Robeone is essentially keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist recording artist and keyboard icon Robert Schindler and he steps into the sonic spotlight with his 2022 solo album Halos And Dogs. With a cryptic title like that you’d be correct if you found the all-instrumental album to be experimental in a 21st century sense, and it is in a good way. Being all instrumental, the six cut CD encompasses a range of music—from electronic, beat-friendly space music to avant garde prog-jazz.
The jazzier aspects of Halos And Dogs can’t be denied. Several tracks have a solid mid-1970s Chick Corea in Return To Forever vibe while the more experimental tracks echo electronic keyboard trendsetters from Tangerine Dream and Jan Hammer to Jean Michel Jarre. The techno percussion and melodic attack on “Morning Rush” is very Hammer-esque in the best possible light. The thing that sets Robeone apart is his ability to converge a range of styles in an effort to come up with his own unique sound perspective.
Fans of progressive instrumental electronica and jazz fans turned on by the late Chick Corea’s daring fusion keyboard sound in Return To Forever and Jan Hammer’s late 1980s techno-prog soundtracks will find much to like about Robeone and his latest opus Halos And Dogs.
Having played keyboards with and for a wide range of artists, bands and musicians, including Ronnie Spector, Johnny Nash and Ruth Copeland, Robert Schindler, now at age 70, has established himself as a modern day keyboard virtuoso. Those following his career will note that Halos And Dogs is actually his sixth solo album. Showcasing inventive sound layers revealed with each following spin, Robeone’s Halos And Dogs is clearly an essential album of progressive electronic music. robeone.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with Robeone
mwe3: Tell us where you’re from originally, what it was like growing up in N.Y. and how long have you lived in North Carolina? It must have been a totally different thing leaving NYC. When did you move to North Carolina and tell us something about living there? I guess NYC isn’t what it used to be but do you miss it at all?
Robeone: I was born in New York City then moved out to the suburbs in New Rochelle. Later on move to Westfield and then Fairlawn, New Jersey. My first big move was in the early 1970s to Columbia, South Carolina to join a band called Mayson. We eventually got signed to Bearsville records and recorded with Eddie Offord in the Bearsville barn with Eddie’s mobile recording equipment.
The next band that he filed from that was a group called The States based out of Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. We did two records, one on Chrysalis records the other on Boardwalk records. We were the opening act for Hall & Oates on their “X-Static” tour.
I currently live in Matthews, North Carolina, which is part of Charlotte. I never thought I would leave the New York area where I live more in the South than the North. The only thing I really miss about up there is a lot more music and of course the food.
mwe3: How and when did you become immersed in music and did you study harmony or are you self-taught? Your keyboard technique is quite brilliant. What’s your background working in the recording studio and what can you tell us about your early groups? Did it take you more time to develop a solo career as your background is of a session musician and band member? Also us about your playing with Ronnie Spector’s group and a couple favorite highpoints you recall playing in the bands Mayson and The States and with other musicians.
Robeone: I started playing piano at the age of six. The piano was a gift from my great uncle Abner Silver, a very famous songwriter who wrote songs for Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley. His biggest hit, that was recorded by many artists was a song called “With These Hands”.
I started playing in bands during High School, playing at school dances and parties and then when turning legal age, I started playing in clubs around New York and New Jersey. Through connections I got to put a group together for a while for Ronnie Specter and then Ruth Copeland, after that was joining that group Mayson.
At different periods I got to record with several artists, Johnny Nash, Greg Diamond's Star Cruiser and I got to manage Electric Lady studios for a while.
My solo career did not start until I was out of the business for a while… married, children etc. Right about the time when the Internet and social media started to take off my first venture posting music was on My Space.
mwe3: You said you’ve worked in the pro Audio field for 40 years? How did you get into that type of business? You also told me about the martinlogan.com speakers. Tell us about working in that field.
Robeone: I’ve been involved in the home A/V business for over 50 years selling high end stereo and theater systems, it pays the bills. Of course being in the business for that long I’ve accumulated some serious audio and video gear in my home, I’m a huge fan of electrostatic speakers by Martin Logan. I’m also very involved with a Bob Moog Foundation in Asheville, North Carolina, they have the Moogseum and the Bob Moog School.
As for the sources I’m currently using for my A/V systems or CD, SACD, Blu-ray, Vinyl, and Hi-Rez streaming services like Tidal, Qobuz and Amazon HD. I try to buy most of my software directly from the artist or Bandcamp to give the artist the most money, streaming services are great to find new music but as we all know they don’t pay the artist very well.
mwe3: Tell us how you came up with the Robeone name and how you pronounce it. You told me you are turning 70 this year? How do you feel about getting older and what’s your perspective on the aging process?
Robeone: As far as how my name Robeone is pronounced – it’s ‘Row B One’. It came from a place that I worked, the computer cut off my name and it just showed Robe so everyone knew I was a big Star Wars fan so they started calling me ‘Row B One Knobe’… and it just stuck and I just decided to use it as my solo artist name. As far as being 70… so far it hasn’t slowed me down. I played 9 one hour sets this last October at Progstock and will be playing several sets this coming April in Sarasota Florida at Rosfest.
mwe3: Tell us about your 2021 Halos And Dogs. Sounds like a cryptic title. I know you rescue dogs but how does the “Halos” part fit into it? Halos And Dogs is your sixth solo album under your band name Robeone. With the reference to Halos, is there any suggestion of reincarnation in the title? How many dogs have you had in your life and what is your current dog’s name?
Robeone: With regards to my new record Halos And Dogs, the ‘Halos’ part is because as we all know all dogs go to heaven. Also, my wife and I foster dogs so there’s normally anywhere from 4 to 6 foster dogs in our home plus our two. Baya, an American Bulldog and Papino, a Shih Tzu. We have fostered about 70 dogs so far.
mwe3: How does Halos And Dogs fit into your back catalog of music releases and how would you describe your musical progression as a recording artist? Do you feel that all of your albums are progressive in nature and is Halos And Dogs more electronic and more prog than some of your other albums? Each of your albums has its own personality and direction and that’s considering that there’s a lot of music you’ve made over the past 5 years.
Robeone: As far as the progression of my solo projects I feel each one keeps getting a little bit better and better sounding, and they’re all done in my home studio. I do not use a computer to record. I record onto a hard drive Tascam recorder usually not going over six tracks. So all the keyboard sounds come directly from actual keyboards and not a computer with the exception of my Seaboard. The only computer in my studio is for my ROLI Seaboard sounds. I feel that recording on a computer in a lot of cases becomes sterile. I don’t mind a mistake here and there if the feeling is there.
I suppose all my different records just represent what was going on in my life at that point... I think they’re all a combination of progressive, jazz and New Age.
mwe3: Piano Stories the solo piano album you released before Halos And Dogs came out. What made you want to record a solo piano album? Who were your main influences as far as your solo piano sound goes? I can hear Keith Emerson, Keith Jarrett and Mike Garson. Are those the main influences on your music in general? I also told you how your piano sound reminds me a bit of Jethro Tull pianist, John Evan, a pianist that was very influential 50 years ago or so. In fact Evan is your middle name.
Robeone: The Piano Stories record was a big leap for me, I wanted to get back to my roots and just do a straight piano record. It was recorded on a $179 Zoom microphone, set to 24/96, then straight to the computer. It did not go through any mixer or processing. The record includes a CD and a DVD that has the 24/96 Hi-Rez files. The songs have no names just story one through nine. I wanted the people listening to feel what it brought to them and not what I called it. My main influences have been Keith Emerson, Brian Auger and Jon Lord. Of course I love many others including Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Jordan Rudess, Oscar Peterson…
mwe3: What music influenced you mostly from that era, say in the 1970-1974 ? Did you go to the Fillmore East and Academy of Music a lot? Funny how back in 1972 rock bands were playing Carnegie Hall and now it’s almost impossible to see rock music there played in those beautiful old theaters.
Robeone: I have so many influences that were around me at a young age growing up in the New York metro area, being able to go to Broadway shows and then pretty much living at the Fillmore East almost every weekend. I love jazz, blues, Celtic, classical, standards. I must say I did gravitate towards the British classical-based bands like Emerson Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Yes, Strawbs, Steeleye span, Jethro Tull… I think you get the picture.
mwe3: Tell us about some of your favorite synths, keyboards and mellotrons.
Robeone: For the keyboard fans here’s a list of what I use. Hammond A 100 organ with Leslie, Yamaha S 80, Ensonic Halo and MR61, Alesis QS 6.1 and Quadrasynth, Roli Seaboard, Mellotron M4000D, Kurtweil Artis & K2000, Roland AX09 & AX Edge and Fantom X6, Korg Triton & Radias, ASM Hydrasynth and Moog subsequent 37 I have two modules a Kurzweil 1000 AX plus and a EMU vintage pro.
Robeone: My plans for 2022 or my performance at Rosfest in April and then starting work on a new record. And continuing to do some recording for other artists. I do practice, play every day there’s always time if you want it!