are some favorite local joints you are excited to get back to? Whether it is bars, restaurants, etc.? I am sure Bar Raval and La Carnita miss you, haha!
LOL! Miss them as well. I am such a foodie! I really love this little pasta place on Davenport called Annabell, they make three pastas from scratch every day and they announce them on Instagram that day, It’s always different. Also, I love the pet-friendly Blood Brothers brewery, really great beer and an incredible cheeseburger!
Truly though, the most important thing on everyone’s mind is how Maui’s doing? You have the most adorable dog.
Lol honestly, I think he’s had the best time! We have gone on so many trips it’s unbelievable. He loves hiking with us and being at the beach. He has actually turned into such a water dog, he loves swimming and playing in the water. Being home this much he gets ample snacks and belly rubs, so I’d say he’s living his best life.
What would you like to say to your fans?
I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. The support they have shown me over the years in all my musical projects has been nothing short of incredible. I am so grateful to them and hope they are doing well and staying safe through all this. I can’t wait to take this next chapter with them, see you guys soon!
This Spotlight – Mike Robins has come to an end. Big thanks to Mike for taking the time to chat with us.
Check out Lightning Dont Strike Twice on Spotify
Keep up with Mike on his socials
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